Questions for a Book Editor and Editorial Trainer: Laura Poole
Laura Poole has been active in the publishing field for more than 17 years. She founded Archer Editorial Services in 1997 and has been freelancing full-time for the last 15 years. Laura will be our instructor for the “Editing Figures and Tables” audio conference on January 10.
How did you get into editing/editorial training?
I got into it as a work study student in college, when I worked at a university press in the journals division. I loved it! I freelanced for a typesetter and eventually got a job at a pharmaceutical training company doing desktop publishing and editing. In 1997, I quit my job and went freelance full-time. I call myself “Senior Editor” of my company, Archer Editorial Services. In October 2009, I launched the Editorial Bootcamp with a colleague because we wanted to offer training options for prospective editors and publishers.
What do you find satisfying about your work?
I like taking a good book and making it great. I love knowing that my tweaks can help an author’s point get across, without readers getting bogged down in the words.
What resources are particularly helpful to your area of editing?
Chicago Manual of Style, Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.), and the APA Publication Manual are very useful. One of my favorite go-to websites has been IMDb.com, for checking anything related to movies, TV, actors, directors, and more. A guide I really love is the Barron’s Food Lover’s Companion. Side note: I won my very first Collegiate Dictionary (9th edition!) when I was in the eighth grade and placed tenth out of forty at our regional spelling bee!
What fortune-cookie-sized advice would you give other editors interested in freelance editing?
Start by telling people you are willing to edit their résumé, blog posts, letters, anything! You would be surprised how much work this can get you. Your business is only open when your mouth is open!
Any great catches you’ve made or embarrassing mistakes you’ve helped the publisher avoid?
Probably my favorite typo story of all time comes from the days of optical character recognition. The client would scan in typewritten pages and use OCR to generate an editable Word file. Sometimes the words were not scanned correctly. In one book, the word arms scanned as the word anus three times! So I had to laugh (and recoil in disgust) with “I took her gently into my anus and whispered sweet nothings in her ear.”
What are some non-editing or peripheral activities that you find helpful to your work?
I’ve always been an avid reader (of fiction), and I have an odd ability to remember bits of information from lots of different sources. I’m always surprised at how often I recall something useful I saw somewhere else!
Find more of Laura and her copyediting world on LinkedIn, Twitter @lepoole, ArcherEditorial.com, and EditorialBootcamp.com. And don’t miss your opportunity to learn from Laura about the best way to layout and edit tables and figures: “Editing Figures and Tables.”
Image courtesy of Archer Editorial Services.