Interview 27: CaTyra Polland

Years editing: 4
Job title: CEO of Love for Words
Job description: Provides copyediting and developmental editing
Location: Rochester, NY

EXPERIENCE

How did you get your current job?
I have always loved reading and writing. I used to participate in the annual summer reading programs to receive a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. Those were the days!

I published my first book in 2017 with the help of my friend who is also a publisher. She was looking for an editor. I provided her a sample edit, then edited one of her books, and the rest is history. I launched my editing boutique, Love for Words, that same year.

My target market consists of Black authors who are CEOs. I have worked with non-Black clients as well, and I certainly don’t turn away clients because of race. However, my goal is to help Black authors become published. As a Black woman, author, and editor, I offer a unique perspective for authors. 

Some early challenges I faced included being a solopreneur and deciding what type of editing to specialize in. As a solopreneur, I juggled all aspects of my business. I managed the marketing, accounting, invoicing, and editing. It was overwhelming. As my boutique grew, I was able to hire independent contractors to help me. I now have a virtual assistant and a team of publishers, author public relations specialists, formatters, illustrators, and other professionals. Working with independent contractors has been an empowering and productive experience. 

When choosing which type of editing to specialize in, I researched the different types of editing. I watched tutorials, attended workshops, and networked with other editors. I ultimately settled on developmental editing, as it was the easiest and most enjoyable based on my talents and preferences. Defining my niche helped me connect with my target market and focus on my craft. 

What copyediting training have you had, and what positions have you held? 
I recently earned a certificate for completing Editing Mastery: How to Edit Writing to Perfection. (Shani Raja is the instructor.) I have completed some Poynter Institute coursework and have spent hours watching editing tutorials, listening to podcasts and interviews with editors, interviewing editors, and reading books about editing. Since launching Love for Words, I have edited over two dozen books. 

DOING THE JOB

Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
Yes. The ability to build interpersonal relationships is important. I pitch myself to various podcast hosts to increase exposure, link with other creatives, and connect with potential clients.

Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)? 
I use Microsoft Word and AutoCrit.

COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors? 
Yes. I am a member of the Rochester Black Authors Association, Black Editors & Proofreaders, and Ask a Book Editor.

Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
Editors need to network and market themselves. I recommend participating in podcasts, conferences, Facebook groups, associations, and writing communities. We must put ourselves in front of our target audiences to grow our clientele.

How might we get buy-in during the editing process from authors who may not be receptive to changes?
I offer a sample edit after the initial conversation. I validate the author’s feelings and wishes. I also explain my suggestions and edits, while being open to the author’s feedback. It’s also important to share why you are making recommendations and how it will improve the author’s writing.

BUILDING DIVERSITY

Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
Employers in the literary world should connect with diverse professionals by joining different groups (for example, those for authors, editors, literary agents, publishers). Historically black colleges and universities are a great resource for recruiting Black professionals. Employers could also tap ethnic studies majors to diversify their staff. 

THE PERSONAL

Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
I launched the Literacy Love Scholarship, an annual scholarship, in 2020. I was able to help three college students buy textbooks and supplies. I didn’t think I would be able to launch the scholarship for at least three years. I am humbled to be able to provide assistance to students in need, and I look forward to dispersing more scholarships.

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I enjoy traveling, going to the beach, performing slam poetry, and going to concerts.

RESOURCES

What resources would you share with fellow editors?
Check out the Editor Knows Best book and podcast; The Editor’s Companion, by Steve Dunham; and Finding, Hiring, and Working with an Editor, by Chantel Hamilton.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or about diversity in the profession?
Black editors are important because we understand and appreciate Black voices. We all deserve to work with professionals who embrace us and will not judge us.

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