Editor: Erin Brenner Company: Right Touch Editing # of years in editing: 25
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I've always loved grammar and reading, but I didn't think of myself as an editor until after college and as a writer until about a decade ago.
I started as a proofreader when my college adviser, who was horrified that I was still working my retail job shortly after graduation, sent me on a job interview. I knew nothing about proofreading, but I went on the interview anyway and immediately after bought a book on it. I must have said the right things (and had a good recommendation from my adviser) because I got the job.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I mostly work on business writing: reports, white papers, websites, self-published books, and the like. That's where I landed with my first couple of jobs. I found that I understood it and was good at balancing correctness with business needs. And it tends to pay better than some other niches.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
As a freelancer, I can shape my day anyway I want, and yet a loose 9-to-5 structure is what works for me. I've learned that my concentration is best from 10 am to 3 pm, so that's when I do my most intense tasks. I take care of myself and my family before 9 and do some administrative tasks as a warm-up. By 10 I'm ready to dive into the heavy stuff. After that, I can wind down with meetings and administration before knocking off for the day.
That said, I love the flexibility of taking time off during the workweek without having to justify it to anyone. My only restriction is the deadline. As long as I make my deadlines, I can work when I want to.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Working with language. I love puzzling out what's going on and how it can be improved, whether it's the 50,000-foot view of developmental editing or the microscopic view of proofreading. I find language and how communication works fascinating!
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
My biggest challenge is having too many options. As a freelancer, I can choose what kind of work I want to do, how I do it, who I work for, and so on, and there are so many opportunities out there. General wisdom is that by focusing your marketing efforts, you'll get deeper into a niche and win more work. And that's worked well for me. But I struggle to decide at any one time what I want to focus on next.
You have to make choices in life. It's something I'm always emphasizing with my kids and struggling to do myself. So I create ways of making myself accountable: I have a mastermind group I work with, I work with business coaches, and I create goals for myself. I work hard to track my progress and measure results. All of it has worked pretty well for me over the years.
What are you currently working on?
For the first time in my career, I'm working on several book projects, all of which will be self-published. It's quite a change from things like press releases and their two-hour deadlines, but I'm loving the change of pace.
My favorite current project is a collection of essays on the Pilgrims. I'm a lifelong New Englander and I love our local history, good and bad. It's been a great experience to work with local historians to bring our history to the general public. I'd love to do more work like this!
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Editing is a craft and you will spend your career getting better at it. Accept that you will need to crawl before you can walk. Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes or are struggling to learn. I've been doing this for 25 years and I'm still learning every day. It's one of the best things about editing; there's always something new to learn.