September 2017 Q&A: Naomi Saligari

Naomi Saligari works for Fitzroy Legal Service as the editor of their only publication, The Law Handbook. She’s worked as an editor for 15 years, both in-house and as a freelancer. She has primarily worked on educational texts (text books for secondary schools and universities, articles for journals, etc.), but did once edit a cookbook for pets!

I started working in publishing part-time when I was at uni. While I was dragging out my Arts degree for as long as humanly possible, for a couple of days a week I was also working away as a marketing assistant at Macmillan Education Australia (MEA). When I finally(!) completed my degree, I transferred to the editorial team in the secondary publishing department at MEA. That was 15 years ago! Since then, I’ve plied my craft at Oxford University Press, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and as a freelancer.

For the last five years, I’ve worked part-time for Fitzroy Legal Service, a community legal centre, as the in-house editor of their only publication, The Law Handbook. I’m a one-woman publishing department! I only work on one title, but I do many of the tasks involved between manuscript and publication: commissioning authors, budgeting, production, structural editing and copyediting, proofreading, checking proofs, distribution and marketing. (I don’t design the cover or text, or compile the index; and a gem of a typesetter checks and fixes my dodgy layout.)

I love being able to do all these different tasks: not only does it make my work more varied throughout the year, but it means my job is a mix of tasks that I’m very comfortable with and tasks that I’m not so confident with and am still learning how to do better.

This role is far more varied than my previous roles as an in-house editor in a publishing house, where I was doing the same tasks (editing, proofreading, checking proofs) for multiple titles. I enjoy the challenge of The Law Handbook. It’s a wonderful beast: it’s over 1000 pages long, has more than 80 volunteer authors, and is published on a tiny budget. We publish a new edition every year.

The best thing I did to help my work was to complete what was then the Postgraduate Diploma in Editing and Publishing at RMIT. It gave me the knowledge and confidence to leave the safe nest of the publishing house, where other editors are just a shout-over-the-partition away, and to take on a more unconventional role, such as the one I’m in now.

If I wasn’t working as an editor, I’d love to open and run my own bookshop near my home on the Mornington Peninsula.

Many thanks, Naomi, for telling us about your editorial life.

You can contact Naomi at naomi.saligari@googlemail.com.