Questions for an Online-Content Editor
Andy Hollandbeck has always been good at mistakes—finding them, that is. And he’s always been a bibliophile. He combined those two traits and began proofreading in 1999, acquiring a freelance project that would eventually turn into copyediting for Demography, the quarterly journal of the Population Association of America. In 2004, he started copyediting the For Dummies series for Wiley Publishing, moving to its online team in 2007.
How would you describe your current copyediting gig?
My freelance copyediting for Demography is pretty straightforward. But because the articles I work with use specialized language, I sometimes find myself reading passages I don't entirely understand. Being able to focus on and clarify the mechanics of a sentence is very important.
My day job as an online-content editor for Wiley Publishing is completely different. The bulk of my job is editing text that has been repurposed from the For Dummies books for publication online, but I also get the opportunity for some original writing (which I love) and some behind-the-scenes technical things (which I don't love quite so much).
How is online-content editing different from more general copyediting?
I have to consider search engine optimization (SEO) as I'm writing and editing. Online content is more bite-sized, too.
What's one thing you wish all your authors knew?
Editors and proofreaders are the detailers, not the carwash.
Any non-copyediting activities that you find helpful to your work?
Copyeditors need the same skill sets as writers, so they need to do the same two things good writers do: read a lot and write a lot. I began my blog Logophilius because I love to play with words, and I wanted to share that with other logomaniacs and logodaedalists. But as the blog has grown and changed—as I have grown and changed—writing the blog has really helped me become a better editor.
I think all copyeditors should write, even if you don't publish anything. It can help you understand what your authors go through as they write, and it will help you lighten up as you find yourself making the same mistakes you gripe about your authors making (and it will happen).
Thanks for giving us a glimpse into online-content editing!
Image courtesy of Tim Morgan.