What Is the Difference Between Authors & Editors?

Becoming an author or an editor is a strong choice for those who are talented with the written word. To learn more about these two roles, explore the key similarities and differences between these careers.

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Comparing Authors to Editors

Those who have earned a relevant bachelor's degree or who have a natural talent in this area may be well-suited for either of these roles. However, authoring is more of an 'ideas' function, whereas editing tends to look at ways to develop those ideas and to improve the ways they are shared in writing. Before making your final decision, it is essential to look at how these positions are similar and other ways in which they differ.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Authors Bachelor's degree $61,820 (Writers and Authors) 8% (Writers and Authors)
Editors Bachelor's degree $58,770 -1%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Authors vs. Editors

Although the two jobs may seem quite distinct, authors and editors share a number of related duties. The primary focus of both individuals is the reader. Without creating and developing content that captivates the target audience, a book won't succeed. To achieve this objective, authors and editors work closely together to make all content as strong as possible. After an author submits a manuscript, the editor works diligently to correct spelling and grammatical errors, and to make suggestions for improving the content. After receiving an editor's comments and revision requests, the author implements these changes.

Author

Whether fiction or non-fiction, an author is the mind behind every book in existence. These writers often have a bachelor's degree in English or journalism and frequently take courses in writing to further build their skills. To get started as an author, one must develop an idea for a book that will interest a chosen audience, and that an individual can confidently write about with authority. If the author decides to write a work of fiction, he or she must work to create a plot, characters, and all other elements of a novel. If the author instead chooses to write a non-fiction book, he or she must begin by completing all needed research and interviews that will be included in the project.

An expanded look at the duties of an author is as follows:

  • Cites all sources and research that are used for a book
  • Submits drafts to editors throughout the course of the project
  • Completes all revisions as requested by editors
  • Meets all applicable publishing deadlines

Editor

Once an individual has earned a relevant bachelor's degree and editing experience, he or she can apply to become an editor. Editors work with newspapers, magazines, book publishing companies, and online content publishers. The ultimate goal of an editor is to publish engaging content that is free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. They achieve this goal through the careful review of submitted written content. If edits are needed to this reviewed content, an editor may make the changes, or he or she may request that the writer implement the changes.

Additional routine responsibilities of editors include:

  • Reads content submitted by writers to judge if it is appropriate for a publication
  • Plans and coordinates publication content
  • Works long hours to meet tight publication deadlines
  • Submits final versions of articles, blog posts, and books for publication

Related Careers

Individuals who enjoy writing engaging, audience-focused content would also make an excellent fit as a content writer. Alternatively, those who enjoy creating meaningful content through a focus on detail and precision should consider a career as a technical writer.

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