Committed as a Teaching Press: Writing Reader’s and Editor’s Reports

The University Press of North Georgia is proud to be a teaching press and is committed to providing NGCSU college students with real-life instructions and internship experience in a variety of different arenas of publishing.  One of the ways this is accomplished is through the “Intro to Publishing” class offered by the English Department and taught by Dr. Bonnie Robinson, UPNG Director.

As an English major, I took the “Intro to Publishing” class in the Spring of 2011. I greatly enjoyed the class and ultimately decided to seek to intern with UPNG because of it. I know several other English majors that also still use the skills they learned in the class on a daily basis.

Each week over the next semester, I will be collaborating with one of the students in Dr. Robinson’s current “Intro to Publishing” class to share what we have learned throughout our respective courses, in hopes that you might also learn something about what occurs before you have a new book in your hands. This week, Cara Cunningham joins me to discuss what her class just finished discussing: Reader’s Reports and Editor’s Reports.

Cara writes,

“One day, I would like to work in a publishing house. This semester I am working towards that difficult-to-achieve goal by being in “Introduction to Publishing.” This week in this course, I am learning how to write a Reader’s Report and an Editor’s Report. A Reader’s Report is written when an editor desires help with reading and evaluating manuscripts which are sent to his publishing house. An assistant will read a manuscript and will write a Reader’s Report of typically a few paragraphs in length which summarizes and evaluates the manuscript. It will conclude with a recommendation of whether or not to publish the manuscript. An Editor’s Report is written by an editorial assistant about a manuscript that has already been approved for publication. This report is often directed to the author of the manuscript but may also be directed to the head editor depending on what is asked of the editorial assistant. The Editor’s Report is like the Reader’s Report in that it briefly evaluates the work, but it focuses only on what needs to be improved in the manuscript in its overall structure, i.e. if the subject needs additional or fewer details. The writer of an Editor’s Report needs to also provide sound logic to support the change.”

My own personal experiences learning about Reader’s Reports has allowed me to think more critically about my creative writing. I want to one day be a children’s author. Sometimes after writing a new children’s story, I will try to step back and write an imaginary Reader’s Report and Editorial Report for the work, asking myself these questions: If I were looking at this manuscript for the first time, what would make me think that it was worth publishing? Would anything hinder me from wanting to publish it? What could be changed? What absolutely has to stay no matter the revision? Where should details be added or removed? What is the logical and literary (not the emotional, I-like-this-because-it’s-my-own-work) reason that the publishing house I wish to submit to would spend time, effort, and money publishing my work?

Looking at Readers and Editorial Reports in this manner has helped me revise several manuscripts. What work do you currently have in-progress and how could asking these questions of your manuscripts benefit both you as a writer and your work?