The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) and Editors Queensland (EdsQ) have two newly accredited editors in Cairns. Kate Steyn and Julia Maurus caught up to celebrate passing the editor accreditation exam and discuss what accreditation means for them.
Kate and Julia didn’t even know each other before they went to Brisbane to sit the accreditation exam in May 2018. They met at the exam venue, chatting nervously in the waiting area.
While they have different editing experience (Julia has a background in law and government, whereas Kate has six years’ experience editing scientific reports), they had similar motivations in signing up for the accreditation exam. Each had considered a course-based editing qualification before deciding the accreditation exam was a more straight-forward way to gain recognition for their accumulated editing skills.
‘I was accepted into RMIT’s Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing course out of high school,’ Julia explained, ‘but then I was offered a scholarship to study law, so I developed my editing experience through volunteer work and self-directed learning instead. I’ve always done ad hoc in-house editing, but I had no qualification to show that I was a “real” editor.’
When the Fellowship of Australian Writers appointed Julia as a judge of the Barbara Ramsden Award (a prize that recognises outstanding author–editor partnerships), her co-judge, Christina Ratcliffe AE, encouraged Julia to sit the IPEd accreditation exam.
‘It took me years to get around to it and I’m thrilled that I have achieved my goal. It means so much to me to have a piece of paper and postnominal to prove that I’m a professional editor!’
For Kate, the accreditation pathway avoided investing time and money in another coursework-based qualification (she already holds a Bachelor of Science). It also strengthens her marketability as an in-house and freelance editor. With a young child, she has reduced her full-time editing employment to part-time and is building a freelance business that gives her the flexibility to set her own work hours.
‘I studied for six months for the exam, as well as attending the exam preparation course and webinars. I signed up for the IPEd National Mentoring Program and was guided in my studies by another accredited editor, Josephine Brown.’
Kate and Julia de-briefed after the stress of the exam, endured the agonising wait for the results, and were pleased as punch at their mutual success. They were interested to learn that the 2018 pass rate was 57%, up from 47% in the 2016 exam (IPEd’s first on-screen exam). They wondered whether there are other accredited editors in Far North Queensland, and even whether they could be the most northern-based editors in Australia.
‘I was so excited when I found out I passed the exam,’ Kate recalled.
‘We celebrated, and then I thought, “What now? How will this help me?”’
They are not the only newly accredited editors asking themselves ‘what next?’, but their regional location presents some additional challenges. What’s the best way to find work? How do you fulfil the professional development requirements when everything’s happening in Brisbane? How do you build a network remotely?
So Julia and Kate have started brainstorming and sharing plans. Julia has joined IPEd’s Standing Committee for Professional Development, and Kate is looking at scientific writing courses and expanding her skill set and client base.
‘It is nice to have someone to talk to about editing,’ Kate adds. Who else can you tell about hilarious author bloopers and the cringe-worthy verbosity of a client who was trying too hard to sound erudite? Or share tips on the appropriate level of sensitivity with which author queries must be delivered, depending on the length of the author–editor relationship and whether there are cross-cultural factors involved?
From the sunny winter of the far north, they offer their congratulations to everyone else who passed the exam.
By Julia Maurus (who has shamelessly written this article in the third person)
The original version of this article was published in the August 2018 issue of Offpress, the newsletter of Editors Queensland.