Michèle Clarke (now Moody)

Michele Moody

Michèle Clarke (now Moody)

Advanced Professional Member

Why did you choose an editorial career, and how did you get into it?

I started copyediting and proofreading (and also indexing) well over 40 years ago, having been encouraged by the Librarian at a medical firm. With a Classics Degree and a love of English, I found I was interested in medical subjects (the medical Latin terms not being a problem), and later I offered Gardening and Cookery as subjects. I founded SfEP with Norma Whitcombe way back in 1988 for support among the many freelance editors.

What training have you done to get your editorial career up and running?

I have attended many of the training days offered at Book House, and later those we offered ourselves at SfEP. The grounding in English grammar at school was essential. I also attended many of the conferences offered by SfEP where up-to-date subjects are discussed.

What work are you most proud of?

In the past, many of the medical laymen books I edited for Class Publishing, working with both publisher and authors.

Recently, I have edited, proofread and indexed a Cookery book for the NFU, which involved interviewing farmers as well!

What do you do if you're struggling on a job?

Contact colleagues in SfEP, or use the online forums.

What does being a member of the SfEP mean to you?

Everything, as it was my baby along with Norma, who originally suggested the need for a society such as this. It has grown so much over the 30 years, and changed with the times involving now so much digital editing.

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

Sorting a muddled text. I have been involved in two books that particularly come to mind. One was a cut and paste job, involving pasting in new copy into an old edition on teaching nutrition and cookery, and the other was a book on proofreading, where the author was not at all sure about the difference between proofreading and copyediting himself!

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

Yes – being given less and less time to edit, rather than spending much time on what original typesetters used to do.

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

How many friends I have made from colleagues and how satisfying it is to turn a text into something readable and enjoyable.

What's the best career advice you've received?

Not to be afraid of standing up and talking. Because of SfEP, I can now talk to a roomful of people, and my career has developed also into teaching new copyeditors, proofreaders and indexers.

What advice do you have for people starting out on an editorial career?

Make sure you have a proper grounding in English grammar, and you can say why something is wrong. There was a generation of young people who were never taught grammar, and therefore sadly don’t know what they don’t know, and this can cause problems later.

Do you ever stop editing?

No! I can still get annoyed about poor editing in any book, be it fiction or non-fiction.

Finally, tell us one thing about you not related to editing

I am a quilter and teach this to all sorts of groups in England.

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