We spoke to freelance copy editor and proofreader Les Glazier about his unusual career change and the how he came to enjoy life as a freelance editor. Les jumped off a cliff by swapping the construction industry for the world of editing to deploy his linguistic skills. His tea breaks are spent studying the racing statistics while munching Tunnock’s tea cakes.
1. Before you became a copy-editor and proofreader, you worked as an estimator in the construction industry. What led you to the decision to develop your editorial skills? How did you approach the transition?
The catalyst for my career move was the desire to work predominantly with words rather than with numbers. Without giving up the day job, I joined a professional society (the SfEP) and initially trained as a proofreader before approaching potential clients for freelance work.
2. You’ve been providing freelance services since 1997, clearly this way of working agrees with you. How do you maintain a sustainable stream of work? Do you have ways to find projects with subjects pertinent to your experience?
After becoming an overnight success (how many years later?), my editorial CV was sufficiently impressive to attract regular commissions for construction-related editing from a select client base. I was also keen to emphasise my comprehensive (unhealthy?) knowledge of gambling and sport to a legion of publishers, which eventually bore fruit: copy-editing books on casinos, poker, golf, football etc.
3. What is your favourite thing about copy-editing and proofreading the books you work on?
I love the nuts and bolts of the job – making things right without taking centre stage. I like the variety of material that I receive, especially when something arrives out of the blue.
4. We’d imagine being an estimator requires a good head for numbers and a meticulous nature. Do you feel that any of your experience in that job helps you in your current vocation?
Doing the basics is what counts in most activities; the end product is only the result of the hard graft.
5. Any advice for people in other industries who are interested in careers in publishing?
I would recommend editing to anybody who likes language and structure – but don’t expect to get rich quick.