Years editing: 7
Job title: Creative writer/editor
Job description: Write and edit marketing communications (emails, brochures, flyers, and web copy) for health insurance company
How did you get your current job?
I’ve always wanted to be an editor, so I set up job board alerts for anything with “editor” in the title. I got the notification about an editor role at an insurance company and figured it would be a great challenge. I knew nothing about insurance, but I had over five years of experience editing copy for lots of other things I knew nothing about. I gave it a shot and applied.
What copyediting training have you had?
I guess my training began in school. In high school and college, I edited my friends’ essays and lab reports for fun. Then I volunteered to help copyedit things at work. It became part of my regular job duties. The copy director was an amazing mentor. She really showed me the ropes of research, review, style guides, negotiation . . . everything.
DOING THE JOB
Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
I had to get very familiar with insurance and our company’s products. I signed up for every class I could find through our company’s learning platform. I also found external resources to get even more familiar with insurance.
Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)?
I use Hemingway Editor to make sure the copy isn’t too advanced. Hemingway is a free online tool that displays the reading level of your material.
COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS
How do you and your colleagues talk about editing with each other?
I’m the only one with “editor” in their title, but a few people on my team edit copy. We have Webex meetings about edits, and we share thoughts in tracked changes.
Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors?
I’m a member of ACES: The Society for Editing (American Copy Editors Society).
Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
NETWORK! I’ve gotten amazing tips, tricks, and resources from my network (not from books). It’s also very useful to have a network of others in your field so that you can help each other find jobs and clients.
How might we get buy-in during the editing process from authors who may not be receptive to changes?
Tell the author how it benefits them. With an editor, they get a higher-quality product without having to do any of the work themselves. Having an editor is like going to a hairstylist for a haircut. You could cut your own hair, but it’s usually better to hire a person who has training. Copyeditors are trained to perfect copy. An author could do it, but they’re too close to their work to be objective. They’re probably not going to see what the reader sees.
How diverse is your office?
Our company is very diverse, but I’m the only person of color on my team.
Have you faced any hurdles in getting into/advancing in the copyediting profession because you are a person of color? Or have you observed such barriers for others?
I haven’t faced any barriers due to race. In my previous role, I worked with a few editors of color, so that was great to see.
Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
I think companies would increase diversity if they knew the benefit. A copyeditor of color might catch something (coded language, outdated labeling) that another editor might not see. Companies could probably find more diverse candidates just by looking for people who have practical skills for the job.
Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
I’m proud of the work I’m doing now. In about three months, I went from not knowing anything about insurance to optimizing copy for multiple audiences and purposes.
Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I love reading. I’m also a “planner gal.” (Google “the planner community.”)
What resources would you share with fellow editors?
Fellow editors really are the best resource. There are so many amazing copyeditors on LinkedIn and Twitter. @WritersOfColor is a good source for discussions and job listings.
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