09 Jan 2023

CIEP Member: Rachael Mortimer

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

My husband is a board-game designer in his spare time. For some years, I had been proofreading his rules prior to their submission to publishers, as well as proofreading his games for publishers before going to print. At the time, I was seeking a flexible career, working from home, to fit in with my family.

I enjoyed the proofreading work, so I decided to use my existing skills. Networking with my husband’s contacts in the board-game industry helped kickstart my career.

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

In 2016, I completed the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) Essential Proofreading course. Initially, I specialised in proofreading for the board-game industry, using my previous experience. However, once my business was established I expanded into copyediting and proofreading fiction. Following my training in copyediting and fiction editing with the CIEP and Louise Harnby, I now specialise in historical and fantasy/sci-fi/speculative fiction – my favourite genres.

What work are you most proud of?

I’ve worked on some fantastic projects, and it’s a privilege to be asked to copyedit or proofread someone’s book or game that they’ve spent months or years working on. The work I’m most proud of is a copyedit of a 250,000-word fantasy manuscript – the longest project I’ve worked on! Meticulous time management, planning and organisation were needed to complete the work on time and to keep track of the plot, timeline, characters, and so on. I received some lovely feedback from the client!

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

I take a break and walk my dog, which usually helps clear my mind. If I’m struggling with something technical or a style choice, I’ll look it up online and in my reference books.

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

Membership adds credibility to my business and ensures clients and prospective clients know I’m a professional and will feel confident working with me. The CIEP courses, guides, factsheets, blog posts, forums, conferences, and local group and fiction group meetings have improved my editorial practice, knowledge and skills, and given me the opportunity to network with other editors and proofreaders. This is so important when you’re self-employed. Working my way through the membership levels has given me a sense of personal and professional achievement.

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

It’s rewarding to work methodically through fiction manuscripts and to keep details of the story in a spreadsheet, to help check for inconsistencies. I also love completing style sheets! There’s something satisfying about listing editorial style choices, character names, place names, and so on, knowing it will help the author to keep consistency in that book – and later books if they write a series.

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

I sometimes get in a pickle trying to sort out the styling of numbers in board games, as there is often an inconsistent mix of words and figures. I dislike less/fewer and who/whom, and always have to double-check which is correct!

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

When I first started out, I was in awe of Professional and Advanced Professional members of the CIEP and never dreamed I’d reach those membership levels myself. During lockdowns, my business came to a bit of a standstill and I wondered if it would ever pick up again. I used the time to train in fiction editing ­– something I’d wanted to do for a long time – and have been thrilled with how this helped my editorial career take off again.

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

After completing the Essential Proofreading course, my PTC tutor advised me to join an editorial society, such as the CIEP, and I’ve never regretted my decision. It was a great way to find the information I needed to start my business and meet fellow editors for advice, support and friendship.

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

My advice is to do some proofreading training first, followed by copyediting if you wish to. Join an editorial society, for course discounts, access to a wealth of information and to meet other editors for mutual support.

There are some excellent courses and books available to ensure you gain the necessary specialist skills for fiction editing.

If you’re considering a career in editing board games, attend conventions to connect with publishers and designers, find out about the latest game releases and new trends, and play games to gain useful experience.

Do you ever stop editing?

I’m still able to read for pleasure and play games with my family without my editing brain taking over. Although I do sometimes find myself thinking about the word and style choices in the books I read for ideas for the projects I work on!

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

I attend adult tap, ballet and modern dance classes, and we perform in a show every few years at a local theatre.

My advice is to do some proofreading training first, followed by copyediting if you wish to. Join an editorial society, for course discounts, access to a wealth of information and to meet other editors for mutual support.

Rachael Mortimer

Advanced Professional Member



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