"...Online Newsletter from the Pittsburg State University College of Arts and Sciences"

Theresa Duran: Editing your future


"I heard 'A liberal arts education trains you for nothing but prepares you for everything' just the other day on the radio and groaned at the memory of being an English major with no clear plans for the future," says Theresa Duran.

When Duran left Pittsburg State University in 1992 with a master's degree, her only definite goal was to continue my graduate studies at KU.

"I may have entertained the vague notion of someday landing a teaching position at a university," she says, "but the thought of getting a job in the publishing industry certainly never crossed my mind."

But that's where she ended up only a few years later, as an editor at a publishing house in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today she works as a freelance editor, doing copyediting, indexing, and proofreading for a diverse and growing clientele.

Duran did achieve her goal of getting a PhD from KU, though she had to finish her dissertation long-distance from California, where she had moved the day after getting married in June 1995.

"I did apply for a few teaching positions at Bay Area colleges and private high schools (which don't require state certification), and took advantage of the local publishing scene by applying for editorial positions," says Duran. "I knew absolutely nothing about book production, but I figured (rather naively) that since I was good at English grammar and mechanics, and had lots of experience grading papers, I could wing it as an editor."

As luck would have it, Duran got hired by Pomegranate, a small but reputable publishing company that specializes in fine art books and calendars. Pomegranate turned out to be the perfect place to learn the ropes of publishing.

"I soon discovered that my job would include not only copyediting and proofreading but just about any task necessary to get a publication out the door-researching, writing, working with authors, hiring freelancers, resolving copyright issues, collaborating with graphic designers on typesetting and layout, producing company catalogs, and even lending a hand in the warehouse."

After six years at Pomegranate, fed up with rising gas prices and the stressful freeway commute, Duran decided to launch her own editorial business in the comfort of home.

"My clients have included museums, university professors, curricula developers, self-publishing authors, and well-known trade and scholarly presses," she says. "I continue to do a lot of work for my former employer, Pomegranate, and for some of the contacts I made while working there."

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco was the source of two particularly memorable copyediting projects, one an illustrated encyclopedia of symbols in Chinese art, and the other a catalog for a large traveling exhibition of Ming-dynasty relics. Both jobs involved working with bilingual elements in the text (presented in Chinese characters and pinyin) and with authors who were non-native English speakers.

"Of course I speak no Chinese," laughs Duran, "so communication was sometimes rocky, but it did call to mind my experience working with international students at the PSU Writing Center!"


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