A Day in the Life of an Editor

First of all, I still laugh to myself and probably always will … an editor? Me? Since when? Oh, right. Since a good friend – Sandra Elaine Scott – asked me to help her in 2011 with a book she’d written about her beloved mother (In Memory of a Saint).

Back then I just Susan, the Grammar Goddess, helping a friend, not an editor. Trust me. The thought never crossed my mind.

But a few of her books later, and a few mentions that I’d helped her with her books started changing my life. One by one they came, as if out of a forest, searching for light.

Could I help with their book? Glad to.

Could I clean it up, make it look professional? Sure.

Could I make it a best-seller? Um. No.

*****

Fast-forward to December 2019 and the madness that occasionally hits me squarely in the face. Yesterday was a doozy – in a good way, but still.

Working on two 175-page books at the same time. Back and forth.

A friend emails me: Can I take a look at HER book, her second book? Well, take a look isn’t exactly what she meant. Work on her book is what she hoped for.

When did she want it back?

End of the week? FOUR days away? It’s over 150 pages!

Hopes dashed.

Goes in the queue.

Email from a regular client, a prolific blogger. Easy-peasy. He’s a terrific ghostwriter, and I barely have to do anything except remove a couple of hyphens (he still believes bottom line is hyphenated), and put in a couple of commas. Sent it back within 15 minutes.

So nice to get something finished!

Email from an author who first touched base three months ago, thanks to a referral. NOW he’s ready, but it’s a whole different thing. He needs someone to help his company on an ongoing basis. And maybe his LI profile. Oh, and the company website. And the company blogs.

Luckily, not immediately, but soon. We arranged to talk for 15 minutes; talked for an hour. Nothing urgent, but soon. OK. I can live with that, as long as “soon” is in January.

Then another author – of a book – emailed me. He’s now ready. Guess what? I’m not. Can’t touch it for a couple of weeks. Thank goodness he’s cool with that.

Then author #3 wrote – he’s finally decided yes. It’s time.

Sorry, #3. Wrong time for me. Can’t touch it for about three weeks, maybe four. Grumble, grumble, but OK.

One last author — #4 – said he’ll get me his book mid-to-late January; he won’t be ready before then.

He’s definitely my new bestie!

There are moments when I just shake my head and laugh! How did this crazy, wonderful life happen? How did I get so lucky to have a chance to work on stuff for others and see how smart they are in areas I know nothing about?

How did I get so lucky to live near a huge bay in southeastern Massachusetts in a tiny (525 s.f.) cottage four houses up from the water, work in a way that allows me to mostly control my own time, and laugh a lot? And learn a lot?

All in all, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, not even on days when I am apparently the new best thing.

Still laughing … long may it continue.

Susan Rooks
Susan Rookshttps://grammargoddess.com/
With 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.

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  1. As is obvious to our global audience, Susan – you (as an esteemed member of our Editorial Circle of Excellence) continue to make us (our Site) a better version of what we aspire to be. Thank you for stepping up to alert us to those pesky “typos” or elusive grammar corrections that simply get lost in our forest given that we have so many trees… We appreciate you!

    • Dennis, we all contribute in our own unique ways, which is why I value the “village” concept so much. No one person has to know everything, but together we can know so much!

      I appreciate your comment more than you can know.

      And for my colleagues reading this, I always use “typo alert” due to its inoffensive nature. I used to call them goofs or errors, but many writers then felt wronged … those words have a somewhat negative emotional impact and it’s never my intent to hurt.

      “Typo” seems to be easier to deal with.

  2. Oh how I wish I had the passion you do for editing. I have so much unedited work that may or may not ever make it to my page. I’m like Larry…the words flow but the editing never seems to take priority over all the other elements of my life. Here’s to all the editors out there!

  3. Susan, good editor’s are hard to find I have learned. Trying to put together two book projects on my own, ugh; no way do I want to spend that much time, so I appreciate the work of editors, but especially those who enjoy what they do!

    • I’m truly an accidental editor, Lynn; this was never my first (or hundredth thought) for a job. But like many others, I simply answered a friend’s request for help … and she told two friends who … and I discovered the joy of polishing up thoughts I’d never seen or known much about — it’s amazing what I learn every time someone allows me to work on their material!

  4. As I have been the beneficiary of your work on more times than I can count, all I can say is “Thank God!” I know I am probably one of your devoted subjects who makes the same mistakes over and over – “Doesn’t he ever get it?” – but I know I’ve gotten better at commas. Progress in my 6th decade! That said, I will never get “—” vs “–.” Plus, it gives me a reason do go back to you.

  5. Susan I salute you. Without my wife editing my work I would be in writers wasteland. I dropped out of school at 16 to play music and while the stories flow the grammar doesn’t. I humbly admire your talent and when I move to NC I am even thinking of taking grammar classes. A friend of mine gave me the book The Elements of Style and it has been an inspiration to learn more about my craft. Thank you for a great post.

  6. You are truly blessed! How wonderful to have the opportunities to use your gifts and talents…..AND live in such a beautiful place! I remember my business grammer lessons to this day…..helped me to get to my point and cut out all of the pat phrases that I was so used to using just to fill space and sound impressive. Thanks for sharing Susan!

    • Thanks so much, Mike! I am and I know it; I’ve known it for quite a while (one of the advantages of having lived a long life, so far)! And I’ve shared a picture or two in other articles of my view down the street to the bay — Buttermilk Bay, the top part of Buzzards Bay — that I am privileged to see every day.

  7. I know I speak for so many people out there when I say that I’m so glad YOU do what you do, Susan! Besides making me smarter with every bit of grammar, punctuation, and wisdom you share, working with you on my book was an absolute pleasure! You’re a gem and I’m so fortunate you’re in my orbit!

  8. I celebrate you in your beautiful life as an editor, Susan. No accidents at all. Simply delicious. (And those were not complete sentences. I realize this. LOL!) I can feel your joy and delight skipping and hopping between the words and opportunities flowing right to you allowing you to contribute, to be of service, to earn a living. I’m over here happy dancing for you, Susan!! :)

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