What should I ask about a part-time developmental editing job?
August 23, 2021 5:13 AM   Subscribe

I may soon be interviewing for a part-time developmental editing job for a press that specializes in computer books. Yay! What should I ask on the interview?

I'm new to the field and I'm not sure what to ask!

I currently have another very part-time editing gig, but it's not in book publishing and it's been easy to do on a very informal basis. This job would be different.

Some things that come to mind:
  • Volume of material per week / month
  • Any caps on billable hours / month? What is the expectation re: hours?
  • How does deadline setting work?
  • What does "developmental editing" mean in this company? Will I be doing ANY kind of copyediting?
  • Is this for print books only, or their online versions as well?
  • Are these books translated into languages other than English? If so, who ensures that they are translation-friendly?
  • Do I get a say in which books are accepted for publication?
  • What does a typical week look like?
  • Am I replacing another part-time editor? (If so why did they leave?)
  • Since the books I will edit are technical in nature, who does the technical review?
  • Is there an existing style guide that needs to be followed?
posted by Sheydem-tants to Work & Money (2 answers total)
This is written from the perspective of a technical author, but you might find this essay about publishing a book with O’Reilly a source of inspiration for what questions to ask.
posted by A Blue Moon at 9:29 AM on August 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since a lot of developmental editing involves going back and forth with the writer, you should ask about what kind of response is typically required from the writer, how many passes are you expected to take (Will one be enough? What if the writer restructures the entire thing after your first set of comments, but does so in a bad way?), and what happens if the writer flakes? How hard will you be expected to chase the writer down?

You should also ask about the process if the writer thinks all of your suggestions are bad or that they ruin the writer's artistic vision. Note: I'm not saying your editing will be bad. I'm saying some writers can't deal with feedback.

I'd like to know if there was going to be a handler (managing editor) in the middle between the editing staff (developmental editors, copy editors, proofreaders) and the writer.

I'd like to know if the writers are native speakers or are publishing in a second language.

Since you're dealing with a technical subject, I'd be curious to know (although this shouldn't be crucial to developmental editing) if there was going to be some kind of technical review of what the writer produces? Is somebody going the coding/the directions actually work and produce the desired result.

Again this shouldn't be developmental editing, but I'd be curious about who is responsible for checking (or obtaining) graphics or screenshots.
posted by sardonyx at 8:47 PM on August 23, 2021

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