freelance writing,  writing advice

What Does an Editor Do?

The role of an editor is constantly changing, as technology enables us to complete tasks and perform our jobs remotely. As a freelance magazine editor, I wanted to offer an inside look on what this particular role looks like on a monthly basis for anyone curious about what takes place behind the scenes.

I work as the editor for two monthly magazines based in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina—one is a lifestyle magazine (pictured above) and the other is a smaller publication focused on residents of the community who are 55 and older. For each issue, I’m responsible for planning out the content, getting approval for each article (from businesses, people profiled, etc.) assigning articles to freelance editors and photographers, writing additional content where necessary (I write the editor’s letter, a regular column and calendar of events for one magazine and at least one feature article and a calendar of events for the other). Once articles are completed, I edit them and upload them to Dropbox so our creative director will have everything in one place. Once photographers share galleries of their assignments, I select my favorites and upload them as well. Once an issue is laid out on the page, I go through three to four rounds of copy editing the pages, and this includes captions for each photo and cover blurbs for the issue.

Each magazine has a theme, and this helps provide a general framework to what types of stories we’re looking for. In this blog post you can get a general idea of how I work with the themes from month to month.

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I collect invoices from the writers and turn them over to the publisher for payment, and also reconcile any missing payments and invoices when those issues arise. I work to develop good relationships with writers, and welcome them to submit relevant pitches that our magazines can use for future issues. In addition to these two monthly magazines, our company also produces annual newcomer’s guides for two area Chamber of Commerce offices. When we’re working on these, I look over the content we already have on file and see what needs to be repurposed and what new articles we can assign to freshen up the guides. These editorial budgets are a lot smaller, so it requires creativity to give the guide a new look while continuing to share the same information about real estate, the school systems, healthcare, the dining scene, etc.

There are always things for an editor to do. While I don’t manage our social media channels, I send a weekly list of five fun community events to our social media manager so she can share them with our followers. I also send her any relevant posts I think may help her with social media planning. I’m always looking through story pitches from PR agencies and writers to see if there’s anything I can assign ahead of time. I stay networked with local businesses and organizations to see how we can mutually help one another.

It’s a lot. In between production deadlines I freelance for WOW! Women on Writing, writing blog posts, conducting interviews with others writers and judging writing contests and I produce my true crime podcast. I like the flexibility of working from home and getting to set my own schedule, but I’d be lying if I said I sleep soundly on certain weeks of the production cycle!

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