Editor: Chris Mines Company: Highlights for Children # of years in editing: My latest gig has been 6 1/2 years now. Before that, it was pretty on-and-off, since 1976-ish.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I always loved books and reading, but didn't think fiction writing was for me, so I majored in journalism at Ohio State University. The student newspaper was such a great experience, because it published 5 days a week. After graduation, I didn't work a lot in my field because we were always moving for my husband's job. But I did work here and there, on a weekly newspaper, in PR at a community college, and editing maintenance manuals for GE jet aircraft engines. After divorce and moving, one day I put my resume up on Monster.com and had a call the next morning about my current job at Highlights for Children.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
Honestly, I fell into my current focus of editing for marketing, because it was what I could find at the time. It's been a pretty big adjustment from newspaper writing. I really wanted to go into sports writing when I started out, because, you know, Ohio State Buckeyes!
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
My workday starts out with checking email, because all our work is done through an online task management system called WorkFront. Assigned work generates an email notice, but I also look at messages from coworkers, meeting requests and things in my inbox. Then I go to my WorkFront assignments list. A lot of my assignments are done in a proofing stage, and WorkFront has a special proofreading system, which lets you make comments and see side-by-side versions of the document, which is kind of like tracking changes. We can use that to view emails that we are creating to send to customers, Word docs, pdfs, and so on. I proof everything that the Creative Department designs: promotional emails, email newsletters, bills, renewal notices, print promotions, our own website, and probably a few things I'm forgetting. I also write a lot of product descriptions for the web and for various catalogs we produce. You wouldn't believe how many products Highlights has now!
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I like so much about it. I like being able to make things right and consistent. I like seeing all the pieces and parts of what our company does, having my fingers in all the pies, so to speak. And I still learn something new every day, from SEO to a little Google Analytics to trademarking. And I get to play with all the Highlights puzzles.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
For a while, my biggest challenge was keeping track of all the trademark things. Highlights is very protective of its brand and intellectual properties, and there are a lot of regulations around how to use the symbols depending on whether we were talking about the product in a digital space or in print, and so on. Now my biggest problem is just the amount of work we're doing, expanding into Amazon.com and adding more and more new products. It’s a lot of back and forth with our partner teams: operations, buyers, marketers, e-commerce, web developers, graphic designers, so many people! And we recently hired a project manager for our team who is helping a lot.
What are you currently working on?
I might work on up to 10 different projects in a day some days, but right now holiday promotions are our big push. Lots of emails to proof, to both current customers and rented lists, weekly updates to our website, all the different promotions to keep track of. But my own big writing project is product descriptions for Amazon.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Never stop learning! And learn about everything. You never know when it's going to be helpful to know something about history or books or geography or languages or sports, or all sorts of subjects.