Advanced Professional Member
Why did you choose an editorial career, and how did you get into it?
During my science career I realised one of the things I most enjoyed about research was communicating our team's results. I was always being asked by my colleagues to check their writing – and was the one who would notice that the numbers in the table didn't match the numbers in the text. Becoming a scientific editor was an obvious career path for me to take.
What training have you done to get your editorial career up and running?
When I moved from research to the publishing industry I undertook a graduate diploma in editing and publishing. This course put me in good stead to be a competent editor straight out of the gate and gave me enough practice that I learned to edit at a reasonable speed. I have since taken short courses through editing associations and have occasionally challenged myself to apply for certifications and accreditations, such as the BELS Diplomate Editor in the Life Sciences.
What work are you most proud of?
I was honoured to be part of the 180-person team awarded a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Collaboration Medal in 2020 for work on 'the world's most extensive, multi-disciplinary water resource study', the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment. I participated as a member of the editorial team.
What do you do if you're struggling on a job?
Lots of hot tea, a walk with the dog, and some time in the garden. I will set mini goals, listing what I want to complete that hour, that day and that week. I take a short break every hour (that's when I do laundry or wash the dishes). And at the end of the day, regardless of the volume of work I have completed, I always take the evening off, so that I am fresh and productive the next morning.
What does being a member of the CIEP mean to you?
Being a member of CIEP means I am a part of an international community of editors, where training, support and networking are all at my fingertips. Membership also demonstrates my commitment to meeting editorial standards. My Advanced Professional Member status is evidence to my clients (and potential clients) of my cumulative skills, training and experience as an editorial professional.
Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy the process of editing rather than enjoying any particular task. I use a checklist and work my way through the various stages of editing. I use macros and the F&R tool at the start for word and punctuation checks, and then move on to reference and citation checks, PerfectIt, and finally, the word-by-word read-through of the manuscript.
Do you have any editorial pet hates?
I don't really have any editorial pet peeves; after all, it is those mistakes by my clients that keep me in business as a freelance.
What has most surprised you about your editorial career?
I have been surprised by how effective word of mouth is in sending work my way. My clients seem to be my best advertising strategy!
What's the best career advice you've received?
You are smarter than Word or Excel. If you can't make Microsoft work, just keep trying, you will succeed.
What advice do you have for people starting out on an editorial career?
I have referred more than one beginning editor to the CIEP Curriculum for Professional Development. The CIEP also has a number of low-cost 'how-to' guides, which can be purchased and downloaded from the website. I believe it is important to undertake some level of training when starting a career as an editor. That training can take many forms, and not all of it needs to cost money (such as volunteering to edit for non-profit organisations, taking free online quizzes like the CIEP Quiz Corner and Chicago Style Workouts, joining your CIEP Local Group, undertaking internships and participating in other informal pathways). I also advise would-be editors that having your own editorial business isn't just about editing, you also need to have a good understanding of business set-up, legal issues, accounting, IT, time management and marketing. Knowing a fair bit about professional communication and negotiation skills will also serve you well in the editorial profession.
Do you ever stop editing?
When I worked in-house for an educational publisher, I learned the long-lived tradition of never opening a textbook that has just been published, because when you crack open the spine and scan through that first random page you will always see a mistake. I've learned how to turn off my own editing out of hours, but also to turn down that editor inside me who sees mistakes in other people's work, because 'there but for the grace of God, go I'.
Finally, tell us one thing about you not related to editing
I have a collection of vintage devilled egg plates. My favourite one is an Anchor Hocking milk glass plate with 24C gold trim.
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