03 Jan 2023

CIEP Member: Paul Ashe

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

I have always enjoyed playing with words and writing. At primary school I wrote a poem which made teachers think it was too good for me to write (probably says more about how I projected myself as a kid than the teachers) and in secondary school I published, and sold, a newspaper to my peers. Soon after becoming a teacher of English as a foreign language I got the chance to write materials for one of the big publishers and have been delving deeper into the publishing process ever since.

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

Currently my main focus lies more in educational consultancy and I think I still have a long way to go before I feel I can call myself a fully fledged editor (could it be imposter syndrome?). The courses I have taken with the CIEP on copyediting and editorial project management have really helped fine-tune the rough skills I had gained up to that point. These were extremely useful eye-openers and the next courses on the horizon include Getting to Grips with Grammar and Punctuation as well as Editing Digital Content.

What work are you most proud of?

I guess any project on which I feel I overcame problems and managed to find effective solutions. Translating and copyediting for the local council in the city where I live in Spain was rewarding, as it was an extra challenge with the translation element included. I also recently enjoyed learning more about Lynn Nottage by editing a short piece for DIGITAL THEATRE+, knowing that college students would be progressing in their studies thanks to the piece.

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Do you have any editorial pet hates?

I guess we all do. Apart from having to correct numerous simple typos which have slipped through the net I get frustrated when projects slide as I usually have a very tight timetable and plan a long time ahead.  

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

Several different things. Firstly, as a copyeditor I have been surprised at just how many transferable skills I have as a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer in the ELT sector. On the flip side, I have also been surprised about the wealth of things an editor needs to be very good at; the list is very long and seems to be getting longer all the time! Finally, I guess it is the inconsistency shown by some clients in their understanding of just what a copyeditor, proofreader etc. should be responsible for.

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

  1. If you're going to do something, do it well.

  2. Do what you enjoy (eventually someone will pay you for it!).

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

  1. Get some training under your belt and clear guidance on the various areas into which you can expand and how.

  2. Put your training into practice quickly and see if it's really what you want to do.

  3. If it isn't, don't be scared to change direction and try something else. Find something you really enjoy!

Do you ever stop editing?

Do you realise how many times I have reviewed my own words in this contribution knowing who will be reading it? Ha ha! Despite the revisions I bet I have still made some basic mistakes.

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

Related to my passion for the English Language Teaching sector I have created a free service for adult learners of English where they can get free English lessons online. I share this service with NGOs and any individual who might be interested. It provides a free level test of English and access to online lessons depending on the level: www.EnglishTrainingFree.com

Translating and copyediting for the local council in the city where I live in Spain was rewarding, as it was an extra challenge with the translation element included.

Paul Ashe

Entry-Level Member


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