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Case Study: Publishing Editor - Marguerite

What do you do?

As the senior editor for a large publishing company, I'm involved in many different aspects of the business. One of my responsibilities is to work with authors, editors, designers and printers to determine the layout, or 'look', of a book.

I also oversee the production process, making sure that there are no flaws in the text or design of the book and that everything is completed on time.

What is your background?

I did a degree in French and Spanish at university. Before becoming involved in editing, I had a wide variety of jobs. I taught English and French as a second language to adults and children. I also wrote press releases for the government, and I've done several different types of clerical work.

Fortunately, while I was working in one of these jobs, a senior manager noticed that I was over-qualified for the job I was doing, and offered me a job as an assistant editor. Since then, I have worked as an editor for several different companies, gradually taking on more responsibilities.

I believe that any success I have had is due to a willingness to work hard and help out others.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

An editor works as part of a team of designers, salespeople, printers and other editors, so he or she has to have well-developed interpersonal skills.

An excellent eye for detail is also important, because editors will be held responsible for any flaws left in a book or article once it reaches the public. And, of course, an editor must have a superior grasp of their language.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

Editors could work in marketing, public relations or any other career that involves communications. The general administrative and business experience you gain as an editor could be used in any number of jobs.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

You have to juggle many projects at once and meet your deadlines. For example, I might have to work on five projects with the same deadline. However, when you succeed, it's a great feeling.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

There are opportunities, especially for those who have strong language skills, and can bring another form of expertise to their work. You must, however, be willing to work your way up to editor and senior editor positions.

What do you like about your job?

I love books and in this job I'm exposed to everything from murder mysteries to articles on economic and political trends in the UK. I like being part of the creative process; this allows me to help decide how a book should look - everything from the colour scheme on the cover, to the types of fonts used in the text.

Doing this job helps to keep you well informed about what's going on in the world. I'm always reading about new ideas and events.

What do you dislike about your job?

Having to constantly be aware of the details (for example, pages in sequence, misspelled words, missing lines of text).

Authors who don't work to their deadlines can also be a problem.

And, if something is not written well, it can be frustrating to edit it. Sometimes you have to ask writers to rewrite their article before you can edit it.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

If you don't like books, then this isn't the job for you. You have to be able to read and write well in this job. Take a course in publishing, if you can, because this will help you to develop your skills.

A day in the life

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Filing and photocopying materials and responding to messages from colleagues.

10:00 am - 10:30 am

Sending out manuscripts to authors, proofreaders and indexers by courier.

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Checking revised manuscripts to make sure that the changes have been made correctly.

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Eating lunch.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Communicating with authors, proofreaders and copy editors.

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Dealing with invoices from freelance editors, ordering office supplies and editing equipment.

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Checking final draft of manuscript for errors before sending it to the printer.

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