Editor: Jonathon Owen Company: Brigham Young University # of years in editing: I've been working full-time since 2005, though sometimes that was more on the layout or production art side of things. And luckily I was able to keep editing part-time when I went back for grad school a few years after graduation. I've been full-time again since 2013.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I initially wanted to be a fiction writer, but I got an on-campus job as an editorial assistant as a freshman and realized that I loved it. I've been working in publishing ever since.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
Right now I'm mostly editing materials for alumni and donor relations, but I think my favorite fields are academic and educational publishing. I love contributing in some small way to the growth of human knowledge, and you get to read a lot of interesting things.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
My workday varies a lot. Sometimes I'm editing small mailers, sometimes it's larger reports, and sometimes it's magazines. My biggest client uses some project management software, and being able to see deadlines and priorities is crucial. Staying on top of emails and keeping files organized also helps a lot.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I love feeling like I've taken something and made it better, and it's satisfying to know that I've helped someone better connect with their audience.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
In my current job, it's probably project management. I get a lot of small jobs with short turnaround times, and sometimes it's hard to stay on top of them all. But I'm actually on a task force now at work to look into these challenges and come up with some solutions, so hopefully we find some systems that work.
What are you currently working on?
A bunch of year-end reports for big donors to the university. It's not always the most exciting work, but sometimes there are great stories about how donations are directly helping students.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Be curious. Don't just guess—look things up when you aren't sure. And learn when to use your own judgment. The style guide exists to help you, so you should learn it well but also learn when to bend the rules.