Anyone on the editorial side of publishing knows that his or her work is going to be tweaked multiple times—whether it's to whittle down the word count, clarify a point or make the text fit the magazine's overall tone. But Ed wants to know: At what point does the revising become too much?
Recently, Ed was chatting with a junior-editor friend about how manuscripts are circulated between the senior editors at his magazine. “I write a page and it makes the usual rounds,” he says. “Then I make all the corrections and send it around again. After three go-rounds, it’s supposed to be final, but sometimes my supervisors will make additional changes without telling me. Is that okay?” Ed had to think long and hard before responding because the answer (while seemingly obvious) isn’t really clear-cut.
In an ideal scenario, yes, the junior editor should be advised of any changes made to his/her writing before it goes to print. For one thing, his or her name may be attached to it. Secondly, how else is the neophyte supposed to learn exactly what was wrong with the original copy? Sure, a lot can be learned from careful observation, but no one’s a mind reader!
At the same time, the magazine world moves at an über-fast pace. Even the most nurturing senior editors don’t always have time to explain their notes to newbies, most of whom are expected to learn on-the-fly.
What do you think? If a junior editor writes something and feels the end product bears absolutely no resemblance to what was initially submitted, should he or she speak up or just accept that it's part of the learning process? And if a senior editor rewrites the piece, is he or she obligated to go over the revisions or even give the whippersnapper a head's up that the manuscript was changed?
Share your thoughts!