04 Jan 2023

CIEP Member: Annie Deakins

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

Having been a primary teacher for 30 years when I left the classroom through ill health, I had time to ponder what on earth I was going to do next. I started proofreading training, thinking I could easily apply my marking skills. I soon learnt there was a lot to learn. It was scary starting my own business but freelancing appealed. The local Job Centre requested I do two things to receive the New Enterprise Allowance: write a business plan and build a website. First, I did research and googled proofreading. The SfEP (now CIEP) website was top of the list. I joined, continued training and developed my business plan.

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

I completed the CIEP Proofreading suite and the References course. After reading the Proofreading Theses and Dissertations Guide, the first clients I approached were students. When I completed the Proofreading mentoring scheme I approached specific publishers (using my education expertise). I have found that publishers value the CIEP training; it represents high standards and trust. Since I joined in 2017 I have completed many CIEP courses and attended each annual conference.

What work are you most proud of?

A small history publisher asked me to proofread a book about the Black community in Britain during the First World War. Originally for adults, the author rewrote it for schools. The commissioning editor liked the look of my website and needed my education specialism. I was the right fit. They offered a good rate and a sensible deadline. The project was great for my self-esteem!

Read more

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

I forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of a proofreading project, eg page layout. One huge project reminded me to look at inconsistencies across many chapters.

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

How the variety of my clients changes from year to year. As well as proofreading for publishers, I get queries from first-time, self-publishing children's authors that find my website and ask for publishing guidance. They are reassured by my teaching experience and knowledge of children's books. Being an ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) Partner Member has helped. Currently, I niche with non-fiction publishers, and publishers of children's books, educational, and English Language Teaching (ELT) materials.

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

When you own your own business you are a 'wearer of many hats', eg admin, technical support. Some roles you will enjoy, others less so. One tip I learnt is to plan your week so that each element of your business gets attention, be proactive and keep up-to-date, thereby maintaining control.

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

Do training in proofreading and/or copyediting. Have a LinkedIn profile where you list your training, services and contact details. Even better, put those details in a website. Then tell people what you do (marketing). Prospective clients won't know you're available unless you tell them.

Do you ever stop editing?

Absolutely. Switching off and relaxing is vital for wellbeing. I can read for pleasure without letting errors bother me.

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

My mum grew up in Birmingham before she moved, with my Scottish dad, to Paisley, where I grew up. One of her early jobs, in the late 1950s, was in the typing pool at BBC Pebble Mill. She enjoyed typing scripts for Radio 4's The Archers. I was forced to listen to The Archers growing up but have enjoyed listening ever since. If I miss an episode there's always BBC Sounds.

I work better in the mornings, so it helps to get to my desk first thing. To keep me on task, I use the Pomodoro technique (a timer is essential).

Annie Deakins

Intermediate Member



Welcome to the new CIEP website

If you are a CIEP member you will need to click 'Forgotten password' to reset your password so you can log in.