I have a theory that editing a book is a bit like cleaning your house: no one should notice if you do it right, but everyone will notice if you don’t ...
And sometimes you just need to hire a professional to get the job done.
I have worked in publishing since 2003, spending over seventeen years as an in-house editor and proofreader, though I have often worn other hats: production editor, permissions expert, typesetter and even, when a Mac or printer occasionally let us down, tech support. The publishing world can be demanding, changeable and all-consuming, but I love everything about it.
In particular, I love working directly with an author and helping them fine-tune their work – whether that means drilling down to find the real heart of a story; working out the kinks in a plot; or emphasising the key information in history texts or memoirs. It is a unique and immensely satisfying relationship, one built on trust and mutual respect – authors need to know that their book is in safe hands, and I pride myself on being knowledgeable and professional, but also open, friendly and fun to work with.
For over thirteen years, I was an editor with the prestigious Irish publisher, Blackstaff Press. There I specialised in commercial editing; working as key editor, proofreader or project manager on titles by first-time and high-profile writers alike (including award-winning authors, MLAs, former city mayors and prominent sports personalities).
I am also an experienced educational editor, working for several years with Blackstaff’s sister company, Colourpoint Education. There, I edited and proofread resources for KS3, GCSE and A level. I liaised with teachers, principal officers, chief examiners etc. to ensure copy was consistent in style, facts were accurate and that the text covered the curriculum specifications.
Over the years I have worked on a wide range of titles, but the ones of which I am most proud are:
- ‘The Pen Friend’, Ciaran Carson
- ‘The Third Party’, Glenn Patterson
- ‘The Dancer’s Dancing’, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (2010 reprint)
- The ‘Written in Stone’ series, Tom Hartley
- ‘May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland’, Sophia Hillan
- ‘The Belfast Blitz’, Stephen Douds
- 'Titanic: Icon of an Age', Michael McCaughan
- The ‘Folk’d’ trilogy, Laurence Donaghy
- ‘The Polaris Whisper’, Ken Gregory
- ‘A River of Bodies’, Kevin Doyle
- ‘The Ulster Anthology’, Patricia Craig
- ‘Weird Belfast’, Reggie Chamberlain-King
- ‘Earth Voices Whispering: An Anthology of Irish War Poetry 1914-45’, Gerald Dawe
- ‘A Time to Speak’, Helen Lewis (2010 reprint)
- ‘The Place I Call Home’, Anna Lo
- 'AS Russia 1914-41', Jim McBride
- 'AS Northern Ireland Government and Politics', Lesley Veronica
- 'Electoral Contests in Northern Ireland', Alan Parkinson
I have edited and proofread materials for a range of customers, including Blackstaff Press, Colourpoint Creative and Greenwich Exchange, London: proofread and copy-edited an interactive trail for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council; editor on a tourism project for Fáilte Feirste Thiar and edited and proofread manuscripts from self-published authors.
Production Editor – Blackstaff Press
• Editor and proofreader for a wide range of genres, including literature (The Pen Friend, Ciaran Carson); poetry (Selected John Hewitt, Frank Ormsby and Michael Longley); anthology (Ulster Anthology, Patricia Craig); fiction (The Third Party, Glenn Patterson); and non-fiction (‘Written in Stone’ series, Tom Hartley).
• Content creator/designer for a range of materials, including books (structural editing, blurbs, captions, glossaries); websites (blogs, product listings, metadata, SEO terminology); social media (full campaigns and/or individual posts on Facebook, Twitter); promotional material (author biographical notes, key selling points); briefed designers on covers.
• Permissions administration: sourced rights holders of material; negotiated reduced fees; verified correct acknowledgements; and acquired high-resolution images suitable for publication.
• Digital content management: utilised various software programmes for design, typesetting, correction setting, generation of final print files for printers and eBook conversion, including Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator etc.) and Quark Xpress.
• Project manager of books from commissioning to completion: worked closely with authors; hired, briefed and monitored freelance staff (editors, designers etc.); adhered to budgets and schedules; informed sales, marketing and publicity departments about the progress of titles; and oversaw in-house/industry data management (ONIX – XML standard metadata format).
• Production scheduler: oversaw and implemented timetables for multiple, simultaneous titles; organised team meetings, generated agendas, reports and minutes on project progress; developed spreadsheets and databases to manage timeframes and schedules; ensured deadlines were met.
• Print management for titles: sourced and confirmed most economic/suitable print; generated purchase orders; authorised payments; managed stock delivery.
• Managed website CMS (WordPress) and eCommerce system (Woo Commerce).
• Managed and updated social media, developed social media strategies and timetables (Facebook, Twitter, Mail Chimp).
Education Editor – Colourpoint Education
• Edited and proofread textbooks and digital learning resources for a variety of subjects at KS3, GCSE and GCE/A level – this included developmental editing, line editing and copy-editing.
• Educational text development, including comparison and assessment of material against curriculum specifications; ensuring style consistency; fact checking; permissions clearance; image sourcing, etc.
• Project managed titles from initial script through rewriting, editing, typesetting, proofreading and quality assurance processes to preparation of final print files.
• Briefed and managed staff, including authors, quality assurance experts, freelancers, marketing, production, design and manufacturing to ensure that projects were completed to a high standard.
• Liaised with teachers, principal officers, chief examiners etc. to ensure texts were quality assured and correctly covered the curriculum specifications.
• Manuscript editing and proofreading.
• Customer service, sales and public relations at events and launches.
• Developed marketing strategies.
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