What does it mean to be an editor?

Recently I’ve been thinking more and more about what it means to be an editor in today’s spell-check/self-published world. Are editors (copyeditors, developmental editors, commissioning editors) no longer in any demand, since (with minimal technological know-how, i.e. knowing how to simply press the F7 key on your keyboard when in Microsoft Word) almost anyone can “edit” and proofread their work, and literally anyone can publish their own work on their own.

So are editors still needed then?

This has been on my mind for quite some time, and especially so since friends on Facebook seem to keep sharing articles and posts on how many of us will lose our jobs to computers/droids in time to come (hi, Computer, if you’re sentient enough to understand this, I [receive] you in peace. I promise not to jerk you around.). And it got me thinking — are editors dispensable?

Obviously I have very strong opinions about what I, as an editor, do and can do that helps not only writers, but also corporations or, really, any body that publishes anything. But what do you think? Would an editor be essential? Or can a computer do the job of an editor? Or will we move into an age where published works no longer need any sort of developing at the manuscript stage — because people should just be able to publish any(and every)thing?

I’ll probably ramble on about what being an editor means to me in the next post… But till then, let me know what you think!

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