Advanced Professional Member
Why did you choose an editorial career, and how did you get into it?
I didn't! I trained as a librarian (Associate of the Library Association – neither the qualification nor the association exists now, so I'm definitely a dinosaur). I worked in a special library, the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (also no longer in existence), which produced a quarterly abstracts journal, by letterpress printing, which gives you a clue about my age, so I learned a bit about the publishing process along the way. When I left to have my children, I met a publisher at an NCT coffee morning. I was bemoaning the boredom of being a mum and she said 'why don't you do some proofreading for me?'. So I did, and that was the start of a long second career. I spent 15 years as a freelance editor and proofreader before going back into full-time work as head of publishing for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. When I retired, I started up my freelance business again and seem to be working full time once more.
What training have you done to get your editorial career up and running?
Lots of on-the-job training, then a parcel of training courses at Book House/Publishing Training Centre and SfEP conferences (the best). I was lucky enough to have a wonderful mentor in Anna, the NCT friend who got me started. I don't think you can beat having someone take an interest in developing you as you find your feet in a new world.
What work are you most proud of?
Hmm, that's difficult. Probably starting a brand new CPD journal for obstetricians and gynaecologists which took off and flew, or maybe the book on breastfeeding I wrote for NCT in 1996 that stayed in print for over ten years – I think they might have replaced it now.
What do you do if you're struggling on a job?
Potter in the garden, study some music for my next choir rehearsal, go shopping – anything to get me away from my desk and thinking about something else. If it is still an issue when I think about it again, someone in SfEP will have an answer for me.
What does being a member of the SfEP mean to you?
Community, colleagues, friendship, support, education, CPD, my first port of call for help and advice, my safety net. I couldn't be a freelance without it.
Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?
Making lists and ticking off the tasks I've completed. I've discovered Todoist (todoist.com), which lets me make lists online, in lots of fancy colours, and alerts me to when things are overdue – I love it!
Do you have any editorial pet hates?
Confusing less and fewer – need I say more? I regularly shout at the radio.
What has most surprised you about your editorial career?
That I spent so long working in-house when I could have been freelance – if I'd known how well the work would take off, I would have kicked the employee habit long ago.
What's the best career advice you've received?
Believe in yourself.
What advice do you have for people starting out on an editorial career?
Join the SfEP, keep learning – the publishing industry keeps changing, so you need to be able to grow and change with it. Never stop learning.
Do you ever stop editing?
When I'm asleep.
Finally, tell us one thing about you not related to editing
I'm a bit of a petrol head – I love F1 racing and have driven a very fast car at 120 mph round Silverstone racecourse (not all the way round, you understand, but down the straight it was foot to the floor!).
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