November 2019 Q&A - Tim Coronel

 For this month’s Q&A, Communication subcommittee member Michaela Skelly interviewed Tim Coronel, who wears many editorial hats.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been involved in the book industry for 30 years now (eek!) as a bookseller (in lots of places), a journalist writing about the trade (with Books+Publishing), a freelance editor of all sorts of things, a sometime book marketer and publicist (mainly with Monash University Press and Cengage), an educator (in the University of Melbourne’s postgrad publishing program), and as an administrator/arts org factotum (with the Small Press Network).

If it’s made of words, I’ve done it: print books, magazines, newsletters, websites, annual reports, policy documents, funding applications, even a 1200-question exam bank for a profession I know virtually nothing about (but I left them with a style sheet!).

How has your month been?

I recently had the pleasure of proofreading Emma Viskic’s third crime novel, Darkness for light (Echo, December). I’m flat out at the Small Press Network programming our annual conference, and at uni second-semester teaching is almost done, but I have a summer-school intensive to prepare for.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

I’d say time management. I’ve been freelancing and juggling multiple part-time jobs for eight years now, but I still procrastinate far too much and then have to finish things in panic mode.

What do you love most about your work?

I really like the diversity of what I do, and that I don’t have a 9-to-5 office job. I also get a real buzz out of seeing someone I’ve taught at uni get their first dream job, or someone I’ve been able to employ on a shoestring at the Small Press Network go on to slightly more lucrative things.

How did you get here?

I treasure the only formal editing education I received, from Stephanie Holt and Penny Johnson at RMIT TAFE in the Professional Writing and Editing course in 2000–2001– yet another qualification I started and never actually completed!

I’ve very much learned by doing, and have fallen into things by mistake and sheer luck.

Renewing my acquaintance with Andrew Wilkins just as he took on the editorship of what was then Australian Bookseller & Publisher in 2002 was probably my lucky break. I started by writing a few book reviews, was commissioned to do the occasional feature article, then went to work with them for "10 weeks" in 2003 while the assistant editor was on long-service leave – and I stayed for eight years and ended up as the publisher.

What is your average weekly workload? Does it vary throughout the year?

After quite a few rollercoaster years, my work has now evened out into one or two days per week of teaching at the University of Melbourne each semester and the associated admin and marking, two days a week at the Small Press Network, and the occasional freelance editing or proofreading job. And even the "down" times between semesters at uni are now taken up with winter and summer intensive versions of one of my semester-long subjects.

If you are comfortable discussing salary, can you give an idea of the rate of pay for the kind of work you do?

It’s always been a mixture. Early in my freelancing period, I was lucky enough to find a quasi-government/corporate client that didn’t blink at $90 per hour for work on annual reports, policy documents and the like. Other clients would pay in the $60-per-hour range, and I have done both editing and proofing jobs for trade publishers at some pretty outrageously low flat rates.

Nowadays it’s a similar mix: being a sessional at university means quite a high hourly rate, but there are some inevitable gaps when there is no teaching to be done. The Small Press Network can’t afford to pay much, but it’s an excellent position to be in and it all balances out.

If you didn’t have the job you are in now, what would you like to be doing?

I like getting my hands dirty playing with classic cars, and it seems I’ve just accidentally acquired another one as a summer project. Driving about in the country visiting wineries, pubs and markets in a Funny Olde Car is an excellent way to spend the weekends, but I’m not sure how I can make that into "a job" in my dotage.

How can people contact you?

I’m all over the socials. Just Google me, but don’t confuse me with my Dutch racing-driver namesake. Start at www.facebook.com/timcoronel or https://twitter.com/Tim_Coronel.

Thanks so much for sharing your varied experience with us, Tim!