Editor: Rachel Fowler Company: Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers # of years in editing: 13 years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
When I was a child, I had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up. In college—at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—I majored in English since I like to read. I eventually decided to double major in English and Rhetoric, which involved more creative writing. I realized I liked editing my classmates’ writing more than I liked the writing part of my classes. Once I had this realization, I became a copyeditor for the college newspaper, got an editorial internship with a magazine in Chicago, and, after college, became an assistant (eventually managing) editor for a physical activity and health book publisher.
After six years, I moved on to the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE), where I moved up to my current position of publisher/editor-in-chief of Tribology and Lubrication Technology (TLT) magazine.
STLE is a professional technical society providing robust resources in technical research, education, and professional development comprising the tribology and lubrication engineering business sector. TLT is the official monthly publication of STLE and supports the technical education and professional development of STLE members and industry colleagues.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
My area of focus is in the publishing industry. I’ve gone from newspapers to books to magazines, and all three areas have pros and cons. The editorial process for books is much slower compared to the other two, and I think I like the pace of a monthly magazine the best. I like working on both the print and digital magazine as well.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I first like to spend time answering emails, sending out reminder emails to writers, and tracking budgets. My day depends on where we are in the magazine process. Early on, I’ll be writing news articles, editing, checking layouts, corresponding with writers and our designers, and so on. I also track schedules on a daily basis and make sure deadlines are met by our team of writers.
Near the end of the process for an issue, I’ll be creating the page schedule, tracking advertisements in the magazine, checking the final layout, corresponding with our printer, updating our digital editions, and so on.
Working on a magazine involves a lot of little tasks. I have many to-do lists that help me organize everything.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I like seeing my edits and decisions published in both print and digital versions. I feel like I’m making a difference in the content and helping make the writing better. It’s also satisfying seeing each monthly issue published in general.
I also love communicating with the writers and STLE members who contribute to TLT on a regular basis. You can tell they are proud of their articles. I learn something new every day about tribology and lubrication as well.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Sometimes it’s difficult juggling all the little aspects of publishing a monthly magazine (editing, layouts, reminders, putting the pages together, tracking schedules, and so on). Other issues come up on a regular basis, and it’s hard prioritizing what to do first. My to-do lists definitely help with this. My morning goal is to clear my email inbox as much as possible and get to my regular work afterward.
What are you currently working on?
I’m always working on two or three issues of TLT at a time. Right now, I’m creating the 2021 editorial calendar, too. The planning process for this takes months. This involves determining content for each issue and creating an editorial matrix with deadlines, articles, and writers.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Also, everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Work harder on those weaknesses. I can be shy and reserved, and I’ve never been great at making decisions. I’m working on these things every day in my career. Don’t be afraid to speak up!