Liz Steele’s motivations for studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT were clear. ‘I’d worked in and been editor of newspapers, and knew there was this whole other publishing world, but I didn’t know how to find my way into it.’
PWE demonstrated to Liz that she was a capable editor, ‘not just a regional journalist editor’. It also helped her find her way into Editors Victoria and understand the publishing-house scene, including where the jobs were and what was different about each publishing house. ‘Through the course I also developed social connections across the industry, because getting work is very much about connections.’
Liz knew she was in the right place when she was challenged by ‘the very fearsome’ editing teacher, Teresa Pitt. ‘I remember when we did our usual copyediting test, I got great marks, but one day she wrote on the bottom, “Too much intervention, Liz. Pull back.” And I’ve never forgotten it.
‘When you first learn to be an editor, you think you have to change everything and you’re not thinking about the author’s intention as much as “How do I fix this and this?” So her comments really stuck with me – think about the style and what’s expected. Ask lots of questions rather than be thinking of all the things you need to do. That note was quite a shock, because I thought I was doing all the right things.’
This testing procedure confirmed for Liz that she was a good editor, and that feedback from Teresa held her in good stead. ‘I knew I was finding my niche.’
While still a student, Liz joined Editors Victoria, started mixing with editors and ended up helping organise the inaugural national editors’ conference, which brought the editing community together for the first time.
Liz is an Accredited Editor, IPEd.
This profile was written and researched by Ann Bolch from A Story To Tell.