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Hazel Bird is privileged to project manage, copy-edit and proofread sometimes dizzying quantities of interesting words for clients ranging from global academic and trade publishers to government policy units to publishers of creative non-fiction. Her focus is on developing dynamic collaborations with her clients in order to help make their goals a reality. Her biggest project to date was a twelve-volume international encyclopedia with over a thousand contributors. She lives in the stunning countryside of the Wye Valley in Herefordshire, UK, and spends her free time trying to corral her ancestors into some sort of order and attempting to offset a severe doughnut preoccupation with heavy lifting.
ABOUT THE BLOG
The Wordstitch Blog brings together my experience working in publishing on both sides of the client–freelancer relationship (often simultaneously). It aims to foster great working relationships, from a belief that the best text products (of whatever kind) emerge out of genuine collaboration and excellent communication.
- Disengage, re-engage: 13 tips for proofreading text you’ve already copy-edited
- Difficult feedback: should you send it and, if so, how?
- When editorial project managers expect too much
- How to use bubble charts to get a snapshot of your clients’ value to your business
- How to close an editorial project effectively
- Proofreading pitfalls: Nine tips to improve your proofreading strategy
- A day in a life of a freelance copy-editor and editorial project manager
- Plagiarism: How to spot it and what to do about it
Tag Archives: freelancing
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:
- Never title an email ‘Index’, ‘Queries’, ‘Complete’, ‘Help please!’ or any other unspecific term.
In my project-management capacity, I generally have an encyclopaedia or two on the go at any one time. These usually range from around 500,000 to around 1.5 million words. The largest modern encyclopaedias are upwards of 40 million words (Britannica’s 2013 print edition has 44 million).
These are difficult works to handle, with a whole raft of consistency and data-handling considerations that simply don’t apply to ‘normal’ books.
Compared to Wikipedia, though, they’re like children’s picture books. The largest encyclopaedia I’ve ever worked on had four volumes and was around 2 million words. That’s 0.075% of Wikipedia, which according to its own figures currently contains approximately 2.6 billion words.
Just for squeaks and giggles, let’s pretend we’ve been asked to manage the production of Wikipedia and estimate the costs and time involved in putting all 2.6 billion words, or around 4.5 million articles, through the standard process of readying a book for publication.… read the rest >>
In 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 >>
As the awed daughter and granddaughter of several teachers, I have long believed I would be unsuited to that most demanding of professions. Luckily, I stumbled on a career that would enable me to help people who could already write rather than attempt to teach smaller people to write in the first place. Proofreading turned into copyediting and project management, and here I am.
But, now that I’m here, I’ve realised I haven’t entirely avoided the teaching profession after all. In my previous post I said a little about how editors are natural teachers and mentors. Think about it:
- We guide and nurture others to a better expression of ideas.
- We act as mediators to help authors develop the skills they need to be recognised in the big, wide, ‘grown-up’ world of publishing.
- We are creative problem solvers whose expertise must continually evolve to meet the challenges our clients present us with and changes in the industry.
Two truths of editing are universally acknowledged: (1) editors are good at objectively reacting to work produced by other people and (2) no two editors will edit the same piece of text in the same way. Remember this – I’ll come back to it.
For many of us, being mentored – in other words, having our work scrutinised line by line, edit by edit, marginal squiggle by marginal squiggle – is something we haven’t experienced for some time. Others may have recently completed a mentoring scheme or other in-depth course but be very aware of how much they still have to learn. And yet others (myself included) may never have had the experience of being mentored, having learned in house or via courses.
Regardless of the route we’ve taken to get to whatever stage we’re at, what editorial tics might we have picked up or not shrugged off? What techniques or industry developments might we not quite have mastered?… read the rest >>
In my previous post I gave some tips for freelance editors, proofreaders and indexers on how to keep getting rehired by clients. A contact subsequently suggested a mirror article on how those clients could improve in their dealings with freelancers.
Given that client relations are a perennial bugbear of freelancers, this seemed an interesting topic to tackle. So, here are my thoughts on what editorial project managers (PMs) – including me – can do to stop their freelancers jumping ship and swimming off towards more appealing prospects, and also how PMs can support the freelance community more generally.
For brevity I’ll shape my thoughts around a traditional publishing scenario, but my aim is for these points to be relevant to all sorts of contexts in which clients send text out to freelancers for them to work their magic.
1. Look at the manuscript
The first step in project management is to actually look at the manuscript, in detail, for at least the amount of time it takes to drink a cup of tea.… read the rest >>
Here’s the situation: you’ve got yourself onto a publisher’s list and, after a few months, you receive an email offering interesting work at a great rate of pay. You accept the job and complete it on deadline and to the best of your abilities, and the project manager (PM) seems happy (or, at least, you don’t receive any negative feedback, which is often the best feedback a busy PM has time for).
And then… nothing.
You don’t hear from that client again and are left feeling disappointed and perhaps even unsettled, wondering how you scuppered your chances of follow-up work .
Often, this is just the way the game works. The more established freelancers realise this and accept that some opportunities will lead to a regular gig and in others they’ll just be a stand-in. There are all sorts of reasons – none of them anything to do with a freelancer’s skills – that might mean they aren’t rehired.… read the rest >>