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15 years an editor: Ten things I used to do that I wouldn’t do now

by Amanda Learmonth

I started out in editorial publishing back in 2001 – the days when a ‘tablet’ had curative purposes, the only ‘platform’ I knew about was at the train station, and ‘working remotely’ meant holing up with a pile of proofs in the Outer Hebrides.

Over the past 15 years, it is safe to say that the pace of change in the publishing industry has been supersonic. The most significant change, has, of course, been the advance in digital technology. It has transformed the way we read and where we read, and it has gradually transformed the way we, as editors, do our work. Gone are the days when we’d wait, with bated breath, for the postman to arrive with the latest set of marked-up proofs, or struggle to locate our red ballpoint pen buried beneath a sea of paper (though that may still be the case for some!)

These days, the majority of an editor’s work is done digitally – on-screen editing and proofreading, transferring files remotely, video call-outs, online project management platforms, digital photo research… With many publishing companies choosing to go ‘paper-free’, we are more screen-based and remotely connected than ever before. And the result? A faster, more efficient way of working – without the paper cuts.

With all this in mind, I have devised a list of ten things that, as an editor, I was doing back in 2001, but wouldn’t, couldn’t and really shouldn’t have to do now:

1. Race against the clock for the last post collection of the day

2. Strike up a conversation with a colleague over the printer while running out several batches of proofs (but at least we still have the water cooler!)

3. Be adept at operating a franking machine

4. Be familiar with the words ‘ozalid’, ‘fax’ and ‘Quark’

5. Use correction fluid – or even a pen?

6. Keep a huge stash of post-it notes and blank CDs in my desk drawer

7. Spend hours scouring a set of proofs to correct all instances of ‘color’ (Thank goodness for the digital search-and-find tool!)

8. Keep all contacts in a hardback address book

9. Acquire several paper cuts a day (just part of the job)

10. Understand that ‘plate’ and ‘film’ do not just refer to a piece of crockery or a movie.