Leena Lane reflects on the importance of career moves and development – for freelance editors and for the people they work with – and focuses on thoughts regarding:
- career paths
- choosing freelance or in-house
- benefits of CIEP membership
I often take 15 minutes before starting work, especially on Mondays and Fridays, to scroll the news headlines across both current affairs and updates within the publishing world.
Posts which can make me both joyful and wistful at the same time are the ‘I’ve got news’ tweets. An individual who has been my main contact at a publishing house is making a career move to another company or is going freelance themselves. This has happened twice since COVID-19 hit and is no real surprise as people reflect on their lifestyle and commute, their career path, or just feel the need for change.
Despite working remotely as a freelancer, and having shared the stress of many deadlines and also those punch-the-air moments of success, I often come to regard these clients as ‘colleagues’ of a sort. When they move on, it stirs up conflicting thoughts and feelings.
I’ll miss them! They’ve been great to work with and a friendly contact over many years. Sometimes I’ve known them start as the newbie enthusiastic/stressed editorial assistant, move up within the company to assistant editor, commissioning editor, and then move away to be editorial director.
I’m genuinely pleased for the individual – their skills, character and contribution have been recognised and rewarded. They’ll be fabulous at their new position.
In the past, losing a personal contact has sometimes meant losing regular work with that company – how can I prevent that happening this time? How can I make contact with their replacement? How can I shine out from the pool or list of freelancers they’ll see on arrival, and how can I cultivate relationships with a wider team at the same company?
New doors to push? As they move on, might they be able to use my services within their new company, or introduce me to someone who will? Time to polish the website, Twitter profile, CIEP Directory entry, LinkedIn profile, etc, and prepare for some self-marketing.
After ‘slowing down’, even just for a year, in terms of career-focused work to start a family, it can be challenging to make it back to where you hoped to be. Relatively few publishers offer part-time or job-sharing as a serious option for key editorial roles.
Though many people appear to succeed and ‘do it all’, a long commute, high childcare costs and having no family locally made a full-time in-house position increasingly difficult for me. I started freelancing to bridge this phase of life until I could find the right in-house role again, but it has quietly turned into a more permanent path.
There have been many pros:
- the rich variety of clients and projects
- focus groups in my own house (aka lots of bedtime stories, Middle Grade critiques and YA rejections)
- focus groups in my community (aka being a primary school governor and seeing what parents, teachers and children are really reading, needing, thinking).
There have also been some negatives:
- missing that buzz from being part of a regular team
- lonely moments
- erratic income at times
- and a few regrets:
- Should I have tried to get promoted one more level before having kids?
- Should I have taken less parental leave?
As a freelancer, how have I still tried to progress in my career?
This is where the CIEP has been instrumental in keeping me on track and also in strengthening my resolve that being a freelancer can be just as fulfilling and valid for me as being an in-house editor.
Since joining, and upgrading twice, I’ve come to appreciate this group of editing professionals more each year: some on a similar path juggling career and family; some going freelance to provide variety they perhaps couldn’t find within just one publishing company; others continuing to work in-house − all striving to provide excellent editorial service within the industry.
One fantastic resource to guide career progression is the new CIEP Curriculum for Professional Development which details what editors and proofreaders need to know, and how they can acquire that knowledge.
In lockdown I’ve finally met up with my regional group, albeit on Zoom, and have bounced ideas around and received some really valuable tips and advice from both new and experienced members. The CIEP’s annual conference – online in 2020 and 2021 – is a wonderful opportunity to meet with editorial professionals, to learn and to laugh.
As I turn back from news-scrolling to my current project, I congratulate those moving on and progressing in their career in publishing, especially those who are, only now in 2021, finding chinks of fairer access and representation – there’s still so much more to be done. Within the community of the CIEP, I feel challenged to stay alert and fresh in my own career.
Leena Lane is a Professional Member of the CIEP and is a member of its Berkshire local group and Run On. Leena provides editorial services to publishers and authors, specialising in children’s Middle Grade and Young Adult books. She’s committed to making stories more representative for all young readers.
The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.
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Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.