Julie Hopkins-O’Keeffe

Julie Hopkins

Julie Hopkins

Professional Member

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

My Nannie used to read to me as a child and so a lifelong love of words and language developed from her wonderful storytelling and poetry reading in her soft, Wiltshire accent. From first being a journalist – and then via advertising, marketing, PR and bid-writing, I eventually became a proofreader/copy-editor. My 25-year career has always felt like a fluid, natural progression.

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

For a long time all my training was 'on the job' and mostly self-taught until I made a firm commitment to the SfEP and took two of its 'Introductory' training courses (Proofreading and Copy-editing) recently. I've also found taking an English degree part-time around my full-time career over six years helped immensely, not just in terms of learning new disciplines and skills, but also in gaining self-confidence in my writing and editing abilities. 

What work are you most proud of?

All the hard work I put in during evenings, late nights and weekends (even whilst on holiday) to complete my degree whilst holding down a full-time job which itself often involved working late nights/all-nights and weekends over six years and raising a family at the same time!

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

I look for help online; I use the SfEP forums (invaluable assistance from understanding and empathetic colleagues!) and often I get a sense-check from my fiancé, who works outside our industry. I'm also lucky to have a longstanding editorial mentor, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of the language I would be lost without.

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

It gives me a professional standing in my chosen profession, but more than that, it gives me a huge support network I can call on for assistance – no matter how silly the question might be – no one ever laughs at you!

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

I enjoy making suggestions to writers to help them find simpler, clearer ways of saying what they want/need to – so really, the 'rewriting' elements of the job.

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

I think clients who have no house style and who tend to use upper- and lower case letters arbitrarily top my list as this takes such a long time to explain, agree and correct!

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

The fact that I've managed to keep it going for so long…!

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

'Less is more' – this is the advice my 'guru' gave me years ago; it's been my ethos and approach to writing and editing ever since.

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

Read everything – from the printed notes that come with medicines, to that novel you’ve been putting off because you've not had the time – the more you read, the better your own vocabulary becomes and it's surprising the amount of 'new' words you find in the least expected places – all of which you can put to good use to help your clients.

And make the most of the SfEP's encyclopaedic resources – join a local group if you're not already a member – the contacts you can make and the amount of useful information you can share is invaluable to any proofer or editor, and the courses they offer will help you establish yourself on a professional level. The SfEP's forums can also help you with everything from finding work to answering any question you might have on proofing or editing. And you're never made to feel stupid for asking!

Do you ever stop editing?

Only when I sleep! Even in the shower I'm reading the shampoo bottle!

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

I'm marrying the man of my dreams in August.

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.