I’m sure that’s a question many editors and proofreaders have been asked. Here, I describe some of the clients I’ve worked for over the years – including how I found them, or how they found me – to illustrate the variety of individuals, companies and other organisations who need editors and proofreaders. And because I work on non-fiction, academic and commercial material, there’s not a novel in sight.
Source of work: Speculative enquiries (letters and phone calls); Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) directory
Publishers are probably the first clients that spring to mind when people think about editing and proofreading. And yes, in the early years of my career, all my clients were publishers. For one of them I worked on non-fiction books for the general reader, on topics including real ale, astrology, horse-race betting, wedding planning and feng shui. Another early publishing client introduced me to on-screen work (in the mid-1990s). These were very different experiences, but equally valuable.
The EU Agency
Source of work: SfEP directory
Since 2003 I’ve worked for a small company on an editing contract with the European Training Foundation in Turin, Italy. It involves editing reports about vocational education and training – and related topics such as migration and the labour market – in EU partner countries. I love this work, although I’m slightly concerned about how it will be affected by Brexit…
The Individual Author
Source of work: Journal publisher’s website; SfEP directory; Colleague referrals
Many of my individual clients are academics, most of whom do not have English as a first language. I help them to improve the language and formatting of their papers before submission to an academic journal. I’ve built up strong long-term relationships with a number of individual clients – both academics and general non-fiction authors – on several different continents.
The Marketing Company
Source of work: Local networking; SfEP directory; Colleague referrals
These are often small firms who don’t have the in-house expertise required to edit or proofread their own or their clients’ material, or even to write such material in the first place. I’ve worked on web and brochure copy, as well as straplines and other brand-related text. The jobs can range from just a few words to pages and pages of copy, on pretty much any topic under the sun.
Source of work: SfEP directory
It’s important that student reports are well written and free from errors. Throughout the school year, I work on batches of reports for all the year groups at one particular school. I share this task with another proofreader, and wrote about this regular work in a previous blog post. Tight (and immovable) deadlines are the norm, but we both really enjoy working for this client.
The Commercial Client
Source of work: SfEP directory; Colleague referrals
From greetings cards and novelty game instructions to product packaging of various types, this category encompasses a whole range of different material. In many cases there is only a small amount of text, but accuracy is of the utmost importance. The jobs I’ve done for these clients have mostly been small, one-off pieces of work, including some for high-street names.
I suspect that many of us who have been editing and proofreading for a number of years (or even decades!) will have worked for a range of different clients. Of course, the list above is not exhaustive, but I hope it offers an insight into the range of clients who need the services of editors and proofreaders.