Name: Emily Buehler
Job: Freelance Editor and Author
A great high school chemistry teacher led me to major in chemistry. I enjoyed learning chemistry and continued to grad school because it was the easiest path. In grad school, I realized that I had never liked lab work and didn’t want a career doing it. At the time, I didn’t know there were other options.
I was lucky to fall into an internship at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine during my last year in grad school. As it turned out, public policy wasn’t for me, either, but I had a great time and met wonderful people who encouraged me to find a different path.
After graduating, I became a bread baker at my food co-op. I thought this break would last a year, giving me time to figure out my next move, but as it turned out, bread making includes a lot of chemistry, and I became hooked. I stayed with it long enough to write a book, Bread Science, which I self-published in 2006 because I could not get a publisher. I also began teaching bread-making classes. In 2014, I converted Bread Science to an ebook to sell on Amazon, and in 2016 I figured out how to sell it from my own website. I’ve typed up a lot of my notes on the process and posted them on my site.
For several years, my course has weaved from one thing to another, and I have slowly figured out my path. I realized I wanted to write more, but didn’t enjoy writing for newspapers when I tried that. I became involved with the local science communication community. I started a food science blog but found it hard to put in the time needed. I realized I didn’t want to write about only bread for the rest of my life. (I also fear that I’m uncomfortable with being labeled an expert, which might have happened if I had continued on with bread.) I spent several years writing a memoir of a cross-country bicycle trip, and wrote a fiction story during Nanowrimo in 2014.
I moved from the co-op bakery to the marketing office, where I learned about writing for marketing purposes, making websites, and social media. This was handy as I seemed to be running my own nebulous business (author, teacher, publisher) on the side.
At a job networking event in 2013, I met a woman who worked as a science editor. I was floored that such a thing existed–it seemed like the perfect career for me. She hesitatingly suggested a company to start with. My PhD helped, and I was able to start working after passing an editing test, but the pay was exploitative and the company was frustrating to work for. (I have since learned that a good company is the holy grail of science editing; another option is to work directly with authors.) I gained a lot of confidence, though, and learned about the kinds of things to edit. I have continued to find work somewhat randomly, including longer science research reports, research papers, and ESL papers (which can be very challenging to edit). A big help was joining the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), which offers a job list, a discussion group, classes, and more.
In 2016, I decided I had to tie up some loose ends and get on track. I took some editing classes online (including editing itself, using tools like Word more effectively, and business aspects), attended the EFA conference, read books about editing as a career, created a new website for my editing business, and began researching places to find work. I upgraded my computer and Word version. I spent months finishing my memoir, which I will self-publish, and preparing it for press. I wrote another fiction story during Nanowrimo, and plan to continue with fiction when the memoir is finally complete. My dream is to be self-employed as a freelance editor, filling the gaps between assignments with writing my own books.
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