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I work predominantly with scholarly books in the social sciences and humanities, but also occasionally work directly with first-time and more experienced independent authors on things such as memoirs, thrillers and speculative fiction. I don't work on writing that is going to be marked.
I have been a full-time freelance copyeditor since 2007.
Prior to becoming freelance, I always ended up being the local word doctor wherever I worked in central government and the private sector. I checked, wrote and fixed everything from letters full of arithmetic answering payroll complaints, to technical manuals for the staff, to information leaflets for the public, to contracts. In the end I made the decision to copyedit full-time, without the distractions of managing staff and the day job. That depth of experience in making the complex simple is of huge benefit. (And I learned how essential it is to meet deadlines.)
Recent books now published include: Understanding Educational Leadership: Critical Perspectives and Approaches (Steven J Courtney, Helen M Gunter, Richard Niesche and Tina Trugillo (eds); Bloomsbury Academic); Civil Society Through the Lifecourse (Sally Power (ed); Policy Press); Elemental Change: Making Stuff Happen When Nothing Stands Still (Neil Usher; LID Publishing); Mapping Good Work: The Quality of Working Life Across the Occupational Structure (Mark Williams, Ying Zhou and Min Zou; Bristol University Press); Adventurers: Huawei Stories 4 (Tian Tao; LID Business Media); Ancient Violence in the Modern Imagination (Irene Berti, Maria G. Castello and Carla Scilabra (eds); Bloomsbury Academic); Being: The Six Principles for Leading in an Age of Fast Change (Ben Renshaw; LID Publishing);The Art of Living Well: Moral Experience and Virtue Ethics (Paul Van Tongeren, translated by Thomas Heij; Bloomsbury Academic); The Adult Safeguarding Practice Handbook (Kate Spreadbury and Rachel Hubbard; Policy Press); Early Modern Aristotelianism and the Making of Philosophical Disciplines (Danilo Facca; Bloomsbury Academic); The New Technocracy (Anders Esmark; Bristol University Press); Errors and Mistakes in Child Protection: International Discourses, Approaches and Strategies (Kay Biesel, Judith Masson, Nigel Parton and Tarja Pösö (eds); Policy Press); Crafting Anatomies: Archives, Dialogues, Fabrications (Katherine Townsend, Rhian Solomon and Amanda Briggs-Goode (eds); Bloomsbury Visual Arts); Proposing Empirical Research, 6e (Mildred L Patten and Melisa C Galvan; Routledge); Influence: How Social Media Influencers Are Shaping Our Digital Future (Sara McCorquodale; Bloomsbury Business).
On-screen editing, copyediting, editing non-native English, anglicizing, copyediting in US English.
Mastering styles and templates (Using Office, 2021), English grammar in context (Open University OpenLearn short course, 2020), PerfectIt (Intro to PerfectIt4; PerfectIt3 Advanced: Cadman Training, 2020), Practical markup of PDFs (SfEP, 2019), Adobe tools for editors (Publishing Training Centre, 2019), Brush up your grammar (SfEP, 2017), Editing with Word (SfEP, 2017), References (SfEP, 2016), Advanced copy-editing (Publishing Training Centre, 2014), Editing digital products (Publishing Training Centre, 2013), Professional copy-editing (SfEP, 2013), Indexing for editors and proofreaders (Society of Indexers, 2012), Efficient copy-editing (SfEP, 2012), Introduction to web editorial skills (SfEP, 2012), On-screen editing I & II (SfEP, 2012).
Bristol University Press/Policy Press, RefineCatch (for Bloomsbury imprints), Longitudinal and Life Course Studies journal for Bristol University Press, De Montfort University, LID Media and the Shakespeare journal for the British Shakespeare Society.
Qualifications and awards
BA (Hons) (Lond.) in Geography with English Literature. Mensa member since 2005.
Books, including multi-author volumes, and journal articles.
I am the author of the CIEP Guide Going Solo: Creating Your Freelance Editorial Business, whose fully revised and rather expanded second edition was published in February 2021 (first edition published in September 2016), and CIEP members can find the accompanying Going Solo Toolkit, with current financial information and spreadsheet templates for your business records, in the members area of this website.
I write the Flying Solo blog thread for CIEP, tackling issues around running your editorial business. It comes out every other month (and it's included as part of THE EDIT, for CIEP members) from February 2021.
I'm a member of the CIEP's parliament of wise owls, who blog with advice for our fellow editors and proofreaders every couple of months or so.
Separately, I've published a number of guest posts on the CIEP blog:
Customer service: it’s all about imagination (19 June 2019)
Numbers for word people – SfEP conference session preview (3 July 2016): I spoke on the subject of finance for freelances at the 2016 Society for Editors and Proofreaders (the forerunner of CIEP) Conference.
Transferable skills and life lessons (26 June 2015)
Democratisation of English series:
Democratisation of English Pt 1: Power to the people (10 October 2014)
Democratisation of English Pt 2: Tear up the rule book? (21 October 2014)
(4 November 2014)
Democratisation of English Pt 4: And, finally, (13 November 2014)
For BookMachine, I wrote a pair of posts on tricksy authors and how to deal with them:
17 Ways to Annoy an Editor (9 April 2017)
Difficult Authors: 14 Tips for Editors (11 April 2017)
Humanities and Social Sciences, including
- international relations
- geography - economic, transport, demographic and so on
- literature studies
- theatre and film
- media studies
I also copyedit trade nonfiction, and occasionally work on fiction (thrillers and speculative fiction) and memoirs.
You’re brilliant - these look amazing and your attention to detail scares me a little! They’re much nicer to read now, and the style suggestions and style guide are really helpful.
Dr Matthew Whalley, author of resources for practitioners and self-help on the Psychology Tools website: www.psychologytools.com (May 2019)
Sue Littleford has been the best copy editor I’ve worked with in a long career of publishing. She is assiduous, resourceful, intelligent, detailed and efficient and undoubtedly improved the quality of our work. (Professor Deborah Cartmell, Associate Dean, Research, De Montfort University).
Sue Littleford was an excellent copy editor, meticulous, detailed and efficient. She was also extremely quick. Working with her made a potentially agonising process quite painless. (Peter J Smith, Reader in Renaissance Literature, Nottingham Trent University)
Co-editors of Much Ado About Nothing: A Critical Reader (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2018)
It is good to see that the end of the intensive editing is expected next week, but it also makes me a little sad, as I have enjoyed the process despite the late nights and occasional exhaustion.
Many thanks for the hard and thorough work, which can be seen from the attached documents. It feels like a great step towards publishing this book, but also it feels like I am into slightly unknown territory, unhinged from the safety of collaboration with you.
What a great collaboration we have had! It has felt from the start that the job is in very safe hands. I have asked myself a few times “How did I deserve to get this editor for my book?” Honestly.
Ljubomir Jankovic, Professor of Zero Carbon Design at Birmingham City University, author of Designing Zero Carbon Buildings: Using Dynamic Simulation Methods (2nd edition, Routledge, June 2017)
Brilliant. All safely received .... And all immaculately presented as ever. I like getting jobs back from you as it makes my life so easy.
Merv Honeywood, Client Manager (for Bloomsbury), RefineCatch Ltd (June 2018)
You are one of the most professional and cheery copyeditors I’ve ever worked with and it makes me feel like our book is in the best of hands.
Prof. Christoph Lindner, Professor of Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam and volume co-editor of Global Garbage (Routledge, 2016)
It's been a pleasure working with you. Your editing is a model of precision and concision! I know you’ve made our festschrift hugely better than when you first laid eyes on the computer files!!
Bill Hickman, former Associate Professor of Turkish Language and Literature at the University of California (Berkeley), now retired and volume co-editor of Turkish Language, Literature, and History (Routledge, 2016)
Many thanks for your attention to deal and your good humour throughout the process, thanks too for the word list – I haven’t seen one of those before!
Dr Lisa Webley SFHEA, Professor of Empirical Legal Studies, Westminster Law School, University of Westminster, author of Legal Writing (4th edition, Routledge, 2016)
I wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated – and enjoyed – working together with you on the copy editing of our new book with Routledge, Banking Systems in the Crisis: The Faces of Liberal Capitalism. Although I’ve worked with copy editors in the preparation of academic journal articles for publication, this was my first experience with a book project; and it has been a truly rewarding one. I’ll certainly request you as a copy editor for future book projects.
From our first point of contact, you kept me informed about the process. You let me know about your availability and when I might expect each set of queries on successive chapters. And you were fantastic in liaising with others within the production chain when necessary. This helped me manage my expectations and workload in such a way that – despite the hectic time of year from an academic’s perspective – the task of progressing the book from the original manuscript to final edited copy was a smooth and painless one.
You were extremely efficient; but at no stage did I feel hurried or rushed. The clarity of your queries made it easy to respond; and you were swift in following-up on questions along the way. When I was unsure about best practice in referencing, formatting or expression, you were always able to offer advice. I was especially impressed by your attention to detail – and your surprising breadth of knowledge and understanding of our area of research. You picked up things in a manuscript that I could have sworn was clean; and you were able to query things that only someone tuned-in to the research topic would have been able to catch. You also retained the various chapter authors’ voices whilst ensuring that the book reads as a unified piece of work. All of this gives me added confidence that our book will present itself as well as it possibly can when it appears in print.
It has been great to work together on this and I look forward to the possibility of future collaboration.
Dr Suzanne J. Konzelmann, Birkbeck, University of London, Director, London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics, Director, Postgraduate Programmes in Corporate Governance and Business Ethics, co-editor of Banking Systems in the Crisis: The Faces of Liberal Capitalism (Routledge, 2013)
…you are the best copy editor we use and there are over 30 of them! I would like to have used you more over the last couple of years but when you are good at your job that’s how it goes…
Rob Brown, Project Manager (now retired) at Saxon Graphics, Derby on T&F and Continuum jobs, December 2015
In an email to the publisher:
Normally I don't fill out these kinds of surveys, I really don’t like them. But I took some time to fill this one out because I found the experience with the team Routledge had assembled to be so positive. … Sue Littleford was quick, careful, and very pleasant to work with as our copy editor…
And in the survey:
It was a pleasure to work with the copy editor. Sue Littleford did a fabulous job in a very timely manner. She was very easy to work, and her queries and messages were always very clear.
Dr Greg Halseth, Professor in the Geography Program at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada Research Chair in Rural and Small Town Studies and Co-Director of UNBC’s Community Development Institute, Canada, volume editor of Transformation of Resource Towns and Peripheries (Routledge, 2017)