In this video, I talk about how I became an editor, what I did to grow my business, and which resources and training helped me get ahead. Check it out here if you are interested!
A client of mine wrote a book proposal based on her dissertation, sent it to a publisher, and was invited to submit the manuscript for a round of peer review. She contacted me after she had gotten the book back with comments and asked me to help her restructure it based on the feedback the peer reviewers had provided.
I took the manuscript and comments, read it thoroughly while taking notes, and designed three options for a new outline and structure for the book, also noting which parts I thought could be deleted. All three options were based on a different type of structure with a different story/argument buildup. After my client picked her preferred option, I got to work restructuring the book, moving parts around, deleting other parts, and creating six new chapters. She then took it from me, edited it, and sent it back to me for a last pass. The book has now been published!
This kind of editing is what I call structural editing. Structural editing is the most rewarding but also most taxing form of editing. When writers come to me because they need help developing their argument, untangle their main points, restructure their book or article, or anything else that involves the content of their work, I always know that I’m in for a lot of work. In order to do a structural edit well, I have to know what the author is trying to argue. I have to immerse myself in their writing and their thought process.Continue reading
Like all other professionals, editors need training. While you may be great at grammar and have always been able to spot typos from afar, the editing process involves a lot more than simply correcting grammar and spelling mistakes (although this is an essential part of it!). In fact, I would argue that the majority of the work I do consists of other things:
- I strengthen a text’s message and improve its clarity, flow, and coherence by changing words, phrases, and overly long sentences (depending on my mandate of course);
- I improve a text’s accuracy by fact-checking names, dates, and titles;
- I clarify a text’s structure by inserting and/or formatting headings to create a clear outline;
- I ensure that citations and references are formatted correctly, that sources have been properly cited, and that any potential ethical or legal issues are flagged;
- I ensure that author guidelines, spelling preferences, and style guides are applied consistently and correctly.
All this requires training because how does one, for example, improve a text’s clarity? This is a vague requirement that is made a lot more concrete with examples and exercises, of which I’ve had plenty in the past years. Since starting my editing training, I have completed three out of the five courses of Queen’s University’s Professional Editing Standards program (“Fundamentals of Editing Standards,” “Copyediting Standards I,” and “Copyediting Standards II”) and one SfEP course (“Brush Up Your Grammar“). I’m planning to take the remaining two Queen’s courses (“Proofreading Standards” and “Structural Editing Standards”) next year in order to obtain the certificate.
This is not where it ends, of course; any professional editor will engage in lifelong learning in order to stay up to date and hone their skills. I’m definitely planning to take more advanced copyediting and grammar courses and sharpen my MS Word skills in the future (especially concerning macros and wildcards).
For now, I’d like to share a few things that I have learned from my editing courses, thanks to fantastic instructors and colleagues. Of course, I learned much, much more than I can convey in one blog post, but I hope the selection below gives an idea (warning: long post!).
Note: An edited version of this post was published on the SENSE blog.
On September 21, SENSE, the Society of English-Language Professionals in the Netherlands, held its biennial Professional Development Day (PDD), a one-day professional-development workshop for editors and translators. I was excited to be attending my first SENSE conference!
After some coffee and networking, the day started with a plenary lecture by Jenny Zonneveld, who gave us a number of valuable tips on how to gain repeat clients: be an expert in your field, network, attend events, and build sound relationships with clients and your colleagues. This will require leaving your comfort zone, leaving space in your schedule so you can be flexible, spreading your risks, and learning from feedback.
Next, I attended a fascinating presentation by Dianna Beaufort on writing and translating in architecture and urban planning. I have a background in urban studies and am familiar with the embellished writing architects can produce. Beaufort guided us through some examples of problems caused by “architecture and urban development speak” or false friends and showed us how she dealt with these. Translating “een karakteristieke oppervlakte” into “a characteristic surface,” for example, does not work!Continue reading
It’s been a while since I last blogged! My summer was filled with work, courses, and conferences. To begin with, I completed another course toward obtaining Queens University’s Professional Editing Standards certificate: Stylistic Editing, now renamed Copyediting Standards 2. This brings my total number of courses to three: Copyediting Standards 1, Fundamentals of Editing (completed this spring), and Copyediting Standards 2. I have two more courses to go before I can apply for the certificate! I also enrolled in a course from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) titled “Brush Up Your Grammar,” which I have almost completed.
As it turned out, whatever I learned from my courses could be put in practice right away, as my summer schedule filled up with work. I edited two academic monographs, eight journal articles, two dissertations, two book chapters, a conference paper, some blog posts, and even a card game! Thanks to the courses, I have become quicker at spotting issues, and I more readily know what to do about them. The issues I encounter are not just spelling and grammar errors, but also language that is not clear, coherent, or concise. It is nice to feel more confident in my abilities to spot and correct these instances!
My skills were honed even more by the conferences I attended this September: the Annual Conference of the SfEP and the Professional Development Day of the Society for English-language Professionals in the Netherlands (SENSE). While attending two conferences in such rapid succession was intense and left me feeling a bit drained, I am very happy that I went, because I met many people and learned a ton of stuff. I am working on detailed blog posts about these two conferences, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, I am booked up until the end of October at least, having started work for Terreform’s publishing imprint Urban Research on a forthcoming edited volume that I’m very excited about: an anthology of essays in honor of legendary urban theorist Mike Davis!
The article below was originally published in the July/August issue of Editing Matters, the magazine of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).
On 22 May 2019, the SfEP’s North East England local group organised a mini-conference in Newcastle. As a relatively new member, I was determined to attend my first-ever SfEP conference, even though it involved taking the overnight ferry from the Netherlands to Newcastle. People warned me that it was a notorious party boat and that I would probably not get much sleep. Thankfully, the trip was perfect: it was more like a pleasant mini-cruise than a hyped-up stag party (more on the boat trip here).
Expectations for this conference were high. Not only was everyone enthusiastic about the programme and looking forward to meeting up with old and new friends but a debate erupted on Twitter that raised the stakes for the treats served during the intervals.The pressure was on for co-organiser and cakesourcer, Kia Thomas!
After a wonderful trip, I met up with fellow editors the evening before for a pre-conference dinner. We went to a gorgeous restaurant in the centre of Newcastle, where we shared stories and had a few laughs about my unnecessary boat worries. I love how inclusive and welcoming the editing community is! The following morning, people arrived at the conference venue early, eager to get started. After registering, I socialised with old and new friends. It was great to recognise people from Twitter!Continue reading
I have not yet reported on my new(ish) membership of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (effective as of March). This UK-based organization has members all over the globe and offers many benefits to editors, including a wide range of courses and many (local) events to attend. Seeing as I’m based in Europe for now, it made sense to join an association located next door with events that are only a train or boat ride away (I’m trying not to fly within Europe; more in this below).
What I especially like about the SfEP is its focus on training and community. Let me say something about training first. The SfEP offers training in core and editorial skills and for in-house editors. Members can obtain different grades of membership: Entry, Intermediate, Professional, and Advanced Professional, dependent on the amount of training they have completed and their work experience. Only members who have obtained the last two grades can advertise their services in the SfEP directory.
I think this thorough vetting process lends a lot of credibility to the SfEP and its members. I am currently an Entry-level member but am planning to upgrade to Intermediate soon (I should have enough training points by now). I will probably take the “Brush Up Your Grammar” course (next to my ongoing coursework at Queens University) and am planning to reach the Professional level as soon as I can. Continue reading
Mid-March, I attended the London Book Fair for the first time in my life. This is a massive event where publishing professionals from all over the world come to negotiate rights and sell and distribute their content. Over 25,000 people attend on average! I knew it was massive, but wow, it was really, really massive.
I attended the Fair for several reasons. First, I wanted to better understand the publishing industry and its trends and challenges. Second, I wanted to see which publishers could benefit from my services and approach them. Third, I wanted to meet and network with other editors and publishing professionals.Continue reading
It’s been a while since I updated my blog! I’ve been ridiculously busy in the past few months. I completed a bunch of large editing jobs, including a language and copyedit of a fascinating academic book manuscript and a copyedit of a wonderful dissertation. I also did a literature review for a political scientist and a number of smaller editing jobs, ranging from a market research report to some new sets of Arcmage cards! My testimonials page has been updated and should be updated again soon, as work keeps on coming in! I’m also taking the Fundamentals of Editing course at Queens University as part of the editing certificate I’m studying for. I meant to write something about this and the copyediting course I took a while ago, and I hope to get to this soon! I’m barely able to catch my breath these days. I’m also going to give you a report of the London Book Fair I attended mid-March, which has already led to new work (I will tell you how I did that!) and lots of new contacts with lovely editors.
As my new cover photo shows, I went on a fantastic, two-week trip to Toronto in the second half of January, where I met many lovely editors who took me in, showed me around, and generally made me feel very welcome. I’m not mentioning everyone here, but Greg Ioannou let me use a desk in his Iguana books office and invited me for dinner at his home, which was such a great gesture. I attended a meeting of Editors Canada’s Toronto branch, where I met more great people and had the privilege to see the amazing writer Esi Edugyan in conversation with her editors. It was a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the work of copyediting. I read Edugyan’s book Washington Black right away and it definitely kept me up late a few nights because I couldn’t stop reading.
2018 has almost come to an end, and I thought that this would be a good moment to reflect on what I have achieved during my first year as a full-time, professional editor and look ahead to 2019. I have to say, I’m quite satisfied! I registered my company, created my website, learned how to run a business, joined Editors Canada and SENSE, took my first course towards obtaining my editing certificate, became a stakeholder in Peerwith, worked with dozens of kind and talented clients, met many amazing “edibuddies” online through various social media platforms, and, not unimportantly, managed to make enough money to have a fun and comfortable life. I hereby want to thank all the clients who chose to work with me and all the editors who have given me their time and advice.
In the new year, I am planning to complete my training, attend my first editing conference, and expand my client base to include think tanks and governmental institutions. I am now also a Permanent Resident of Canada and am going to explore what opportunities this might bring in 2019, beginning with a two-week trip to Toronto in the second half of January 2019 (where I’m planning to meet up with plenty of edibuddies!).
Here are five tips I have for new editors, based on my experience during my first year as a professional editor:
1. Join a professional association
My membership of professional associations no doubt made me look more professional, but for me the main benefit was that it provided me with (information about) many useful resources in terms of training (courses, webinars, books), business (contract templates, how to set rates), and networking (conferences, mailing lists, Facebook groups). These associations also usually have a directory where you can list yourself as a freelancer, so potential clients can find you. They also offer discounts on conferences, office supplies, and online subscriptions, and different editors’ associations offer discounts to each other’s members. There are usually different ranks for members, assigned according to experience, training, or exams, and one can move up the ranks over the years. Continue reading