Editor: Hilary Kirchner Company: Dream Write Creative Number of years in editing: Not counting editing as an extracurricular in school, since 2006.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
Professionally, I never thought I would be an editor, let alone start a writing and editorial business.
My original plan was to become a filmmaker, but right before senior year in college, I realized that film wasn't for me—working with words was. You see, I always loved the screenwriting aspect of film, and I had taken so many English and writing classes that I was only a few foreign language credits shy of a double major. I had even been an editor of my university's literary journal.
But how on earth was I going to make a career of it? I had no real connections in publishing. Luckily, Ohio is home to several educational publishers and one of them had an open call to take their editing test. I passed and got hired!
From there, I eventually went into business for myself after realizing I could help more organizations and work on a greater variety of projects as a freelancer.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
My niche changes slightly with the needs of the market. However, in general, I specialize in copyediting and developmental editing multimedia content for highly technical industries like healthcare and engineering.
I chose this niche because I believe that science is important, but there's often a disconnect between the subject matter experts (SMEs) and their audiences. (Or even between the SMEs and their video production or web development teams!) I make sure that our clients' content is engaging and easy to understand.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
Like a lot of people, my day must start with caffeine. Our clients are often in a different time zone, so meetings can be really early or pretty late. It helps when I can group meetings together and reserve large blocks of time to get into the flow of editing. (I actually block the time off on my calendars, just like any other appointment or scheduled meeting.)
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Helping clients be more mindful of the words they use and how their word choices can affect the audience. Conscious language is so very important, but it's just not on many people's radar. I have yet to meet someone who wanted to hurt or alienate readers, so I love making sure that doesn't happen.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
This isn't always the biggest challenge, but it's the most frequent: managing client expectations and educating them about what editing entails.
It's easy for clients to think that all editing is proofreading or that all editing can be done in a matter of hours. So, I start the project by walking through (with visual aids) what everyone's roles and responsibilities will be. Then I reinforce this with regular email updates. I've found that the more open and transparent I can be, the better everyone feels.
What are you currently working on?
Due to COVID-19, most of my projects have something to do with converting live, face-to-face training materials into virtual or on-demand experiences.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Tell everyone what you do! You never know when an opportunity might arise. Also, always hone your knowledge and skills, because language and style conventions can evolve rapidly. (ACES is great for both networking and training!)