Who Are the Editors?

    By: Jonathan Gennick on Dec 27, 2016

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    By Jonathan GennickJonathan Gennick

    Professional-level books are created by teams, and authors benefit by knowing who the players are and when those players become involved, and why. Everyone’s an editor in publishing, and, sometimes, publishers don’t manage the handoffs very well. Everyone’s an editor, but with a different role to play.

    Acquisition Editors

    I’m an acquisition editor. Sometimes you’ll hear the term acquiring editor or commissioning editor. We are the ones responsible for creating book deals and getting new projects off the ground. We look for people to write, and work in partnership with aspiring authors to plan and begin new books.

    Acquisition editors travel to events and conferences, meet people, talk to people and try to stay abreast of trends and where their industry is heading. We do all these things so that we can (hopefully!) publish books that get read and that make a difference. Few things fire my blood like publishing a good author on a trending topic, knowing the content will help readers improve their skills and more easily provide for themselves and their families. We love books, and we love books that get read.

    Developmental Editors

    Developmental editors are the substantive editors who work alongside an author as a book is being written. Developmental editors read each chapter and provide feedback on such things as the overall structure of a chapter and the use of headings, on the sequencing of content, on whether topics are being addressed at the correct level of depth. Developmental editors look at pacing, the use of elements such as figures, lists and tables. Always the focus is on improving the clarity and quality of the content to make it accessible.

    Acquisition and development are sometimes combined into one person. Playing both roles is a difficult thing, because the roles each require somewhat opposite skillsets. Acquisitions editing is outward-facing and is about short intervals and lots of task-switching, whereas developmental editors must focus for long periods on a single chapter, with minimal task-switching. Many, if not most, publishing houses split the roles.

    Technical Editors

    Technical editors are sometimes termed as technical reviewers. They are brought in to help ensure the technical content of a book. It’s not even remotely possible for acquisition and developmental editors to know the deep details of each of the wide range of technology topics they are involved in. Technical editors provide the per-book expertise that is deep and specific to an author’s topic.

    Technical editors help an author by pointing out possible omissions in coverage. (Knowing what is missing that should be included requires domain knowledge). Technical editors also help by suggesting improvements that lead to increased clarity. These can be additional code examples, figures, depth of content, removal of distracting asides and off-topic content. Technical editors do watch for mistakes, but it is always an author’s responsibility to ensure correctness.

    Coordinating Editors

    Someone needs to run the show. At Apress, the job of managing the day-to-day aspects of a book falls to a coordinating editor. These are the editors whose job it is to maintain a book’s schedule, to manage the flow of chapters among all the other editors and players involved, and to keep track of mundane but critical items such as figure art, cover art and front-matter.

    Every published Apress author has had the experience of a coordinating editor calling them about a late chapter or a missed deadline. But what you may not know is that the editors get the same treatment. Coordinating editors tell us what to do as well, and we are also given deadlines. And while deadlines may sometimes be annoying, I am ultimately grateful to our coordinating editors for helping ensure that I get everything done that I need to get done in order to hit my publishing targets.


    Copyeditors read a finished draft of a book and make edits involving grammar, punctuation and spelling.

    One of the most important roles of a copyeditor is to bring a text into alignment with a publisher’s preferred style. Doing so can include such tasks as ensuring that heading words are initially capitalized, that abbreviations are not used until after they’ve been spelled out. House style can also include rearranging of sentences, such as, for example, to put modifiers in their proper place.

    Production Editors

    Production editors enter the maelstrom when a book is “done” and is ready to be published. Production editors at Apress arrange for pages to be laid out, for the various electronic formats — such as for Amazon’s Kindle Reader — to be generated. It is a production editor who assigns the copyeditor and arranges for an index to be created. Production editors also perform quality-assurance checks on book metadata to help ensure that all needed descriptions and cover images are in place before a book goes live in the feeds that are sent to the retail sector.

    Amazing Access

    Aspiring authors in the technology world are amazingly lucky in their easy access to acquisition editors. Do you present at conferences? Present to a packed room, and you may find one or more acquisition editors seeking you out about book deals, possibly before you’ve dismounted the podium!

    Take advantage of the access that you have. IOUG is interested in building a strong line of IOUG Press titles. We at Apress love to publish good books. What better way to become published than under the auspices of the Independent Oracle User Group as an IOUG Press author? Contact Jonathan with book ideas at JonathanGennick@Apress.com.

    Released: December 27, 2016, 12:52 pm | Updated: February 3, 2017, 3:33 pm
    Keywords: IOUG Press Corner | Jonathan Gennick | publishing

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