Editor: Emily Gleeson Company: Emily Gleeson Editorial Number of years in editing: Thirteen years. I started editing alongside my 'real' job in 2007. It became a part-time gig in 2015, and full time in 2018.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I'm a thirty-something-year-old Australian woman. I'm a mother, a writer, a reader, and, of course, an editor.
I've always been in love with words, but as many young girls are, I was distracted by a sordid affair with horses into my later twenties. The affair didn't end but my ability to pursue it did, with the onset of a neuromuscular condition that has greatly reduced my physical strength and fitness.
Despite my passionate (and somewhat self-destructive) obsession with my horse career, I had never given up on words as a means of comfort and growth and started out by editing business materials for horse trainers in my 'spare' time, of which there was very little. By the time I had to completely step away from the equine world, I had sort of... fallen into editing fiction work for publishing outfits and indie writers. It was all just luck, really.
In 2018, I realized that I would never be able to go back to horses, and started working to make my part-time editing gig into a full-time career. This year, 2020, has been all about training and legitimizing my experience.
Since settling in as an editor, I haven't looked back. This is exactly where I should have been all along.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I'm a fiction editor with very eclectic taste.
I focus on most contemporary works including women's lit, romance, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, and literary erotica. I also work on literary fiction, children's chapter books, and a range of young adult genres.
I'm particularly interested in things that have heavy thematic elements, psychological twists or raw truths, and great character development—but then, aren't we all?
I don't do crime, mystery, detective, or medical procedurals; intense science fiction or high fantasy; historical fiction; or westerns. I just don't read enough of them to be the right choice for these genres.
I think this niche selected me, to be honest. These are the genres that I read the most and feel most comfortable in, but they're also the genres that manage to find their way to my desk.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I like to be informed, and I'm always trying to keep learning.
I like to spend the early hours of the morning with a cup of coffee, going through the emails, newsletters, and papers that come from the various editing, publishing, and news sources I subscribe to. It helps keep me up-to-date, gets my head switched on and gives me ideas for my clients.
When my coffee (or three) has run dry, I check and answer emails and other correspondence, and then I start on the projects I have booked in for the day. When I book a long project, I block out daily chunks of time in the diary for it, usually in four-hour blocks, so that I can always split my days between at least two projects. I find that the variety helps keep me switched on for longer.
Because I am who I am, my evenings are also spent on work-related things. I check and answer emails again, and then either work on something for professional development, my own writing, or my dismal marketing efforts.
I have set days for working on the business side of things, clearing the towering inbox, and looking for books, open submissions, and other resources for my clients. I love my job, and I suppose it's turned into my hobby, too.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Oh goodness, all of it—beautiful strings of words, new imagery, wonder, and whimsy—being invited into someone's precious world really is an honor, isn't it?
My very favorite thing, though, has to be watching a writer grow while their story develops, and seeing their elation when they finally have a finished product.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
I have many challenges, but one of the biggest is probably finding the sweet spot for any given client. I mostly work with indie writers now, and I get really invested. I want to see all my clients do well, and I'm often tempted to spend many hours of my own time getting them there.
Budget constraints are a big thing for a lot of indie authors and I do my best to accommodate everyone, but sometimes I have to remind myself to pull back and consider the financial and life impact it can have. I have learned to make sure that my clients are considering all their financial needs, such as cover design, ISBN costs, etc. before we agree on a service and price. I also have a really frank talk with them in the beginning to find out what they think they need, what they really need, what they can do themselves to save some money, and how much we can realistically cover within the available budget.
As much as it helps the client to have reasonable expectations, it also helps me to know what the outcome should be before I start—it stops me from constantly thinking 'just one more thing.'
What are you currently working on?
I have a couple of things on the books at the moment. My larger projects at the moment are an epic YA contemporary fantasy series full of magical powers, demigods, and mythology; a YA contemporary fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist, a connection to creation, and lots of ancient magics; a wonderful contemporary romance/women's lit novel with a protagonist we can all relate to; and a long-running series of children's chapter books for ESL students. I squeeze in some short stories here and there when I find myself excited by the premise.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Goodness. Do it because you love it.
Always be open to learning something new—everyone teaches us something. Get registered with a legitimate organization and do some training so that you contribute to the value of the profession, instead of perpetuating mistrust—this is just like any other career path and requires effort, training, and financial investment.
Value your time and your expertise, and remember you're not part of a competition, but a community of people who care about what you care about enough to make it a career.