Why did you choose an editorial career, and how did you get into it?
As a child I didn't exactly answer 'copyeditor and proofreader' when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. (I wasn't particularly sporty, so my answer was 'a food critic', because someone told me you could get paid to eat and share your thoughts about the food, which I was already doing for free.)
I suppose it's a similar story for many: a mix of a particular skillset and personality, finding out that this is an actual job people do for a living, and realising you enjoy it and are good at it.
My degree was very heavy on languages and literature, and I also did an editorial internship in the publications department of an art museum. It seemed like an obvious career path at that point.
What training have you done to get your editorial career up and running?
Aside from lots of on-the-job learning when I worked in-house and reading plenty of books on the subject, I completed an assessed copyediting course with the Publishing Training Centre. I was advised to skip the proofreading course based on my experience and jump straight into the copyediting one. Doing well at it from the beginning definitely boosted my confidence in the skills I had acquired professionally through the years, and I also got to learn about areas I didn't know as much about. There were ups and downs and it required a lot of discipline, but I was thrilled when I finished it with a distinction, which is pretty rare! I have also completed short courses and attended webinars on editing since then.
What work are you most proud of?
I'm always proud when clients thank me for the quality of my work, regardless of the specific project I am working on. It's their work, after all – I'm just making it the best it can be. Whether it's catching an embarrassing mistake – we all make them – or giving them more confidence in their writing, it's always a great feeling as an editorial professional.
What do you do if you're struggling on a job?
I put things into perspective. Obsessing on the problem doesn't result in better work, so I try to think about it constructively.
If it's something small or technical, I turn to my reference material and the CIEP forums, which are always a great source of help (and commiseration).
If it's something trickier with the project or the client, being upfront about the issue (tactfully!) is always the best idea. It can save you many a headache down the line.
What does being a member of the CIEP mean to you?
- Being part of a professional organisation that recognises and upholds high editorial standards.
- Being able to turn to my fellow members for their expertise and support, both professional and emotional.
- Establishing myself as a trusted editorial professional through my Professional Membership.
Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?
It varies. Sometimes it's satisfying to turn difficult and convoluted writing into something easier to digest. Other times I really enjoy the more repetitive, brain-numbing mechanical tasks, even though I've automated most of them now through macros and software.
And it's always fun to learn new things through your work.
Do you have any editorial pet hates?
Because of my academic background in Latin and English, I hate all the 'rules' that were imported to English from Latin by stuffy grammarians (e.g. don't split infinitives and don't end sentences with prepositions).
You sometimes have to apply them – people might take you for a heretic if you question the linguistic validity of the fewer–less distinction – but they're mostly silly and make no sense in English, which is very different from Latin. And that's good!
Oh, and the word 'utilise'. I will personally always use 'use', and I will never get utilised to it.
What has most surprised you about your editorial career?
The freedom you have as a freelancer to choose who you work with and the kind of projects you take on, but it's a double-edged sword. Not having a constant, guaranteed stream of work as you do when working in-house can make you quite anxious.
What's the best career advice you've received?
No two projects are alike – always tailor your services to what the particular project requires. The same goes for clients.
What advice do you have for people starting out on an editorial career?
The amount of information out there is overwhelming, and often contradictory. Read as much as you can, especially from trusted sources like the CIEP, but at some point you're just going to have to go with your gut. You might make mistakes, but it's better than stasis and indecision caused by information overload.
Do you ever stop editing?
Yes! I quite enjoy my existence outside labour. It can be hard to turn your editor brain off, but I think it’s an essential skill to develop. Mental health, anyone?
Finally, tell us one thing about you not related to editing
I'm a little obsessed with fermenting food. Kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, hot sauce, garlic, carrots, lemons, you name it – if it can be fermented, I've probably tried it. And if not, I've found out the hard way. Oh, and my explosion counter sits proudly at zero.
My mum once had a bit of a panic because she was convinced that there was a gas leak. It was my sauerkraut, and it really wasn't that stinky …
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.