17 August 2012

30 before 30 #4: ISMTE conference

It's strange to think how growing up, people just have no idea of the most of the job titles that exist out in the world once the basic possibilities of teacher, doctor, policeman, etc. are exhausted. I never had aspirations to be a managing editor, because though I did some similar work for a professor when I was in college, I had no idea this was a real job or a way to make a full-time salary, with benefits to boot! And most still have no idea about this one - usually when people ask what I do, I just say I'm an editor, since it can be a little confusing and drawn out to have to explain what my actual title means,* especially for people who aren't familiar with peer reviewed/academic journals.

conference session | informational posters
back in DC | conference hotel

Finally I found my own community though! And crossed off an item on my 30 before 30 list for the first time:  attend a conference to develop my job skills. This week I went to a conference run by the International Society for Managing and Technical Editors in Washington DC. Usually when I travel for work, I'm attending board meetings or conferences for the academic societies that put out the journals I manage, so I spend my time going to meetings to discuss journal performance or plans. This time, I actually got to attend conference sessions, learn things that develop my professional skills, and be with people who share my expertise, rather than with a bunch of professors who are experts in things (e.g. international business) I know not much about.

I came back with new knowledge of best practices, ideas for the social media we use to promote the journals and connect with our authors/readers, and even better, an excitement about my work as a career, rather than just a job. Because even though I now know it's a job from which a person can make a living (and that I really enjoy doing), I've not thought about it as a career. Now I realize that there are people who do grow and make a career of it, and that I can develop further, that there are even bigger journals I could aspire to (such as I met one of the managing editors for the New England Journal of Medicine... they are big time and get about a zillion submissions per year). And it was so validating to realize I have important expertise and skills to offer to and improve my journals, even though I don't have a PhD on the subject matter.

It was also great to meet a range of people who manage other journals - including people close to my age (I've never worked with people close to my age; many of the professors I work with are in fact twice my age). Even before I worked from home, my job was quite solitary, as I'm the only one in charge of running my journals. So to find my own community and talk to people who understand my work and share similar enjoyments and frustrations with it was so great. (Oh, and as for what I wore to finally meet other managing editors: of course my striped dress, proving again that it's perfect for every occasion; also, after the positive comments on my new free glasses, I brought them along - handy for seeing Powerpoint presentations better, and looking smart!)
Managing editor wear: Land's End Canvas dress & JCrew necklace | Loft cardigan & blouse and Firmoo glasses

How about you - how did you happen upon what you do? Do you see it as a job or as a career? And how are you developing your own professional skills?

*What it means: I do edit accepted papers and other things like newsletters and promotional materials, but much of my job is the managing part - I manage, from article submission to publication, two academic journals to which international business/marketing professors submit research papers; the articles get sent to other professors for review, and an Editor-in-Chief (another professor) decides what gets accepted for publication and what gets rejected. So my job is to coordinate the whole peer review and publication process, from checking over submitted articles; to pestering reviewers and editors to complete their tasks on time; to working with the publisher on finalizing article formatting and details, filling issues, and signing off on final proofs before publication; to answering lots and lots of emails, acting as the central communication point for authors, reviewers, editors, publisher, and academic society that owns the journal. And a bunch of other stuff involved in publishing a journal, but that's the basic gist.

See why it's easier to just say I'm an editor and let people assume I just copy edit books with a red pen all day? (Though I do do some of that, on a freelance basis...)


  1. Anne, I work with journal submissions too. My job is in a lab at a medical school, and I manage all of the journal submissions for the students/professors/collaborators. I also do all of the art and design for the scientific figures. I often write/call the editors at major journals (I'm assuming people in your position!) for information on formatting, file types, etc. (We tend to submit to Science, PNAS, PLoS, etc.) It's interesting to know your side of things!

  2. What an awesome thing to be able to check off of your list! I hope I'm as successful at finding a career that fits me. I'm in the process of looking right now, and it's difficult because I still don't know exactly what I'm looking for. I know I'll find it eventually though. Anyway, I'm glad you found something you love and that you find a community of others who love it too! (By the way, I see that the dress made it's appearance at the conference! Love it!)

  3. I just love your looks!
    And I am intrigued by what you do since I have such an art brain. So fascinating:)

  4. I happened upon what I do in a very round-about way. I have always loved writing but never took myself seriously. Writing is so therapeutic for me, though. There is no way I can't do it now. I definitely see it as a career, but I can totally relate to you - people don't always believe me when I saw I am a freelance writer. They're like, "but what do you DO?"

    The question as to how I'm developing my professional skills - that is SUCH a good one! I totally want to go to blogshop, and invest in some consulting to grow my brand/blog, but I should probably consider some writing conferences or classes. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. i really enjoyed hearing more about what you do so thanks for taking the time to share! i find it really interesting to learn about other people's professions and how they got into them. it's great that you have opportunities to network with others in your field and enhance your skills. i'm a social worker and am able to attend continuing education presentations for my licensure that are also great opportunities to learn about situations that we encounter regularly in our field and how to best work within our competency and training. it's also helpful to network/vent with other social workers during these trainings. :)

  6. Hi Anne, I'm a newer visitor to your blog and I really enjoyed reading about what you do. As a graduate assistant a few years ago, I worked as an editorial assistant for an academic journal. Recently, I've been interested in getting into the industry, but I'm not sure where to start. Do you have any tips about how to get into freelance editing/proofreading, or finding jobs with an academic journal?