Life of an Editor: FAQs (Part 2)

11.12.2014

Back today with the second half of your questions! Find part 1 here.

1) Are you able to just read for fun or are you always editing as you read anything?

This is a question I get a lot. People always want to know how I can read for fun at home when I already read all day for my job. But here's the thing: it's so nice to grab a book and just read it without worrying about whether or not I'm catching all the commas or how I'm going to suggest the author rewrite this or that scene. I can just read it and think what I want about it. End of story.

That said, I don't know if I will ever be able to "turn off," so to speak, the editing. I catch errors all the time in books, on signs, in my church bulletin, in blog posts I read. But for the most part, I realize that we're all human, and you will not find a single book or article without at least one error.

I also find myself saying, "If I were their editor..." if I read a book I had problems with. Or I'm like, "What was the editor doing?" But sometimes you can't blame the editor. Maybe he or she suggested the change, and the author freaked out or the publisher didn't go for it. You never know.

2) Do you edit other people's emails/blog posts/tweets?

When people find out I'm an editor, their first reaction is usually something like, "Oh my gosh please don't ever read anything I write! I'm going to be so self-conscious now."

So here's the truth: yes, when I read tweets and Facebook statuses and blog posts and emails, I do notice misspellings and improper grammar. HOWEVER, I am not judging you. People make mistakes. I make mistakes all the time. It's super embarrassing. I understand that not everyone cares about words as much as I do. 

Honestly? I will only judge you if you repeatedly misspell words like your/you're or abbreviate words like "sorry" to "sry." No.

I have a very small number of blog friends whom I will email or text to say, "Hey, you misspelled [blank] in your post today." Mostly, I realize no one wants to hear that, but there are a few people I know would appreciate knowing so they can correct the mistake. I  only do it if the mistake is in the title or is a funny error like writing poop when you meant pop or something.

3) Do you mentally edit people when they're talking?

Short answer: sometimes.

I'm not one of those people who goes around correcting everyone out loud, though. That's rude and annoying, and if I did that I would probably have no friends. I do correct Jordan out loud sometimes, and I will correct people if they ask or seem to want to know. Otherwise, I will just keep it to myself. And, honestly, in a regular conversation, I don't have time to sit there silently correcting people in my head, because I'm actually listening to what they're saying and having a conversation.

4) Do you ever see yourself doing freelance editing full time?

I will save my rant about working from home vs. office jobs for another post. (Long story short: I get really really annoyed when people act like freelancing is the "dream" and you're just settling if you have an office job. Stop doing that.)

Right now I will simply say that I don't know. I think freelancing full time is a completely viable career option, and once Jordan and I have kids it would be nice to have a more flexible schedule and not have to pay for daycare. For the time being, however, I really do love my job and don't have any immediate plans to jump on the full-time freelance train.

5) Are you ever going to go back to school?

I really hope not. At this point in time, I have zero desire to go back to school. And honestly? Unless my career goals drastically change, I won't need to.

6) What does your supervisor do?

I report directly to the executive director, who is head of the organization. Not to sound too drunk with power, but I am the editor of the publication. I decide which articles are in and which ones are out, and I write a monthly "from the editor" column in every issue. I'm kind of a big deal.

At my last job, there was an actual editing department, and over the four years I was there, I eventually worked my way up to being one of the supervisors. Each of us was in charge of a team of editors, and we managed their book schedules, discussed their edits, did quality control reviews, and of course got forwarded all the angry author calls.

7) Do you edit more than one thing at a time?

Answer: sometimes.

Like I said in the last post, if something is particularly dull or lengthy, I might switch it out with something shorter just to keep things moving and myself sharp. I can be in the middle of a few different projects at once, and it's not a problem for me. But these days? I usually just do one thing at a time, because a lot of the stuff I deal with is shorter.

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Okay! I think that wraps it up. Thanks to everyone who showed interest in this series and asked questions. This was fun!


Feel free to leave me any feedback/more questions/responses in the comments!

26 comments:

  1. I think it's admirable to write a blog and be an editor- since it's a lot of reading and writing. My mom was an editor for a long long time (still technically is I guess) but she always edits me when I speak. I don't mind it because I want to know what I'm getting wrong!

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  2. I think I would love to be an editor! Working in the writing center in college was fun, but I preferred to just fix people's papers, instead of teaching them. I really enjoyed this post! I remember thinking about what a cool career being an editor would be when I was in college. In hindsight, maybe I should have gone in that direction!

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  3. A-freakin'-men to "when people act like freelancing is the dream and you're just settling." I spent 2+ years freelancing because I couldn't find a marketing job in our old city. I was really excited about it at first, but it is a hard hard hard job, and a lonely one too, and after a couple of years I finally admitted to myself that I'm just not cut out to be isolated from others every day, and that it was just more stressful than I wanted. I'll take a full-time job any day. (And maybe that would change if we had kids and I wanted to be home with them, but that doesn't change the fact that work doesn't just fall into your lap when you're freelancing, and you have to do all the legwork of finding people that need your skills.)

    Rawr. That's something that frustrates me too, when people assume it's all freedom, all fun, no answering to other people.

    Also, I give you permission to tell me if I ever misspell things in blog posts. :)

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  4. This has been such a cool series, Amanda! I have a friend who sort of wants to be an editor, so it's been interesting to get a glimpse at what she'll be doing one day.

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  5. This reminds me of a story. (When does something NOT remind me of a story?)

    Let's be honest. Tennessee isn't known for being grammatically on point, but I'm a firm believer that a lot of it derives from your environment at home. You learn so much language from your parents, and if they aren't speaking properly.. well... It's tough, ya know? I even know teachers who don't use proper grammar, but there aren't many. So I try hard not to judge the teenagers who come to me without a good understanding of language.
    My mom was an English teacher for several years before my brother and I were born. I remember being in 8th grade and thinking diagramming sentences was FUN. I was /that/ kid.

    Now, Michael is a very, very intelligent man, but he grew up in the country surrounded by poor grammar. Even when he KNEW what was correct, he mimicked how others spoke. I wasn't going to put up with that. If he couldn't figure out how to use "seen" and "saw" correctly, the relationship just wasn't going to work. I corrected him until he finally got annoyed enough to revert back to using correct grammar. Ok, fine.
    Buuttttt I was in such a habit of correcting him that the FIRST TIME I MET HIS MOTHER, I corrected him. Right in front of her. He said, "I seen blah blah blah..", and I instinctively said, "I beg your pardon. You did what?" His mom laughed and said something about being from "the country" and how he didn't know better.

    I was mortified. MORTIFIED.

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  6. I can learn so much from you! Question: Do you mostly publish unsolicited articles, or do you seek out particular authors and/or subjects for inclusion in the publication? Apart from "quality" concerns, how do you go about deciding what will or won't be included in each issue? Also, per your FAQ # 4: I can understand how people acting like freelancing is "the dream" would be annoying. Ironically--as a freelancer myself--I run into the opposite: people acting as if working in-house is the dream and that freelancing is less than a "real" job. Each approach has pros and cons, in my opinion, as well as merit. I admire you for pursuing a path you love, rather than one you feel you are supposed to love.

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    1. That's a great question, Kari. We publish mostly unsolicited articles that are submitted by members (and sometimes nonmembers). Many of them are seeking tenure, etc. However, I also do solicit people to write on certain topics if I see a need or run across someone who's written a book or conducted a session at a conference or something. I have an editorial board who vets the submissions anonymously, so they read it and give me a recommendation for/against publication and also any edits they think the article needs. I ultimately make the final decision, but I take their advice heavily into consideration.

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  7. "sry" I can't believe people do that! Here is a new horrific abbreviation I saw this week: "ISO a keeper of the plains photograph." I kept wondering why they were talking about photography terminology but then it dawned on me that she meant "in search of."

    I'm glad you shared more about your job. I find it really interesting. I'm also so thankful you text me when I have a big error in my posts. =)

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    1. I saw a similar comment in my newsfeed this week too! I had to Google it and was really just annoyed at how silly it was to not type that out. I mean, srsly...(<---see what I did there!)

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  8. Again, I cannot say enough how jealous I am of your job. Although I'm not sure I could handle the boring/technical things you have to edit. Although, I imagine that it is nice to change things up a bit from editing the same things over and over.

    P.S. If you ever see a mistake in my blog posts, please feel free to email me and call me out on it. Really!

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  9. I never realized that's what you do. I now feel like I have to be very proper in my comments :)

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  10. I catch misspelling in my posts every so often too. Normally it is just being rushed. I agree, I see them in other bloggers posts and unless it is glaring I don't bother. I think being a stay at home anything would totally bore me and I would need interaction though I am sure a baby keeps people plenty busy.

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  11. I feel the same way about going back to school as you do! And I also notice errors, of course, in speech and writing, that others make...but pretty much nothing bothers me unless I'm editing something on purpose. I have a very high, high tolerance for sucky English because the majority of my favorite people in the world are 2nd language English speakers, and a lot of my relatives have just high school educations and love them to death even if they can't spell worth a lick and have never heard of the subjunctive mood.

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  12. I was hoping I'd be able to comment as I was reading this one!!

    Add me to the list of blog friends you can email with corrections for misspelled words and so forth in posts. I find your job fascinating. And this post reminded me that I need to print out a new notification for the alarm keypad at work. It currently reads, "Please remember to sighn in and out." Not sure which well meaning person in the office is responsible, but...no. I can't focus on signing in/out when I'm too busy sighing over the typo.

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    1. Haha! Hilarious. Yes, please change it :)

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  13. So glad I can comment on this post! I have been waiting for this post to publish and was so excited to see it tonight on your blog.

    I loved reading your responses about your job as an editor trickles into your daily life. To be honest, I am a little cautious about posting knowing you read my posts, BUT I am so glad that you do. I hate posting with typos and incorrect grammar but also hate editing my own posts (great combination, right?). That said, it's cool to know that you do catch these things but won't just point it out just because.

    And this line made me chuckle: "Honestly? I will only judge you if you repeatedly misspell words like your/you're or abbreviate words like "sorry" to "sry." No."

    I've been extra sensitive to the misuse of you're/your and there/they're/their for FOREVERRRR. :)

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  14. Please let me know when I make grammar or spelling mistakes. to be honest, it bothers me a lot when i re-read my posts and notice error. i will directly edit and correct that. haha

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  15. I really love that you've found a nice balance between being a normal person and an editor who is "on" all the time. It settles my anxiety about meeting you & my terrible grammar (southern, y'allllll!) that will be forced upon you. I come off much smarter in text. Or at least I think I do.

    Also, I give you permission to add me as one of your blog friends that you can correct. I will limit my eye rolls to only once every 3 corrections.

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  16. I love these posts!
    I have a real problem with reading for fun. I read about ten books a month for work, plus the ones I translate, and I always struggle sitting down with a good book for my own pleasure. :)

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  17. Yay!!! I can comment!!!

    Sorry, but I wasn't a fan of the no comment thing and even though I totally understand the experiment, I kept thinking - doesn't she want to hear me blab all my thoughts/reactions/ideas to her?!

    ANYWAY: such great insight and super helpful. While I never got past editing for high school and college publications, I did do my fair share of editing college level essays for an online tutoring company...which constantly made me want to stab my eyes out.

    On reading for fun: why do people ask this question? I feel, for the most part, everyone is reading at work, regardless what you do. Loved your insight though on the fact that some publications have errors outside of the editor's control. I always wonder about that in books.

    P.S. I've enjoyed taking a sneak peak at your project life pins on pinterest! :)

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  18. It's so nice to read these posts from another editor. They make me feel like less of a crazy person! I hate when people find out what I do and then get nervous that I'm going to go all grammar Nazi on them.

    I never correct people's spoken English. Ever. It just seems rude on every level. (Plus, I learned in my college linguistics class that the rules of grammar technically only apply to written language. Who knew?) Every person has their strengths, and if language isn't one of them, far be it from me to judge. I'm sure many of those people are gifted at things I'm horribly unskilled at. *cough* Math *cough*

    As for freelancing versus working in-house, I think there are biases against both depending on who you ask. Here in the online world, working from home is totally glorified. But when I'm out in the real world talking to family or friends, many of them still act like I only freelance because I couldn't find a real job. They both have their pros and cons. I will say this about working from home with a baby: It's great to have a flexible schedule and not need daycare, but it's incredibly difficult. Is it the best possible situation? For me, yes, but for others, going to a regular 9 - 5 might actually be less stressful.

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    1. I do correct Jordan sometimes when he says "ain't," because just no. :) It was all Southern twang charming when we were dating, but now I have to stop that madness. haha.

      I think the whole freelance vs. office job thing is different depending on who you talk to, but it does seem like online people are going nuts over freelance stuff, and sometimes I feel like people act like working in an office job is caving to the Man and just being a cog in a wheel. And maybe it is a little bit, but that doesn't mean it's the wrong choice for some people.

      I bet it is nice to have more flexibility with your kid, though!

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  19. So fascinating! I think I've shared with you before that I wanted to be a magazine editor, and even though I'm now pursuing a different profession, I still think editing skills are so vital to be more successful in any position. And please feel free to count me in to your small group of bloggers to whom you can point out mistakes - I would definitely appreciate it and not take offense! :)

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  20. This series has been so interesting to read! Thanks for sharing. It's been a great peek into the day-to-day for a career that isn't usually featured at career days. :) Thanks!

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  21. When we were growing up, my mom would correct my siblings and me all the time on our grammar. And I hated it. But I'm grateful for it now. Actually by the time I got to college I was grateful for it. All my friends had me proof read their papers because I was the one who aced every assignment/research paper/etc (but don't ask me about multiple choice tests - I am the worst at multiple choice options where all the answers are right, but once answer is MORE right than the others. I want to be able to write an essay beside it to explain my answer, but scantrons don't alone that - rant over, haha!). Anyway, the longer I've been out of school and the further away I've gotten from MLA (high school), Turabian (college), and APA (grad school), the more I forget. When Christopher decided to go back to grad school for his MBA (while still working full time), I helped him out with his papers and I was amazed at how many of the little things I had forgotten already. Remembering where the comma goes in a particular format or how the citation works. The worst is that when I write these days - I write for my blog, I write emails, I write in my journal, I write letters, and I write on social media. So when I write... I write like I talk. I overuse ellipsis to show my every pause and I overuse exclamation points to point out that I'm happy. And I overuse smiley faces to show that I'm being sincere and not sarcastic. So the more I write like I talk, the less I'm able to write professionally. Thankfully with some brushing up, I was able to help Christopher out with his papers in grad school, but I'm not as versed in it as I once was. And I find that to be okay. However, I totally still correct the grammar of the kids I nanny. And I definitely plan to do that to my kids someday too. Builds character and such. ;) They'll probably hate it at the time, but thank me for it later. And so begins the cycle. ;)

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    1. I think blogging has really influenced the way I write. I use a lot more exclamation points and smiley faces that I ever would, but I really want people to know I'm excited or being friendly, not sarcastic like you said. It's so much harder to portray tone of voice online. I often find myself deleting exclamation points because I realize I just used them at the end of every sentence. I have to do that when I write professional emails, because I forget that I'm not writing back to a blogger.

      I've pretty much stuck with Chicago style all of my professional editing career, so I have those rules burned into my brain, but it is scary how much you forget when you aren't using it daily. I also got REALLY annoyed when Chicago updated to the 16th edition and changed some of the rules. I had learned some of those already, and then they were all of the sudden different! Annoying.

      I'm actually not a very good test taker. I usually have the right answer but then sit and debate it in my mind for five minutes before ultimately going with the wrong answer, and then I'm like what are you doing! haha.

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