What is an editor? That question, posed at a roundtable discussion at the recent PubWest Conference in Santa Fe, elicited surprising new answers. In the digital age of publishing, the job description for “editor” is shifting, morphing, and growing larger, agreed the group. And as discussion leader Michael Greer tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, “Editors tend to have responsibility for more parts of the publishing process, more different phases of the editorial process. There is a greater emphasis on design, and a greater emphasis on technology, especially the different ways to use technology to facilitate manuscript development, manuscript delivery, and author communication, and transmitting manuscripts and information to the editorial and production staff.
As a senior development editor for Pearson Higher Education and instructor at the department of rhetoric and writing for the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Greer finds a cause for role shift in the shrinking ranks of publishing professionals. “Editors are having to wear more hats within their companies,” he explains. “Along with that goes the need to collaborate virtually with team members that may be around the country or around the world.”
“You might have an editor in one city, a designer in another, an e-book vendor in a third. As the editor of a product or a publisher, you’re almost a team manager,” notes Greer. “You’re working across platforms, across teams, across time and space, using virtual collaboration tools to build a sense of community and build a sense of a project.”