Abi Saffrey

Abi Saffrey

Abi Saffrey

Advanced Professional Member

Why did you choose an editorial career, and how did you get into it?

I chose an editorial career because I am fascinated by language and love books – I worked at Dillons the Bookstore (which was absorbed into Waterstones) after graduating with a degree in Languages and Linguistics, and then wanted to do something that would get me even more involved with books. I spent every Monday looking through the Media job ads in the Guardian, and applied for pretty much every entry level editorial job. I ended up working at a small business-to-business publisher (part of the Bonnier media organisation), collating and editing reports about a wide variety of business sectors.

What training have you done to get your editorial career up and running?

Most of my initial training was on the job – I spent nearly nine years in-house with all kinds of publishers. When I first started to think about going freelance (in 2005/06), I did the SfEP's introductory courses, as well as 'Going freelance and staying there' and 'Brushing up your grammar'. I went freelance at the beginning of 2009. I'm a great believer in ongoing CPD as well – the profession is very different from the one I came into 15 years ago (I've attended SfEP conferences and PTC courses and undertaken study in my subject areas).

What work are you most proud of?

Rather than something specific, it's running my own successful business.

What do you do if you're struggling on a job?

Take a break. Go for a brisk walk. Talk to my husband. Ask questions on the SfEP forums. Talk to the client.

What does being a member of the SfEP mean to you?

Community. Support. Professional development. And opportunities to provide those to other members.

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

I like stripping out all the formatting from an over-engineered Word document, and restoring order with styles and/or tags.

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

Inconsistency in spelling - it still amazes me that some authors can use a term frequently throughout a book and spell it in two (or more) different ways.

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

That every year I discover or get offered a project that's different to everything I've done before – I relish chances to step outside my comfort zone.

What's the best career advice you've received?

You can delegate everything apart from responsibility.

What advice do you have for people starting out on an editorial career?

Get the training, ask questions, look for opportunities everywhere, don't limit yourself.

Do you ever stop editing?

Very rarely – it takes me three or four days off work before I can read something for pleasure and get properly sucked into it. I care less about errors outside of work than I used to though – we all need downtime.

Finally, tell us one thing about you not related to editing

I'm an adventurer – I've trekked part of the Great Wall of China for charity; I did a mad three-month dash around Australia, New Zealand and Fiji; I've been horse riding in Romania; my current adventure is raising two young children.

The SfEP does not give any special endorsement to the members who appear in Meet our members. If you are looking for an editorial professional, we recommend you search the Directory of Editorial Services.