Behind every great song, there’s a great songwriter; similarly behind every great magazine there’s a great sub-editing team.
With ever-growing numbers of freelance journalists and agile-working teams, the role of the subs as gatekeepers for tone, accuracy and style is now more important than ever.
Yet many outside of the publishing industry (and some inside it) are unclear what it is exactly that the subs team does.
To delve a little deeper into one of publishing’s oldest roles, we go behind the scenes with PORTER magazine’s Deputy Chief Sub Editor, Farah Shafiq.
Overseeing the standards of one of the UK’s most influential fashion magazines, Farah lets us in to a day in the life of a sub…
DB: First things first, what is a sub editor?
FS: We read, re-read, read again, and then one last time for luck, everything in the magazine, so if you spot any mistakes, please don’t mention it…
DB: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
FS: Sometimes yoga. Always coffee.
DB: What does a typical day look like?
FS: Depending on where we’re at in the publishing process, we’ll be keeping track of what stage every page is at, chasing copy, checking and re-writing to fit the PORTER voice, editing to fit in the layout – all the way through to reading the glossy proofs from the printers and madly trying to tie up loose ends before pressing the final approval button.
DB: Meals out – or desk-time packed lunches?
FS: Mostly al desko, with a regular afternoon biscuit run
DB: Best/worst part of the job?
FS: Best: the incredible, wise, inspirational team of women (and a few men) who I work with every day. Worst: that tiny mistake that slipped through and probably no reader will notice or care about (no, I’m not telling you what it was).
DB: Best tricks of the trade?
FS: Spellcheck. Read with a fresh pair of eyes in the morning. And keep the art team onside, they can be your greatest allies.
DB: After work pursuits?
FS: G&T’s. Yoga. Both deployed in the office when it’s press week.
DB: Best tip for work/life balance?
FS: Unless you’re an on-call doctor, don’t get your work emails on your phone! I never have and the job always seems to get done. I see so many friends sat at dinner or stuck to their screens at the weekend, unable to switch off. Prioritise your own time, don’t let it be dictated by technology.