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Category Archives: Proofreading

Monetising feedback and embracing fragilityNot long ago, I met up with three old university friends who are all employed by (or have been employed by) large public-sector organisations. Their work environments (the support and demands of a corporate structure; the necessity of wearing shoes with rigid soles) couldn’t be more different from mine (the freedom to improve or damage my business unchecked by rules set by others; an office six metres from my bed). Yet I always learn things from our work-related chats, whether in the form of direct tips to apply to my business or reflections that give me an altered viewpoint on how I exist as a small business owner. I’d like to share two of those reflections with you.

Next to money, feedback is the most valuable commodity we get from our clients

Whether through direct reporting, receipt of career mentoring, performance evaluations or 360-degree reviews, my employed friends receive a vast amount more feedback on their work than I do as a self-employed person.… read the rest >>

Posted in Client relations, Editing, Getting work, Professional development, Proofreading | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I spent the weekend just gone in Birmingham at the 2016 Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) conference – my fourth. There were over 30 hours of excellent CPD and networking opportunities, and I’ve emerged re-invigorated and with plenty of new ideas for my business and personal development, if a little brain-weary:

This year I was also asked to be a speed mentor, and I spent a stimulating hour chatting to three other SfEP members about their professional goals and helping them with sticking points and hurdles. And it was fabulous to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and put faces to names and Twitter handles.

Sessions

I always enjoy how the SfEP conference blends opportunities for reflection – on what it is to be an editor and on editorial practice – with more direct and specific chunks of learning.… read the rest >>

Posted in Editing, Getting work, Paperwork, Professional development, Project management, Proofreading, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

TypesettingCopy-editors and proofreaders rarely get any direct contact with or feedback from typesetters. As such, we can never quite be sure whether our markup and working practices are helpful and sufficient or whether we’re causing confusion and wasted time. Developments in technology – for example, the use of styles in Word and the use of Acrobat’s built-in markup tools – have led to further options and possibilities, with the result that there is no single ‘right’ way of marking up text.

As a project manager, I am lucky to be in the middle of this process, so I have an insight into what works (i.e., what causes a project to progress smoothly) and what doesn’t (i.e., what causes errors, delays and even additional costs).

I’m delighted, too, to be able to welcome the voices of the major India-based typesetters Aptara and SPi to this post. These typesetters handle hundreds of titles per week for many of the world’s major publishers, so they work with mark-up from huge numbers of copy-editors and proofreaders.… read the rest >>

Posted in Client relations, Editing, Paperwork, Project management, Proofreading, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Combo BoxesI am a huge advocate of comprehensive and well-organised style sheets. When copy-editing and proofreading, they help me to clearly summarise the style decisions I’ve made and communicate them to my client. And, in my project management work, they are indispensable tools for corralling copy-editors on multi-editor projects and for keeping styles consistent throughout copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading, collating and indexing. I’ve previously written about how editors should never fail to provide a proper style sheet (see point 4).

I’ve recently been experimenting with a new technique in my own style sheets: the use of the combo box (also known as a dropdown list). These allow inputting of a set of pre-defined options, one of which is later chosen by clicking on the list and selecting an item.

Why?

So how can combo boxes be used in style sheets? Well, I find that the process of compiling a style sheet can be quite time consuming.… read the rest >>

Posted in Editing, Paperwork, Popular posts, Professional development, Project management, Proofreading | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Respect and the inner robot in editingI recently edited an academic book on Nazi Germany and, as is standard copy-editing practice, checked the spelling and diacritics of all proper nouns and non-English words: the Polish ‘el’ in Che?mno; the triple-consonant ‘sch’ in Mischlinge; the umlaut in Röhm. I’ve found that, with experience, copy-editing functions like this have become almost automatic. A ‘bzzzt’ noise in my brain flags that I’ve just read something I need to check, and I’m consulting the client’s house style guide, Alt-tabbing to my style sheet or copy-pasting into an appropriate dictionary or Google almost before I realise.

But in some books, like the one mentioned above, this mechanical approach jars with the content. My editor brain is tripping happily through the text prissily pouncing on errors while my human brain is fixated on the horror or the sadness (or in other cases the hilarity) of what the author is describing.

This calculating approach can seem cold, inadequate, insensitive.… read the rest >>

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Authorial voice - the bogeyman?‘Don’t intrude on the author’s voice’ is one of the first things every new proofreader or copy-editor is told. This is both a very helpful and an utterly useless piece of advice. It is helpful because it is absolutely true, but it is useless because it rarely seems to be defined just what on earth authorial voice is.

Is it just one of those conveniently nebulous concepts that can be thrown down as a trump card to back up a quavering argument? Or can it be pinned down as a real ‘thing’, distinct from all the other aspects of written language that editors have to worry about?

Let’s ponder.

Things authorial voice probably isn’t

1. Grammar, or the disregard thereof (see also below). The conventions according to which other human beings understand punctuation marks and sentence syntax must be adhered to if your author wishes to be understood (though less so in fiction than non-fiction).… read the rest >>

Posted in Editing, Proofreading, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The seven deadly sins of freelance editorsYou’re a good editor. You can juggle serial commas and breathe fire at dangling modifiers. Your ninja coding skills can subdue even the most tortuous of manuscripts.

But, however good your editorial skills, they may not be able to save you from losing a client to certain common etiquette pitfalls. I’ve collected seven of these below. These examples particularly apply to relationships with traditional project managers (PMs) or production editors. However, they can apply to relationships with business or self-publisher clients too.

Avoid these ‘sins’ to lessen your chances of irritating your client into dropping you as a supplier.

1. Bad filing

Unhelpfully named documentation can be a hindrance and gives a poor impression of your professionalism. When communicating with your PM or other members of the project team, try to pick email subjects and file names that will be helpful to everyone. For example:

  1. Never title an email ‘Index’, ‘Queries’, ‘Complete’, ‘Help please!’ or any other unspecific term.
read the rest >>
Posted in Client relations, Editing, Getting work, Indexing, Popular posts, Professional development, Project management, Proofreading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

PerfectIn a recent post I said that copy-editors and proofreaders should always ask, ask, ask if they find their client’s instructions unclear or aren’t sure what’s wanted. In this impromptu post I’d like to expand on that a little.

When editorial project managers (PMs) write briefs, they try to make them perfect. They really do. They endeavour to make them complete, unambiguous and as concise as possible.

But the reality is that they will make mistakes. Especially with more complex, bespoke books.

I recently wrote a detailed twenty-one-page brief for the copy-editors of an encyclopaedia. I started the brief almost from scratch as I was in the midst of a major overhaul of my paperwork, and inevitably the brief contained some inconsistencies, typos and ambiguities. It would be crazy if it hadn’t; after all, the very premise we editors and proofreaders build our livelihoods on is that no human being – whether publisher, author or indeed professional copy-editor or proofreader – is capable of editing their own work with a clear eye.… read the rest >>

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Editorial Pick n MixEditorial Pick ’n’ Mix is an eclectic weekly roundup of five tips or news items relevant to publishing, copy-editing and proofreading. The premise is that only a few minutes of semi-targeted reading every day of the (working) week will inevitably expand your editorial brain with new perspectives, ideas, resources and skills. Take a look at my recent post on professionalism – the inspiration for Editorial Pick ’n’ Mix – for more tips on how to boost that all-important asset.

Monday: New editions of Oxford’s trio of style essentials released

SfEP Forum (members only)

New Hart’s Rules, the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors and the New Oxford Spelling Dictionary, published by Oxford University Press, are now out in their second editions (confusingly, these are now the second of the ‘new’ editions). OUP are trumpeting that the new-new editions have been ‘updated for the twenty-first century’ in collaboration with professional copy-editors and proofreaders.… read the rest >>

Posted in Editing, Pick 'n' Mix, Professional development, Project management, Proofreading | Leave a comment

Editorial Pick n Mix

FREE SWEETIES!

OK, now that I’ve got your attention.

This is a new blog series born from my recent list of what makes a professional editor or proofreader. In that post, I urged editorial professionals to read something every day. Blog posts, Twitter, forums – it doesn’t matter; mix it up to maximise your opportunities for learning new perspectives, ideas and skills.

So, this series will be an always-arbitrary, strictly eclectic, necessarily selective and sometimes capricious mélange of my reading, showing that it really takes very little time to expand your editorial brain every day of the (working) week.

Monday: For stability and growth as a freelance, set your rates based on a three-day week

Money: The three-day rule | The Freelancery

Digging back through my Feedly, I found this post from July from The Freelancery. The theory runs roughly like this: (1) set your hourly (or per-1000-word) rates as if you’re only going to be working three days a week; (2) enjoy financial stability and have space for professional growth; (3) become awesome, work five days a week and get paid bucketloads (but also be secure if your work drops off for a while).… read the rest >>

Posted in Editing, Pick 'n' Mix, Professional development, Project management, Proofreading | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment