Editor: Reema Azar Company: Freelance Number of years in editing: After being recognized at work for my editing skills, I looked into freelance editing to see what it entailed. I found ACES, discovered the training that they offered, and took advantage of their student membership. I immediately decided to get my feet wet and completed the Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing in June 2018.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
My fields of interest include nonprofits, intercultural relations, and academia. One could call me a volunteer junkie as well, but you've got to make a living somehow, right?! Currently, I teach ESL at Universidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ in Ecuador. I got started as an editor a few years ago when working for a nonprofit. Our Work Standards were coming up for renewal, and my supervisor asked for my help in revising them. She picked up on my eye for detail and asked if I had ever considered freelance editing. At the time, it had never crossed my mind, but I thought about her words and decided to explore the world of editing.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
My work mostly involves copyediting. Projects span a wide array of topics, but most of them involve academic research articles for peer-reviewed journal publication. Since teaching ESL at USFQ, I've been able to make a name for myself as the go-to English editor. I've edited manuscripts for professors in fields from architecture to international relations to medicine. As I developed my language skills, I also took on various translation projects. Now my services include not only copyediting but translating from Spanish to English.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
Freelance editing is something I do "part-time." Given the pandemic, working from home has allowed me to spend more time in this niche. I keep myself organized using a daily planner to manage my time as well as an Excel document to record my editing and translation project data (including dates and hours worked). I plan out how long a project will take me to complete, give myself a daily goal or quota, and work bit by bit to ensure a timely and quality final product.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Because my area of focus is so broad, I'm able to learn so much about trending topics in different fields of study. Of course, editing content from the medical field, for example, does not come easy! I have to familiarize myself with specific jargon and cross-check word usage constantly. Nonetheless, diverse research topics keep my work very interesting.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Hands down, my biggest challenge comes with the translation part of my editing work. Acronyms can get tricky, and style guides differ for use of accents. Oh, and did I mention single words that may translate to several different yet related ones? My work typically involves a lot of Google searching! I seek reputable websites to confirm information. This makes the work time longer but adds to the quality and saves editor reputation since accuracy and consistency are very important in this field of work. After doing background research, if I choose to go with one translation over another, I make sure to stick with that one throughout the text.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I have a few projects keeping me busy. An ongoing project I have is translating and editing microsites for the Office of Community Outreach at USFQ. These microsites are summaries of community outreach projects that professors and students of the university are presently carrying out. Additionally, I'm working with a few professors in translating and/or editing their manuscripts for publication. For example, I recently finished editing an article that was published in a peer-reviewed journal. These achievements bring validation to my work (and, of course, a lot of personal satisfaction!).
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
If you're just starting out as an editor, I highly recommend finding groups of similar interest, such as ACES, that can support your ongoing education and certification in this field. It's important to keep your editing skills up-to-date with the latest trends or changes (such as the recent publication of APA's 7th edition style guide or the trend toward inclusive language), so spend some time refining your knowledge and skills through webinars and other workshops. Also, don't be discouraged if and when you encounter something you may not be familiar with in an editing project, whether that be field-specific jargon or content outside your area of expertise. Refer to reputable sources for information and keep moving forward. Editing is a process, and it's fair to say that no matter how knowledgeable we may be, there is always something new that we'll learn along the way. Finally, be patient as you build relationships with clients. You may start out with just one, but that one client can recommend you to their circle, and before you know it, you're juggling several projects at the same time. It's a ride!