How do the book and magazine editing worlds differ?

To Please or Be Pleased

Magazines and books inhabit the same world of literature, but the culture and environment that identifies1 book stack them is also what sets them apart. Book publishing houses require editors to provide an air of comfort and security for the writers, while editors for magazines often have a rigid veto power and want to be pleased by them. Robert Gottlieb addresses the differences between magazines and books in his essay, “Editing Books Versus Editing Magazines.” Having been an editor in both a publishing house and the head editor of the New Yorker, Gottlieb mentions the god complex that some editors have—it is unnecessary and sometimes a hindrance in the book world, but essential when it came to editing the New Yorker. Publishing houses require the editor to please the writer, and magazines require the writer to please the editor.

Turnaround Time & Familiarity

The workloads associated with these two different editorial jobs are unique to the nature of the work itself. An editor working on a book is working on that manuscript with the same writer the entire time, and they are able to gain an understanding for the writer’s style and tone and is able to edit more effectively, since it is over a longer time. Magazine editors, on the other hand, have very quick turnaround times, depending on how often they are published. Another issue for magazine editors that book editors are not as worried about is time sensitive material. If a magazine article is published but it does not have the latest information it is useless. Books, however, are long-term works and require less of a need for relevancy.

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Emily Redmond is a sophomore pursuing a writing degree at Texas Christian University. She also loves hot tea, taking walks, and laughing.


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