Annie Lee is one of our winners of The Unsung Heroes of Publishing 2018. We asked her a few questions about her work as a recipe copy editor. For a complete list of #UHoP18 winners please see more here.
1. Tell us a bit about how you work as a recipe copy editor.
Most of the time, when I receive the recipes they have been tested. But not always. I go through them generally about three times, making sure the ingredients are all used in the recipe method, and that the method makes sense and is easy for people to understand. Sometimes the recipes need to have numbered steps, so I make sure each step covers a separate part of the recipe. I ensure everything is consistent in terms of how the ingredients are presented. There are usually lots of queries on recipes, and on the narrative sections of a cookery book, so I liaise with the writer of the recipes (which isn’t always the chef/cook whose book it is) until everything is sorted out. Finally, after taking in the changes resulting from the queries, I go through it all again to see that it flows properly as a piece of writing.
2. How did you first get into this line of work?
I joined the Penguin copy-editing department many years ago, and was trained to work on all kinds of books. I think the cookery editing probably began with Jamie Oliver’s first Naked Chef book nearly 20 years ago!
The different editions of The Naked Chef throughout the years
3. Tell us about a typical day for you.
No day is the same as any other. Sometimes I work in the morning and evening, sometimes all day, sometimes not at all! I’m quite often working on more than one book at the same time, because the recipes tend to arrive in batches.
4. What are your favourite, and most challenging projects you’ve worked on to date?
Favourite: Nigel Slater. Most challenging: probably the Ottolenghi books.
5. Publishers rely on freelancers to help them with lots of their books. How important is the relationship between internal and external creative talent?
6. What is the best book you’ve read lately?
Probably East West Street by Philippe Sands. It was recommended to me by a lady sitting next to me on a train between Northumberland and London.