3 Podcasts for the Working Editor

By Alicja Minda

Photo of a woman listening to a podcast about editing.
Photo by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Podcasts can be a great way to stay on top of developments in the editing industry, or even an instrument of life-long learning. If you enjoyed our review of 3 Podcasts for a Lover of Books and Words, here is another portion of podcast recommendations for editors. This time we’re covering a show with business tips for freelance editors, a broad-ranging podcast addressed to editors and writers, and a light, nerdy show about words.

Edit Boost Podcast

If you’re a freelance editor, you probably don’t commute, but you may want to find some other excuse to listen to the Edit Boost Podcast.

The Edit Boost Podcast covers all things related to running an editing business. The host, Dr. Malini Devadas, is an editor of 17 years and a business coach based in Canberra, Australia. She launched the podcast in February 2020 to help other editors grow their businesses. And while she has just taken a break, there are still 65 episodes out there that you can listen to either one by one or by cherry-picking topics of particular interest.

The format is a mix of solo shows, calls from listeners, and talks with guest speakers. Devadas answers questions from freelance editors that live around the world, both those just starting out and those already established. The length of the episodes can vary from 10 to 40 minutes.

Beginning editors will find a wealth of guidance on getting started and landing that first client. The importance of finding your niche is also a recurring theme. As Devadas put it, “you can’t do marketing without a message, and it’s very hard to have a compelling message when you’re saying, ‘I will edit anything for anyone.’” A separate episode is addressed to established editors looking to change their niche.

The show offers plenty of tips on online marketing and making the best of your website and social media. As business owners, editors must get comfortable with being visible—or at least try—and posting regularly on social media is one of the recommended ways to do it. Another important topic is setting rates and learning to ask for the sale, since, according to the host, talking about money is a “massive issue” for many freelance editors.

In fact, Edit Boost quite frequently touches on the psychological and emotional side of running an editing business, recognizing that overcoming self-doubt is as important as managing one’s inbox. Feeling bad about charging people for help, relying on emotions rather than metrics, and being scared of rejection are three of the top five mistakes that the host says freelance editors make when trying to promote their businesses. 

There is much wisdom to be gained from coach Devadas.

The Editing Podcast

The co-hosts of The Editing Podcast set out to offer “regular tips, tools and guidance on writing and editing,” as advertised in the show’s description, and they definitely deliver. Presented by fiction editor Louise Harnby and non-fiction editor Denise Cowle, this podcast focuses mainly on the craft, but it also covers aspects of operating an editing and proofreading business. The show has been running for over two years and is now in its sixth season.

On the podcast’s website, the episodes are helpfully grouped by topic to make it easier for listeners to browse content. There are entire episodes on particular punctuation marks (e.g., “Understanding semi-colons”) and grammar rules (including two parts on zombie rules). Then there are episodes about different types and levels of editing, and those about editing different genres.

Tools for writers and editors is yet another category, with a recent episode devoted to the newest version of the editing software PerfectIt, which now includes The Chicago Manual of Style. (This could serve as a good introduction to an upcoming Editors Canada webinar about The Chicago Manual of Style for PerfectIt.)

The fact that The Editing Podcast is also addressed to writers is a very nice touch, as it helps to build understanding between editors and writers. For example, in one of the episodes Harnby and Cowle talk about “10 things an author needs to tell an editor.” The hosts also make sure to regularly invite authors to be guests. Past conversations have covered such topics as creative writing tips, writing screenplays and novels, and story creation and revision.

For me, one of the more intriguing episodes dealt with editing “unearned writing.” As guest speaker, writer and editor Tim Storm, explained, editing unearned writing is about ensuring plausibility, consistency, and logic. In fiction that pertains to story events and character reactions, and in non-fiction, to ideas and arguments.

Versatility is definitely one of the best things about this show. It offers a window into specialty areas and niches other than your own, which means you can hardly get tired of The Editing Podcast.

Word Matters

And now for some nerdy entertainment.

Care to guess what connects the words to sanction, to cleave, and to dust? Well, they’re all contranyms, as we learn in the “Words That Are Their Own Opposites” episode of Word Matters.

In this podcast, launched about a year ago, Merriam-Webster editors Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski tackle various aspects of the English language from the dictionary’s vantage point.

While most of the roughly 20-minute episodes are devoted to the discussion of individual words and their often surprising etymologies, some deal with grammar rules—and often challenge them. I particularly enjoyed the zombie-rule-busting episode on “How ‘Not’ to Start a Sentence.”

But if the episodes on fewer vs. less and further vs. farther don’t sound like much fun, try listening to “The Language of Spy and Detective Stories” or “A Collection of Obscure Words for People Who Annoy You.” Obscure words are definitely a thing with the hosts, since they also recorded episodes on obscure words that you might find useful and obscure words that are pretty much useless.

As you may have gathered, Word Matters will be a great resource if you’re going to a party with other editors and want to pepper your small talk with factoids such as what the longest word in the dictionary is, or why Adam’s apple is called just that. And sometimes you may even find something to share with your non-editor friends, as I did with “A Lexical History of Jazz.”

All three shows reviewed above offer great value for editors, but I have to say Word Matters is my go-to for a quick, fun listen that still keeps my editor’s brain stimulated.

If you have your own favourite podcasts related to editing that you’d like to review for BoldFace, please reach out to [email protected].

Alicja Minda is a freelance journalist and editor based in Toronto. She is the editor-in-chief of BoldFace.

This article was copy edited by Sarah Golden.

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