Editor: Sarah Mayor Company: EdiTask # of years in editing: Just over three decades.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I've owned a medical transcription company since 1989, which requires editing medical reports, board meetings, letters, websites, etc., and training others to go above and beyond just transcribing. My teaching motto was "Ears, through the brain, to the fingers." Many MTs just transcribed whatever they heard (and didn't last long!). Throughout the years, doctors and others approached me about editing their books—and I did that on the side. I decided to take my love of wordsmithing to another level a few years ago, created my website, and even created an Upwork profile. I've been swamped!
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
Hard question. I'm loving memoirs, but much of my bread and butter is nonfiction. I've recently finished a long sci-fi thriller for a best-selling author and enjoyed that, as well. I usually have two or three manuscripts on my desk at once, and it's refreshing if they are all different genres'—it keeps me sharp! So, I don't have a niche; I just love the written word.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I set aside two days a week to meet with authors (Zoom) in the mornings, but each day (regardless of tasks) begins with a strong cup of coffee. I prioritize the current work by deadline, and usually stay with one book for 2-3 hours, then move to the next. Walking my dog and lunch with hubby are the two "must-dos" each day, to be sure that I'm not sitting for hour-long stretches. When I can, I try to end my day by updating authors on progress (email or Upwork) and setting my priorities and progress bar for the next day.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Helping an author get their story or argument across in the most compelling way and encouraging them to learn from the edit. In a way, I feel that every edit is an opportunity to mentor an author (if they are open to it) about writing, hoping that they take the insights into their next project.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Authors who refuse to listen to suggestions; I always wonder why they pay for an editor. I work through it by drawing on my patience—not always easy—and realizing that, often, the most stubborn are also the most insecure about their writing. I like asking them in the beginning, "What concerns you the most about your book?" Often, they aren't prepared for that question. Still, it opens up the door for them to express something other than the usual, expected concern about punctuation, spelling, or some other mechanics-of-writing issue.
What are you currently working on?
A very poignant memoir, a business book, and a self-help book.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Realize that you probably have a lot to learn; be patient and humble with yourself and others. Use the many available tools regularly (thesaurus, even Grammarly), and join an organization that supports your career.