Questions for a Freelance Copyeditor and Proofreader: Amy J. Schneider
Amy J. Schneider has been a full-time editor for more than 18 years. Her work includes both fiction and nonfiction for major publishers. Amy will be our instructor for the Wednesday, February 12, audio conference, Basics of Copyediting Fiction: Characters, Places, and Plot, Oh My!
What path have you taken to get where you are today, Amy?
I came in the back door—without in-house experience. I’d done some editing-like work in college, and when I wanted to leave my first “real” job, a friend suggested freelance editing. I did some research, sent résumés to prospects via Literary Market Place, took some tests, and landed one client in March 1995. I quit my job six months later, went full-time freelance six months after that, and the rest is history!
What’s the biggest mindset switch you make when editing fiction instead of nonfiction?
In fiction the author has much more leeway, as it’s more of a creative work: creating a mood, telling a story. We do not conform the language to perfect grammar; we allow creative license with facts (although we still check them!); we query and suggest more, rather than making an outright change.
What advice would you give other editors interested in a full-time freelance career?
Someone told me that the great thing about being self-employed is that you only have to work half days—and you get to pick which 12 hours you work! Time management is key. Also, embrace technology! Become a master of Word, Acrobat, whatever software tools you use. Make social media work for you. Have an online presence.
What is the most noteworthy project you’ve worked on?
In 2002 I landed a huge culinary textbook—1,800 manuscript pages, huge art program, gorgeous design. I learned a lot about editing culinary text as well as cooking, and that project launched me into a cookbook editing niche on the side. I edited three editions of that book, as well as two editions of that author’s baking textbook. And I am lucky enough to have them on my shelf!
Any funny stories of recent adventures in editing?
Pick any day! The thing I love about editing is that there’s always something new. In any given month, I might work on a computer programming manual, a cookbook, a spy thriller, a book on how to fight zombies, a physics textbook, a paranormal romance novel, a university press book . . . There’s never a dull moment. Even a dry legal proofread helps me reset my brain for the next “fun” project.
Have you made any great catches?
I’ve caught a few plagiarists, simply by going to verify something online and finding vast swaths of lifted text. One was a case of the “author” lifting text, and in the other my author was the apparent victim of theft.
What are some non-editing or peripheral activities that you find helpful to your work?
For a while I had a side business making and selling jewelry at outdoor festivals, which was nice for indulging my visual side. In 2010 I started running, which is great for my health and a good way to take a mental break when switching between projects.
Don’t miss your opportunity to learn the Basics of Copyediting Fiction from Amy on February 12. You can also find more of Amy and her editing world at Featherschneider Editorial Services
and on LinkedIn, Twitter @amyjschn, and Facebook.
Check out the rest of our Q&A series for more editor interviews.