Re: Editing vs. Writing

Subject: Re: Editing vs. Writing
From: Walter Hanig <wdh -at- NETMANAGE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 15:02:43 -0800

At 03:24 PM 3/11/98 -0500, Biederman, K.A. wrote:
>My boss has asked me if I'd like to become the editor for our Technical
>Publications department. I've been writing for about 5 years now and I'm
>not sure if I'd want to do this or not. I told him I'd think about it.
>Can anyone out there give me an idea of the differences between the two
>positions? Would I have to give up writing altogether and be a grammar
>cop? How does this type of position relate to the other tech writers?
>Would that place me *above* them? How about money? I would think that
>this position would carry a heftier salary (I'm hoping). No mention of
>this stuff has been made yet.
>If anyone can offer me help, please respond to me off-list. I'm too
>swamped to even read the digest these days. TIA.

Kerry, here's my opinion.

1. It's a compliment from your boss to be asked to become an editor; the position could be a stepping stone to greater responsibility, either within your firm or outside. (Of course he/she might be offering you the job to get you away from complaining SME's, but I think you'd know if that were the case.)

2. Editing deals with much more that grammar checking. On the mundane side, there is the issue of "does the submitted material adhere to the company style guide". Of greater importance, as well as greater difficulty, is the need for an editor to address questions like

Does the material address the needs of the target audience?

What's missing?

What can be omitted?

Is the material "appealingly written"? Could it be reorganized to be more accessible?

Tough call about whether there's more money in it. I think you can make a case that there should be, but you'd need to clarify the job requirements to justify the $. It's essential that you reach a meeting of the minds with your boss on what's expected. One question to ask: "Why does the department need an editor NOW?"

I don't think you'd completely stop writing. After all, it's easy to criticize others' work, but you can be really effective by providing better written solutions to what you're criticizing.

Walter Hanig

NetManage, Inc.
12651 High Bluff Drive
San Diego, CA 92130, USA

Phone: 619-793-3173 FAX: 619-755-3998
e-mail: wdh -at- netmanage -dot- com wdhanig -at- rice -dot- edu
Blood Type: O+

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