Howard Walwyn

Howard Walwyn

Howard Walwyn

Intermediate Member

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

I didn't, really! I was in a financial career for thirty years doing mainly risk and regulatory work. I'd spent a lot of time doing project management, document drafting and editing, but my first degree was in English and I always yearned to get back to the written word full-time, so early in 2016 I decided to take the plunge and leave corporate life behind.  I re-launched myself as a freelance writer, editor and proofreader working for both financial clients (drawing on my city career) and anyone else who will have me!

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

Lots! I started off with a Chapterhouse Publishing intensive training week on proofreading and editing, to just test for myself whether I had what it took to enjoy a new editorial career. I have also done SfEP Proofreading Intro, Progress and Mentoring, and Copy Editing Intro, hoping  to move on to the Progress courses and Mentoring in Copy Editing early next year.

What work are you most proud of?

I had a very intensive tight deadline heavy editing project for a city educational institute focusing on risk; it was a 250-page coursebook written by multiple non-professional authors, with a high degree of overlap and no style guide, and a challenging brief. I wasn't sure if I could manage it but think in the end I did a good job; it was kind of 'in at the deep end'. I hope it will lead to more work eventually.

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

Assuming time isn't a constraint I mix things up. I write blogs on my website and I always have a training assignment outstanding. Failing that I work on marketing and networking, or do my company bookkeeping or my personal finances, anything for a bit of variety. I recently entered a Flash Fiction challenge organised by a fellow SfEP member on Facebook which was the first time I had written any fiction for decades. It was brilliant (the challenge, that is, not the fiction – mine at any rate) and gave me a nice break.

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

A lot. I am active in two groups, possibly a third soon. I spend time on the forum and feel as if I have become quite good friends on social media (Twitter and LinkedIn) with some SfEP people as well as the Flash Fiction group I mentioned. The training has been fantastic. I am very lucky to have a mentor who is both incredibly expert and experienced, but so, so nice with it, and very generous with both her time and encouragement. She is a star and I feel very lucky. I owe her a big drink at the 2017 conference!

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

I like proofreading of small but important documents: pamphlets, leaflets, articles, blogs, something that can be done quickly online where you really make a difference to the professionalism and look and feel of the product. I do pro bono work for a church in Yorkshire: all their weekly newsletters, quarterly magazines and the like. I just like proofreading for its own sake.

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

I do not like dealing with multiple authors and 'democratic' (i.e. too many hands) drafting and sign off processes. The coursebook I did had been commented on by literally dozens of people who all wanted their comments reflected, apart from turning the document into a coherent readable thing. I like to see more leadership and ownership in the commissioning and authoring process but I guess that's life!

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

How difficult it is to break into publishing work from the non-publishing domain. Without established publishing contacts it is hard, but I never lose hope.

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

Louise Harnby's myth-busting advice for new proofreaders had 12 gems, every single one of which rang true for me. In particular myth 12: it is a myth that word of mouth is a good enough promotion strategy. It isn't.

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

Train. Network. Persist. Don't give up even though breaking in is hard. 

Do you ever stop editing?

Yes, often! I don't have quite as many clients as I would like, and so far none at all in publishing, so I spend some time blogging, training, planning, networking, and trying to make breakthroughs into the areas I want to work in.

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

I am a lifelong fan of Stoke City Football Club.

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.