Scholarly Editor Laura Poole, owner of Archer Editorial, Wins ACES 2020 Robinson Prize

Scholarly Editor Laura Poole, owner of Archer Editorial, Wins ACES 2020 Robinson Prize

April 27, 2020 By Christine Steele ACES News

ACES: The Society for Editing has recognized Laura Poole, scholarly editor, trainer, and owner of Archer Editorial Services, as the winner of this year’s Robinson Prize. She receives $2,000 and a crystal trophy.

The Robinson Prize, established in 2005, honors an “editor of the year” whose work exemplifies the values that ACES promotes. It is named for Pam Robinson, who helped found ACES and served as its first president. This year there were 10 nominees.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, ACES’ 2020 national conference in Salt Lake City was canceled, but no pandemic can derail the awarding of this prestigious honor.

Robinson Prize nominees are evaluated on a combination of elements, which can include editing, design, mentoring and training, fostering a sense of teamwork and pride among colleagues, and anything else that furthers the craft of professional editing. “Being a good wordsmith isn’t enough,” said former ACES President Teresa Schmedding, who helped establish the award in 2005. “Today’s editors need to be skilled in conflict resolution, show excellent judgment, demonstrate initiative and be able to find creative solutions to help their publications succeed in this era filled with increased competition.”

Poole exemplified the award criteria for numerous reasons, and she stood out among many strong candidates, especially when it came down to breaking a tie among three richly deserving finalists. The nomination letter about her cited her combination of expertise, energy, and entrepreneurship as making her an ideal candidate for the honor.

The supporting testimonials echoed those accolades.

“Copy editing is often thought of as a solitary, quiet profession, one designed perfectly for introverts,” one of Poole’s colleagues noted. “Laura turns all that on its head: She sees copyeditors as communicators, teachers, diplomats, writers, and advocates for positive change. She is a fun, extroverted person who’s great at drawing people together (even introverts!) in ways that are comfortable for them.”

She teaches editors how to be assertive without being tactless, which results in better author-editor relationships, better client-editor and employer-editor relationships, and better editing.

She trains editors, she mentors and encourages, she writes and teaches, and she facilitates and develops networks. As one reference explained, “It’s important to mention that her focus isn’t just on teaching the mechanics of editing (though she does that brilliantly); she takes a holistic approach that helps editors build their careers, handle the challenges of freelancing, and work toward work/life balance.”

Not only has Poole been a speaker at ACES conferences, but she also has taught her authors, colleagues, and clients about the finer points of editing through webinars at the Editorial Freelancers Association. She’s taught courses at UC San Diego Extension and Duke University and has regularly spoken in classes at UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Wilmington.

She has been instrumental in helping professional associations develop and implement codes of conduct to make the profession more welcoming. Laura shares her love for the craft of editing and her passion for building a sustainable business. She is ready to train both experienced editors and newcomers to the field.

In addition, she fosters international editorial connections. She speaks, writes, and trains for Editors Canada, and she applied for and was granted Advanced Professional Membership status by the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders (formerly Society for Editors and Proofreaders in the UK), its highest tier. Her colleague said, “Take it from someone who’s done it: That’s a long and involved career assessment process and a big honkin’ deal.”

She’s used her connections with those organizations to speak and conduct trainings overseas, as well as to encourage other editors to do the same and to create and sustain their own connections with peers abroad.

As another colleague stated: “I have those connections in my life now because of Laura, and they’ve taken me places I never imagined I’d go. Laura has, in short, deeply enriched the connectedness of editors’ networks and has contributed to defining and communicating best practices and ethical guidelines within the profession.”

Judge Jonathan Sims noted from reference testimonials that it was obvious Laura’s contributions have been to the wider world of editing and to ACES itself. And judges Tanya Gold and Rob Reinalda said it’s evident she has such a strong voice in the editorial community and dedicates extensive energy to helping other editors. Through her outreach to the editing community, through her webinars and workshops and her authorship of books, that expansive mentoring augments the clearly outstanding work she has done for her deeply appreciative clients, including scholarly nonfiction publishers.

A telling closing statement about Laura, as a final reference noted: “Laura would make a great ambassador for the editing world. She is highly intelligent, down to earth, an engaging public speaker, outgoing, a descriptivist rather than a prescriptivist editorially, flexible editorially, and an advocate for being highly professional at work.”

Poole founded Archer Editorial in 1997 and has been a freelancer for more than 20 years. Her website is, and she tweets as @lepoole.

The judging panel consisted of Christine Steele, UC San Diego Extension copyediting instructor; Rob Reinalda, executive editor at Ragan Communications and last year’s Robinson Prize winner; Jay Wang, homepage editor at The Washington Post; Jonathan Sims, managing editor for Nfocus Magazine; and Tanya Gold, book editor and writing coach.

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