PEN Membership Level

Silver

How did you get your start as an editor, and how long have you been editing?

I got started in a writers’ forum offering feedback on fellow writers’ work. Several remarked that I had an eye for spotting typos. But it was only in 2020 that I mustered the courage to take an editing course, and I didn’t step outside my comfort zone and let people know I was offering copyediting and proofreading as a service until 2021. My first client was one of the members of the writers’ forum.

What are your areas of focus, and why did you select them?

I focus on line editing, copyediting, and proofreading, and I chose these because I am a detail-orientated person. That, and I just know I wouldn’t do a developmental edit justice! I enjoy editing fiction, probably because I started as a writer, and also enjoy editing devotionals as they challenge me spiritually and build my faith.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I start with checking my emails and catching up on various forums I’m a part of. Once I’ve caught up on that, I’m able to focus on editing. Typically, I work on one manuscript at a time. When I need a break, I do some sweeping (housework is the most amazing editing break!), then keep going. After lunch, it’s more editing, then one final email check before packing up for the day. On Tuesdays, I write a newsletter for my email list, and on other days, I slip some social media time in. On the days I don’t have a manuscript to edit, I focus on other things, like learning/exploring new things, updating my website, etc.

How do you manage your time?

I use Toggl Track to keep an eye on how I’m spending my time in general. Rather than track just my editing projects, I track the various things I do throughout my day. Some categories I track include housework, editing, marketing, exercise (because that’s important too), email, and research (because I can get sucked into rabbit holes with that). By tracking what I am doing, I find I am more likely to stay focused on what I am meant to be doing, and when I look back over a day, week, month, or so on, I can see where I might be wasting time.

Another thing I do to help manage my time is give about thirty minutes at the start of the day to emails. If I don’t go through all emails and newsletters I’ve received since the day before, I’ll be distracted and unable to focus. Pretty soon, checking emails becomes an overwhelming task because there are just so many.

Lastly, when I pack up for the day, I turn my PC off. If I don’t do this, chances are that I won’t stop working, and I’ll negatively affect the lives of my family.

What is your favorite thing about being an editor?

The stories! Editing is such a cool job because I get to read stories before they are published and work with amazing authors to help them bring their books into the world. I also enjoy the flexibility freelancing gives me in terms of time.

What is your biggest challenge in being an editor, and how do you work through this?

Most likely trusting God. Being a freelancer often feels like Peter walking on water in a storm, only there is no boat to climb back into.

Other challenges I face are because of my location. I’m South African (and live in South Africa), so I’m unable to attend writers’ conferences in person, which means building relationships with fellow industry professionals is more challenging for me. Time zone differences make it really hard to attend many networking events online (I don’t look [or sound] human after ten p.m.). It also means it looks like I send emails at two or three a.m. I work around this by being honest about my location, letting people know that it might look like I’m slow to respond to emails. I also accept that there are limitations to what I can do from where I am in terms of networking, but I do that anyway.

What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?

Be willing to make mistakes. Try things and see if they work. Be open to another perspective, and always respect the author. Lastly, never think you know it all. This is one industry you will never stop learning in, so approach it with humility and a willingness to be taught.

What are you currently working on?

As I write this, I don’t have a manuscript to edit, so I’m working on a presentation for PENCON 2024! It is said that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and I am certainly learning a lot at the moment.

Where can people find you online or on social media?


About Claire Tucker

Claire Tucker is a copyeditor and proofreader who works with authors to achieve excellence. Her editorial strengths include helping authors hone their voice as well as heightening suspense at a sentence level. Claire also enjoys helping authors learn more about the publishing process and how to write powerful prose.

 


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