Questions for a Freelance Editor, Proofreader, Indexer: Averill Buchanan
Averill Buchanan has been editing for 8 years. Based in Belfast, she is currently an editor and publishing consultant who provides a range of services that include advising authors, development editing and copyediting, proofreading, indexing, and formatting.
How did you get into editing, Averill?
As a teenager and throughout my 20s, art was my thing. After some initial training, I set up my own graphic design studio where we designed logos, brochures, booklets, books, newsletters—all that sort of stuff. Part of the job entailed proofreading—and editing, if the copy didn’t fit our lovely designs.
But as I got older I became more interested in the words. So I packed it all in when I was in my mid-30s to become a student, and spent the next 10 years broke but happy studying English literature and emerging with a PhD in 2004. I’ve been working freelance as an editor, proofreader, and indexer since then. The work combines perfectly my love of words/writing, my penchant for geekery (the tools of my trade – see below) and my formatting/presentation skills from my graphic design days.
What do you find satisfying about your freelance career right now?
It’s the freelance bit that’s most important to me. I love working from home and being in control of my own time (yes, I work to deadlines, but I get to choose to work late at night instead of in the middle of the day, when my circadian cycle dips spectacularly). I find it very satisfying, too, to know that the money that pays the bills each month is money I brought in through my own efforts. I also really enjoy the business side of things—finance, marketing—as much as the editorial work. I’m a bit of an entrepreneur at heart.
What fortune-cookie-sized advice would you give other editors interested in beginning their own businesses?
Join a professional organization: the support and camaraderie are invaluable. Try to stay off Facebook (I’m joking really—it’s a great way to chat to colleagues throughout the day and dispel any feelings of freelancer isolation.)
If you weren't editing and writing, what would you like to try as a career?
I’d love to be a computer programmer. I have a geekish, amateurish interest in computers—I love to solve problems and find work-arounds, and I love finding ways to customize my PC (yes, I’m a Windows, not an Apple, person). In the last 5 years, I’ve learned the basics of XML encoding for a project to publish online the complete correspondence of Robert Southey, and have now taken to reading code (xml and html) in a meaningful way. Sad, but true.
Image courtesy of AverillBuchanan.com.