Katherine Trail

Katherine Trail

Katherine Trail

Advanced Professional Member

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

I'd always wanted to be involved with words – as a child, I would spend hours writing and illustrating (badly!) my own stories, and editing seems to suit my particular skills. I started my career as a news reporter, but quickly realised that editing was more my cup of tea. I became a trainee sub-editor with The Press and Journal, and worked my way up through the ranks until I was chief sub-editor. 

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

I've undergone in-house training through much of my career, but recently, I have undertaken some courses specifically designed to help with my chosen field, which is fiction editing. I've completed the SfEP fiction editing course, as well as the EFA's intermediate and advanced developmental editing courses. I also attended the SfEP conference in 2015.

What work are you most proud of?

I did quite a lot in my newspaper career that I am proud of, but the work I am proudest of since I set up my own business is helping one of my regular clients become one of Amazon's top 100 authors after editing his series of novels. He received a cash award from Amazon for being so successful, and has received great feedback on the quality of his novels. 

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

If it's something that another pair of eyes can help, the SfEP forum is always one of the first places I go to bounce ideas off people. There are also a few Facebook groups, with editors all over the world, and you can always get an answer (or 50!) there. If it's just the case that I'm suffering from a lack of inspiration, I turn off the computer and take the dog for a walk. Fresh air always helps to clear my head!

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

It's been of immense benefit to my career so far, and it's really made me feel connected to all the friendly and knowledgeable SfEP members. It's also a great selling point for my own skills, as people trust that I am part of a well-regarded organisation, and interested in developing my own knowledge and career. Plus, the SfEP conference is worth joining up for alone!

Which editorial tasks do you enjoy the most and why?

I quite like getting my hands dirty, and I enjoy quite substantive edits, particularly with novice authors. It appeals to my own sense of creativity and desire to educate – I'm not very good at stopping myself meddling, and I rarely do straight proofreading, so manuscripts where I can really get into the text and tackle issues are my favourite.

Do you have any editorial pet hates?

As a fiction editor, mixed-up point-of-view in manuscripts can be a bit of a headache to sort out, and tend to take quite a lot of time to unpick. I don't hate it, but it is one of the few tasks I sometimes need to take a break from to clear my mind!

What has most surprised you about your editorial career?

Perhaps a typically British trait, but I'm always surprised when people like what I do! Whenever I send a sample off to a potential client, I'm always on tenterhooks until they reply. When they reply saying they loved it, I feel slightly surprised, even though I know I've put my heart and soul into it!

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

Probably to make sure you love what you're doing. Being passionate about what I do ensures I do the best possible job I can, and I get a buzz every time I open a new manuscript to start work.

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

Join the SfEP! Seriously, I'm not just being a teacher's pet. The resources and support there will be invaluable. On a more general note, don't undersell yourself. I still struggle with making sure I'm charging what I'm worth, and get uncomfortable discussing money, but if you have skills, they are worth paying for. Don't confuse lack of experience with lack of knowledge and think you need to charge bargain basement prices. Go in strong and confident, and the work will follow.

Do you ever stop editing?

No, much to the despair of my long-suffering other half! It can be particularly annoying when reading for pleasure, too.

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

I'm a huge dog fan and my ultimate goal is to balance editing work with my own dog walking business.

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.