Posts tagged #Editing

Megan Barnard: Editor

Name: Megan Barnard

Age: 24

College & Majors/Minors: Hollins University: English major with a concentration in creative writing. Double minors in communications and history. 

Current Location: Baltimore, MD

Current Form of Employment: Full-time editor at Angel Publishing

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I'm currently an editor at investment research firm, Angel Publishing. I primarily work for Energy and Capital where I write blog posts, PPC (pay-per-click) articles, marketing copy, and copyedit.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

I spent at least half of my senior year applying to writing/editorial jobs… And I found nothing. Job hunting was nearly a full-time job on its own. It was incredibly frustrating to see all these entry-level jobs that needed 1-2 years of experience. I ended up getting a job working customer service in a call center (which I had about 4 years of experience in) for a travel agency in Boston.

I spent about 9 months in the call center… and found that it was not for me. I had moved back to Maryland (where I’m from) at this point and telecommuted for work, but I desperately wanted out of customer service. I did anything I could to make myself stand out: I polished my LinkedIn, I contacted alumni from my university, and I applied to all jobs that possibly fit my experience.

I found the job posting for my current job on Craigslist. I applied immediately and got an email back that day, then had an interview and job offer within a week.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

It wasn’t a job per-se, but I wrote a Senior English Honors Thesis during my senior year of college. The thesis wasn’t required to graduate, but I found that the time and research I had to put into it (I was writing a novel), along with the hours of actual writing and one-on-one meetings with my thesis advisor were vital for developing my writing skills. It also gave me the opportunity to work on my writing daily, and helped me realize that writing and editing was actually something I loved to do each day. It confirmed that I was in the right field of study.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I wrote my Senior English Honors Thesis. I created a resume and LinkedIn account, I kept my GPA high and became a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honors society. I also doubled minored in history and communications. History, because I loved the subject, and communications, because it pairs really well with an English degree and looks good on a resume. 

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Don’t give up. Don’t listen to the people who laugh when you tell them you’re getting your degree in English (those “you’ll be my next barista” jokes are obnoxious). English is a beautiful field of study, and you can succeed at it.

My top tips:

Create a LinkedIn account. It’s actually way more important than you might think during school. Make sure it looks professional, with your resume and a headshot, and then connect with people from your school, no matter how much you hate networking.

Network. I know, I hated this part too. I think half of us become an English major because we like working with words, not people, but networking is a vital part of the career world. The more comfortable you become with it now, the better it will be. It’s okay to be afraid, but do it anyway.

There are jobs in the field of English—but you have to look for them. Finance and IT are fields that always need writers and editors. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience in finance or IT, apply anyway. I was hired at my current position without knowing anything about the world of finance, but most editors would rather hire someone who knows how to write and teach them about their topics, rather than teach people how to write.

Apply to jobs you don’t technically have enough experience for. I’m not talking about jobs that need 10+ years of experience, I’m talking about the entry level ones that say 1-2. Here’s a secret: almost all job listings say that they want 1-2 years of experience, even if they’re actually looking for people who’ve just graduated. The worst thing that can happen is they say no.

I know a lot of English majors are interested in getting in the traditional book publishing field. I was too, but I didn’t have any information about how to get into those fields, and the career center at my school was not very helpful.

Since then I’ve learned some things. A lot of literary agencies look for interns. I mean a lot. I never had the chance to apply to them, but you can. Bookjobs.com has a lot of listings, but you should also go on the individual websites and look for internships. They say they don’t have any? Send your resume and cover letter anyway. After all, you’re offering free (most literary internships don’t pay) help, so what’s the worst that can happen? Some agencies and publishing houses even have remote internships that you could do while in school.

Lastly, the field of English is one of the most undervalued, but important fields we have today. There are very few jobs around where you don’t have to read and write well, and while it might not be your dream job, you can find a job using the skills you learned in school. Don’t give up. 

To learn more about Megan and her writing, visit www.englishmajorswithjobs.com. You can also follow Megan on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Posted on July 15, 2017 and filed under Editing, Editor, Publishing.

Daniel Brount: Page Designer & Copy Editor

Name: Daniel Brount

Age: 22

College & Majors/Minors: Ball State University, B.A. in English (concentration: Creative Writing) with a minor in Professional Writing & Emerging Media

Current Location: Austin, Texas

Current Form of Employment: Page Designer & Copy Editor

Where do you work and what is your current position?

Currently I work as a features page designer and copy editor at Gatehouse Media's Center for News and Design. Gatehouse is a newspaper publisher that owns a couple hundred different publications across the U.S. At the Center for News and Design in Austin, Texas, we design for those publications, as well as a some other papers not owned by the company. In my position, I primarily design the features sections (food, entertainment, religion, health, home and garden, etc.) for a variety of papers. When needed, I also proof pages before we send them out for publication.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My position at the Center for News and Design is my first out of college, but I did work several part-time jobs and internships during college. These ranged from a variety of positions on the university newspaper, The Ball State Daily News, to tutoring at the Writing Center to doing a public relations internship in the Ball State English Department. I found those positions through initially volunteering at the newspaper and by doing my best to be involved in the English Department.

But before I got my job at Gatehouse, I spent a few months searching. My initial plan was to get a job in book publishing in New York City. After a few months of applying to every position in NYC that caught my interested and hearing very little back, I decided I needed to do some rethinking. Book publishing remains a goal for me down the road, but I realized it was important to expand my search for the time being. I took a step back and looked at my other skills. I asked myself, what else could I do? What else am I qualified for? Journalism and design were the first things that popped into my head. So I expanded my search. Instead of just looking for book jobs in NYC, I looked for book jobs, editing jobs, design jobs, and journalism jobs nationwide. A few days into this search, I found a listing for a Page Designer & Copy Editor position at Gatehouse on Indeed.com. I didn't feel like I was quite qualified enough to work in professional newspaper design, but I gave it a shot. Less than a week after applying for the position, I started making plans to move from my family's home in Wheeling, Illinois, down to Austin, Texas.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

By far the most important writing-related position I've had is actually a tie between two internships. During the fall semester of my senior year at Ball State, I moved to NYC as part of the New York Arts Program. The NYAP gives students in participating Midwestern liberal arts colleges the opportunity to spend a semester doing arts internships in NYC. My internships were at sci-fi/fantasy publisher DAW Books, an imprint at Penguin Random House, and at literary agency The Rights Factory. These internships gave me hands-on experience in the book publishing industry. I read submitted manuscripts. I wrote reader's reports and title information sheets and query letters. I learned about contracts. I did social media. I edited cover copy and client manuscripts and book proposals. I created book pitches and submissions lists. I compiled reviews and publicity information about various books. I communicated with literary agents and editors and authors and other publishing professionals.

These positions gave me an inside look on the book publishing industry and proved to me that it's an industry I will always pursue. Throughout the semester, I improved as a reader, writer, and editor, gained a massive list of new skills, and made numerous fantastic connections. And, of course, I got to spend an incredible semester exploring NYC.

And while I'm not working in book publishing right now, those skills that I learned still apply in various ways, and they are skills I'll retain for jobs down the road.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I did absolutely every single thing I could in college. I didn't give myself a moment to rest. If I was bored for a second, I decided that meant I needed to try doing something new. College isn't just about taking classes. It's about taking chances. People spend so much time saying that an English major is useless, but I found that even in college, I had an endless amount of options. There were too many internships for me to take, too many jobs for me to work, too many activities for me to join. So I got involved in as many as I was able to. Every single extra activity I did or job I worked opened up a new skill set, expanding the scope of opportunity for me in post-grad life. Limiting myself would only hurt me later on, so I knew I had to prove to myself that I have no limits whatsoever.

The most influential things I did in college: the student newspaper, English Department involvement, and the NYAP.

Working for The Ball State Daily News allowed me to expand my skills with a lot of in-depth, varied work. I wrote articles, edited stories, designed pages, took photos, and managed an entire staff. If it wasn't for this, there's no doubt that I wouldn't have been hired at my current company. But I also had the opportunity to use everything I learned in my English classes and apply those things in a new context. I could use my lessons in storytelling when writing articles, taking photos, and designing a page. Different skills can be applied in ways you'd never think of at first. Designing a newspaper page is all about telling the story of the content on the page, so why not use lessons learned in creative writing classes?

My involvement within the English Department was also integral to developing my skills. Among other roles, I had my public relations internship, my writing center tutor position, positions on literary magazine The Broken Plate and academic research journal The Digital Literature Review. And while all these did a lot to add to my experience and teach me new things, it was being so close to the department that did the most for me. I think students underestimate how many opportunities their department can provide for them. The professors and staff members that I grew close with encouraged me and educated me in so many ways both inside and outside the classroom. Their support is an essential element of my success. Do as much as you can for your department and get as involved as you can, and you'll be amazed with how much you'll get in return.

And with the NYAP, I explained how much that did for me before. But I should mention that one of my professors in the English Department is Ball State's liaison for NYAP. If I hadn't worked with her so closely through my department involvement, I may not have been part of NYAP.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Never sell yourself short. You have so many skills that you can apply in so many different ways. Be creative. Try something new. Take your assets and use them to overcome your weaknesses. Jump for every opportunity that comes your way. Never think, "I'm not good enough for this." It's always worth it to give your best shot.

Find a community. My involvement in the English Department gave me a close community of other English majors to keep in touch with and learn from. My time in NYAP gave me a community in NYC, within the book publishing industry. Make as many connections as you can. View those connections as more than just a resource. They're part of your community. Find ways to help and support them, and they'll do the same. The English major community is massive, and we can all help each other.

Find a cause. When I returned to school after NYAP, I missed the closeness I had with the book publishing industry. So I decided to start a book blog (now also a TV blog). This not only helped me keep consistent with my reading and writing, but it also lets me feel like I'm still linked to book publishing. I'm supporting literature that I believe in, and I'm keeping up with what's happening with books. But it also gave me a cause. I quickly became involved in the #DiverseBookBloggers movement on Twitter. There's a huge community pushing for more diverse books and more diverse characters. As a result, I decided to focus my blog on diverse books. Supporting diversity is now a cause that I believe in and will stick with throughout my career. Another goal of mine is to be an author; now my writing is more focused on diverse characters and stories than it ever was. Having a cause gives my work purpose, and it also sets me apart from the crowd. If you have a cause to be passionate about, it'll fuel your work. It's invigorating. It pushes you to work even harder.

Do more than just work. Outside my job, I also have my creative writing, my blog, my freelance projects, and so much more. Having multiple commitments and outlets expands my creativity and improves my work in whatever I'm doing. Work shouldn't be the only way you use your degree. It's fun and it's useful to give yourself some hobbies and some side projects.

Make yourself a brand. In one of my classes at Ball State, we designed logos and other branding materials for ourselves. My website, resume, letterhead, and other materials all use my logo and a specific design style. This gives me a clean and professional representation, and it makes my work recognizable.

Pick your passion, but don't let that limit your scope. Book publishing is where my passion lies, and it's where I want to work in the future. It's one of my biggest goals (setting goals is another important thing to do). But just because that's what I want, it doesn't mean it's the only thing I can do. If you widen your scope, you can develop your skills in new ways and explore new industries. You might find that you love other areas of work too. Maybe you'll find that you love to work in public relations or design or journalism or marketing (just a few things that English majors can do). It's important to recognize that your experiences in all these different areas can overlap. You can use your skills at other jobs to make yourself standout. Be versatile. Be more than one thing. This goes back to never limiting yourself. You are more than your job. You are more than your degree (even if English is a wonderful degree to have).

To learn more about Daniel, visit his site at danielbrount.com. You can also follow his blog 100 Story Reviews, or connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


Posted on March 18, 2017 and filed under Editor.

Cassie Armstrong: Freelance Editor

Name: Cassie Armstrong

Age:

College & Majors/Minors: BA in English literature with a minor in history; MA in English with an emphasis in folklore

Current Location: Colorado Springs

Current Form of Employment: Freelance editor who owns her own business

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I'm the owner of MorningStar Editing LLC. I'm an editor.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My first job out of college was a cashier in a college bookstore. My husband and I had moved to Flagstaff so he could go to grad school at Northern Arizona University. I saw a notice that said "now hiring" and applied to be one of the cashiers. Eleven years ago I quit teaching to be available to take care of my infant grandson. After taking care of him for a few years I decided I needed something else to do in my "spare" time. I had been a college English teacher and thought that I could be an editor. I acted on that thought and picked up the phone and called a few local publishers. From there, I started my freelance editing business. I love working with words and can't imagine doing anything else.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Teaching. I was a substitute teacher, an adjunct for three community colleges in three different states, a staff reporter for a business journal, and a university college English teacher who taught freshman comp and research to sophomore English students. Writing has always been an important part of my career.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

While I was in college, I only wanted to be a teacher. That was my focus and goal. But I didn't take education classes. Instead, I took classes in ethnic studies, ethnic literature, and folklore even before those classes were cool. Those classes instilled in me a love of different cultures. They also helped me appreciate differences. This has been invaluable for every job I've had since college. This also comes in handy when I edit cookbooks, craft books, or other types of nonfiction and fiction.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Don't listen when your family asks you what you're going to do with a degree in English after you graduate. Appreciate your communication skills and your ability to analyze. Think about your interests and abilities. Find something you love and pursue it.

To learn more about Morningstar Editing, visit www.morningstarediting.com. You can also follow Morningstar Editing on Facebook, connect with Cassie on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter


Posted on March 11, 2017 and filed under Editor, Editing, Interview, Interviews.

Samantha Enslen: President & Owner of Dragonfly Editorial

Name: Samantha Enslen

Age: 45-ish

College & Majors/Minors: Double major, English and Women's Studies

Current Location: Tipp City, Ohio

Current Form of Employment: President and Owner, Dragonfly Editorial

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I run Dragonfly Editorial. We're an agency that focuses on content strategy, writing, and editing. Writing and editing—those are pretty straightforward. Content strategy is more complex. It's about deciding what to write, how to write it, and who to write to—before you ever put pen to paper. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I found my first words-related role working in a coffee house: Jolt N' Bolt, on 18th Street in northwest DC. One of my customers owned a publishing house nearby. After a few months of making him lattes, I screwed up my courage and asked if he needed an intern. He probably didn't, but he let me come in every afternoon anyway and (literally) work in the mailroom. I took customer orders, packed up books, and shipped them out. This was in the days before Amazon. 

One of the editors must have felt sorry for me, because one day she gave me their holiday catalog to proofread. I'm sure it had already been proofed, and she gave it to me just to be nice. But I found some mistakes. The next day, she came right up to me as soon as I arrived and said, "This is what you need to do. You need to be a copyeditor." That's how I discovered my profession.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

I don't know about the most important, but the most fun writing-related job I've had is with Grammar Girl. I write about the origin of various idioms, like "spick and span," or "off the cuff." 

Writing has always been a slog for me. I can do it, and I think I do it well, but I often find it onerous and stress-inducing. Writing these short posts has helped me experience writing for the first time as an exploration, rather than a chore. 

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I did very little other than study hard and take my work seriously. I think that's your job in college. Screw partying. You need to suck up every ounce of learning you can. 

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

An English degree should teach you to ask questions, to read, to research, to synthesize information—and then to express what you've learned clearly, in writing. If you can do that, you'll be an asset in any workplace.  

So I guess my advice is to not worry about the "marketability" of an English degree. Rather, trust that it will teach you to think deeply and write clearly. Those skills will serve you in the long run, no matter what industry you land in.

Samantha's bookshelf

Samantha's bookshelf

Check out Dragonfly Editorial HERE, and follow them on Twitter


Posted on June 18, 2016 and filed under Content Marketing, Editing, Editor, Interviews, Interview.

Abigail Fleming: Production Editor

Name: Abigail Fleming

Age: 23

College: College of Charleston 

Major: English Language & Literature

Minor: Linguistics

Current Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Current Form of Employment: Full-time Production Editor

Where do you work and what is your current position?

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
$38.73
University Of Chicago Press

I work for Arcadia Publishing, under The History Press imprint, as a production editor. Arcadia Publishing is the largest publisher of local history books in the country, so I get to travel vicariously through the books I edit and proofread. My projects range from true crime, culinary trails, and ghost stories to transportation history (people really love trains), and it is my job to see manuscripts through the various stages of production, up until they are ready to go to print. I spend my days elbow-deep in the Chicago Manual of Style, discussing the finer points of our house style with authors, and spiraling down fact-checking wormholes. I love it. Reading has always been my hobby, and now I get paid to do it, albeit not always about topics of my choosing (trains, anyone?).

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

After I graduated, I was still unsure of what I really wanted to do. I knew teaching wasn’t for me, yet I found myself working as the administrative assistant for a department of the local school district. I was getting restless after about six months, only doing the occasional freelance copy job (paid and volunteered), so I started looking at all of the publishing-related companies and positions in the area, only to find out that there were (and are) actually quite a few of them. After about a month or so of furious resume writing and innumerable cover letters, I landed interviews with Arcadia and the in-house publication for a local teaching hospital. Honestly, I had applied for administrative positions in addition to the jobs I actually wanted, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they wanted me for my degree. 

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

My godfather is a historian and has a website that focuses on esoteric American history. I have always copyedited his articles, so when he told me he was writing a book, I was excited. When he told me that he wasn’t going to hire a professional editor, I almost panicked. With my impending graduation, and a publication date, I had a hectic last few undergraduate months, but together we created a product that I know helped get me my current position, because I really wasn’t that experienced outside of the classroom, with the exception of an editorial internship that consisted of blogging, tweeting, and occasional copyediting.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

My school’s English department had an internship course that helped students find internships with various local businesses and receive credit hours for the work completed. I knew I needed experience in my field, not only because I needed to improve my professional people skills, but also because I wasn’t precisely sure what I wanted to do with my degree. I ended up working in the editorial department of a then-new food magazine, and it was a rewarding experience (free cake and recipes from fantastic chefs) in that I learned what I did and did not like (like: cake, dislike: deadlines) in that particular industry.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

I would advise every English major to read and write for fun. Academic writing is like riding a bicycle; once you know how, you can always whip up an annotated bibliography, but creativity has to be cultivated constantly. And volunteer! Internships are imminently useful, but sometimes finding meaningful ones can be tough. Whatever your interests are, there’s likely a number of websites, publications, and organizations devoted toward them.  

You can connect with Abigail on LinkedIn here; also, check out her work on StrangeHistory.org and AmericanKillers.org


Posted on May 20, 2016 and filed under Editing, Interviews, Interview, Publishing.

Brittany Olsen: Editor

Brittany holding a copy of the graphic novel she self-published about her volunteer experiences in Japan.

Brittany holding a copy of the graphic novel she self-published about her volunteer experiences in Japan.

Name: Brittany Olsen

Age: 25

College & Majors/Minors: Southern Utah University; Major: English (Creative Writing emphasis); Minor: Art (Illustration emphasis)

Current Location: Provo, UT

Current Form of Employment: Part-time

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I have two jobs right now: One is a copy editor for an SEO management company (Textbroker International), and the other is an editor for a startup modest clothing retailer's blog (She Traveled). At Textbroker, I'm simply editing product descriptions and other pieces of content marketing to pay the bills, and it's meticulous work to make sure an author's writing fits what the client is paying for. At She Traveled, I manage a very small team of writers who have a lot more freedom with their topics, and because it's a lifestyle blog, it's a lot easier for the writers and me to get very excited about what we're working on. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I feel very fortunate to have a writing/editing job within two years of obtaining my undergraduate degree. Shortly after graduation in 2011, I left for an 18-month volunteer opportunity in Japan, and I found work as a copy editor at Textbroker upon returning to the United States in 2013. I applied for a position I saw listed on a local job board, and it turned out to be a great fit.

As for my job at She Traveled, it was mostly old-fashioned networking. My sister-in-law was a friend to a former model who was starting her own fashion company, and she hired me as a blog writer because she'd heard of my background in English. After nearly a year of writing, I was promoted to blog editor because the company CEO saw my dedication and organizational skills stand out in addition to my writing proficiency.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

During my time volunteering in Japan, I spent a few hours a week teaching English as a second language. Not only did this help me understand my own language better, but I also learned how to communicate ideas in the most simplified way. I had to teach in clear, simple terms so that even my beginner students could understand difficult grammar concepts. I also was able to develop a fun and creative teaching style so that participants would stay engaged in the lessons. These experiences helped me improve my communication skills in general, which has been beneficial in both my professional and personal lives.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

Some of the most valuable experiences I had in my undergraduate classes were peer reviews. I went into college wanting to be a writer, and many of my writing classes involved working on other students' essays and creative writing in small groups. It was through this process that I grew to love editing more than writing, and I gained valuable skills in communicating with other writers. It takes work to put into words what you like/don't like about a piece of writing and why. It's also an extremely valuable skill to learn how to communicate your comments in a professional and encouraging way. I could apply those skills in any field, but I feel fortunate to have a job where I can guide other writers.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

I would encourage you to take up a volunteer opportunity that puts you out of your element. Growing personally and expanding your horizons will help your career prospects more than any amount of book learning, and volunteer experiences always give you interesting talking points during interviews. Employers are always looking for great communicators who can come up with creative solutions to problems, and English majors definitely fit the bill.

Visit Brittany's website, check out her blog ComicDiaries.com, and view her writing and editing work at SheTraveled.com/blog


Posted on April 17, 2016 and filed under Editing, Teaching, Copywriting, Blogging.

John Essex: Owner, Editor at Peak Medical Editing, LLC

Name: John Essex

Age: 35

College & Majors/Minors: Wabash College, Major: Biology, Minor: English (plus 2 years of medical school)

Current Location: Indianapolis, IN

Current Form of Employment: Owner, Editor at Peak Medical Editing, LLC

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work at Peak Medical Editing, the company I started and own. I’m happy to report that my boss is a super great guy—very lax with the dress code policy. I’m a medical editor, which means I help scientific authors improve the clarity of their writing for peer-reviewed journals. I also edit various other medically focused projects, including textbooks, which are more fun than you might think. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

Back in college, when people would hear I had a biology major with an English minor, they would ask, “What the heck are you going to do with that combination?” I would say, “I don’t know, something.” I doubled-down on the science and went to medical school. After completing the basic medical science courses (not without a lot of prayer and struggle), I left. I knew I wanted to find something that would combine my love of writing and English (thanks to my mom, a retired English teacher) with my medical background. That’s when I became very familiar with job search websites. The programmers at those search companies must have thought it hilarious that when a user input “science” and “writer,” the output would be “TV EXTRAS WANTED!” 

Most of the jobs I was looking for required 3 to 5 years of experience. Yahoo! let me apply a search filter based on years of experience. I had 0 years of experience, so I checked the experience filter marked “0-1,” and all jobs but one fell away: a report writer for a contract research facility in Ohio. That’s not actually true—all science writing jobs fell away but the report writing job, followed by several pages of TV acting work (which, to my surprise, was in mysteriously high demand in the Midwest). 

I interviewed and got the job, moved to another state and worked there for 5 years. The job involved taking research findings and writing toxicology reports that would eventually go into FDA files for new drugs. I gained plenty from that first professional job: humility, discipline, and how to work in a corporate environment. I also met my wife there, a stunning chemist who introduced me to Harry Potter

Fast forward through a job as a medical writer (the details of which I’m saving for the next question), and I became the Editor in Chief of two scientific publications: American Pharmaceutical Review and Pharmaceutical Outsourcing. It was there where I realized many scientific researchers sometimes need help conveying their ideas in English. My favorite part of my job as Editor in Chief was helping authors revise and sharpen their work, getting the best out of their manuscripts. I was not as enthused about the part of the job where I had to fend off influence from sponsors and do extensive traveling. My wife and I had just had a baby boy and I wasn’t keen on being away from them as often as the job was asking. 

I started looking at working for some of the editing companies out there, but I realized I had enough clout and experience under my belt to work for myself, so I started my own company and finally figured out what I could do with that strange combination of a major in biology with a minor in English.  

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Before my Editor in Chief days, I was a medical writer back in my hometown of Indianapolis. There I learned how to take complex medical information and tell a compelling story for an audience of physicians and scientific leaders. Using published scientific literature, clinical trial data, and advice from researchers, I wrote PowerPoint slide decks that would be presented at medical meetings, scripts for videos, and several journal manuscripts. 

I met some of the smartest people I’ve ever known at that job. For 3 years, I worked closely with the senior medical editor, learning all the nuances of the American Medical Association style. As luck would have it, my cubicle was next to hers, so asking questions was super convenient. She graciously answered hundreds of my questions, knowing that the more informed I was as a writer, the easier her job would be editing my work. (Pro Tip: When you get into the professional world, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know something.) I edit my current clients’ work like she edited mine: constructively and instructively. She provided examples that helped me grasp certain rules, knowing that I could apply that knowledge in my next project. I do that now for my clients: I want to help them become better writers and impart little tips to improve writing beyond what is currently on the page. The world will always benefit from knowledgeable people who can clearly communicate. As an editor, it’s my job to help experts share their knowledge with the world.   

“Combine your degree with another field like business, marketing, science, or any other professional area that may interest you and you’ve got rock star potential anywhere.”

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

In college, I split my time between science and English courses. I loved the assignments and discussions in my English classes. I had fun with my essays in my junior and senior years, letting some humor slip in where I felt brave enough. There was not as much room for personality in the science classes, although I enjoyed them for other reasons. 

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Here’s the dirty little secret about an English degree: it’s applicable everywhere. The ability to communicate clearly is the missing ingredient in many professional avenues. Combine your degree with another field like business, marketing, science, or any other professional area that may interest you and you’ve got rock star potential anywhere. 

While you’re in school, immersed in your world of literature, grammar, and writing, you can lose sight of the fact that many people are unfamiliar with that world, so you might assume everyone has your abilities. That’s not true. Other people might be experts in math, science, and business, but their knowledge and expertise is useless if they can’t string a useful sentence together to get their messages out. Enter the English Majors: rugged navigators for a world in need of clean writing and proper grammar, come to save the world through clarity of thought. 

You can see John’s website at www.PeakMedicalEditing.com. Drop him a line there or on Twitter @JohnEssex3

Posted on November 2, 2015 and filed under Freelance, Editing.

Mollie Turbeville: Content Editor & Freelance Book Editor

Name: Mollie Turbeville

Age: 26

College & Majors/Minors: I graduated from North Carolina State University with a major in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing.

Current Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Current Form of Employment: Full-Time Editor

Where do you work and what is your current position? 

By day, I'm a content editor for a digital marketing agency in downtown Raleigh. By night, I'm a freelance book editor. Through my editing business, Mohr Editing, I work with indie authors, small pubs, and editorial agencies. I also freelance with Kirkus Editorial and INDIE Books Gone Wild. I mostly edit middle grade and young adult novels, but I've worked on many different kinds of books for kids and adults. You can't keep me away from a good story.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

My first job was as a customer service intern in college for a nonprofit organization, where I interviewed people and contributed to a local newsletter and helped develop a youth curriculum. I began working with the nonprofit through my internship class, and what started out as class credit turned into a paid summer gig. I loved to capture inspiring stories and share someone else's voice through my words! I became a copywriter for a literary consultancy and learned more about content marketing.

Over the years, I discovered a new passion: helping others refine their own words to tell the stories they've always wanted to tell. I pursued editing classes and a network of professionals through a few wonderful editorial associations. I became an editor because I loved watching a better product emerge. There's nothing more satisfying than helping someone's story come to life. After a few years of book editing, I decided to edit for content and digital marketing agencies for a change of pace. As a content editor for a digital marketing agency, I get to help businesses develop their brand identities and tell their own unique stories. My two editing worlds overlap in more ways than one. 

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career? 

A copywriter position at a content marketing company taught me that I don't have to go looking for writing inspiration in spurts; I don't have to wait for creativity to "strike." With enough practice, I can harness creativity in an everyday routine. Demystifying the creative process has helped me overcome writer's block and fear. It is possible to commit to creative deadlines and longer projects. Perfection is overrated, and being a mature writer (or editor) is all about accepting the fact that you will always be growing; you will always be learning. 

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

My experience as editor-in-chief of N.C. State's literary arts publication helped me learn how to work in a creative team and meet deadlines while balancing a CRAZY schedule. Promoting the magazine and thinking outside of the box was also helpful in my approach to becoming a freelancer. 

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree? 

Specialize. Become interested in one or two areas and go for it. If you want to set yourself apart, look where your passion lies and make yourself an expert. That, and always devote time to learning. I probably learned more about editing in my continued education courses through other programs and associations than I did throughout my whole college career. If you go after what you really want to learn, you may surprise yourself!

Check out Mollie's website mohrediting.com and follow her on Twitter


READ MORE

Jack Neary: Head of Community @ Litographs

Jack Neary: Head of Community @ Litographs

Amanda M. Karby: eBook Developer

Amanda M. Karby: eBook Developer

Nicole Wayland: Freelance Copyeditor & Proofreader

Nicole Wayland: Freelance Copyeditor & Proofreader

Posted on October 26, 2015 and filed under Editing.