I fell in love with books before I could read them for myself. I have vivid memories of visiting the local library on a regular basis and of my mom telling me I could only check out as many books as I thought I could finish reading by their due date. She taught me not to hoard books if I realistically could not finish them in the two week loaner period. If I had them and didn’t read them, it meant I was keeping other kids from being able to read them. My mom read every single book to me that I checked out. You see, my mom is the sole reason I love books as much as I do. And because of the time she poured into me and my love for books, I have been able to turn my dream of becoming a book editor into a decade’s long career.
Back in the early 90s, “Hooked on Phonics” was extremely popular. My mom worked with me around the clock. She helped me sound out words and read sentences. My kindergarten teacher believed in the value of teaching her students to read early, so my reading skills advanced in kindergarten when most other students didn’t learn to read until first grade. To this day, I still remember Chika Chika Boom Boom—it was the first book I learned to read on my own.
Toward the middle of elementary school, I advanced to The American Girlseries. I read to myself before bed simply because I had to find out what would happen next!
Judy Bloom introduced me to Margaret in Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret in middle school. I also devoured The Babysitters Club series. And by the time I entered high school, I knew I wanted to be a book editor when I grew up. Having to do loads of extra credit to get a passing grade in my math classes only further solidified that the literary path was for me.
In my junior year of high school, my English teacher selected me to be her teacher’s assistant. I helped her grade vocabulary tests and spent a decent amount of time picking her brain about the books we read for class.
While most students went into freshman year of college undecided about their major, I had already declared mine—English Literature. The worlds created by Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, and Emily Bronte were ahead of me. I was beyond excited to dive in. I could’ve pinched myself on multiple occasions—not hardly believing that I had the college life I’d always dreamed about. While others studied mathematic equations and measured formulas in science labs, I read all the great works of literature from every important writing era.
It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I first learned about self-publishing. In 2007, publishing your own book was basically unheard of, but I felt pulled in that direction more than traditional publishing. I wanted to help first-time writers untangle the confusing world of publishing and share their messages with the world. Again, I was young and naïve, but I had passion and determination.
I spent the first nine months after college graduation working two jobs. I was a barista at a coffee shop in my hometown and I was also a hostess at Seasons 52 in Orlando. One of my regulars at the coffee shop mentioned she worked for a self-publishing company; they were looking to hire a new typesetter to do book interior layouts. She could help me get my foot in the door.
I bombed the first interview. I wasn’t prepared to take a typesetting test; I didn’t even know a design program called InDesign existed before that day. I royally failed the test. I couldn’t even figure out how to add text to the page. Miracle of all miracles, I was called back for a second interview and I quickly self-taught myself enough about InDesign to get through the typesetting test the second time.
A Rapid Climb
I started my career in self-publishing as a typesetter at the age of 22. A year and a half into my job as a typesetter, I receive a promotion and became the company’s copywriter/editorial coordinator. Eleven months later, the company created an editorial manager position and asked me to fill the role.
I built the editorial department from the ground up at 25 years old. I learned about profit margins, editorial contracts, hiring freelance editors, studying the market to figure out types of services our authors needed most, sales and refunds, and more. I worked around the clock to glean as much information I possibly could. I edited manuscripts. I completed manuscript reviews. I hired a staff of in-house editors and oversaw a freelance team of editors and ghostwriters. As a whole, the editorial department completed more than 150 edits a month, ranging from basic edits to full ghostwrites. In just under five years of running the department, I grew the editorial revenue from $144,000 a year to over $1 million.
When I turned 30, I decided I could no longer ignore the voice in my head that said I needed to move out of Florida. I was tired and I wanted to forage a new path for myself. I also wanted to be closer to the Blue Ridge Mountains—my home away from home. So, I accepted a managing editor position with a company in Chattanooga, TN, and simultaneously launched my freelance writing and editing business.
Fast-Forward to 2019
For just over two years now, I have worked 40 hours a week in an office as a managing editor. I oversee the editorial and print production of magazines and also manage digital projects for my clients. On top of that, I edit twelve to fifteen manuscripts a year on contract. This year to date, I have edited eight manuscripts, 24 of my articles have been published, and I’ve completed seven author coaching sessions with clients.
To this day, I absolutely love what I do. I edit manuscripts written by amazing and talented people. I develop long-lasting relationships with writers, and I help them stay the course when self-doubt creeps in. My career is one built on passion, hard work, and my expertise.