Why giving better-quality feedback to freelancers means better project quality

Yellow balloons with smiley faces

It would be fabulous if editorial freelancers always submitted amazing work. But unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. Whether for reasons within the freelancer’s control or not, sometimes an editorial project manager (EPM) will be presented with work that is below the expected standard.

Bad feedback versus balanced feedback

In such situations, it’s easy for the EPM to jump to the idea that they need to send ‘bad feedback’ to the freelancer.…

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The value of intangible copyediting and proofreading skills

A bunch of dark and light pink sweet peas in a vase on a desk with a laptop, monitor and other office bits and pieces.

The more you work as a copyeditor or proofreader, the more you come to understand that the job is about far more than spotting errors in spelling and grammar. For me as an editorial project manager, there are certain copyediting and proofreading skills that I’ve come to value in the freelancers I work with but that are hard to pin down.…

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How to absorb any editorial style guide

A ladybird clings upside down to a stalk of grass

One page, ten pages, fifty pages or a whole published book – an editorial style guide can initially seem like an overwhelming onslaught of information that you won’t ever fully grasp. Never mind herding cats, you might feel like you have a veritable zoo of style points all clamouring for attention – and a client, author or manager poised to pounce if you neglect even one of them.…

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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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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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We are already surviving

Lighthouse

Working as a freelancer means inhabiting a strange world of paradoxes:

We must be solid and grounded in our professional self-sufficiency but fluid in responding to our clients’ needs.

We must strive for stability but embrace the inevitability of change – both self-imposed and thrust upon us.

We must invest in building and refining our skillset even when we’re wondering where our next paying job will come from.…

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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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Disengage, re-engage: 13 tips for proofreading text you’ve already copy-edited

In the editorial world, it’s generally thought that the person who copy-edited a text shouldn’t also be the person to proofread it.

This is a sound rule to follow wherever possible: a proofreader is often referred to as a ‘fresh pair of eyes’, and this freshness can be invaluable. In the same way that an author can become blind to the errors in their own work through overfamiliarity, a copy-editor tends to lose that ‘edge’ that comes with seeing a text anew.…

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