Forums Club Ed Editors’ Forum Hello! And transferable skills

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    • #112544
      Alex Logsdon
      Participant

      Hello everyone! I’m in the very beginning of a career shift from communication design to editing, and am so excited to have found the Club Ed resources (literally last night haha)— especially because I want to focus on developmental editing.

      Does anyone else here have a background in something else that gave you skills you use in editing?

      My formal training and professional experience is in museum exhibit design and information design, which basically means I take a bunch of information and structure it to tell clear and meaningful stories using words and pictures, whether it’s in a museum environment or on a piece of paper. And then on the side, I write as a hobby.

      So in deciding to shift careers, I realized that I already have experience and skill in analyzing the big picture when it comes to story in museums and information, and that’s the part I always enjoyed anyways (not the actual pesky execution of the visual design). I found, in my research about freelance dev editing, that the way you talk about a ms is extremely similar to the way we talk in the design field. It’s “subjective analysis.” (I think Jennifer wrote something along those lines in a blog post.)

      Anyways, I’m excited to start taking some of the online courses through Club Ed and learn with you all!

    • #112824
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      Hi, Alex! Thanks for posting. I hope a few other people see this and respond. (The Club Ed forums are just getting started so we’re working on building some traction).

      I have often said that information architecture is basically developmental editing in another field. It’s about figuring out the most effective way to tell a story or inform the audience (whatever your intention happens to be). I would imagine the information design is very similar as well. And of course having a background as a writer also helps as it gives you a good sense of craft.

      A lot of the focus of Club Ed is on fiction, just because that happens to be what most of my students have been interested in, but nonfiction DE is actually easier to break into as there’s so much more of it being published. Having special subject matter knowledge also helps. For ex, publishers of art, art history, or museum related periodicals or books would be more likely to hire you because you have subject matter knowledge. If you’re interested in nonfiction DE, I will soon be adding an updated version of my NF class to the catalog (by June 1, fingers crossed).

      A lot of my students have come from other fields, particularly law (where the ability to make cogent arguments is a highly transferable skill) but also nursing and computer science. Over the years, I’ve realized a lot of people love language and words but don’t really see how to make a career out of it and so test other fields first. But there is so much that can be transferred: nurses are empathetic but still have to do what needs to be done (a great trait for a DE); computer people tend to be logical and problem-solving–again, excellent traits for a DE.

    • #112897
      Alex Logsdon
      Participant

      Wow it’s great to hear that you think that about info architecture (which is really just a branch of the broader “info design”) because that’s exactly what I thought when I discovered that dev editing was a thing that existed. It was a big DUH moment. And that’s a great point about people wondering what to do with their love of language- language is definitely my first love but I’m glad I have experience in other mediums too because I’m totally a generalist at heart.

      I’m not sure whether I’d prefer fiction or nonfiction, so I’ll definitely check out the NF course to get a sense of what both would entail. I probably get the biggest kick out of making traditionally “boring” or “dense” information interesting (like in history museums), but fiction is where my writing experience is (SF/F and kidlit). I think it’d be useful to try out both and also learn about how the processes differ. Thanks for the heads up about the class!

      Seriously, you’ve provided the most useful and practical info/resources that have helped me clarify so much. So, THANKS! Appreciated 🙂

    • #113304
      Jennifer Lawler
      Keymaster

      I’m glad to hear you’ve found Club Ed helpful! I’m glad to answer questions as you further explore editing as a career.

    • #114266
      Mary Lanham
      Participant

      Hello, Alex! Exhibit and information design definitely sounds like a good background for editing, in terms of general mind frame for approaching stories and information. I’m guessing your exhibit background will also come in handy in more unexpected ways, since it has probably given you a lot of working knowledge about the subjects you designed exhibits for. I’ve had jobs in some pretty varied fields before diving into editing, and while most didn’t involve directly transferable skills, I’m finding that all that background knowledge and trivia is pretty helpful. It gives me a leg up in certain nonfiction areas, and it even helps me spot logic holes or character inconsistencies in fiction, which I didn’t really anticipate.

      • #114744
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Mary, that’s so true–never underestimate the importance of background knowledge when editing! I have a wide range of interests and knowing a lot of random information about a lot of subjects has helped me do better work as an editor.

    • #117158
      Nancy Disenhaus
      Participant

      Hi all. I have just started on the DE path in the past year, after decades as an English teacher, and I realized during one of Jennifer’s courses that there is a crucial difference between teaching literature and the DE role of analyzing what a manuscript needs: In the former, I was showing students how every thread of the tapestry tied together, while as a DE I have to be mindful of all the loose threads that interrupt the pattern. But background knowledge has been crucial to me–as a teacher of writing, of course, but also in random subject matter knowledge. The most recent writer to contact me is a “death doula”–a totally new concept to me, but my favorite nonfiction book of the past year was From Here to Eternity, which examines death and burial practices and beliefs in various cultures, and I had also been fascinated by articles about mushroom burial–who knows why, but I was–so the writer found me a perfect fit for her project. Who’d have guessed that particular background knowledge/interest would make me a perfect DE for an author of a YA fantasy novel about death in the Fae world? Ya never know. . . .

      • #117250
        Jennifer Lawler
        Keymaster

        Nancy, great point. In teaching lit we’re on the path of hermeneutics, or discovering meaning, whereas in editing we’re more on the path of poetics, that is, discovering the principles of how narrative works. But they are two sides of the same coin.

        I agree that having a lot of curiosity about the world is a huge help for editors! The random things that I know and which have proven to be useful in the course of my career is really staggering when I think about it.

      • #117360
        Mary Lanham
        Participant

        Oooh, I quite like that distinction. Gotta take every opportunity to use the word “hermeneutics.”

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