Editor: Kristen Lewandowski Company: Kristen Lewandowski Editorial, LLC Number of years in editing: 10 years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I graduated from my English M.A. program straight into the (previous) recession. I couldn't get an interview, much less a communications job, and ended up temping at my university's medical school. This turned out to be my lucky break: I found out that I really enjoyed learning about medicine, and I was soon offered a job managing my department's communications, creating its annual report, and supporting a medical course. My physician colleagues would ask me to edit their grant proposals, journal articles, and classroom materials, and I realized that I loved doing that work. I used that experience to move on to an editing position at a public health nonprofit, where I got to nerd out on fascinating topics and was thrown into the deep end of a very busy department. I gained a ton of experience during those long days, learned a lot from my colleagues, and really refined my editing skills. I decided to go freelance five years ago, and I count some of my old colleagues as current clients.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I'm especially interested in public health and medicine. I really enjoy these topics and often read about them for fun, so it's a natural fit.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
With my children in and out of daycare during the pandemic, my freelancing schedule changes constantly. Currently, my husband and I are splitting caregiving and work hours during the day, and I'm working evening hours when I can. Juggling these professional and caregiving roles, even before the pandemic, has taught me to work incredibly efficiently.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I love being able to bring a fresh perspective to something that a writer has probably read through dozens of times. (I also really enjoy streamlining wordy text.)
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
My biggest challenge is finding the right level of feedback to give to a writer. My first instinct is to make every single possible suggestion, even those that may be overly prescriptive or aren't useful in context. I temper this by asking myself if I'm making an edit for the writer or for myself. (If I'm not sure, it's usually not for the writer.)
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently editing a report on state vaccine information systems. I just finished editing a brief on forensic pathologist shortages in the U.S., an FAQ on the CDC's opioid prescribing recommendations, and a document about working across siloed agencies to address the social determinants of health.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Learn from (and ask for feedback from) as many experienced colleagues as you can. Other people's perspectives will teach you a lot and also help you cement your own editing instincts.