RE: advice needed-technical editing

Subject: RE: advice needed-technical editing
From: Kevin McLauchlan <KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: "'data first'" <datafirst -at- hotmail -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2000 13:27:56 -0500

In response to someone named "Data First":
I can't speak for the SF-Bay area, but I can tell you
why you see far more job listings for writers... they
are more in demand.

A good editor is worth her weight in gold, but small
companies, with only a writer or two, are unlikely to
hire an editor. If the resident writers are very
persuasive, the services of an editor might be
rented on a part-time or project basis. In larger
firms, where there's an actual tech-writing department,
there's more likely to be a staff editor... but you
see the problem... that's one editor per X-many
writers.

It takes a small stable of full-time writers to keep a
good editor busy, full-time. It's not one-for-one.

What you are more likely to see is a stable of
writers (sometimes a mix of staff and contractors)
all doing peer-editing.

The COPYEDITING mailing list (LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- INDIANA -dot- EDU)
is a useful resource, though extremely chatty.

My impression, from a couple of years reading that
list, is that technical editors tend to do a lot of
contract work. Only a few admitted to being salaried/captive.
Editors with full-time salaried positions tended to work
for publishing houses, news media, etc.; i.e. not explicitly
technical.

I believe that salaries for both writers and editors tend
to be comparable, though I confess I've never met a
(confessed) novice editor. At intermediate and senior levels,
I've seen them asking and getting the same (or occasionally
better) money as tech writers for salary. Since so many
of them work on contract and per-job basis, and charge
by the unit (word or page, usually) it's hard to make a
direct comparison.

Not every editor is a good writer, and not every writer
(hooo boy!) is a good editor, so while the numbers of
"real" editors are smaller, it's mostly within that smaller
pool that you'd have to compete for jobs. Most of the
time, I suspect that your self-sales technique will
consist of educating prospective employers and of creating
your own market... some thing that writers sometimes do,
but not as often.

Good luck,


Kevin McLauchlan
Ottawa, ON, Canada
techy writer, who edits when he has to...


> -----Original Message-----
> From: data first [mailto:datafirst -at- hotmail -dot- com]
[snip]
> I have no idea of starting
> salaries in the SF-Bay area for entry level tech writers or
> tech editors and
> would like to get some insight into this. Also need to find
> out about the
> availabilty of jobs in tech editing versus tech writing. From
> the job boards
> it seems like there are more listings for writers, than
> editors. Is there a
> big difference in salaries between the two? Would appreciate any info.




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