When someone asks me this question: “What do you do for a living?”, it’s usually followed with the words “I work in publishing, and I look for spelling mistakes for a living”. A lot of people immediately will think “typo Nazi” or “book worm”. However, for me, it’s my career.

For as long as I could remember, I have always enjoyed reading books. I just seemed to be drawn to anything written, whether it be a fictional book, an encyclopedia (pre-Google days), or a magazine. Yes, I loved playing as a kid, but what really intrigued me and which I found even better than playing outside was sitting down and getting tucked into a good storybook.

I loved how the stories would come alive in my mind and I would be transported to faraway places that I’ve never seen with my own eyes. The books always managed to give good descriptions of these worlds, whether real or imagined, and I loved escaping to them when I got a chance.

The older I got, the more books I read, and I thought to myself, it would be great to write my own book one day or work with books somehow… That is how I stumbled into the world of publishing and editing. I didn’t even know they offered it as a degree until I was in tertiary. This was where I became introduced to the world of books and the ‘science’ that goes into bringing someone’s thoughts into a hard copybook.

I have been working in the book publishing industry for over 10 years now and there is never a dull moment. The best part I enjoy about editing someone’s work is not only looking for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes (among other things) but I get to read other people’s thoughts. lol.

What also warms my heart in editing someone’s work for them, is knowing that I played a part in helping them to tell their story in a clear way with no distractions because of spelling errors.

When it comes to editing, I believe practice makes perfect. Anyone can become a good editor if they are willing to take the time to practice, through reading different types of books and doing editing here and there. The more you edit, the more your editing skill improves.

Being detailed and meticulous is also a good trait to have; you need to be able to spot a mistake that others wouldn’t easily spot. An editor is also someone who has a passion for words and doesn’t mind reading through pages and pages of words. Attending a few courses on learning the grammar rules and how sentences are constructed is definitely a plus, and will help to distinguish you from others.

So, if you are someone who gets excited over books and your heart is smiling while reading this; then perhaps editing or book publishing is the path you should consider.

Article by: Nangamso Phakathi