Jevon Bolden

Years editing: 18
Job title: Founder, CEO, principal, Embolden Media Group 
Job description: Leads a publishing consulting firm and literary agency
Location: Central Florida

How did you get your current job?
Short answer: After 14 years working as an editor for traditional publishers, I started a company and hired myself.

Longer answer: After 12 years working for Charisma House as an editor and building really great author relationships, I felt my time there had come to an end. What I wanted to contribute to Christian publishing was different from what Charisma House was publishing at the time. After having such great training there, it was time for me to expand beyond the categories they published.

I searched high and low for another senior editor position — or even editorial director, managing editor, executive editor, or associate publisher position — but there were very few opportunities I could leverage, having signed an NDA at Charisma House. This meant I essentially could not work for another Christian publisher and created a challenge for me over and above the industry-level limitations I faced as an editor of color seeking a new position.

I eventually found a nice position with the largest children’s book publisher in the world: Scholastic. And it was local! I didn’t have to move to New York, so I applied. After working with the recruiter, I negotiated for a higher title and higher salary range due to my previous experience. I was hired as a senior editor for Tangerine Press, a nonfiction children’s book-plus imprint that produced book products for kids ages 7-12 and sold directly into Scholastic Book Fairs. It was an incredible opportunity.

Because I had built such strong relationships with the authors at the previous publisher, word traveled that I was no longer working with them. The authors I had worked with began requesting my help with their books. One of those authors, who had a significant platform, hosted a writer’s conference, for which they asked me to lead the entire publishing track. I brought in my diverse group of publishing friends — editors, marketing specialists, and more — and we served hundreds of writers of color, about 98% of whom had never attended a writer’s conference before.

We taught sessions on writing, editing, and marketing. We also sat with them for one-on-one publishing appointments. It was a huge success, so much so that I received an influx of interest from authors who wanted to work with me writing, editing, and publishing their books. Over the next few months after the writers’ conference, I was inundated with so much work, I was earning more at the side hustle than I was with my full-time work. 

This realization led me to a decision to resign from Scholastic in 2017 and launch Embolden Media Group full time.

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? 
It is no secret that the editorial part of publishing is 85% white, according to Lee & Low’s 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey. I am part of the 1% of Black, Afro American, Afro Caribbean editors in all of publishing.

The first issue in becoming a copyeditor is that there is very little information about publishing at the collegiate level. I didn’t even know anything about book publishing while I was pursuing an English degree. I just knew I loved literature and books. I stumbled upon the potential to get a job in publishing because I was aggressively job hunting based on positions that matched my degree. No recruiters from publishing houses came to my university.

Publishing is also very regional. The chances of entering book publishing decrease if you do not live in the northeast near New York — or in Nashville, Grand Rapids, or Colorado Springs for Christian publishing. I lived in Huntsville, Alabama, at the time. I got a job at a small Christian publisher in Florida and moved for the entry-level position at my own expense. It was incredibly challenging financially. What I risked and sacrificed as a young professional with a young family can be a pretty big turnoff for new professionals of color.

But let me say this, and it’s very important: I absolutely love publishing. I loved everything in those days about being a new editor. The sacrifice still feels worth it to me.

I moved up quickly within the company I started with (at the time, I was the only person of color in the department and the only one with a college degree in English), but then there was nowhere else for me to go. Their career path was not clear, and once you got to a certain position, there wasn’t much more room for advancement. I wrote more about this here.

What lessons would you have liked to learn at the beginning of your career?
Outside of being better educated on the career path for an editor and being allowed to explore the publishing industry as a whole, my direct and necessary on-the-job training was superb — better than most. I am grateful for that.

Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
Yes, I wrote about five best DEI practices for organizations here.

Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
Too many to name. You can see a list of books I’ve worked on here.

What resources would you share with fellow editors?
See the image below, from my editorial bookshelf to yours. Also Conscious Style Guide is a great online style guide for issues regarding race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability. 

Are you an editor of color who would like to be featured on Email

Pro Tips from Your Favorite Editors

CaTyra Polland and Cynthia Williams

Editing is art and science. Two editors can look at the same copy and use very different approaches to get it in the best condition. Though a colleague often can’t tell us the “right” way to do an editing task, sometimes, we can benefit from seeing how other professionals work. Here, Editor Knows Best and Outside the Book have curated some tricks of the trade from your favorite word nerds.

Adrienne Michelle Horn
Editor, I A.M. Editing, Ink LLC
Years editing: 7
Specialty: Line editing, copyediting
Type of material: Articles, blogs, dissertations, manuscripts

Do: Always inform your client of what type of editing is needed and why.

Don’t: Never return a draft to a client without reviewing your changes at least once. We are all human and make mistakes.

Amber Riaz
Editor, A4 Editing
Years editing: 14
Specialty: Copyediting
Type of material: Academic manuscripts, web content

Do: Find an editorial niche that makes you happy, so you wake up every day actually looking forward to your workday.

Don’t: Treat grammar rules as immutable/unchanging. Language evolves constantly, so editors must keep themselves informed of new ways of using words and phrases. A prescriptivist attitude to editing suppresses creativity

Andrae D. Smith
Specialty: Primarily nonfiction
Type of material: Self-help and personal development books

Do: Know your reading and editing pace and plan accordingly. Check your availability and never be afraid to ask for a sample to see if you can reasonably take on a project.

Don’t: Rush or procrastinate. Take on more than you can handle. Overbook or book outside of your skill level, even if you need the money. The worst thing you can do for your reputation, your business, and your clients is take on so much that you’re rushing to get done and you do a bad job. Each project deserves your full attention.

Chris Obudho
Editor and proofreader, CJO Writing + Editing LLC
Years editing: 25
Specialty: Substantive editing
Type of material: Everything from digital ads to scientific journal articles

Do: Read everything you can. Of course, read books about the business, process, and art of editing and proofreading, to keep your skills sharp — but don’t neglect other forms of prose: cookbooks, catalogs, random websites, dictionaries, “junk” mail/sales letters, old textbooks, etc. These seemingly weird sources of information can give you great insight into how words are used and how sentences are formed. Reading broadly also helps hone your sense of curiosity, which can build knowledge. This knowledge base can then be used to help you better understand what you’re editing. The broader your knowledge about various topics (you don’t have to be an expert!), the more you’ll be able to help (1) your author express an idea and (2) your reader understand that idea.

Don’t: Never forget why you’re editing or proofreading a particular document. It’s not about your ability to redline a document so it looks like a crime scene. It’s not about showing how smart you are. It’s not about making the author’s work “better” by your standards. The editing or proofreading is about the reader.

Crystal Shelley
Editor and proofreader, Rabbit with a Red Pen
Years editing: 4
Specialty: Line editing, copyediting, proofreading, sensitivity reading
Type of material: Novels

Do: Don’t settle for the existing style guide. Style guides are meant to be a reference, to aid us in making decisions for consistency. Sometimes, following the style guide results in choices that don’t suit the circumstance. This is especially true given how quickly language evolves through the work of advocates and social justice movements. Style guides and dictionaries don’t always keep up with how to style terms related to social identities and human rights. If we come across a style guide that’s outdated, we can ask that it be updated to reflect current guidance.

Don’t: Never assume you know everything. The best editors are curious and recognize when they don’t know something or aren’t sure. We are trained to look things up so that the story or the copy is as accurate and clear as possible. If we have any doubt, it’s safer to double-check and be right than to assume and get it wrong.

Debbie Innes
Editor and proofreader, Debbie the Editor
Years editing: 10
Specialty: Copyediting, proofreading
Type of material: Annual reports, website content, corporate reports, nonfiction manuscripts, children’s books, newsletters, brochures, members’ magazines, university student handbooks, media advisories and news releases

Do: If you’re a freelance editor, don’t accept a project with a very low rate, if you can help it. Your skills and experience are worth more than that. Know your worth.

Don’t: Never stop learning. (Most editors know this, but I’m saying it anyway.)

Erica James
Editor, MasterPieces Writing and Editing LLC
Years editing: 6
Specialty: Book coaching (which includes developmental, line, and copyediting)
Type of material: Book manuscripts, academic papers, professional writing, business copy, social media content, website content, digital products

Do: Operate in your gifts both proudly and boldly. Regardless of how many other editors are making their mark on the literary world, no one is making their mark exactly the same. It’s important to know what you do best and to do it well, without fearing the outcome.

Don’t: Don’t take on projects without a clear game plan. To ensure your clients receive high- quality work, it’s best to implement a process that reduces stress and allows you to complete tasks within a reasonable time frame. Editing can be tedious at times; therefore, it’s crucial to know how much of your time and resources will be needed for each project and to plan accordingly. Also, be willing to say no if a project doesn’t align with your process.

Jessica LeeAnn
Editor, Chocolate Readings
Years editing: 14
Specialty: Developmental
Type of material: Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts

Do: Be honest.
Don’t: Discount your rates.

Kassel Pierre-Jean
Editor, Razorfish Health
Years editing: 15
Specialty: Copyediting
Type of material: Print/digital ads, direct mailers, websites, banner ads, conference panels, white papers

Do: Find an editor who is better than you and learn from them. They don’t necessarily need to be a mentor. Just someone you feel has mastered the skill and craft of editing — someone you respect.

Don’t: Don’t be a narcissist. Never act like you know it all. There’s always more to learn, and language and grammar are always changing. Be humble.

Lakeisha Bell Cadogan
Editor, Freelancer
Years editing: 3
Specialty: Substantive
Type of material: Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts

Do: Continuously strive to become a better editor. In the same way that writers should be consistently honing their craft, we, as editors, need to do the same. Taking courses is great, but there are other options too, like reading books and attending seminars (in -person or online). Also, join editing groups on social media. It’s a great way to make friends and learn from other people.

Don’t: A core principle in my business is: Do no harm. As editors, we should never remove the writer’s voice when editing their work. Yes, we can make changes, but that doesn’t mean we should impose our personal views on the writer’s work. The primary goal is to help the writer achieve their best work.

Lourdes Venard
Editor and instructor, University of California, San Diego’s Copyediting Program and Editorial Freelancers Association
Specialty: Copyediting
Type of material: Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts

Do: Read, read, read — especially in the genre or subject area in which you edit or hope to edit. The late Amy Einsohn, who wrote The Copyeditor’s Handbook, said the novice should have a “well-tuned ear.” But this ear can be difficult to develop if you aren’t reading widely. And if you are editing fiction, join a book club. It forces you to read books you might not pick up, and it also is an education to hear how other readers feel about a book and the writing.

Don’t: Don’t be inflexible. Yes, there are grammar and style rules to be followed, but some of these are not set in stone. And even those set in stone can be broken at times. Novice editors often get so hung up on the “rules” that they miss what the writer is trying to achieve. Language can be playful; we, as editors, should allow for that and be open to how language is always changing.

Lyric Dodson
Editor, Editing by Lyric
Years editing: 6
Specialty: Copyediting
Type of material: Blog posts, nonfiction books

Do: If you’re working as a freelancer, get everything in writing! It can seem intimidating to write up a contract that hits all the important points, but it’s absolutely imperative that you do so. You most likely won’t encounter troublesome clients too often as you work, but there is a chance you will — and you want to be prepared if anything happens.

Don’t: Never undersell yourself! Setting your prices is one of the most important things you’ll do, so it’s incredibly important that you charge what you’re worth, no matter how “outrageous” you think your prices are. Remember, you’re charging not only for your time and expertise, but also for the potential return on investment your client can expect to gain in the long run. Don’t price gouge for the sake of making a few extra dollars, but don’t undercut yourself either.

Renee’ D. Campbell
Editor and proofreader, MyPen Syl Writes
Years editing: 15+
Specialty: Substantive editing
Type of material: Résumés, books (fiction, comedy, sci-fi, poetry), white papers, research papers, marketing material, presentations, infographics, websites

Do: Attention to detail is key when editing. Take the role of editor seriously, as the author is entrusting their words to you.
Don’t: Do not promise what you cannot deliver! Deadlines are key!

Taiia Smart Young
Editor, Smart Girl Media
Years editing: 26
Specialty: Developmental editing
Type of material: Self-help, memoir, personal development, spirituality

Do: Edit work that you have some experience with or connection to.
Don’t: Never be afraid to turn down a client.

CaTyra Polland, MA, is the CEO of Love for Words, an editing boutique. She is also a published author and the hostess/creator of Editor Knows Best Podcast.

Cynthia Williams is a department manager at Dragonfly Editorial and interviews editors of color at

Perspectives: Rob Reinalda

Working with copyeditors

As solitary a vocation as editing can be, collaboration is nonetheless crucial. Exchanging ideas and perspectives can enrich all parties. I’ve learned a great deal over the years, from older and younger colleagues, and I’ve tried to share that institutional knowledge, along with my own understanding of linguistics, as my career has rolled out. 

I’ve worked in newspapers and in online communications, the latter covering the corporate sector. They are strikingly different entities. 

In both cases, though, linguistic structure must be sound. Imagine you’re constructing a building; regardless of its purpose or aesthetics, the foundation must be solid, or it will collapse. That’s every bit as true for a piece of writing. Editors, to further the analogy, are building inspectors.

Diversity and inclusion

This movement must be much, much more than meeting quotas for an annual report. Beyond the moral and ethical reasons for hiring a diverse workforce, there is a pragmatic element that many companies might overlook: It’s smart to do so. 

A more inclusive workforce — at all levels of an organization — is a stronger workforce. In the communications field, it’s essential. 

It’s a grave mistake to shun or dismiss alternative takes on any given subject, and certainly perspectives on text that represents the company in the public sphere. An opposing or diagonal perspective can save you. What’s perfectly fine within one group or culture can prove offensive, even damaging, in another. I mentioned the importance of institutional knowledge earlier; that’s something to cultivate. 

An organization would do well to set up a subject index on its intranet (or other internal hub) in which employees can offer their fields of relative expertise. It could be cultural (hip-hop to classical, 1960s sitcoms to Spike Lee movies), linguistic (Esperanto to Cantonese to Chaucer’s English), life-experience related (Iraq war vets to knitters to weekend stand-up comics), and so on.

Ultimately, it’s about getting it right for your audience, business partners, or customer base — and, above all, not getting it wrong

What makes a good copyeditor

Command of the language, of course, is essential, as is a solid knowledge of punctuation. 

I stress six Cs. Good writing should be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Correct
  • Clean
  • Comprehensive 
  • Colorful

Beyond that, an editor should serve the reader’s interest first and foremost. When that happens, it serves the writer well, too. An important part of that is respecting the reader’s time. Streamline text whenever possible.

Double-check everything. Consult with others, as I mentioned above, divining connotation as well as denotation. To root out ambiguity, try to misread every passage.

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Chris Obudho

Years editing: 15 years
Job title: Owner of CJO Writing + Editing LLC
Job description: Writing and editing technical and marketing copy
Location: Indiana


How did you get your current job?
I work with a broad array of clients to write an equally broad array of products, including blogs, product descriptions, press releases, articles, social media posts. I also edit scientific journal articles, LinkedIn articles, corporate training courses, government agency newsletters, and many other materials. Every day is truly different!

I fell in love with the process of editing about 15 years ago while working on political campaigns. Polishing press releases, campaign plans, and other documents was (and is) intellectually stimulating. Finding the right words, correcting mistakes, and making the message clear is fascinating (and can be fun)!

I’ve always had a desire to work for myself. The opportunity arose when I left an advertising agency (where I served as the primary proofreader) here in Indiana. I landed my first client after offering to help them create an in-house style guide. They’re a copper fittings manufacturer and their long-serving marketing manager had been struggling with consistent messaging and style. I thought a style guide would be a great first project. 

The president of the ad agency I’d left actually referred them to me. Maintaining relationships throughout an organization is key. That first client led to others, and now I’m going into my third year and (fingers crossed) many more.

What training do you have in copyediting, and what positions have you held?
I have a liberal arts B.A. from William Paterson University — so no specific copyediting training. Over the years, I have gained an appreciation for the nuances of the language. I had the opportunity to work for many political and public affairs campaigns, which, obviously, require strong language skills. 

I also was lead writer and editor for the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New Jersey, an effort that involved working with architectural, engineering, community planning, and public affairs experts. 

At the ad agency, I worked with many corporate clients (Whirlpool, Fifth/Third Bank, Amway, Stryker, etc.) to write and edit various documents (digital and print).


Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
I’ve come to realize that basic graphic design and layout skills can improve your chances of landing a project. Even if it’s just understanding how to lay out something in Microsoft Publisher, you can offer that extra service and add value to your client. 

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. On the one hand, I think it’s an important skill to have. But I’m seeing some transfer of the “240 character” mindset to other types of writing, and I don’t really think that’s healthy (though linguistic evolution is a thing!). Being able to distill a fairly complex thought into short, concise content is an important skill to have. 

I’m a generalist, and I know that’s bitten me in the backside looking for jobs, because many employers feel that their industry is so unique that you have to have a graduate level of knowledge to even walk in the door! I think generalists with skills and interests in writing, editing, leadership, communications, discipline, attention to detail, patience, curiosity, and teachability are just as valuable as someone with a degree in mid-century Venezuelan agricultural history (apologies if that’s a real degree)!

Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)? 
Most of my editing is done in Microsoft Word, so I don’t use any other tool. I don’t use macros either! I do some editing in Adobe and just use the edit option. Pretty basic stuff.


How do you and your colleagues talk about editing with each other?
When I was the proofreader and editor for the ad agency, I was responsible for training my backups. We would have periodic discussions (once a month or so) about the in-house style guide, proofreading marks, other style guides that clients used (AP, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.), and other grammatical topics, to make sure everyone was up to speed. They weren’t “word nerds” necessarily but understood the importance of consistency with the different client documents.

Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors?
Unfortunately, I don’t. I’ve often meant to join something like ACES: The Society for Editing or Society for Technical Communication, but I never seemed to find the time or resources to attend conferences. I’d like to one day!

Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
It all depends. What are your career goals? If you want to head a large copyediting operation at a corporation or newspaper, then networking, interning, having great clips and samples, etc., will definitely help. Obviously, you have to get work in that organization, but once you do, it definitely won’t hurt to network both internally and outside the company.

Starting your own shop means you definitely have to network. I hate cold calling, but this is where social media may be a good place to start. For example, find local people you’d like to work with and connect with them on LinkedIn. Ask for a coffee or lunch meeting to pick their brain about their industry and begin to build that relationship. Be patient. Don’t focus on what you want from them, but on what you can give to them. Be open. Be friendly. Be humble.

A colleague of mine said his secret (he’s in financial public relations) is simple: “Do good work.” That’s stuck with me. My first client liked my work, which built my confidence and pushed me to seek more work. I did good work for the next client, and so on and so on.

Editing is a very solitary exercise, but being around people can be helpful to both your mental and emotional health, and your professional progression.

Another way to network is to go to a co-working space. You never know who you’ll meet there. I actually picked up a client that way too.

How might we get buy-in during the editing process from authors who may not be receptive to changes?
Writing is a very personal process. Spending all of that time developing an idea, writing, rewriting, and having the courage to put it out there is a big deal. Empathy and professionalism are the keys, in my opinion (and all of the editors and proofreaders I’ve met have been authors at some point). Understanding what the author has gone through is a great way to connect. Explain your editing process so they know what to expect. After you’ve read their piece, compliment them on it (regardless of how it looks, reads, or feels to you!). You should already know the purpose of the piece, so explain that your editing is part of reaching that goal and you look forward to teaming with them to make it happen.

Once you’ve made the suggested revisions, walk the author through each one and have a justification for each change (no matter how small). Be professional about it. The first edit for a new author is always the toughest, but once they see that you’ve “done good work,” they’ll be more receptive to the editing process.


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? 
Thankfully, I haven’t faced any racial issues with respect to getting jobs or clients. Now, maybe I didn’t get a job along the way because I’m black, but I never knew about it. Throughout my career, I haven’t worked with very many people of color (POCs) in the writing, editing, and proofreading space. I do see many online.

Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
Whew! That’s an interesting and tough question. I think that it has to be addressed from both sides (i.e., what can employers do and how can we get more POCs interested in the field?). As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t see many POCs working in this field. That’s got to change. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, only 15% of editors were POCs.

Our broader mission as editors is to make communications clear between our clients/companies and their audiences. It can’t just be on the employers to do this. POCs often have unique perspectives to bring to editing. Building a love for precision, curiosity, and attention to detail is a great way to become more attractive to employers. Are these intangible skills being taught in schools now? I don’t think so. That may be the more fundamental issue. 


Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
One of the largest documentation projects I worked on was a statewide disaster recovery plan called the Recovery Support Strategy. The plan involved multiple federal and state agencies and laid out how FEMA and other federal agencies would assist New Jersey with recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Over about 10 months and thousands of hours from dozens of agencies, we wrote, edited, revised, and sought approval for this plan, which would help my home state recover. I had the opportunity to work with some of the smartest, most talented, and dedicated people in the country. As the process went on, I was given the responsibility of leading the project to completion (final edits, final approvals, and submission to FEMA leadership and the governor).

On some days, a stack of copies of the plan that had been sent out for reviews by various stakeholders was piled on my desk (3-4 feet high!). I had to make updates to the master copy. Lots of nights and weekends reviewing, revising, and pulling my hair out attempting to keep things on track. We used hard copies for most things, so daily, my supervisor (or another reviewer) would drop an additional reviewed copy on my desk with a thud and say, “Here are more revisions. Good luck!” 

I learned a lot from that process: I worked with people of varying experience and interest levels. I learned more about grammar. I saw how a large government project works. That’s when I really knew I loved editing!

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I’m a super Star Wars nerd and spend way too much time thinking and reading about what’s canon and what’s not! I also became an accidental gardener when I started feeding birds and squirrels in my backyard and they dropped or buried some seeds. Surprise! Sunflowers, sorghum, and corn sprouted up. That pushed me to find out what else I could grow, and now I have fresh basil, lettuce, cilantro, and, hopefully next year, a bounty of fresh vegetables!


What resources would you share with fellow editors?
Match and search games. I spend a lot of time using these to help hone my attention to detail. Games like Find Objects, June’s Journey, and Find the Difference are great detail-oriented games that can keep editors sharp.

The more traditional resources I use a lot include the Title Case Converter and Google’s Ngram tool. Ngram has helped me justify a word choice on many occasions.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or about diversity in the profession?
I really appreciate the chance to share some thoughts with your readers. Increasing the representation of POCs in the writing, editing, and proofreading space is a noble goal, and I think there just needs to be more interest in the precise use of the language. Whether you’re a prescriptivist or descriptivist, there should be a baseline of accuracy before you can start “riffing” with words. How do you get there? It’s got to start young. Read to kids. Correct mistakes (lovingly). Play word games. We can build future generations of editors by starting early!

Ruksana Hussain

Years editing: 19
Job title: Freelance journalist, editor, copyeditor, proofreader, writer, and content creator
Location: California


How did you get your current job?
I chose to begin freelancing when the recession hit in 2008 and nobody was hiring. It was doubly difficult for me, as I had just moved to the United States in 2006 and 2008 was the first year I could legally apply for employment. 

During this time, I built my freelance business while working multiple gigs (e.g., in childcare, administration, research, and even a home-based eco-friendly products business), with the goal of eventually freelancing full time. 

That happened in 2011, when all of those gigs ended around the same time. My work opportunities since have all come along as a result of consistent networking and constantly applying for editorial roles, sometimes even creating those roles for myself in avenues where they were not advertised or didn’t exist. 

My major hurdle through it all was not having a social, educational or professional network to fall back on or dip into for connections, recommendations or other resources.

What copyediting training have you had?
My training began on the job. My first position, straight out of college, was in editorial. Then I took on content management and corporate communications, and eventually, I performed more writing and editing-focused roles. 

Over time, I chose to build on those skills to stay relevant to the market. That building included a continuing education certificate in copyediting and ACES: The Society for Editing workshops and the annual conference. 


Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
Networking and marketing are crucial, especially if you want to create opportunities for yourself instead of applying for what’s available. Whether that networking is via social media or online-offline connects is up to the individual, but sharing your work and highlighting what you do is important. 

I have added skills along the way that have helped my work with clients. A course in Adobe InDesign a few years ago has come in handy when working with magazine clients, and a grant-writing certification obtained last year has helped with some nonprofit work. 


How do you and your colleagues talk about editing with each other?
As a freelance editor, I mostly work alone. In the rare event that I am coordinating with a team, we use email, Slack, Dropbox, or Google Drive to collaborate.

This year has introduced several new terms in everyday usage, including “shelter in place” and “contact tracing.” For one magazine I work with and for which I created a custom style guide, these terms had to be added. Questions to resolve included, “When do we use them with or without hyphens?” We had discussions among the copyeditor, editor, and managing editor on the correct forms based on AP style.

For another outlet’s stories on race-related coverage, we had a Dropbox discussion on updating hyphenated dual-heritage terms, such as African American or Asian American, to current AP style.

Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors?
Yes. ACES, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the American Society of Business Publication Editors, and the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing

Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
In my experience, I had to do a lot more than just the editing. A couple of factors played into this: having recently moved to the country, not having the educational or professional experience that other candidates vying for the same role did, and not having many projects to share in my portfolio when I was starting out. 

My only option was to get in front of people and be seen and heard to find the roles I wanted, or create them for myself. I still do a lot of networking and try to get myself in front of decision makers. With the work I’ve accomplished, it has become easier to have those conversations.

How might we get buy-in during the editing process from authors who may not be receptive to changes?
I haven’t had many instances of having to get buy-in from authors, but the few times it has happened, I’ve shared the specific style guide with them or examples online from other sources. Sometimes it’s a conversation, and sometimes it’s education.


How diverse is your office? 
In the teams I’ve worked with over the years, sometimes I’ve been the only person of color, and sometimes I’ve been surrounded by a diverse 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? 
When I was starting out in this line of work in America, it certainly did feel like I had to prove myself more than others. 

On the one hand, I see that as a practical decision by the hiring person: if you don’t see on paper the qualifications and experience you are looking for, then you wouldn’t hire that individual. 

On the other hand, my name and my identity as a woman of color somehow gave people the idea I couldn’t put a sentence together, leave alone edit what they had written. This bias was only further strengthened by the fact that I had no educational or work experience in the US. 

A few years ago, I could sense that I, as the editor of a magazine, was being viewed with surprise — sort of a “How did you get here? Who let you in? Are you in the right place?” attitude, rather than a “You must be good at what you do to be here with us.” I still do sense it on occasion, but generally, I think I’ve been in the business so long I don’t take note.

Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
Admit bias exists, recognize it, and address it. Implement recruitment and hiring processes that ensure those biases don’t become the basis for your decision making (which, most times, will be to the detriment of your success). 

Form a diversity and inclusion team that is representative of your community, and have them be your guides in this conversation. 

Stop paying lip service and be transparent in how and why diversity and inclusion is important to you and what you are doing about it.


Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
I am proud of every single project that has brought me to this space of professional contentment that I find myself in now. At the moment, I am the editor at a diversity-focused publication and am happy to be part of a media company with that mission. 

I recently won three awards at the Los Angeles Press Club’s 2020 SoCal Journalism Awards that felt like a nod to years of hard work honing my writing and editing pursuits — in less than 10 years being a full-time freelancer and 14 living in the US. 

My personal passion project is a digital lifestyle magazine I launched earlier this year, Traveler and Tourist. Diversity and inclusion are the primary factors driving that effort. 

Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
Traveling, cooking, reading, coloring, listening to music, watching movies, crosswords, trying new restaurants, learning languages, napping — I’m Gemini; the list is endless.


What resources would you share with fellow editors?
A subscription to the online AP Stylebook is a great investment if that’s your specialization. For those starting out, a certification or two in copyediting might be that little push you need to get work. For those already in the field, learning to work in InDesign for edits is worth exploring. All of the groups I’ve mentioned above in “Communicating with Others” are great resources.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or about diversity in the profession?
I welcome readers to connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to answer any questions or help in any way possible. I certainly stumbled around quite a bit trying to find my footing in this space, so if I can help expedite that process for anyone else, I’d be glad to assist. 

As for diversity in the profession, there’s certainly a long way to go, and there is much work being done. There are champions and allies and cheerleaders who are helping in any way they can. And, of course, there are skilled diverse editors and other members of editorial communities doing their part. It’s a journey in that sense. But the more people who participate, the more there is accomplished.