You’ve lived in a number of places. Which was your favorite and why?
I’ve lived in Washington, DC, Stockholm, Sweden, Concord, NH, a small town in northern Germany, and San Francisco. There are things I love about all of those places, but I live in San Francisco now, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I love the culture here the most. Out of all the places I’ve lived, San Francisco is the most accepting of weirdness. In fact, it even celebrates it! In San Francisco I feel like I can be myself without ever worrying what anyone else thinks.
Could you briefly tell us a little bit about your previous experience doing professional editing?
Most of my professional editing experience has been in academia. In grad school and in undergrad I worked as an essay tutor helping students plan and revise their research papers. I loved that job because I got the opportunity to work with each student closely and experience first-hand how their confidence in their writing grew and improved over time. As a freelance editor, I’ve also edited short stories, poetry, cover letters, resumes, and even an application to a PhD program in Electrical Engineering (I’m happy to report that my client was accepted to her program).
Could you also talk about your academic qualifications?
Sure. I have a BA and MA in English from Stanford University. I minored in Ethnic Studies (at Stanford it’s called Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity). I’ve always been interested in literature and pop culture’s effect on society, and vice versa. Though there are many traditional works of literature in the Western Canon that I love, I’ve had the most fun applying critical theory to works that seem less academic at first, like comic books, and applying feminist and race theory to all literature.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the editing industry?
I get a strong feeling of satisfaction from taking a piece of writing and trying to make it the best it can be. This is connected to the fact that I’ve always been a writer and avid reader, and so having a job in which I can employ those skills makes me feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be. When I edit, I sometimes like to think of myself as a writing fairy godmother. We all know that Cinderella had the beauty within her the whole time, but her fairy godmother helped her bring all that beauty to the surface and show it off to the folks at the ball. That’s what I do: I find the message in a piece of writing and I bring it to the surface.
What do you like most about editing Hubs, specifically?
I love the huge variety in subject matter at HubPages. Since I started working here, I’ve learned how to fix an Xbox, how to make all sorts of Halloween costumes, how to hypnotize somebody, and, at least in theory, how to exorcise a ghost. I know a lot about language and writing, but I’m completely ignorant about most of the crazy, fascinating topics addressed on HubPages. My favorite Hubs are humor pieces that deal in satire, but I find myself unintentionally learning from everything I edit.
Could you tell us a little bit about your personal process for working on Hubs?
First I read over the whole Hub and decide if it could use any additional photos or illustrations, since we like to commission these from our artists early on in the process. I then ask myself, “What question is this Hub trying to answer?” Some Hubs have a very clear message all the way through, but in others the essential information can be harder to find, and so I sometimes reorganize the structure of the article to make the most important information stand out.
This usually involves breaking up long paragraphs and text capsules, organizing instructions into lists with proper titles, and adding subtitles to grab the eye of the reader. I also look at the search engine stats for the article and make sure it’s got the main keywords featured prominently without sounding awkward. Throughout the process, I check the text for spelling, grammar, and general word flow. My final decisions usually involve me adding interactive elements such as a chart or poll, but that depends on the article.
Is there anything you’d like Hubbers to know about you?
If you’re anything like me, your writing isn’t just a creative project: it can feel like part of your soul. If I’m editing your piece, I want you to know that I respect you as an author, that I will treasure your unique voice, and that I am super stoked to learn everything you can teach me.
If you’d like to bribe me, send fish to the HubPages office c/o The Sea Goddess. I prefer herring, but mackerel and sardines will also suffice.
3 replies on “HubPro Editor: Meet Helena Bonde”
Great introduction to the staff at Hubpages. I could use editing!
Interesting post. Please have a look at my articles related to English Literature. What to do you think about them keeping in view quality and the subject matter?
First of all, you wouldn’t happen to have a brother named James?lol, just kidding, but I highly respect your line of work and what you have accomplished in life. I know by writing the Hubs I have written that it is not an easy subject matter – as a writter – to accomplish as much as you have. Just thought I’d take this opportunity to give credit where it’s due. Thank you for your work!