Editor: Adebukola Imoyo Company: Freelance Number of years in editing: I have been doing one form of editing or the other (though, largely proofreading), for slightly almost a decade. However, I recently just decided to formalize things and completed the Poynter ACES Certificate in editing.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I am a lawyer by training. I went into Management Consulting at the beginning of my career, where I developed a passion for transforming human performance and the use of technology to enhance business operations. The depth and breadth of experience I got from consulting has helped shape the professional encounters I have to date.
I have always been an avid reader of almost every genre of written literature as well as journals and business writings. I just love to read. I developed the critical eye for details from being a consultant because, in that world, your output had better be 101 percent. It grew on me and I found myself being sought after to review presentations, adverts, CVs, letters, interviews for publications, and legal documents, both at work and for friends and family. I found that I actually enjoyed it and was able to make a positive difference to the written works. My first formal editing job for which I was paid—yes, up until then my services were offered pro bono—was over nine years ago, just as I left consulting.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
My areas of focus are fiction, non-fiction, web content, legal, and business copies. I like fiction and non-fiction clearly because I get to read a work of art at its early stages. You get the feeling that you are part of a construction team building a masterpiece!
For the other areas, my interest stems from the desire to just be able to read a copy that is clear, has a good flow, and is consistent.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I have a full-time job with a private organization, so my day is a typical business executive's day. I have meetings either with my team or across other departments, I prepare reports, I come up with plans for various initiatives, and supervise team members' work. There are busy periods especially when you are trying to introduce a concept that requires buy-in from others.
Editing is an interest that I feed during my spare time. I spend one to four hours a day on it depending on my work schedule; sometimes more than that on weekends. Because it is something I like, I am always able to squeeze time for it.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Opportunity to improve the reading experience. I like that I am able to improve a copy. In as much as the work belongs to the author, there is a sense of accomplishment an editor gets from being able to improve it. It's like being proud of the achievements of a child you helped nurture.
I also like the opportunity to read a variety of works and I think every piece you edit helps you hone your editing skills; you get to grow and develop too.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
As a rookie editor, establishing credibility and growing your network is a big challenge. There is that doubt that you sense from prospective clients when you first meet. My corporate pedigree helps a lot with quelling some of the doubt but then some clients still wonder if your having two degrees in Law and being an executive qualifies you to edit their work. You can only continue to build your references and do good work. Getting the right certifications and joining relevant associations like ACES also helps. You need to keep being visible.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently editing a newspaper article that a friend wrote. It is a legal article, so I am trying to ensure that it is not too technical for the audience which is not solely lawyers.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?