SD/PEN Member Profile: Erin Willard

Erin Willard: Paralegal, Sci-fi Blogger, Copyeditor

By Sylvia Mendoza, SD/PEN Outreach and Eventbrite Chair

SD/PEN regularly selects members at random and profiles their background and experience in an interview-style blog post. These are valuable opportunities for members to introduce themselves to other members and prospective clients through this newsletter and on SD/PEN’s website and social media outlets. This slightly edited profile features Erin Willard. Visit

With former careers as a litigation paralegal and a sci-fi news-and-reviews blogger, Erin Willard found those dovetailed nicely into her current copyediting career, “my favorite of the three by far.” She specializes in working with independent authors and small publishers, copyediting fiction, creative nonfiction, and memoir manuscripts. Fiction genres include mystery, historical fiction, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, and romance.

Her varied interests may stem from her educational background. A San Diego County native, she attended SDSU (BA in political science; MA in liberal arts), USD Extension (paralegal certificate), and UCSD Extension (copyediting certificate). Her thirst for knowledge continues, whether it’s attending SD/PEN program meetings, reviewing editing resources like the Conscious Style Guide, or filling the well at Comic-Con. For potential clients and fellow word nerds, she shares some interesting lessons on her blog

What do you enjoy most about being a member of SD/PEN?

SD/PEN has been one of the best educational and networking resources for me and my business. I’ve learned something at every single program meeting and workshop and from every single newsletter. And the networking opportunities have been unparalleled, especially when I served on the board of directors. It was gratifying to be able to work with programs that benefit editors and others in the world of publishing in its many forms. But it also gave me an opportunity to work with other editors—something that doesn’t happen often for me as a freelance book-manuscript copyeditor—and to benefit from their experience and insights.

Several of the members who served with me have continued to be a source of referrals, support, and friendship, and I couldn’t be more grateful. If you are an editor in the San Diego area (or beyond), make sure to join SD/PEN, and do consider volunteering to participate in whatever capacity best suits you and your work as an editor.

What is the best lesson you’ve learned as an editor? 

One of the best lessons I’ve learned as a copyeditor is that no book manuscript can be considered copyedited after only one editorial pass, so I no longer offer that as a “budget” option. A related lesson is that I can’t catch every error in a manuscript, particularly when the number of errors I do catch exceeds two thousand; sometimes that count is over ten thousand. I strongly encourage my clients to review their manuscripts carefully after the copyediting process and to have their manuscripts professionally proofread (and to review them again after that) before placing their books on the market.

Tell us about any books you recently read that you would recommend.

N. K. Jemisin, The City We Became — An astounding science fiction and fantasy work by one of the best. It’s a wild ride, so just go with it, and as a bonus, you’ll learn a little something about the five boroughs of New York. Recommended by Books and Crannies, one of my favorite Black-owned independent bookstores.

TJ Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea — A new fairy tale of sorts, it’s about inclusivity and hope, and it’s a balm to the soul. Recommended by Mysterious Galaxy, one of my favorite local independent bookstores.

Where would you like to go on your next vacation and why?

My husband and I vacation in a cottage on Crystal Pier for a few days every December, and we’re really hoping to be able to return this year after having to miss last year. And, of course, fingers are crossed that Comic-Con will be back in 2022!

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