Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
Sometimes I feel like I've done everything as an editor! I joke that my editing career started in grade school when I went through a phase of correcting everyone's grammar, but I really started pursuing editing during my undergrad. I worked at my university's writing center all four years, and after graduation I eventually took a job as an administrative assistant and copy editor. In that role, I had the opportunity to copyedit and proofread legislative bills, which was a fantastic learning experience.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I currently work as a technical writer and editor, and I kind of fell into this niche. Having started with legal editing and proofreading, I was already drawn to the more technical side of writing, so when a technical editor/writer job opened up, I took it and naturally started to specialize in that type of work. Although I do freelance editing as well, which is often focused on creative writing, I love that with technical writing and editing, you have a chance to help make readers'/users' lives easier through clear communication.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
My role is really unique within the field of technical editing. "Technical writer and editor" may be my title, but I do ALL the things: developmental editing, content editing, copyediting, proofreading, technical writing, copywriting, graphic design, and more! A typical workday for me consists of checking my email and chat to see what informal tasks have come in for me, as well as checking my formal editorial queue in my more technical task management system. Once I see what all I need to work on, I prioritize as needed and then get to work.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
My favorite thing about being an editor is when a writer says something along the lines of "That's brilliant! That's exactly what I meant!" when they see your edits. I always think of my role as a translator: I try to understand what a writer is saying and then help them verbalize it. There's nothing more rewarding than helping someone communicate their ideas in a way that is authentic for them and really captures what they were trying to say.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
As a technical editor, one of the main challenges that I've faced is the fact that documentation has a different value in the technical world. The authors that I work with--developers, engineers, project managers, etc.--aren't professional writers, and they don't necessarily enjoy writing or professional communication. So it's my job to try to make clear communication and documentation as painless as possible. If I can convey the value of quality documentation, then I'm able to get more buy-in from my peers.
What are you currently working on?
In my technical editing/writing role, I'm currently working on an information technology plan (in other words, a technical document ;)). But in my freelance role, I'm working on more fun things; I'm currently completing some editorial evaluations for several manuscripts. It's really fun to have a balance of more technical thinking and creative thinking in my work through both of these roles!
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
One of the most helpful steps in my editing career was having a kind and skilled mentor to help me develop my editing skills. If there's someone at your organization (or maybe in ACES!) who is willing to help you understand the principles of editing, take them up on their offer! In my experience, editorial professionals are all too happy to share their passion and expertise, so don't be afraid to ask questions and learn from others' experiences.