I’ve worked in book publishing for over thirty years, in both fiction and non-fiction. Publishing is a volatile industry, with frequent mergers, start-ups and closures, so I have alternated between in-house jobs as a copy-editor, development editor, desk editor, production editor, project manager or managing editor, and periods of being partly or wholly freelance. That has given me experience of all types of text and stages of editing: I have a development editor’s concern with content and structure, a copy-editor’s accuracy in the use of language, and a proofreader’s eye for consistency and detail –and I can combine the tasks or separate them.
Whatever the subject matter, though, or stage of editing, I think there is a common thread in all editorial work, which is the approach a good editor takes, and the real difference a good editor can make.
Watchword (n) : a word or phrase that expresses a person or group’s core aim or belief.
For me, one of the most important aspects of editorial work is the relationship between editor and author, and my starting point for editing or copy-editing is to ensure I have a thorough understanding of what an author wants to say. My goal is that all the work I do should enhance, organise, clarify and perfect an author’s words and thoughts before they are exposed to a critical public eye. Watching an author’s words is important; but staying true to their watchword is vital.
Freelance editor and typesetter
Since 2002 I have been wholly or partly freelance, editing texts as diverse as travel guides, crime fiction, women’s fiction, literary fiction, textbooks, tax guides and financial magazines, manuals for working, living and buying property abroad, books on Shakespeare, Norse mythology, film locations, medieval religion, oil corruption in Nigeria, home brewing, and young adult novels for poor readers.
Clients include or have included: Myriad Editions, Sphere (Little, Brown), Constable Robinson, Hart Publishing, Cadogan Guides, Navigator Guides, National Trust, AA Publishing, Dorling Kindersley, New Holland Publishers, National Archives, Barrington Stoke, Anthem Press (A&C Black), Turnaround Books and I.B. Tauris.
Production editor, Yale University Press
I currently work part-time at Yale University Press as production editor on their Pevsner Architectural Guides series, organising the workflow of the editorial, typesetting and proofing stages of the books, inputting corrections and checking page proofs, and laying out the colour insets and jackets. I also keep up the Pevsner Facebook page.
Production editor, CISI
This part-time job at the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, a City professional and examining body, involved the project management of adult education manuals relating to the financial services and investment industry, taking titles through an annual update-to-syllabus and peer-review process: copy-editing, layout in InDesign, proofreading and final production. Also copy-editing and proofing of various e-learning pages, website and marketing copy, a membership magazine and company documents.
Editor / managing editor, Cadogan Guides
As editor, this job involved project management on the well-respected travel guides series including: editing, copy-editing, map editing, commissioning illustrators, photographers, cartographers, designers, freelance editors, proofreaders and indexers, page layout to final PDF, and writing AIs, jacket copy and promotional copy.
As managing editor, I did all the above plus hiring and training editors, preparing department work schedules, maintaining a freelance pool, budget creation and financial reporting, overseeing two changes of design, quality control, dispute resolution, commissioning authors and updaters, and budgeting a list of up to 44 titles annually.
I went freelance in 2002 but continued to work on the list regularly until 2007, when it was sold to New Holland Publishers, at which point I was employed by them for 18 months as list consultant.
Copy-editor / managing desk editor, Mills & Boon Harlequin
This involved the line-editing and copy-editing of 22 women’s fiction titles (historical fiction, medical romance, modern romance) per month; then, as managing desk editor, hiring and training staff, writing and editing a quarterly newsletter, preparing and maintaining production schedules, giving national talks on romance-writing, and running in-house grammar seminars for commissioning editors and marketing staff.
Volunteer, Spare Rib magazine
Sub-editing, writing, reviewing, proofreading, paste-up and layout – and a good deal of packaging up, label-writing, trips to the printers and general sorting out. Great experience: these days it would be called an internship!
The people below – some of them editors who have employed or worked with me, some of them authors, whose experience I value just as highly – have been kind enough to offer their words as a recommendation of my work.
For examples of my layout (rather than editorial) work, click here.
“I have worked with Linda McQueen in various roles over many years, and it has always been a pleasure. She is a highly skilled and meticulous copy-editor and proofreader with remarkable eye for detail, delivers on schedule, and is approachable and professional to work with. I recommend her unreservedly.”
Kate Paice (Commissioning Editor, A&C Black; Editorial Manager, Barrington Stoke)
“Authors have been enthralled and grateful for the forensic suggestions Linda has brought to their manuscripts. She supports the work of an editor and takes it one step further, delivering a copy-edited manuscript that produces the very best book it can be. Her attention to detail, wide-ranging knowledge and careful and considerate handling of an author’s work and sensibilities are flawless. She is a safe pair of hands and so much more besides. She brings skill, intelligence and dedication as well as years of experience to every manuscript and inspires the confidence of authors and editors alike.”
Candida Lacey (Publisher and Managing Director, Myriad Editions)
“I had the great pleasure of working with Linda over a number of years. Not only is she a sensitive, dedicated and meticulous editor with a wonderful eye for detail and a deep understanding of language and structure, she is also extremely well read and has a highly intelligent approach to the balance of content. Most importantly, though, she inspires the authors with whom she works with great confidence, quickly gaining their trust and always helping them to create and develop better books. Linda has the rare gift of being able to combine huge editorial expertise with technical know-how, strong layout skills and a good eye for design. Anyone would be incredibly lucky to work with her.”
Rachel Fielding (formerly co-founder and Publishing Director, Cadogan Guides)
“Well! I’ve never found myself giggling while checking a copy-edit before… But I am in complete awe of Linda’s ability to keep the ducks in a row with such military precision.”
Alex Marwood (Author, fiction)
“Linda is one of the best editors I have ever worked with, unusually combining thorough and sensitive editing with immaculate layout skills as well as never once (over many years) missing a deadline. One of my authors once reported, after being guided by her through a big project, that she had managed to produce with them the book they’d believed they had written in the first place, and had imagined, and intended to write, but now realised they hadn’t, before having her invaluable help.”
Rupert Wheeler (Publisher, Navigator Guides)
“Linda is a meticulous and knowledgeable editor. She forms strong relationships with her authors, who trust her judgement and listen to her advice. Deep editorial experience is a valuable commodity and Linda has it in spades.”
Alastair Rolfe (then Publisher, Cadogan Guides)
“Linda is a first-rate editor whom I can unreservedly recommend. She has worked on a very wide spectrum of publishing projects and always demonstrates complete reliability, accuracy, timeliness and attention to detail. She is also excellent in managing relationships across organisations, with authors and with a wide range of stakeholders.”
Mark Anderson (Managing Director, Pearson UK)
“Over the years I have worked with many editors, and none was as expert, intelligent, conscientious, reliable, dedicated or sharp-eyed as Linda, both in content editing and proofreading. She is widely read and knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects, very professional and experienced in all aspects of publishing, and a delight to work with. She is a rare gem, and I can't recommend her highly enough.”
Dana Facaros (Author, Cadogan Guides)
“It’s difficult to describe how it is to work with Linda without resorting to cheesy superlatives. All I can say is, she misses NOTHING. But, more than that, her ability to tune in to an author’s intention, question inconsistencies and even spot a missed opportunity is invaluable in assisting an author to raise their game. I write this testimonial with a growing sense of dread that Linda might not be available the next time I need her!”
Martine McDonagh (Author, fiction)
And a blogpost about copy-editing from bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes: click here!