Interview #6: Aliza Amlani

Years editing: 20 years
Job title: Freelance editor and writer
Job description: Update and refine technical, business, and educational content
Location: Toronto, Canada

EXPERIENCE

How did you get your current job?
I connected with two of my current clients via social media (one through a Facebook group and another via Twitter). I mainly work with guides, intranet content, and online learning materials. Some of my social media projects include editing content for a Europe-based organization and adapting it for North American audiences.

What copyediting training have you had?
In a way, I got into this line of work accidentally. I helped write simplified English content for promotional pamphlets at a summer job, which led to full-time work as a technical editor. Since then, I’ve written and edited technical guides, edited online-focused educational content, and worked on a lot of business content geared toward social media. I’ve also been taking part-time classes at George Brown College and Ryerson University for the last few years to help enhance my copyediting and writing skills. 

DOING THE JOB

Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
Writing plain-language and concise content for social media is super-important. So much content needs to be tailored for online audiences and social media. I’m also working on technical skills to boost content accessibility (e.g., adding subtitles to video, describing video and visual content, and ensuring that web copy can be read by screen readers [assistive technology]).

Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)? 
Nope! I’m a little old school this way. I tried one of the popular tools once and it missed so many big things. So I didn’t think it would be all that useful for my work. 

COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

How do you and your colleagues talk about editing among each other?
Right now, I’m flying solo. On a previous in-house project, I had a great team of editors, and we’d often discuss issues or questions on Slack or in-person chats. I still keep in touch with many former colleagues and am always learning from them, as well as other friends who are freelancers or in-house writers and editors. It’s always good to surround yourself with other word nerds.

Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors?
I occasionally participate in communities on social media, but I often do more reading than chatting within many of these (e.g., Facebook groups, Twitter chats). Some examples of Facebook groups I enjoy are EAE Backroom, Editors of Color, and Writing the Other.

Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
Networking is vital, especially for work like mine, which often involves internal or proprietary content that can’t be shared in a standard portfolio. I also find it’s helpful to talk about the details of what I do. I have found that many people mix up proofreading and other types of editing, and often think of any form of editing as either unnecessary or a bonus, but not essential.

Any advice for editors on getting buy-in from the non-editor colleagues with whom they work?
I think it’s important to focus on the fact that editors can help organizations perfect and enhance their messaging, especially in this current moment when (I’m hoping) more people understand how much their words matter.

THE PERSONAL

Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
On a recent project, I helped to update an internal style guide with content and guidance around writing about different communities to promote inclusivity. Some of the advice included using an uppercase “B” in “Black” and using the singular “they.” I’m proud of any opportunity to improve language in this way and to help others understand how small changes can make a big difference to many people.

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I love listening to many different types of music — I’m getting back into the Hamilton soundtrack these days (it’s the last show I saw before the lockdown)! I also love travel and will be excited to get back to that when it’s safe to do so. I think much of my work has been influenced by my interest in and exploration of different parts of the world.

RESOURCES

What resources would you share with fellow editors?
Conscious Style Guide is an excellent resource, and its offshoot, Editors of Color, is a great database if you’re looking to diversify your editorial staff.

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