Heather E. Saunders has been helpfully editing the work of her peers since grade school. For the last six and a half years, she has been helping people find the right words through Just the Write Type Editing, her STEM and manuscript editing services.
How did you get into editing, Heather?
I’ve been editing since third grade, when kids would pass me their creative essays before turning them in to make sure everything was spelled correctly. I worked all possible positions for my high school and college newspapers (features writer, managing editor, restaurant critic, opinions writer, editor in chief) but I loved editing copy. Shortly after graduating, I took my first editing job with a publishing house and fell in love. After working with a few freelance STEM clients, I discovered how rewarding that field was as well and launched Just the Write Type Editing.
How does your education —with degrees in journalism, psychology, and writing — inform your editing?
I’ve learned quite a bit, but some main aspects carry through into my daily work. From journalism, I learned to “find the story” and ensure it is clear. From writing, I learned to create content that blends with the writing style or market necessary, and from psychology, I learned invaluable tips on interacting with others and managing continual self-improvement. I discovered that, together, they create a blended skillset I use often.
You work on both literary and STEM materials and you provide a range of editing services, from developmental editing to proofreading. How do you blend those different aspects of your freelance career?
I find they actually support each other in more ways than expected. I’m able to fact check novels faster because I’m used to checking calculations for inertia or verifying the right type of transistor is used in STEM projects. I can revise text from ESL STEM authors much more efficiently after revising prose from a fiction work. And it keeps me refreshed. Changing gears from a heavy developmental edit to a proofread and vice versa revives me and keeps burnout at bay.
What fortune-cookie-size advice would you give other editors?
When in doubt, check it out.
The tickle in the back of your mind that is your copyeditor brain knows what it is doing, so trust it.
What do you find satisfying about your current freelance work?
I love learning (as my degrees show), so I am always excited when projects teach me new things. I love that, as an editor, I am able to work with experts in many fields and am continually presented with an endless amount to learn. For example, did you know that part of your tire is called the carcass? Or that railroads created standardized time zones?
If you weren't editing, what would you like to try as a career? What's a job that fascinates you?
Probably either a book reviewer or travel photographer. In any free time, I review books for pleasure at The Dying Book Affair and my sister and I just launched a travel site called The Curious Abroad to document our adventures.
Thanks, Heather! Happy editing and adventuring!
Find more editor interviews in the rest of our Q&A series.