Sophie Playle

Sophie Playle

Sophie Playle

Advanced Professional Member

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

I've always loved books and writing, and so after studying English Literature and Creative Writing at university, I decided to pursue a career in publishing. I got my foot on the ladder at Pearson Education as an editorial assistant, but after about a year I decided working in-house wasn't for me – not only did I want to work with fiction (sorry academic textbooks!), I also wanted to work directly with the manuscripts themselves. I didn't have that opportunity where I was, so I took the leap and started my own business.           

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

I completed The Publishing Training Centre's long-distance learning course on copyediting. Boy, was that a beast! It took me around a year to complete, and it was pretty overwhelming. (I think the PTC have since split this course into two parts.) I also gained a qualification in Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTTLS) because I knew I also wanted to teach creative writing – although I now run online courses for other editors instead! Over the years, I've attended a bunch of conferences and training days from the SfEP, too.

What work are you most proud of?

I edited a book for a small-press publisher once who also owned a local book shop. Walking past it one day, I saw they'd created a full window display of the freshly published hardback! That gave me a pretty good feeling. Really, though, what makes me most proud is seeing the creativity, hard work and humility that all the authors I work with put into their books.

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

If I come across a technical problem, I'll turn to the SfEP forums for advice. If I'm struggling with something more complex, I'll turn to a few of my closest friends who are also business owners. I trust their judgement, so they can often give me a different perspective on an issue.  

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

Community and support. Working by yourself can be so isolating. The SfEP members are my people!

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

Recently, I've realised that variation is a key part of how much I enjoy my work. Too much of anything can suck the joy out of it. At the moment, I'm really enjoying conducting manuscript critiques. Mostly because it means I can load the manuscript onto my Kindle and take it wherever I want to do my reading!

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

The phrase 'I could care less' – just no. That doesn't make sense! If I come across that in a text, I will edit it and leave a mini rant in the comments. Also, authors who don't understand how to punctuate dialogue. That's a red flag to me that the story won't be up to scratch – because if someone struggles with the simple things, they'll undoubtedly struggle with the complicated things … like plotting.

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

That there are some authors out there who would rather throw money at an editor to do the story-crafting legwork for them than spend the time and effort learning how to write. I don't understand people who do that, and I try to avoid them. In the end, the experience is too frustrating.

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

Listen to the advice of others … and dismiss what doesn't resonate. What works for one person may not work for another. Our businesses are all different, and we are all different. Don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed by thoughts of what you should be doing. Do your own thing.

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

Learn as much as you can about the services you want to offer and how to run a business before you take the leap. Learn, learn, learn. Read blogs, take courses, join communities. The more clarity you have around where you want to be, the easier it will be to get there.

Do you ever stop editing?

I must admit, it's hard to turn editor-brain off when you've been working all day and pick up a book to read in the evening.

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

I love to travel. A couple of years ago, I left my rented house behind, put my furniture and books into storage, loaded my laptop into a rucksack and travelled around Europe for nine months straight while also running my business. It was fantastic.

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.