Janell Robisch is an Editor, Designer, and Consultant at Speculations Editing Services.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I started publishing back in college in the early 1990s when I helped an author transition his contracted nonfiction book from handwritten form to formatted form, complete with charts, and graphs. Later, I moved into traditional publishing as an editorial assistant at Oxford University Press. After several years in-house for a few different publishers, I became a full-time freelance professional, bringing the editing, marketing, and production skills I learned in-house into my business.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
No day is ever the same because I have different clients at different times, and I balance that all with family responsibilities and homeschooling my three kids. One day, I might be deep into editing academic articles, and the next, I’ll be handling the developmental editing for a fantasy novel or creating a book cover for a romance author. I’m also always writing or doing book-related things such as formatting, design, and promotion because I’m also an author myself. I spend a lot of time in front of the screen, but that’s the nature of the beast.
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)
I use a laptop extended with a large second monitor and a separate keyboard and mouse for hardware. I also have a Blue Snowball mic, Logitech webcam, and good headphones for
making videos or recording podcasts. On the software side, some of my go-to programs include Word, Excel, and Outlook along with Scrivener, Photoshop Elements, and more recently, the entire Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
I educate myself, read, and browse other people’s creations. Whether writing, designing, or editing, I spend a lot of time in research and continuing education. It’s important to stay abreast of current thought and practice if you want to give your best to your own projects and to your clients’ work.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
Do I have to pick only one? That’s why I got into this business. I can’t get enough of words and the millions of ways in which they can be combined to give readers information and entertainment.
Hmmm, if I had to pick, here’s one I love (as posted on Instagram earlier): “After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Phillip Pullman
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
Another hard one. I think most innovations are just new ways of getting stories and information out to the masses. For example, podcasts and audiobooks — while not the most innovative thing out there — have become mainstream because of portable technologies such as smartphones. But they’ve made reading and learning convenient in an age where everyone is too busy and always going. Now, you can “read” even when you’re commuting, playing a computer game, or going for a walk.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
It’s a problem many of us have: getting noticed among the masses of online writers, editors, and designers. There’s no one simple way to do it. You just build your presence one day at a time. And for a multipotentialite like myself, who has an array of passions and skills instead of just one core focus, it can be a bit of a challenge.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?
You’ll be more effective in getting noticed if you stick to the things you’re passionate about and can maintain over the long haul. Trying to do all the things that people recommend, especially when you don’t care about them, just leads to burn out. It’s something I struggle with every day.