# of years in editing: I got my first paying job as an editor in 2011, while I was in college. I began freelancing full-time in 2016.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I’ve had an interest in writing and editing for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at writing metropolitan news articles for a newspaper, editing yearbooks, writing social media copy for a clothing brand, editing marketing content for a mental health company, writing foodie articles for a travel magazine—but I settled into my career when I started editing for a company that produces assessment series for osteopathic physicians and related health care professionals. When I left that job to start freelancing full-time, I focused on editing scientific content, usually stuff related to medicine. From journal articles to test prep books, I found my groove as a freelancer.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I have traditionally focused on medical and other types of scientific content (eg, journal articles, assessments, test prep materials). In addition to my degree in English, I also have a degree in biology, which made this a natural niche for me.
While I still spend a good chunk of my time in this arena, I have grown to work with a broader range of nonfiction content as well (eg, blog content for startups). This is one of the things I love about freelancing—you have the power to pursue and transition into multiple types of editing work. As a lifelong reader, my ultimate goal has always been to work with authors to help them with their books, and some of my most recent projects have been along those lines (eg, memoir).
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
My typical workday starts at 9 am (I like to take time before work to get moving and spend some time outdoors). I tend to skim my email inbox before getting into my editing work. However, when I have a pressing deadline or something I’m eager to make progress on, I usually skip that step and jump into an editing project for an hour or two, while my mind is most fresh. Around noon I take a break to make lunch and take my dog for a walk. Then it’s back to work until 5 or 6 pm. I try to maintain regular hours, but depending on my workload, I sometimes squeeze in a bit more work in the evening, and sometimes over the weekend, too. (Many of my clients are from overseas, so I have to be flexible with my work hours to accommodate different time zones.) For me, editing requires a lot of quiet time and intense concentration, so whenever I feel myself getting fatigued or restless, I step away from my computer, change my scenery, or find a small task I can cross off my to-do list for a quick motivational boost. Otherwise, it’s “heads-down” mode for the majority of my workday. The turnaround times for the projects I work on can range anywhere from 24 hours to 2 months. I primarily use Google Calendar and TasksBoard to manage my time.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Helping writers turn good work into great work! Plus you can learn a lot from the authors and content you work with.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
It can be hard to find balance when you can take your work with you anytime, anywhere. Recently I’ve been making it a point to schedule projects so they will not compromise my weekends. I’m more productive during the week when I have that time to recharge and connect with the outside world. In a more general sense, I’m also trying to challenge my perfectionist mindset. Editors are human, too, which is something I regularly need to remind myself.
What are you currently working on?
I recently finished copy editing a memoir on complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and I am wrapping up the developmental edit of a novel. (Novels are quite outside my normal scope of work, but this one came in as a special request, and I couldn’t refuse!) Now I’m gearing up to proofread a test prep book related to surgery and patient care. I also have a small stream of journal articles that need once-overs now that the authors have had time to revise their work.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
First, get talking. Join listservs and other communication forums. The conversations are robust, and the editing community is welcoming and friendly. There is a lot you can learn from your colleagues. Second, get reading. Read everything, including the kind of stuff you are interested in editing, as well as articles and books about the field of editing in general. When it comes to being an editor, there is always something more to learn.