Helen White

Helen White

Helen White

Advanced Professional Member

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

I trained and worked as a journalist, and then in public relations, so I've always worked with words in one way or another. Having realised I enjoyed the editing bits of my job the most I decided to undertake some formal proofreading training and start my own editorial business.

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

The first training I completed was the Publishing Training Centre's Basic Proofreading course. I followed that with the SfEP's Proofreading 2: Progress and the mentoring scheme.

What work are you most proud of?

Proofreading three titles in the Arden Shakespeare series for Bloomsbury Academic. I used earlier versions of these texts for my English Literature A level so I'm genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to work on the new series.

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

Get on the forums! SfEP members are unfailingly supportive and full of useful advice. Taking a break usually helps, too.

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

First, having that professional accreditation boosts my credentials when seeking work from new clients. Second, the support from other members (remotely and in person at the local group meetings) is invaluable.

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

I enjoy 'localising' texts for clients who have English as a second language, ensuring that nothing gets lost in translation. After years of working with German speakers, there are certain errors I know to watch out for. In general, my inner geek just loves spotting and correcting mistakes.

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

In terms of language (mis)use, I still can't accept that literally can be used correctly to mean figuratively. I'm all for the evolution of language but this redefinition makes no sense.

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

That I relish my own company and don't miss a traditional office environment one little bit!

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

I've always been pretty determined to follow my own career path but I'm extremely grateful for my husband's unwavering support when I proposed giving up a stable job to go self-employed.

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

I would heartily recommend the Publishing Training Centre's Basic Proofreading course to beginners. After that, don't be afraid to promote yourself to prospective clients.

Do you ever stop editing?

I try my hardest not to edit my friends' Facebook posts and emails … I really do try.

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

Prior to embarking on my editorial career, I once interviewed David Cameron and Gary Barlow on the same day.

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.