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How did you get your start as an editor, and how long have you been editing?
I’ve been a part of a writing critique group since high school. I’d assumed that editors were gray and joyless creatures who subsisted on authors tears and the shreds of rejected manuscripts, but being part of a critique group changed that. I realized editors are an author’s greatest ally and cheerleader—and I realized that I enjoyed serving in that role. After multiple internships at Christian publishers, I graduated Taylor University in 2020 with a degree in professional writing (an excellent degree specific to the publishing industry). COVID-19 cancelled the paid internship I’d landed after graduation, so I took up freelancing. My first big break was content editing for Tyndale’s topical Bible app, and I started gathering Upwork clients on top of that. I’ve had to pay my dues, but these last three years have been rewarding too.
What are your areas of focus, and why did you select them?
I’m very versatile when it comes to genre. My Upwork profile basically says, “Everything except erotica.” However, when it comes to types of editing, I do my best work in substantive editing, particularly for aspiring authors. With my educational background and experience working with traditional publishers (including marketing), I’m able to help aspiring authors in a way many Upwork freelancers can’t. It makes me sad to see an author invest hundreds and thousands of dollars into publishing a book that isn’t ready and then have no idea why it flopped. I believe the skill of writing can be learned, and offering big-picture feedback to authors taking their first steps into publishing is always rewarding to me.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I’m currently dealing with some chronic eye/muscle trouble, so I work in half-hour increments, take an eye break for a few minutes, then go back to work another half hour. My work varies widely, depending on which job has the biggest deadline. Typically, I prioritize projects from authors as my work for Tyndale isn’t on a tight deadline.
How do you manage your time?
I’m still figuring that one out, honestly. I am not at all a multitasker. Give me a 100,000-word book and I’ll plow through it. Give me five ongoing projects where I’m waiting on other people to get back to me and I’ll fritter about between tasks like a moth bouncing off a light bulb. I have to write everything down because my brain can’t keep everything sorted out.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
I get to read books as a job. I get to meet interesting characters and learn interesting things. I’m always learning! But on top of that, substantive editing is the ultimate challenge for my analytical and creative mind. It’s like a puzzle to be solved, and it’s always satisfying to see the pieces click into place.
What is your biggest challenge in being an editor, and how do you work through this?
Managing a business is hard. I’m an idealist and not particularly driven by finances, but finances are kind of important. Learning when to set boundaries to conserve my time, when to request a raise from a publisher, how much to raise my rates without cutting off my “aspiring author” target audience—none of that is my strong suit. Still, every time I figure something out gives me greater confidence to learn and take the next step.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Educate yourself and get experience. I wouldn’t have had anywhere near the success I’ve had without my excellent education from Taylor University’s professional writing program. It wasn’t until I started working with clients that I realized how much I knew that the average aspiring author had no clue about. I’ve only taken one PEN class, but I learned new things there too. It’s an excellent opportunity to get feedback on your work from veterans in our field.
Education isn’t all you need, though. Editing is a business, and starting a business takes trial and error. How do I set my rates? (The EFA helps, but as a young editor, I charge less.) How do I work with clients? (Each has their quirks, and setting boundaries is hard.) How do I build my website? (Choosing a brand is a big decision.) As editors, we’re often perfectionists, but there isn’t always a clear right answer—and you have to be willing to figure it out as you go along.
What are you currently working on?
I’m still working on Tyndale’s topical Bible app. I’m currently working with a licensed Christian counselor to revise sensitive topics: perfectionism, depression, abuse, anxiety, grief, racism, etc. Of all the projects I’ve worked on, it’s the project I’m most proud of. Too many Christians have received pat answers on these subjects—or worse, Bible verses taken out of context. I want Christians to know God understands and cares about all these struggles, and I want to show them that truth in Scripture, perhaps in a way they haven’t noticed before.
Where can people find you online or on social media?
You can find my professional business account on Twitter at @InkSwordEditing. My personal Twitter is @TimPietz.
Once upon a time, Tim Pietz thought editors were gray and joyless people who quenched their thirst with authors’ tears. Now he is the managing editor of InkSword Editing and, to his knowledge, he mostly drinks tap water. Tim graduated summa cum laude from Taylor University with a BS in professional writing and a BA in strategic communication, and since then he’s had the privilege of editing for various authors and publishers, including Tyndale House. A teacher and encourager at heart, Tim enjoys collaborating with authors at every stage in their publishing journey.
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