Advanced Professional Member
Why did you choose an editorial career, and how did you get into it?
An editorial career chose me. I'm a journalist by trade and after quite a few years as a feature writer and a career break to do my degree, a colleague offered me a job as a subeditor at the magazine he was editor of. I got thrown in at the deep end but discovered very quickly that I loved it, and thankfully was good at it.
What training have you done to get your editorial career up and running?
I pretty much trained on the job initially, both there and my subsequent one. Then I moved abroad and spent a few years working in comms in the non-profit sector, where a lot of my work entailed editing and proofreading second-language English for colleagues. Jumping sideways into an editorial role at an investment bank I did a one-week course in equity analysis, which wasn't editing CPD but gave me a solid grounding in how analysts value listed companies. That enabled me to up my editing game. When I returned to the UK and launched my freelance business, that training put me in a position to specialise in editing financial material of all kinds. I also did quite a lot of homework when offered my first book, as copyediting is not the same as subediting, only similar. I try to attend the annual CIEP conference as the workshops are an excellent opportunity for CPD.
What work are you most proud of?
I was hired to edit a report for the Treasury on the open banking standard. We were on an extremely tight deadline and the report was still being written by a substantial team of bankers, data experts, tech developers and financial regulators. It was challenging as none of them had any understanding of the publishing process and some seemed to think it was ok to keep tweaking their sections right up to the deadline. My client had put me in charge and it was akin to herding cats. Unsurprisingly, we missed our planned deadline and I ended up giving up most of my Christmas and New Year break to finish the editing in time for the Treasury to publish on 2 January. I've been privileged to work on some amazing publications but I'm most proud of this as I proved to myself I could manage a 30-strong team of non-writers and still pull it out of the bag, with seconds to spare. And the report changed the face of how we bank, so it was exciting to be in on the use of consumer fintech at the outset.
What do you do if you're struggling on a job?
It depends on the struggle. If it's anything technical, I'll ask on CIEP's forum for advice or solutions, or I may go back to the client with queries. I will take a decent break for a long walk or something else that will help clear my headspace so I can return to the job feeling ready for a fresh look. If it's just stress, gin and letting off steam to my husband both help!
What does being a member of the CIEP mean to you?
Being an Advanced Professional Member is the most obvious benefit – both that status and my listing in the CIEP directory bring work my way. Other than that, being in a community of professionals is invaluable – together we are stronger! I'm delighted we now have chartered status as it brings more clout, individually and collectively, and shows our services have value.
Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?
I love running PerfectIt over a document at the beginning and end of the editing process – it does what I call "the grunt work", freeing me to focus on the actual editing and delivering better quality to the client, on time. I'm also a hardcore list-maker – I need to be organised at the start of every working day so I can plan how best to use my time.
Do you have any editorial pet hates?
Random capitalisation, Oxford commas and apostrophe abuse, all a time-consuming nuisance.
What has most surprised you about your editorial career?
I never expected to transition from being a journalist who writes to a journalist who edits. After 13 years abroad, I planned to go back to writing here in the UK. And I do still sell features, but 15 years on I'm still editing 98% of the time – for the newspapers, publishers and businesses.
What's the best career advice you've received?
"Pick up the phone!" On the first day of my first job, the irascible editor who hired me to write for his magazine threw a phone at my head. It cured my phone phobia (almost for good) and taught me it's the best way to connect with clients.
What advice do you have for people starting out on an editorial career?
Check out the CIEP's guides to whether it's the right career, as editorial work entails vastly more than fixing grammar mistakes and typos. Then do some training so you have solid knowledge under your belt, and get business advice – there's plenty for free out there.
Do you ever stop editing?
Yes. I used to work into the evenings, over weekends and bank holidays, and even over Christmas. Since meeting my husband, I've become very good at switching off at 6pm and prioritising family time.
Finally, tell us one thing about you not related to editing
I'm a hardcore tennis fan and I follow the sport all year round, not just the grand slams. I'm happiest yelling at the telly in a tense match and I will worship Andy Murray until I die.
The CIEP does not give any special endorsement to the members who appear in Meet our members. If you are looking for an editorial professional, we recommend you search the Directory of Editorial Services.