What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
That’s a fun question to answer. I studied English literature in college and I still like to read the classics, because there are so many of them! I recently read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, quickly followed by Light in August by William Faulkner. That was amazing because both stories are set in similar places and situations, and each has a magical quality, but the perspectives are so different. I also have two daughters, each of whom has influenced my reading taste. My 16-year-old likes a lot of the young adult fiction that’s popular now, so I check it out sometimes. I devoured the Hunger Games books. I was completely hooked. Then my 10-year-old recently got interested in the Percy Jackson series about a boy who is half-god, half-human. I enjoyed those books so much more than I thought I would too! I love the way the author writes about Greek gods in the voice of a 12-year-old boy in 21st century New York.
Could you briefly tell us a little bit about your previous experience doing professional editing?
Sure. I ended up getting my undergraduate degree in Journalism, mostly because I had so many course credits for the work I did at the college newspaper, editing stories about the arts. So, I guess I started editing in college. I loved it because I love collaborating with people to make something better. It was also a challenge, because writing about art isn’t always easy, because lots of artists aren’t particularly verbal about what they do. So, together with the other student writers, we had to figure out how to interview people about their passions and draw them out, even if language isn’t their main mode of expression.
My next editing job was completely different, yet similar in some ways. I worked for a big research organization called WestEd where professional researchers write about education and teaching. The researchers wrote drafts of their work and my job was to help them make sure that anyone—from a policy maker to an educator or even a parent—could understand what they were saying. So while the content was completely different from the college paper, the idea of working with people to make sure their ideas come across as clearly as possible was the same.
I worked as an editor again, years later, at a magazine in Berkeley called The East Bay Monthly. With another editor, we worked with writers who wrote about a whole range of news and other subjects. Looking back, that was some of the most fun I have had at a job. I loved working with the writers, who were all very passionate about their writing and really worked hard to make sure that their unique voice came through in the articles.
Could you also talk about your academic qualifications?
In addition to my BA in Journalism from U.C. Santa Cruz, I have a Master’s in Journalism from U.C. Berkeley. What does that mean? Well, it may not be true for everyone who studies writing in an academic setting, but for me it means that I’ve spent thousands of hours writing, editing other student-writers’ work, and talking about what makes for good writing in a seminar setting.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the editing industry?
Writing is hard and mysterious. It’s not easy to figure out what we want to say and it’s even less easy to figure out how to say it. I guess my favorite thing about editing is that there are certain basic things that are always helpful, whether it’s a newspaper, paper magazine, or website: Ask yourself, who are you writing for? What would you say to them, if they were standing right in front of you? And finally, what can you add to what you already know that will really make the piece you are writing unique?
What do you like most about editing Hubs, specifically?
Ok, this is my favorite question. I like editing Hubs because this publishing format is just fascinating. It’s like a puzzle that’s moving around while you’re putting it together. The audience is the world and there is a constant flow of information about what the audience thinks, wants to know, and doesn’t like. As an editor in this format, I have access to more data about what readers are looking for and which content they are really satisfied with, and which they aren’t. All of this is entirely new. When I am editing a Hub, I think about what types of queries the Hub can answer and how to best position the Hub to come up at the top of a search. I really like figuring out what the unique values are of the Hubs I edit: What makes them special? Then, the fun is figuring out how to highlight the strengths and even add to them.
Could you tell us a little bit about your personal process for working on Hubs?
I read through the Hubs before I “unlock” them and put them into edit mode. One of my goals is to keep the Hubs locked for a little time as possible. I can assess whether custom illustrations or photographs would strengthen the Hubs value without locking it, so that is one of the first things I do. After I have assigned custom art, I assess whether any other graphical elements will help with the Hub’s presentation. Could it use a table or chart? Are there quotes that could be used in a Callout Capsule? These are quick changes that can improve reader experience right off the bat. If I think that new information needs to be added, I send an email at this point to the Hubber to let him or her know I am considering this and to get his/her input. Then I open the Hub and begin editing, creating any tables I think are necessary and moving capsules around if needed. I do this “bigger picture” edit first, looking at the order that information is presented and fixing any capsules with broken links. After this is done, I go through and do a close edit. If I have the green light from the Hubber to add content, I do the research and add information that will make the Hub more complete and competitive. I go through again twice, closely checking for typos and anything that isn’t clear.
Is there anything you’d like Hubbers to know about you?
I have recently taken a class about how to tap into dreams to boost creativity. I’m not really a “class” person (the last class I took before this one was pre-natal yoga, and my daughter is now 10), but this class has really jump-started my creative writing. If you’ve ever felt stuck with your writing, or feel as if you have no good ideas, consider how free and uninhibited your brain is when you’re asleep. You’re making up stories (ok, maybe weird ones!) all night long! Writing down my dreams has been super inspiring and fun for me, as a creative writer.