I get confused by all the kinds of editors there are. It seems that journals that take themselves really seriously tend to have a bunch of editors. I don’t know that much about publishing, so maybe there’s a guideline, but to me it just seems like a bunch of people calling one another fancy names. What follows is my guess about what these types of editors do.
Editor – this guy (sorry, I imagine a dude) doesn’t read submissions; he might not even read the journal when it comes out. He just calls his friends on the phone to solicit their writing. He likes to say “I split my time between New York and [some other city].” This guy is famous and he rocks.
Executive Editor – this guy is old, and went to Princeton in the 50s. He doesn’t have an email account; doesn’t even know what twitter is. He just goes to the bank and transfers money and writes checks. He lives by a lake, but cannot swim.
Senior Editor – this guy is not necessarily old, but has been around at the journal the longest, so it’s like an honorary or sympathetic title which means “guy who couldn’t get another job.”
Editor at large – (Sorry again, I keep on imagining men.) This guy is “at large,” the way criminals are “at large,” like he’s on the streets with his blackberry or iPhone rejecting people and having lunch with the graphic designer (somebody with a drug problem and dyed hair). This guy basically does everything and wants to kill the editor.
Editor in chief – this guy does exactly what the Editor at large does, except he’s got an inferiority complex and wants to be called “Chief.” (Either that or he’s Native American.) When he’s making love he wants to be called “Horse.” He’s obsessed with semantics, forces people to bold his name in every issue.
Managing Editor – this is more of an administrative role; he is in charge of ordering bathroom supplies and toner. He’s also the one who has to store the boxes full of unsold copies in his living room. He has a two cats and no girlfriend. He is so broke he makes tea with toothpaste. He is a prime suicide candidate.
Deputy Editor – this guy has a gun and taser collection. He lives in Alabama.
Associate Editor(s) – “Associate” is a euphemism for “haha, these people have to read all the submissions, and they don’t get paid.” Associate editors are recently graduated from writing programs and enthusiastic about the publishing world; they go to open mics and readings, where they all get drunk and sleep with one another. The ratio of M:F for Associate Editors is 44:55 (1 person is a hermaphrodite).
Assistant Editor – this person is not even an editor, just some uncreative person with an English degree who’s in charge of adding or removing commas. They also have to replace curly quotes with straight quotes, and remembering where all the italics were when somebody loses the HTML. This person wears glasses, and was not loved as a child.
Contributing Editor – this person either has a lot of opinions for Op Eds, or can’t get published anywhere else, so he publishes in the same journal he edits at. The euphemism for this is contribute. This person may be a sex addict.
Founding Editor – this person doesn’t do anything except take the credit for starting the journal. He is likely to mention the journal to dismissive family members who believe he has wasted his life.
Poetry Editor — Finally, a woman.
I probably got a lot wrong, sorry. I just think people need to chill out. People are people, words are words. A good story is a beautiful thing, a bad one might get a Pushcart. The only rule for taste is chew with your mouth closed. People get by by barely getting by. Who needs perfection when it’s perfect bound?