Kate Haigh

Kate Haigh

Kate Haigh

Professional Member

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

I've always loved languages and communication and when I graduated, I managed to get a job in the production department for a magazine publisher. After working in-house and then working outside the editorial field but realising I wanted to return to it, I took time to get the PTC course done before setting up Kateproof.

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

As mentioned above, I have some general in-house experience as well as the PTC's distance proofreading course. I've also done the SfEP's one-day introduction to copy-editing, the PTC's two-day introduction to book publishing and their successful editorial freelancing distance course. I also set up a local skills swap group where local SfEP members met up to show how to use macros, PerfectIt and discuss useful books and resources.

What work are you most proud of?

I take pride in all my work, but I'd like to think I've helped a particular self-published author get better feedback and sell more books over the last two years, working on more than 20 of his books. When I started working with him, he had a full-time day job and was writing as a hobby but due to the success of his books, he's now a full-time writer so knowing I've helped someone achieve that lifestyle and career switch really makes me happy.

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

It depends on the client and the job in question. If it's an issue with the overall job, e.g. scope of work or concerns about the content, I would contact my client to discuss this. If the issue relates more to language or grammar issues, I might ask a colleague for their advice. I have a great local SfEP group and know I can ask them something in confidence, and that assistance is reciprocated.

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

As I don't work for many publishers, I don't think I get the external kudos that many members may feel, but I personally like knowing I'm a member of a professional organisation and feel it gives me a certain credibility. I've also met (both in person and online) some fantastic people through the SfEP and that's meant sanity, friendship and that reassuring knowledge that I'm not alone, even if I spend every day in a minimalist office (no, not even a cat for company!).

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

Not sure if this is technically answering the question, but the thing I love most about my job is that every day really is a school day. One day I might be learning slang for a piece of fiction, the next day I'll be learning about something random (but may be useful in a pub quiz one day) and the next day I'll learn a new word (well, the latter happens almost every day, but hopefully you get what I mean). 

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

When a student asks me to make their work 'more academic'! I think academics have a reputation for being verbose and some students seem to want to replicate this. In almost all instances, I'm not allowed to edit for students anyway so this would be beyond my remit, but even if I am editing, I think plain English and being concise is far better.

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

I don't know how to say this without sounding big-headed or arrogant but essentially how much of a success it's been. I can be a pessimist, though I'd like to claim I'm more of a realist, and perhaps I had low expectations when I started out but my client base has grown and despite a few peaks and troughs in the first two years, I'm now generally as busy as I want to be.

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

Be confident and don't undersell yourself. 

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

Gosh, where to start?! One of the hardest but ultimately most useful elements is to listen to your gut and learn when to say no. It's not always easy, especially in the beginning, because you might want the experience or need the money, but if something about the client and/or project doesn't feel right, chances are it won't work out too well. I have said this to a few people now but if you listen to your gut and turn something down, you'll probably have forgotten about it within a day; if you take on a project against your gut feeling, you can be left dealing with that and thinking about it for days, weeks or even months. 

Do you ever stop editing?

In my head, no, but I try not to be a 'Grammar Nazi' on social media or correct people in conversation. There's a time and a place for everything, and unless I'm being asked to edit/proofread something, I try not to.

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

I'm an avid football fan, Liverpool FC for my sins, and although my playing days are well behind me (though I did play in the first round of the Women's FA Cup back when I was about 14), when I'm not working, walking, eating, drinking wine or travelling, I can be found biting my nails and pulling my hair out in exasperation at yet another wayward shot or dropped points. At least Fantasy Football means I can take some joy in rivals winning, assuming I bought the right player!

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