My Job In 5: Francine Brody, Freelance editor

My Job In 5: Francine Brody, Freelance editor

How would you describe your role?

I work on everything from academic papers to picture books. I also work at both ends of the editing spectrum, sometimes doing full structural edits and sometimes proofreading.

What do you like best about your role?

Discovering books and authors that I might never have picked up on my own. Ones that stick in my mind are The Brain is Wider Than the Sky by Bryan Appleyard, and Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. I also love discovering new children’s authors.

Which books are you working on?

I’ve just finished working on a weird and wonderful literary novel. It is a new direction for a well-published author, which is always interesting. I recently provided editorial assistance for a tribute to Suzy Menkes and her 25 years at the International Herald Tribune.

What attributes do you need to be a good freelance editor?

I think being pedantic is a bonus. An author doesn’t have to accept my suggestions, but it’s better to point everything out. Of course there are limits to this. For example, one has to take into account an author’s style and to be sensitive to that and to the personality of the piece. Although I do work remotely, I prefer having some sort of relationship with an author, even if it’s just by email.

What advice would you give to people looking to work in the industry?

Make sure you know your trade. You don’t need a degree in English, although it can help. There are many courses available to get in at the proofreading level, particularly from Chapterhouse: chapterhousepublishing. Publishers are always keen to have work experience students joining them, which is a good way to see how everything fits together. The editing process is a very small part of a book coming to fruition.