Today, editor Erin Brown is joining us at Write Now Editing. Erin runs The Write Editor – her editing and proofreading business – and Frontline Editing Institute, where she offers training manuals for aspiring copy editors and writers.
Why did you want to be a freelance writer/editor? Several life experiences steered me toward the editing profession. I homeschooled my seven children for a total of twenty-six years, which allowed me to hone my reading, writing, and grammar skills. About six years before my last child graduated, a friend who writes curriculum for MacMillan Publishing asked if I would do research for the elementary reading program she was writing. One thing led to another and she introduced me to the idea of editing. I looked into it then signed up for and completed an editing program of several courses. After successfully completing the program, I designed my website and began marketing my business. I’ve been professionally editing and proofreading ever since.
What’s your specialty/focus? Why/how did you pick this? My specialty is general nonfiction. It chose me, actually. Two of my first steady clients/publishers published mainly nonfiction titles, so I cut my editing teeth on nonfiction, which includes many elements not found in fiction (footnotes, graphics, appendices, notes, and the like).
What’s your favorite part of this kind of work? I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, but I have a tendency to read for pleasure in only one or two genres. Editing nonfiction and fiction forces me out of my niche and into a wide variety of topics. I enjoy working with writers, especially new authors, because I tap into my inner teacher and mentor. Serious writers are like sponges, soaking up and applying principles I share with them. I have a handful of clients whom I’ve come to consider special friends.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome during your career? I love my job—actually it’s not so much a job as a passion. I feel very blessed that I earn a living by doing what I love. The biggest challenge is saying no to a project. In my almost sixteen-year career, I’ve turned down three projects (and I can remember each one!).
The last project I turned down was a manuscript by a Big Name Hollywood movie actor. I hadn’t had a vacation in over a decade, and I was one day away from leaving for Chicago to visit family when I received the request to work on the manuscript. I had promised myself and my family that I would not bring any work with me. When they learned who I had turned down, they were incredulous and realized how much I needed the break. Whenever I see the book advertised, I think, “That could’ve been my project.” But I did need to disconnect from work for a time, so I have no regrets in turning down the project.
What’s surprised you the most during your career? How much I love editing, how long I’ve been doing it, and that I see myself doing this for many more years.
If you could give a new freelance writer/editor one piece of advice, what would it be? Never stop learning about the craft and the industry. Continuing education is part of the job. Read from a variety of genres. If certain authors touch something deep within you, study their techniques, word choices, etc., so you can increase and hone your skills. Be mindful of trends in the industry.
If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be? I would’ve started earlier than I did.
What’s your favorite kind of work? Why? Generally, nonfiction, but more specifically I enjoy working on memoirs. Authors of memoirs are brave in opening themselves, usually a painful part of their pasts, to strangers. They willingly make themselves vulnerable to help others through their trials. I have been touched by not only their heartbreaks but also their victories over their challenges.
What does your work space/office look like? My antique desk (there’s a whole story behind my desk and how I came to possess it!) is situated in front of a large picture window, allowing me to keep my eye out for the deer herd that follows their ancient path that runs through my property. Along the wall to my left I have a credenza on which my printer, second computer, and paper “station” sit, and two filing cabinets fill up the remaining wall space. Against the back wall stands my bookshelf and a couple of wall shelves. It’s a compact setting, but I have sufficient space to comfortably work for hours.
What is your go-to snack when working? Red seedless grapes! They are cold, sweet, and juicy. After eating a handful I feel physically refreshed and satisfied.
Excluding the CMOS (that’s a given) what one editing resource would you recommend? Why? I’d have to choose Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition because the publishers I work for require that dictionary for spelling and word division. I also use it when editing for individual clients.
If you could only recommend one writing resource, what would it be? Why? That’s a tough question! I guess I’d recommend finding a successful and seasoned author to be your mentor. Listen to him or her, ask questions, follow his or her advice, and do everything you’re told to do.
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Have a blessed day!
Do you have any questions or comments for Erin? Please let us know!