Interview #3: Alicia Chantal

  • Years editing: 1.5
  • Job title: Owner of Fresh Look Editing
  • Job description: Provide nonfiction copyediting, proofreading, and writing services to individuals and businesses, with a focus on the health care and education sectors
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

EXPERIENCE

How did you get your current job?
I started my sole proprietorship, Fresh Look Editing, in February 2019. Editing and writing for a living was a long-held dream of mine, and I started my business with the goal of achieving more balance between work and home. The biggest challenge I’ve found with being my own boss so far is combating the imposter syndrome so many editors face. I often have to remind myself that I am capable of achieving success and allow myself to be confident in my abilities and drive to succeed.

What copyediting training have you had?
Communications work (which has included editing) has been part of my life for more than 15 years. I have a bachelor of arts (English), a public relations diploma, and a medical terminology certificate. I’ve also recently obtained an editing certificate.  

What positions have you held?
I’ve been a writer for my hometown’s newspaper, a reporter and copyeditor for my campus newspaper, a communications officer for a public agency, and an administrative assistant for a provincial healthcare authority. I love working with and helping people.

DOING THE JOB

Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
As a sole proprietor, I’ve found that having social media skills has been important for sharing ideas and connecting to potential clients. Additionally, I think good marketing skills and the ability to stay current with publishing and business trends are valuable.

Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)? 
I love style guides and dictionaries. (The electronic versions are great for the most up-to-date information, but I’ll admit, I love the hard-copy versions of them best!) A new addition to my desk is a second computer monitor. It is honestly a game changer, because it allows me to have multiple references or files open at one time, which saves a lot of time. I find it saves my eyesight, too!

COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

How do you and your colleagues talk about editing among each other?
Well, it’s just me and my #StetPet and office assistant cockapoo!

Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors? 
I connect with colleagues through social media (primarily through Twitter) and via my local chapter of Editors Canada. I joined Editors Canada to meet fellow editors, enhance my skills, and find opportunities to network — I’m happy I got involved! I’m actually about to enter my second year as co-coordinator of our Edmonton twig (small branch)! The support I’ve found through these avenues is invaluable. Working alone is highly rewarding but can be lonely. I’m happy to have the means to reach out to a community that supports editors and freely exchanges ideas.

Some think the editing speaks for itself, that the hard work alone will advance their careers. Do you have any thoughts on whether editors need to do more (e.g., networking and talking about what they do)?
I was once asked in a job interview how I know I’ve done a good job when I edit. I responded, “I know I’ve done a good job when no one knows what it is I do.” There’s a lot of discussion about good editing being invisible (do no harm and leave no trace). I absolutely believe that, but that doesn’t mean what we do shouldn’t be amplified. 

Editors need to stay connected and share best practices and experiences, and we also need to advocate for the value of our profession. That means talking to people from outside the editing and publishing world about what editing can do for them and partnering with different organizations to gain more visibility. It also starts at home, by explaining to friends and family that editing is more than just correcting typos and fixing spelling errors.

Any advice for editors on getting buy-in from the non-editor colleagues with whom they work?
I strongly believe you can learn a lot from observing and listening. If you take the time to really understand where your colleagues are coming from and what their individual strengths and areas of growth are, you can come up with solutions to meet their needs and find common ground. In my experience, finding commonality is huge in getting others to pay attention when you’re offering solutions.

BUILDING DIVERSITY

How diverse is your office?
Most of my previous workplaces haven’t been terribly diverse racially — often, I was the only BIPOC employee in my department or one of a handful. I’ve worked primarily with women in most of my workplaces and departments.

THE PERSONAL

Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
My first project as an independent editor was for Hands On Science, a local business that provides traveling field trips to elementary schools. The owner trusted me to edit an important policy document. Her vote of confidence was something I’ll never forget.

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I love spending time with my family, reading, and watching a good TV show or movie. I also enjoy scrapbooking (when I have the time!) and subversive cross-stitching. It’s very relaxing, and the irreverent humour speaks to me. I also participate in Tae Kwon Do.

RESOURCES

What resources would you share with fellow editors?
Editors Canada is a great resource for editors to network, find training, and volunteer at a local or national level. I also love sitting in on the Twitter #ACESChats from ACES: The Society for Editing, and I’m learning a lot from Conscious Style Guide.

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