Making trouble: using expert editorial judgement to hunt down issues

A tangle of string symbolising the idea of making trouble for a client

‘Don’t make trouble’ is an edict that we often hear as children. Making trouble means being difficult. It raises unnecessary issues. It causes aggravation. It wastes time and thereby costs money.

The idea of making trouble also goes against a core principle that proofreaders and copyeditors learn early on: if something’s good enough, don’t change it (sometimes phrased as ‘leave well enough alone’).…

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How to be a trustworthy freelancer

What’s your most precious asset as a freelancer or small business owner?

I’ll give you some hints.

It’s not your qualifications or professional memberships. Up to a point, anybody with enough tenacity and funding can acquire those.

It’s also not your website or portfolio. Again, however informative they are and however long they took you to build, there will be many other freelancers out there with credentials that are just as impressive.…

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Trust and conquer: why you should trust your freelancers

In today’s volatile business world, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to be agile rather than fragile. One way of achieving this is to use freelance talent to quickly source resources when – and only when – they are needed. This model sees groups of people come together to carry out a specific project and then part ways when the project is complete.…

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Working in an editorial team Part II: copyeditor, typesetter or designer, proofreader and indexer

For an editorial project to meet its goals, multiple people (sometimes many) need to work together, but potentially without ever actually communicating with each other. This requires each person to have a clear understanding of their role in the process and the ripples (good or bad) they can create for others in the editorial team.

Part I of this article gave some suggestions on how the author, developmental editor and project manager can contribute to each other’s work and the work of people later on in the process.…

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Working in an editorial team Part I: author, developmental or structural editor, and project manager

I almost called this article ‘How to Avoid Screwing Things Up in an Editorial Team’, but the SEO gods said it was too long. However, that’s essentially what this article and its follow-up are about.

All editorial projects require collaboration. The simplest might only involve an author and a proofreader, whereas the most complex can involve many more people working together in an editorial team.…

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Editorial midwifery: why a love of language is not enough

It’s not uncommon to hear editors alluding to what they do as a kind of midwifery. Editors (for which read ‘copyeditors’ and ‘proofreaders’ throughout) help clients to ‘birth’ books – to bring them into the world in the healthiest and best-prepared state they can, with the minimum possible fuss, mess and pain. They support clients (parents), listening carefully to their desires for their book (birth plan) and doing their utmost to make those desires a reality.…

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Psychological safety in editorial work: better results through empowerment

People shaking hands while standing on others' shoulders

HBR defines psychological safety as allowing for ‘moderate risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off’.

In the professional sphere, it’s about trust, openness and confidence that we will receive a reasonable and proportionate response when we raise questions or concerns with our colleagues.

As a project manager, it’s something I try to establish in all my projects.…

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Difficult feedback: should you send it and, if so, how?

At some point (hopefully very rarely), every proofreader and copy-editor will find themselves working on a project where it seems that somebody, somewhere, at some point, dropped the ball in a big way.

As a copy-editor, you might discover that the developmental editor seems to have let through major inconsistencies and that swathes of detail are missing.

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How to close editorial projects effectively

Closing an editorial project effectively

I recently read a helpful post (with handy infographic) on how to close a project by Elizabeth Harrin of the Rebel’s Guide to Project Management blog. Although I get a lot out of reading project management blogs, the tips don’t always straightforwardly translate into the kind of work I do, which usually involves delivering an encyclopedia or book project for publication rather than conducting the sort of change-management process more typically associated with project management outside publishing.…

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Plagiarism: how to spot it and what to do about it

Hazel Bird, Wordstitch Editorial, copy-editor and project manager

Whether it’s done accidentally, unthinkingly or with malice aforethought, plagiarism is a perennial problem in publishing. Sometimes it might result from an author’s genuine ignorance of the rules and conventions surrounding the reproduction of others’ work; sometimes it might be a shortcut (for example, if an author is commissioned to write in a language other than their own and struggles to formulate their own words); and sometimes it is simply the deliberate theft of another author’s words.…

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