Informational Interview with Emily Jobe: A Freelance Editor

Emily Jobe always enjoyed reading stories. She had a nack for finding small details and plot holes that would nag at her long after she finished a book. She always wanted to be the one to help make these stories better, so she decided she wanted to pursue a career in editing.

In college, Emily chose to earn a degree in English with a minor in Professional Writing. While working toward her degree at Kennesaw State University, Emily participated in internships that would give her experiences that she would carry with her throughout her career.
One of these internships was working as a student editor for Kennesaw State University’s undergraduate research journal. There, she helped to edit and proofread manuscripts, communicate with authors, and also publish a few editions of the journal. She even set up the journal’s social media platforms on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and created a guidebook to assist future interns like herself. She continues to work with the journal today, whether that be through editorial work or helping to find new interns. She credits her experience interning with the journal and the staff that helped her along the way with making her the editor she is today.

“I would not be the editor I am now if it wasn’t for their help.”

One particularly rewarding experience Emily received in college was interning with the nonprofit organization Advocates for Children Georgia. This organization helps at risk teens and young families transition from one point in their lives to the next. During this internship, Emily helped organize programs to raise money and assisted with the organization’s writing of grant applications.

While interning for Advocates for Children Georgia, Emily gained valuable skills in communicating with others, which she says helps immensely in her career as an editor and one which she believes is one of the most important skills a person could have.

After graduating, Emily knew she wanted to be an editor of fiction, so she began working at a self publishing company. Although this wasn’t exactly the work she dreamed of, working for the company gave her a greater understanding of other parts of the publishing process such as design and marketing which has been essential to her editorial work. Her work at the publishing company consisted of copy editing, developmental editing, and proofreading manuscripts from a number of genres ranging from children’s books to memoirs.

Like so many of us, Covid-19 took her life in a new direction and Emily decided to achieve her ultimate goal of becoming an editor of fiction and she became of freelance editor, which is the occupation she holds today. Her duties in freelance work are pretty much the same as they were when she worked for the publishing company, only she has the ability to choose what she works on based on what genre she feels most comfortable working in. These genres include poetry and short story collections, children’s books, and fiction novels.

As a freelance editor, Emily has found that time management and a willingness to learn is key. She often has to juggle multiple projects at a time and she also has to keep up with not only her own deadlines, but the deadlines of others such as her client’s, the designers, and other members of the publishing team. It is also key that she keep up with the changes in the editorial world such as changes to the english language and changes to things such as the Oxford Dictionary and the Chicago Style Manual. These can include changes ranging from the definition and use of a word to the way comas are used.

 “As an editor, you’ll always be learning something new.”

To future editors and those preparing to work in the editing field, Emily recommends participating in at least three internships with at least one being in the world of editing. She also recommends interning or working in other fields because any avenue of work can help you as an editor, you just have to know how to make it work for you.

Even though she says it can be difficult to tell people their work needs improvements or to explain to them why a part of their beloved manuscript needs to be changed, Emily says the most rewarding part of her job is being one of the people that helps an author shape their book into the polished piece people will enjoy for years to come.

My Elevator Pitch

Hello, my name is Ravi Hudson. I am a visually impaired student currently studying at Kennesaw State University where I am majoring in English. I am also an intern for one of our school magazines. Using my creative and adaptive skills, I hope to become a published author of young adult and children’s literature. Through my writing, I want to encourage others like myself to overcome their challenges and pursue their dreams. Thank You!

The Inaccessibility of the Virtual World and How It Can Be Fixed

A small child wears a virtual reality headset. His face is completely obscured behind it.

This year, COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, and explore. We now rely on virtual technology for many things, such as communicating with others, learning, and working. Another aspect of life that has gone virtual is the way we travel and experience events. Events and places that we are used to experiencing in-person are now being adapted so that we can experience them virtually. However, these virtual experiences cannot be accessed by everyone, especially not be people who have visual impairments. While most places have used technology to make their events and attractions easier to access online or through other virtual technology, they lack the accessibility tools that allow visually impaired people to fully participate in all they have to offer.

Another aspect of life that has gone virtual is the way we travel and experience events. Events and places that we are use to experiencing in person, are now being adapted so that we can experience them virtually. However, these virtual experiences can not be accessed by everyone, especially not be people who have visual impairments. While most places have used technology to make their events and attractions easier to access online or through other virtual technology, they lack the accessibility tools that allow visually impaired people to fully participate in all they have to offer.

One major industry that has gone virtual is the tourist industry. You can now go on the websites of many world-renowned museums, national parks, and other tourist attractions and visit them through a computer screen. You can view art and history exhibits and virtual tours with as much detail as if you were experiencing them face-to-face. The problem with these virtual experiences is that most of them are very visual. You view exhibits through photos, online maps, and through uploaded videos. People with visual impairments aren’t able to view these images unless they are enlarged and some can’t see them at all. The videos that most museums and attractions have uploaded only show images with background music. Most natural attractions such as national parks and cities use technology such as Google Street View to let you travel and explore. You can take hikes and view city landmarks all from your computer screen. Apps like Google Street View are very image heavy and aren’t able to be accessed using a screen reader or other visual assistants. 

Tourists attractions aren’t the only things that have gone virtual. Events such as concerts and festivals have also been made available to view while social distancing. These events can be streamed using streaming apps and recorded so that they can be viewed later. Virtual meet up apps such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are being used so that people can gather together for meet-ups, classes, and even to just watch a movie with friends. These virtual meet-ups lack the accessibility needed for visually impaired participants also. For example virtual classes that are being offered such as yoga, dance, and foreign language classes use visual tools to explain the content. Since everything is done through a computer screen, it can be hard for visually impaired people to know what’s going on, such as different yoga poses or dance steps, or words in a new language being displayed on a blackboard.

This change to a virtual world has seemingly left out people who are visually impaired and people with other disabilities. However, there are ways to fix this. Some businesses have already started trying to improve the accessibility of their content.

One example is NASA which offers videos uploaded on YouTube that describe the exhibits in detail, while also providing closed captioning for those who are hearing impaired. The national Museum of Natural History has an app where audio descriptions of their fossil exhibits can be found. Audio descriptions are a great way to include people with visual impairments in this time of change. Cities can upload audio descriptions of their landmarks on their websites or develop an app like the ones used by the National Museum of Natural History and Yellowstone National Park. These apps contain audio descriptions of major sites and audio-described tours. 

Text files can also be uploaded such as in the case of the Library of Congress. These text files can contain descriptions and information about the attractions on display. They can also be read by screen readers and downloaded to be used with text-to-speech technology. Image captions are another key component in virtual accessibility. Many tourist attractions sites offer photos of their attractions. By adding captions and alternative text to these images, visually impaired people are able to view them as well. 

To make meet-ups like virtual classes more accessible, the organizer or teacher of these classes needs to make their lessons as descriptive as possible. When teaching classes that involve movement such as dance and yoga, the movements and poses must be described in great detail, so that the visually impaired person’s experience can be just as immersive as the sighted person’s.

Although the move to life in the virtual world has helped us immensely in this time of social distancing, it has largely left out the visually impaired community. By improving the accessibility of websites, apps, and other virtual technology, people with visual impairments can experience and participate just like everyone else. The visually impaired population is only a small percentage of people who require accessibility. Virtual experiences should be accessible to everyone, especially in this time when they play such a major part in our lives.  

How and Why I Read as a Blind Person

A hand belonging to an off-screen owner uses screen-reading technology.

Reading! It’s an activity we do every day. Whether we’re reading signs, menus, or books – everyone reads, even if you haven’t read a book in years. You’re still a reader.

Being blind, I get a lot of questions asking how I read. “Do you read Braille? Do you listen to audio books or use text-to-speech technology?” Many people assume that blind people can’t or don’t read. In reality, reading players a major part of my life and of the lives of other blind people, especially reading books.

When people ask how I read, my answer is “in a lot of ways!” Personally, braille is my favorite way to read. Braille is a six dot system created for the blind to allow them to read text using their fingers. I began learning braille at the age of three and it exposed my young mind to the world of books. By learning braille, I was able to read just like my peers. Another way I read is through audio and text-to-speech technology. With this technology, I am able to read the screen of a computer or phone, audio books, and many other things.

Books a way for me to understand the world around me, especially the parts I can’t see. Through reading, I am able to learn what things and people look like. For example, if I read a book about a specific type of flower, I am able to learn what color that flower is, how it’s shaped, etc. This may seem like a small thing to most people. I mean, everyone learns about things they can’t see through reading, but for my situation, it’s much deeper. Being blind, I don’t have clear knowledge of what ordinary things look like such as cars, street signs, and people in general. Reading gives me the ability to visualize these things by reading descriptions and stories about them. While reading, I create a picture in my head of the way things look. I will admit, sometimes my mental picture is inadequate.

Not only does reading help me understand the physical part of the world, but it also helps me understand the social part as well. By reading about characters and how they interact with each other, especially through nonverbal gestures and social cues, I am able to use what I learn in my own social life. For instance, when I was younger I learned that a nod means yes, a shake of the head means no, and waving is a way to say goodbye or hello.

Reading also helps me gain experiences that I am able to have as a blind person, such as the experience of driving a car. No matter which way I choose to read a book, whether it be through audio or braille, I know that I will broaden my outlook on life.