What Do Writers and Editors Do? (With Salaries and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 20 January 2023

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

People who advance in a writing career usually create pieces of written material that are published through online resources or in printed forms. These can be newspaper articles, blog articles, novels, film and TV scripts or product descriptions for companies. Understanding what skills you might need for a writing or editing profession can increase your chances of succeeding on this career path. In this article, we answer the question, 'What do writers and editors do?' and provide you with their average salaries, effective skills and some frequently asked questions regarding these careers.

Related: What Is a Copy Editor? Career Details and How-to Guide

What do writers and editors do?

Learning about the question, ‘What do writers and editors do?’ can help you decide if this is the right field for you. Writers compose various kinds of written documentation that may be self-published or submitted for publishing through a company. For example, many people create their own blog and write articles on it about their chosen interests. Other forms of media can be instruction manuals, television adverts, poems, video game scripts, novel writing, short stories or poems for children, news stories and product descriptions for several companies.

Editors typically improve writers' written work before publication, as this can enhance the professionalism of the piece. They may change certain words to suit the target audience or re-write a few paragraphs to clarify the main point. Providing feedback can be important to the writer as it allows them to adapt to the changes and understand how to improve next time. Other duties of an editor can include guiding the plot, noticing grammar mistakes, researching facts, offering helpful comments and improving the overall structure of the writing.

Related: The Importance of Positive Feedback and How to Deliver It to Others

Writer and editor salaries

The national average salary of a writer is $77,656 per year and the national average salary of an editoris $89,002 per year. This can depend on your type of employment and how long you've worked in the writing industry. For example, a self-employed person might earn less than someone working full time at a book publishing company. People in these professions can earn a higher salary when they showcase their writing and editing skills.

Related: Interview Question: ‘What Are Your Salary Expectations?’

Skills for writers

Writers can use many skills when they craft a piece of work, as this helps them form a coherent message with their words. Understanding how to reach their target audience through a specific type of media can benefit their writing and their career. Below are some examples of skills that a writer might use in their role:

Communication

People in this profession often have strong written communication skills so they can produce clear and effective messages and stories. For example, when writing a short piece about the features of the newest phone, they may clearly express how this can benefit the readers. They can use communication skills to discuss ideas with clients, collaborate with editors during the revision process and share ideas effectively with a target audience.

Adaptability

With strong adaptability skills, a writer can guide their work in another direction whilst still producing high-quality content. Sometimes the company might ask the writer to change certain aspects of their written piece to match the company's preferred brand or voice. Developing adaptability can also help writers produce content for a variety of clients and audiences.

Creativity

Many experienced writers use their creative skills to generate fresh story ideas or interesting articles for online sources. For example, some clients may ask the writer for story ideas. The writer can think creatively to brainstorm new article topics and pitch their ideas. Sometimes clients provide a topic, and the writer can use creativity to produce the content in an interesting and entertaining way.

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  • How to Become a Script Writer in 8 Steps

  • What Does a Publisher Do? (With Skills and Salary)

Research

Writers may research facts before writing a professional piece about specific information. They can learn about a new topic and understand what can benefit the reader the most. Knowing how to research properly and gather large amounts of information can help them review sources, gather accurate facts and support their articles with evidence.

Skills for editors

Editors can use a wide range of skills when they edit a piece of writing and convey important feedback to the author. Learning how to shape the written piece can benefit their editing role. Here are some examples of skills an editor may use to succeed in their role:

Communication

Editors can use strong communication skills to give feedback to writers and other team members. For example, they may have a meeting where they discuss tips and strategies to help the writer improve their content. They can also offer constructive criticism to the writer in a way that is easy to accept, understand and remember. Communication skills can help the editor form a professional relationship with the writer.

Attention to detail

Editors usually read written work with a keen eye, as this can help them notice minor mistakes in the text. Having the ability to pay close attention to the words they are editing and how they form an overall structure can strengthen certain areas of the writing. People in this career usually prefer to maintain high accuracy when sending the work back to the writer. With strong attention to detail skills, these editors can suggest valuable improvements to the article.

Related: How to Develop Detail-Oriented Skills

Time management

Productive time management skills can help editors document their upcoming pieces and ensure they work at a steady pace. Some professional editors may work under a tight deadline, as written pieces usually have a due date. They can divide their time between each piece and dedicate their efforts towards those that may need the most improvements. Editors may also plan the length of each project and use their time fairly when approaching each writer.

Technical editing skills

Editors typically have strong technical writing knowledge and editing skills. They're often experts in grammar and writing techniques. They can use these skills to carefully review and revise a writer's work, ensuring accuracy and clarity. They may also have technical knowledge in search engine optimisation (SEO) practices. These skills can help them review work to ensure it ranks high in search engine results.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

FAQs about writers and editors

Here are some frequently asked questions about writers and editors:

What is the work environment like?

The work environment can depend on how the writer and editor prefer to communicate. People in these careers often work for companies and may complete projects in the office. Self-employed writers and editors can work from home and discuss important topics over a video call or by email. Working on a computer can involve sitting down for most of the shift and staying in the same comfortable area in your house.

These professionals may also work full-time depending on their type of employment. For example, those who work for a company may attend the office 40 hours per week, whilst self-employed individuals can work around their own hours during the day and dictate a suitable schedule. Work hours can determine your area of professionalism and how many projects you may need to complete on time.

Is being an editor a good career?

Working independently on your own terms can be rewarding for your personal growth. You can enjoy freedom at home and the ability to manage projects at your preferred pace. This can enhance your discipline as you set rules for your working hours and how much you wish to complete in one shift. If you enjoy giving feedback to other people and improving work overall, this may be the right career choice for you.

Is being a writer a good career?

Writing can provide you with different areas of work, such as social media, novels, scripts, poetry, journalism, music and other niche markets. This freedom of choice may help you find what you're passionate about. You can also build a portfolio of your written work to show future employers and impress them with your dedication to writing creatively. If you like to present a story through words and use your creative abilities, it might be worth considering writing as a career.

Do you need a degree for these jobs?

Completing a bachelor's degree in creative writing can help you write in different genres and offer feedback to other students on the course. You might encounter professional journalists, novelists, screenwriters, publishers and editors, poets and other knowledgeable people that can guide you through your writing or editing journey. This course may last around three years, with the chance to extend your education if you want to complete a master's degree.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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