I am a custom publishing editor for a travel industry newspaper. When I tell people that, they usually nod and throw in an I’m-trying-to-be-interested-but-don’t-know-what-that-means “Oh!” Basically, our sales team contracts with the Travel Bureaus and Convention and Visitors Bureaus in cities and countries around the world, and my team and I work with them to create publications about those destinations that are then distributed to our readers.
Tell us about an average day in editorial world.
Most of the day-to-day excitement of this job comes from interacting with my coworkers (everyone in my office is in their 20s). I do a lot of online research of reputable websites (i.e. official ones, although for non-work-related information I’m a google, wikipedia and imdb JUNKIE). I exchange the occasional email with a correspondent or freelancer, and edit any stories that come in. Sometimes I have a conference call to talk with our clients and hammer out the vision for their publication. I often proofread and edit our publications during the client approval process. On a daily basis, I work with a project manager and a graphic designer. I also help out our newspaper’s marketing team (we share an office) by proofreading surveys and coming up with brilliant copy for publisher’s letters, conferences, awards shows, and other marketing materials. Apparently, I’m adept at taking up the mantle of a middle-aged man through the written word.
Did you go to school for this? Or get any special training?
Sort of. I got the generic English degree, because reading/writing has been my shtick since I was little. Of course, now I don’t illustrate my own stories, mainly because the stories I write for work don’t feature pioneer families in multilevel wooden houses riddled with secret passageways like they did when I was 8. As far as special training goes, I’ve had some stellar on-the-job mentors who clued me in to how newspapers and magazines really work. I’ve also actually just started taking a couple graduate-level classes through the University of North Carolina, specifically geared toward writing and editing. On a separate note, my personal travel experience helped me get this particular job, although I wouldn’t say that traveling is a big part of what I do.
How did you get into this line of work?
It all started in a small apartment (that was probably really nice when it was built in 1974) on an old computer (that ran really fast when it was bought in the year 2000), where a passionate yet skeptical recent college grad (me) searched job websites for anything relating to writing and editing. I found a listing for an entry-level editing position at the local paper, applied, went through a terrifying process of interviews and proofreading tests, and got the job as Celebrations Editor (read: weddings, births and anniversaries, although I had more than one request to post a divorce announcement in the weekly celebrations section). Then, through sheer awesomeness (the sorry state of newspapers had nothing to do with it), I quickly rose in the ranks and serendipitously became involved with the ground-up launch of two magazines on a team of highly experienced, fantastic individuals. Invaluable experience.
Are there any drawbacks to working in writing?
Simply, yes. Although writing is ultimately a creative function, it’s hard to convey the creative process to non-writers and non-editors. It’s also difficult when I have to write about a subject I don’t know much about. But then, that’s also the fun of it–getting myself to the point at which I actually do know something. On the editing front, it’s difficult to be able to read the same text through several different finely tuned lenses–copy editing, content editing, proofreading–with limited resources. I currently work on a very small team, whereas before I worked with a much larger one with multiple editors. Also on the drawbacks list: Burnout.
What are the highlights?
I’ve gotten to travel to interesting places for the job I have now (mostly to New Jersey. I know, very exotic). But there’s always the possibility of more travel to cool destinations. With writing for publication, I’m always meeting new and interesting people. When I wrote announcements for the local paper, I actually wrote announcements for a fairly famous online entrepreneur as well as an NBA star. Once, the paper’s Washington Bureau Chief stopped by to visit me when she was in town because of an admiring email I sent her. Now, it’s not uncommon for me to exchange emails or conference calls with someone in London or Paris or South America, not to mention various places around the U.S. And when I first started getting paid to write, I would drive around town wondering how many people that I encountered had read something I had written: a fascinating and empowering but also terrifying thing to do, particularly as a novice writer. Now my stuff is distributed across the country (though to a select group of travel professionals). Seeing my name in print is always a bit of a thrill.
Are there any misconceptions about working at a magazine?
Unfortunately, it’s almost never as glamorous as one might think (unless, I assume, you’re a writer or an editor for a fashion magazine).
What suggestions would you give to people interested in getting into this?
I’ll say what that Bureau Chief (who, incidentally, also started her career writing wedding announcements in a small town) told me: Don’t stop writing. Keep doing it, always trying to improve your craft, and you’ll go places. Other than perhaps the hope/dream of writing a book one day or writing for a big-time magazine, it takes far more grit than luck to have a successful writing career. Also, carry around a Moleskine notebook. It’s imperative to jot down thoughts as you have them, because the more you write down your thoughts, the more thoughts you’ll have worth writing down. Plus you’ll look cool and feel a little like Hemingway. Oh, and one other thing: Know the rules–thoroughly–before you break them. That way you’ll always write with purpose, and can defend your creative choices intelligently
I know there are heaps of wanna be editors out there! Ask Erin some questions!
Some things that are impossible:
Eating just one spoonful of Hagen Das coffee-flavored ice cream
Turning off the TV in the middle of The Office
Finding an outfit that is simultaneously fashionable, flattering and comfortable
But wait, dear friends! Though I will never be capable of pushing the power button mid Jim/Dwight squabble, I think there might just be hope for numero three. Really! We can have have our cake and eat it, too! Or perhaps, more accurately, have our cake and still fit into our clubbing clothes.I completely support fashion´s current infatuation with ruching. And knit wear. And the balloon hem. Because all of these gorgeous tactics make for lovely clothes! And possibly more importantly, comfortable clothes. Because I am all over being fashionable. But I am also all over eating a one pound burrito for lunch. And I don´t think those two things have to be mutually exclusive!I´ve dubbed this ruched, ballooned, knit wear fashion Schmoopy Style. Because you might feel a little bit like you´re wearing your sweats, but you still look like a million bucks. The ground rules of Schmoopy Style are
- At least one piece of your outfit is non-binding, allowing for much cupcake eating, running through streets or rolling down hills.
- Said outfit could possibly be washed in the washing machine (!)
- There is little fear of panty lines or bra-band bulges
So! What does Schmoopy Style look like? Let´s see it in action!
Schmoopy WorkLook at that fantastically cosy sweater! Perfect for cuddling on the couch, watching 30 Rock. But if you pair it with a sexy pencil skirt and these leprocaun-worthy shoes you won´t be getting any stern talkings-to about dress code. So go ahead! Help yourself to that birthday cake someone left in the lunch room!
This dress is ridiculously forgiving. If you´ve got a great pair, you could maybe even go braless! And forget about that painful thong you usually have to pull out for club nights. You can go ahead and wear your comfy cotten day-of-the-week panties under this number. And when you´re dining out with your girls before you hit the clubs you needn´t limit yourself to tapas. Order the lasagna, dude.
Would you ever consider going the way of Schmoopy Style? Or are you already there?
Seriously, look closer at any photo of a stunning French woman, and you’ll see she’s wearing her Michigan State sweats and an old t-shirt from the Hanes 3-pack. It’s both empowering and terrifying to realize it, but the only difference between you and a stylish French woman is that she has a gorgeous scarf around her neck.
Scarves and hats are very similar in that they take very little effort—extend arm, grab scarf and/or hat, and put it on— but have the power to upgrade or transform a whole look. No matter your hurry or mood, there’s no excuse to not throw on a pretty scarf
To make things even easier, there is really no such thing as a bad scarf, so the details here are up to you. Wide scarves, skinny scarves, warm scarves, printed scarves, solid scarves, sequined scarves, cheap scarves, expensive scarves—I love and own them all. You could make one designer silk scarf your signature look or could wear a different scarf every day. Either way, you’ll look amazing. Here are a few of my current favorite scarf finds.
Tie any of these gorgeous options, or an old scarf of your own, around your neck nonchalantly, practice saying “Oui, oui!” and just try to walk to the corner store without getting mobbed by street style photographers. They won’t even notice that stain on your Michigan State sweats.
Are you a scarf fanatic? And, more importantly, when you wear them – do people think you’re French?