What is it like to tech edit for magazines compared to designers?

I started tech editing about eight years ago and I initially started working with designers who were self-publishing on Ravelry. Then after about a year I got a gig working with a magazine and after a few months for a variety of reasons, I moved to another magazine -- Knit Now magazine -- edited by the fabulous Kate Heppell and based here in Manchester. They were a brand new magazine and Kate had mentioned on Twitter that they were going to need a tech editor. I applied for the job, and I went for an interview, and I guess they were happy enough with my work to hire me. So that was how I got started editing for Knit Now magazine. I was with them as their only tech editor for maybe eight or nine months and then we brought on another tech editor. I ended working with them for just shy of two years total.

The reasons I left were mainly that the magazine publishing schedule, at least here in the UK, is very fast paced. Knit Now put out 13 issues a year, which is one every four weeks. When I started we were putting out over 20 patterns every issue and we were initially all accessories which I loved. And then Kate started to introduce more garments, which is great for the magazine, but it's not my area of speciality and I don't love editing garments. It was a tight schedule and I had two young kids at home and it was a little bit too fast paced for me. I did work with a magazine after Knit Now, which was a magazine based in the states, and they only published I think four or five patterns per issue and they put out four issues a year. So the schedule was a lot less frantic and there was just a little bit more time to edit the patterns and there were fewer patterns so I enjoyed that a lot more. 

So magazine work, in general, is a bulk of patterns given to you at once. There's a lot of editing to do and you are making all the corrections. When you work with a designer, in general, you're just pointing out errors to the designer. The designer is making the corrections and sending a corrected proof back to you for you to then recheck and approve. With magazines, there's no back and forth with the designer, so that was hard. Because if I'm making corrections then I am prone to making mistakes and so you really need someone to check your corrections. When we moved to two tech editors, that really helped with that problem because when we got the PDF proofs to check, I could look at the patterns that I didn't tech edit and at least just run through them and the other tech editor could do the same for me.

I think people think that editing for a magazine is like a dream job but for me, it wasn't. I didn't like getting a bulk of work to do and to have to try and fit that into my schedule when I had a very unpredictable schedule. I had kids who would get sick or who would not sleep and it was just too hard to fit a bulk load of work and very tight deadlines into my very chaotic life. Working with book publishers was very similar. The deadlines were a little bit more flexible and longer but you would still get a bulk of patterns, sometimes 20 plus patterns. You were also a lot more involved with the designer and had a lot more back and forth with them which was nice. It still wasn't the right fit for me, but working on books can be a lot of fun, especially if you like that sort of challenge and you like a variety of patterns.

When you're working with designers who are self-publishing, you just get one or sometimes two patterns at a time and I really liked that. I liked that I could pick and choose my work. I liked that I could tell the designer "no, I'm not the best tech editor for this type of pattern" and suggest they contact an editor friend of mine. I liked being able to just work on the patterns that I knew I could do better than anyone. It was also more flexible. I could tell my designers: "I work Tuesdays and Thursdays, so you need to get the patterns to me by Monday night or Wednesday night or you'll have to wait until the next week." And I could see when my schedule was filling up and tell designers they'd have to wait a couple weeks before I could fit them in. So I had a lot of control over my workflow.

So those are all things to consider when you're thinking about the types of jobs you can take as an editor. Do you want a large volume of work at once? Would you prefer to have a slower drip of patterns that you can kind of schedule and control your workflow? How much are you willing to do on any one day? Do you mind tight deadlines? Do you love them? If you specialize in something and you're thinking about taking on bulk work, what if there's something that you're not familiar with? With magazines, you certainly cannot control the patterns you get in so you better be comfortable editing a wide variety. I'm a tech editor who preferred to specialize in a few things rather than everything but others prefer to have a huge variety. It's up to you.