Editing is the invisible art. When it’s done well, the reader doesn’t notice the editor’s work, though you can bet the reader will notice a lack of editing. Good editors work behind the scenes, putting writers and their words at center stage. Great editors deliberately avoid the spotlight. But all this invisibility makes editing a hard craft to learn. How can you figure out what you can’t see? That was a driving question in considering the best ways to teach Literary Editing and Publishing to undergraduate students. At IUPUI, students in the course serve as apprentices to work on the campus literary magazine, genesis. At Butler University, a similar course trains the staff of the literary magazine Manuscripts.
No one textbook satisfied the many topics we wanted to cover in a given semester, and we found there was a lack of transparency surrounding the ways that editors work. We wanted to create more visibility and equity for apprentice editors learning the craft. That is the aim of the book The Invisible Art of Literary Editing: to pull back the curtain on the editing process, to make the invisible visible, and to demystify the editing process.
In the years of developing this textbook, we beta-tested the material in our own classes and revised based on changing practices and technologies in the field, as well as student feedback. We also shared the book as a PDF with other college instructors in exchange for feedback on its utility in their classes. This helped us further shape and revise the material, which includes useful case studies that show marked-up manuscripts in various stages of the publication process.
Results / Data
- Layden and Furuness presented “Literary Editing and Publishing” at the 2022 Indiana Writers Center Gathering of Writers.
- Layden moderated a panel with Furuness, Dionne Irving, and Matthew Pitt: “The Invisible Art: Making Literary Editing Visible, Equitable, and Transparent,” at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, March 9, 2023, in Seattle, WA.
- Layden and Furuness presented “How do you learn or teach an ‘invisible’ skill like editing?” at the Indiana Collegiate Press Association Conference and Awards, April 1, 2023.