A Dev Editing Handbook with Novelistic Empathy

OCTOBER 2018 By Matthew Bennett In anticipation of our upcoming November 12 member meeting on developmental editing, let’s review a book that’s an inspiring and comprehensive introduction to the craft of “dev editing,” my own preferred corner of the craft. Imagine for a moment you’re an editor in a publishing house, perhaps one of the local presses like Wave Books in Seattle. As you sip your morning coffee, two of your colleagues (frazzled editors in their own right) collide in the hall and mix up their manuscripts. One of these manuscripts is a sly and meticulous instruction manual on the craft of developmental editing. The other is a novel about books, a story driven by conflict and (sometimes) resolution between editors, writers, and publishers. To aid your colleagues, you accidentally shuffle several chapters of each book into the other like a poker dealer with a stack of cards. One would expect the new hybrid manuscript to bewilder the narrative, but the shuffled whole catalyzes so harmoniously that the publisher rejoices in the happy accident. This resulting book is Scott Norton’s Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers (Chicago, 2009). Norton divides his guide into ten chapters, each describing developmental editing processes and tools, on the one hand, and a fictionalized editing project, on the other. These fictional sections address several aspects of developmental editing by dramatizing a problematic writer-editor relationship, such as an uncompromising writer with a manuscript lacking a concept. To teach the interested writer or editor, Norton creates problems in the novelistic sections that he resolves in the guidance sections. Norton begins with the foundation of any successful editing relationship: to “engage in sustained acts of two-way empathy—toward … authors and their prospective readers.” For the writer, the craft of fiction demands a keenly developed empathetic imagination. For the dev editor as well, robust empathy is necessary for both the writer and their potential audience. Combining his own empathy with a mania for outlining, Norton humorously delivers his lessons for improving troubled manuscripts while encouraging an amicable working relationship between writer and editor. There is a wide variety of editing techniques in Developmental Editing, as well as endearing character studies and even views on the publishing industry, but for the sake of brevity I’ll focus on only one section as exemplary of the whole. In chapter two of Developmental Editing we encounter the zombie manuscript: a shambling text that resembles a book and yet has no soul. Here Norton discusses the problem of a manuscript lacking a core concept, and he plops this text down between a first-time author, a New York trade publisher, and a freelance editor. For Norton, a subject is simply a topic that guides a particular discussion, while a concept is something larger, what we might refer to as a position or “an author’s special take on a subject.” Here is Norton’s editing process in a nutshell: interview the writer, read the manuscript deeply (twice is best!), take notes, categorize subjects, synthesize …

Say Hello to Your 2018 Northwest Editors Guild Board

September 2018 Here’s a friendly introduction to the twelve-person all-volunteer board of directors who serve two-year terms and work on committees that support the Guild’s mission: connecting clients with professional editors, fostering community among our members, and providing resources for their career development. In January 2018, our diverse team got right down to business in a spirit of creative collaboration. This year we’ve focused on both accomplishing tasks that have lingered on the board’s to-do list for years—such as officially dropping “independent” from our name—and strategizing how we can best serve the Guild membership in the future: for example, with the help of member and nonprofit consultant Dawn Bass, we’re writing the organization’s first business plan. We’d like to tell you more about what else we’ve been up to—and we want to hear about you! All Guild members are welcome to come and eat, chat, relax, and hear a brief “State of the Guild” recap at the annual board-sponsored potluck on Sunday, October 7, 3:30-6:30 p.m., Lakewood Seward Park Community Club in Seattle. Until then, here’s a little bit more about each one of us: Officers/Executive Committee President: Pm Weizenbaum (Chair, Communications and Outreach committees) I’ve been a content editor in the business and nonprofit sectors for 40 years (Microsoft, MIT, Amazon, Gates Foundation, many others). I am expert in translating tech-speak into language that readers can easily act on. I’ve recently branched out to editing fiction as well. My philosophy is: You mean everything you say—I help you say exactly what you mean. With the Editors Guild, I’ve enjoyed helping to plan Red Pencil 2015 and 2017. Also important to me are my big red poodle and art quilting. Vice President of Board Development: Valerie Paquin (Programming and Renaming committees) I’m a freelance copyeditor and proofreader focusing on nonprofit and corporate communications, specialty nonfiction, and fiction. I have subject matter fluency in woodworking and furniture making, home improvement, vegan and gluten-free cooking, sewing and crafts, basic paleontology and geology, animal welfare, and conservation. In addition to editing and proofreading, I have extensive experience managing a variety of projects, from engineering catalogs and apple juice ads to custom furniture builds and fundraising auctions. I have a BA in Business Administration and a Certificate in Editing, both from the University of Washington, and an AAS in Furniture Design and Manufacturing. Vice President of Member Services: Matt Bennett (Chair, Programming committee) I began editing in 2008 at Ronsdale Press, where I shepherded documents from submission to final print and served as editor for publications such as Sheila James’s In the Wake of Loss (2009). I later acted as a freelance copyeditor for academic monographs, such as Nicholas Hudson’s A Political Biography of Samuel Johnson (Pickering & Chatto, 2013). My recent editing work is largely developmental and includes novels and short stories, master’s theses and doctoral dissertations. I have an English PhD from the University of British Columbia and have been writing, editing, and publishing academic, journalistic, and fictional prose for over a decade. Treasurer: Michael …

What’s the Big Idea? Four Words that Can Define a Work in Progress

August 2018 By Beth Jusino A couple of years ago, I got the urge to write a book. I’d recently returned from a sabbatical in Europe, where my husband, Eric, and I walked a thousand miles on the Camino de Santiago, a network of pilgrimage trails that date back to the Roman Empire. I hadn’t intended to write about the trip when I left, but when I got back I couldn’t shake the suspicion that there was something book-worthy in the experience. I’d worked in book publishing for almost two decades by that point, including the past seven years as a developmental editor and collaborative writer. I’d seen hundreds of manuscripts, both fiction and nonfiction. And while there was a lot about becoming an author I didn’t know yet, I did know that the first step wasn’t just to start typing away at Chapter 1. Instead, I opened a new Scrivener document and wrote four words: What’s the Big Idea? In publishing circles, we sometimes call the answer to this the hook, tagline, or, in nonfiction, the subtitle. What it’s called doesn’t matter as much as the clarity of the answer, because wanting to write a book is different than having a book that other people want to read. Let’s face it, readers aren’t lacking for good books these days. Half a million new titles hit the shelves last year alone. For a book to find an audience in this crowded market, it needs something new and fresh that’s clear right from the very first page. I’d done my homework, browsing bookstore shelves and Amazon keywords to find out what was already available. I knew my book wouldn’t be the first narrative account of the Camino de Santiago. There were well-respected memoirs from a variety of different voices, including a Catholic priest from Spokane, a German comedian, and the famous spiritualist Shirley MacLaine. There were dozens (and dozens and dozens) of self-published stories from writers of all ages and countries of origin. Considering that crowded field, before I started writing I needed to spend some time with the same questions I’ve asked of every book I’ve edited: What is it about this idea that will catch the attention of a total stranger? What will convince them to invest their money and time in this book when they have so many other options? What is different about the approach this book takes from others like it? What is the future reader of this book looking for that they can’t find now? What will they see in the first five pages that will make them keep reading? That’s what I mean by the Big Idea. It’s not easy for most writers to see their work through the eyes of a stranger, but without that step, we all too often end up losing time chasing an idea without an audience. In fiction, knowing the Big Idea up front can help writers push past predictable (boring) plots and stock characters, as well as avoid …

Q&A with Guild Mascot Giant Pencil

The Northwest Editors Guild’s oversized writing implement mascot, Giant Pencil, has been making appearances at events and on social media during the last year. In fact, starting July 23, Giant Pencil will be hosting the Editors of Earth Twitter account—a rotating curator account with a different editor hosting each week. It’s the first pencil to be asked to host. As Giant Pencil’s following increases, we’ve received many questions about this well-dressed No. 2 of large proportions. We sat down with Giant Pencil to get to the point (pencil puns included). Q: What should people call you? Do you have a preferred pronoun? A: My name is Giant Pencil, so you can call me that. My pronoun is “it.” I’m a writing implement, not a human, so he/she/they doesn’t really apply. Q: What do you do as the Guild’s mascot? A: Part of the Guild’s mission is to connect editors with potential clients and with other editors. I’m here to help break the ice—to draw a smooth line between interactions, if you will. I help make editors more approachable—to show that editors can have fun and a sense of humor. So many authors, and even the general public, are intimidated by editors because they don’t know what real professional editors do. Your stereotypical editor is this stern, pedantic grammarian who tears apart writing and scolds people for improper usages, but that isn’t true. Most editors see their work as a collaboration with writers, and don’t belittle others for mistakes. I want to help people start a discussion and learn that the editing process doesn’t have to be scary. Q: How did you get your start as the Guild’s mascot? A: A couple of my large pencil cousins and I started attending events and outreach opportunities with Guild board members in late 2016 and early 2017—mostly as table decorations and in case someone forgot to bring a pencil or pen and had an urgent need to write something down. We’re not your typical No. 2s and that intrigues people, so they’d ask about us. I was having fun, but then I found out I needed glasses last summer when I started having trouble crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s. I was sure that would end my days of going to events because my glasses would get in the way of people writing with me, but it turns out editors and writers love pencils that wear glasses! I was promoted to Guild mascot after that. My cousins without glasses still go to some Guild events and let visitors write with them, but they’re happy about my role as mascot—there’s no hard-graphite feelings there. Q: How do you react to people who find your existence twee or childish? A: I’m not here to delegitimize the editing profession, but make it more approachable and fun. Yeah, I’m goofy. I’m a huge pencil for goodness sake—how can I not be goofy? But if I can get someone to come over and ask about my sweater …

What We Learned at ACES 2018

By Jill Walters – LetterTerrier.com Approximately a dozen Editors Guild members convened in Chicago with more than 700 other editors during the ACES 2018 conference April 26–28. ACES: The Society for Editing (formerly known as the American Copy Editors Society), a national organization for professional editors, hosts its annual three-day conference in a different U.S. city each spring. The ACES conference is often the venue where the major style guides and dictionaries announce upcoming changes in spelling, style, and usage. It is especially well known as the conference where each year the Associated Press announces updates to its Stylebook in a room full of gasping and cheering editors. (The 2016 lowercasing of the word “internet” brought a mix of applause and disgusted harrumphs, while this year’s comparatively tame removal of the hyphen in “3D” didn’t cause nearly as many emotional reactions.) Perhaps the largest “gasp” moment this year came when Merriam-Webster’s Peter Sokolowski showed a slide of words that have updated primary spellings—including the now-closed noun, “copyeditor.” Other sessions at this year’s conference covered a wide variety of topics ranging from macros in Microsoft Word to working with made-up fantasy languages. Several sessions focused on the use of conscious language and avoiding unintentional bias when editing, as well as promoting inclusive practices such as plain language and using alternate text with images. Representing the Guild in Chicago Seventeen editors from the Pacific Northwest, ranging from Portland to Seattle to Pullman, met on the final day of the conference for a special PNW lunch hosted by the Guild. Several lunch attendees who are not Guild members were surprised to learn that there is such a strong community of editorial professionals in the PNW. Guild member Janice Lee, a freelance editor from Seattle, presented a session at the conference about editing traditional comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She highlighted ways to think differently about the comic editing process, and the need to allow more flexibility with standard grammar and style “rules” when working with comics. Giant Pencil, the Guild’s oversized pencil mascot that wears glasses, enjoyed unexpected popularity on social media during the conference. You can see photos of Giant Pencil meeting editors from across the world on the Guild’s Twitter feed. What is one interesting thing you learned at the ACES Conference? We asked a few of the Guild members in attendance to share one thing they learned at ACES 2018 that would be of interest to other editors who did not attend. Here are their answers: “In defiance of its own style guide, the Los Angeles Times repeatedly used pejorative language during World War II. Not long before, in 1938, the newspaper had admonished its writers and editors to ‘exercise care in all racial references.’ At ACES 2018, Henry Fuhrmann shared photos of headlines that used one anti-Japanese slur in particular. It’s sobering how quickly the paper set aside its own socially conscious standards and lent legitimacy to prejudice. This example was historically specific, but a certain amount of exigency …

Programming Committee Roundtable

The powerhouse behind member meetings, workshops, coffee hours, and other special events, the board’s programming committee, consisting this year of Kelley Frodel, Kristin Carlsen, and Pm Weizenbaum, is vital to the smooth operation of the EdsGuild. Earlier this year, we got these busy ladies to sit down for a little while and talk to us about their responsibilities and what it’s like working for the board. What year of board service are you in? Kelley Frodel: This is my second year on the board. Kristin Carlsen: This is also my second year on the board. Pm Weizenbaum: I just started this year. What made you decide to join the Programming Committee this year? Kelley: I was on the Programming Committee last year, and it was a great way to become more involved with the Guild and feel more closely connected to the editing community in general. Kristin: I enjoyed being involved with this committee in 2016 and wanted to continue with it for my second year on the board. The Programming Committee members (all of us, or at least a couple of us) come to each member meeting a bit ahead of the social half hour, to greet the speaker(s) and help guide the room setup. Just being around as attendees start showing up, greeting the speaker, and working with the other Committee members means you’re mixing with a lot of people and getting to know them better, which is one of the main reasons I joined the board in 2016. Pm: I just kept having so many ideas for things the Editors Guild could do! And now that my kids have grown and flown, I’ve got the time to volunteer. So I joined the board, and this seemed like the logical place to contribute. What’s your favorite project that the committee has planned? Kelley: Last year we put on a Copyediting Fiction Workshop, and that felt like a huge success. We had high attendance and a lot of good feedback. It felt great to help organize an event that editors in my community benefited from. Kristin: That’s a tough question. I agree with Kelley that the workshop was wonderful to be a part of. It had been a little while since the Guild had put on a workshop, so getting the first one running was a significant move forward. We learned a lot from doing that event and from the surveys we issued to the attendees, and we will use that information going forward to plan the next workshop. It would be hard to pick a favorite member meeting—I’ve gotten something significant out of attending all of them (and helping plan many of them). Pm: The upcoming July member meeting, “Engaging with Other Editors: Fostering Our Community,” definitely. One of my passions (despite my Editorial Introversion Syndrome) is supporting a sense of community, and in the editorial community I have truly found my people, my tribe. Organizing the panel and generating ideas has been fun and inspiring; I can’t …

Marketing for Editors: Takeaways from a Guild Discussion

By Lea Galanter The Guild’s mentoring program held a panel discussion in May on marketing, which garnered interest from editors new to freelancing. The panel included people with different backgrounds and experiences: Anne Moreau, who has worked as a freelance editor for book publishers and as an in-house editor for advertising agencies for more than 13 years; Beth Jusino, a marketing expert (author of The Author’s Guide to Marketing) who works with writers and other creative people; and me, who started a freelance editing business in January 2016 after decades as in-house editor.* When I was getting my business off the ground, I took online courses about how to market myself, studied how to set up a business website, attended networking get-togethers, and read books and columns by editors with longtime businesses. There’s a wealth of marketing information and advice available online, and sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. Being on the panel gave me a chance to hear from others as well as to share my own experiences. We started by defining the terms marketing and networking. Marketing includes specific tasks, such as creating a professional business card, website, or letter to clients—those outward representations that create an impression of who you are. However, the world of marketing is more creative than that—marketing is everything you do to build a reputation. Effective marketing includes deciding where you want to focus your efforts (perhaps independent authors), as well as how (such as presenting at conferences). All the panelists felt a professional website is important. It should describe your editorial experience, the kinds of editing you specialize in, and how you work with clients—anything and everything to show that you are the person someone wants to work with. Networking, which can strike fear in the hearts of introverted editors, entails meeting and connecting with others and communicating who you are and how you can fulfill their needs, whether it’s being published, attracting more clients, increasing sales, or improving writing skills. Networking online can include being active in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media groups. Ways to network in person can vary widely, from sitting at the Guild table at a writing conference, attending networking events (Meetup.com is great for finding networking groups), joining a writers’ group, working with a volunteer organization, or taking a continuing education class. The truth is, every time you meet someone and they ask what you do, you’re networking. Rather than being able to nail down definitive strategies for attracting clients (other than having a professional website!), being on the panel reminded me that different approaches work for different people; editors need to take into account the niche they fill, the kinds of clients they are pursuing, and their own personality. Even as introverts, editors can vary widely—some editors avoid talking on the phone, preferring to communicate only through email, and some editors feel networking in person is a big part of their strategy. Some are adept at using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and others prefer …

Learning From Mistakes

By Julie Klein, JKlein-Editor.com Has this ever happened to you? You accept a new manuscript project for copyediting. You think you’ve correctly assessed the level of editing needed and bid accordingly. Indeed, the writer claims to have already paid for an editor, though she is a bit vague as to what she paid for. You get to work, thinking you know how many days and hours it will take to finish the project. But wait—something is very wrong. That’s an odd expression for a novel set in medieval times. Ah well, must be a fluke. She did have another editor work on this manuscript, after all. You press on. WTH? Here’s a bizarre setting: an English peasant living in the 1400s flips on a light switch? Yeah—no, that won’t work. And on you go with the edit. Only now it seems to be taking a lot longer than you anticipated. You’re going to lose a lot of money on this project. Not only that, but your planned free time has disappeared and your stress level has reached the ceiling. Ack! What just happened? Let’s look at some clues. Clue no. 1: The client stated up front, “I’ve already paid $X,000 to have this manuscript edited.” Clue no. 2: The sample I edited had at least one bizarre scene that I assumed was an isolated instance. Clue no. 3: Because I needed the work, I kept my bid under $2,000 for a 95,000-word project. So what did I learn? Lesson no. 1: Never assume. Remember the TV show The Odd Couple? In what may have been the first time we heard this joke, Felix goes to court to defend himself against a traffic citation. When the witness answers a question with “Well, I just assumed…” Felix writes “assume” on a chalkboard and circles “ass,” “u,” and “me.” And that’s exactly what I did. I assumed that after five years of working on her novel (according to the client) and previously working with an editor, the manuscript would be in pretty good shape. Did I even ask for clarification about the previous editing? If I did, I didn’t get a response, and I failed to push for one. All other assumptions followed from this one. Lesson no. 2: Ask for the entire manuscript when doing a sample edit. In this case, I asked for a single chapter to get an idea of the writing. I knew enough to tell her not to send the first chapter, but even a chapter in the middle may not give you enough information. If you have the entire manuscript, you can spot-check for repetition of issues. If you are seeing red flags at this stage, it may be worth your while to have a 20-minute conversation with the writer to clarify where she is in the process. Lesson no. 3: Don’t underbid. Once you’ve assessed the level of editing needed, calculate your hours based on the sample edit. If that times the rate you charge per hour comes …

Meet Your New 2017 Edsguild Board

On January 7 the EdsGuild board had our annual retreat in West Seattle at a coworking space generously provided by Kerrie Schurr. Membership on the board changes every year, with some members stepping down after their two years of service and new volunteers stepping in, and many continuing members changing positions, and we’ve found over the last several years that a day-long retreat is a great way to get to know each other a little if we weren’t acquainted before, get onto the same page with logistics and regulations, and plan for the year ahead. This year is an especially exciting one, coming up on the Guild’s 20th anniversary as well as our 6th conference in the fall, and we’ll be taking some time over the next month or so on this blog to introduce you all to our board members, the committees and positions they serve in, what those committees have planned in the coming year, and how you can get involved. For now, we’d like to give you a chance to get to know a little bit about your new board members. 2017 Northwest Independent Editors Guild Board Officers: President: Jill Walters I am a freelance copyeditor and proofreader, writer, designer, and social media manager. I have a background in journalism, children’s education, and nonprofits, and bring a variety of skills and an attention to detail to any project. My preferred subject matter is children’s literature and curriculum, nonfiction, home and leisure, or web writing, but I’m willing to tackle almost anything. Graduate of both the UW Editing Certificate Program and UW Writing for Children Certificate Program. Vice President of Board Development: Pm Weizenbaum I’m a content editor in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Having lived with computer programmers my entire life, I am expert in translating tech-speak into language that readers can easily act on. I’ve performed both technical and marketing editing for MIT, Amazon, more than 15 groups at Microsoft (over 20 years), the Gates Foundation (more than 90 projects), and for many other corporations both local and global. My philosophy is: You mean everything you say – I help you say exactly what you mean. Vice President of Member Services: Kristin Carlsen I am a copyeditor and proofreader of fiction and nonfiction books, and I also edit various types of content for corporations, nonprofits, magazines, and academics. I have loved reading books and tinkering with words since childhood, and that affinity eventually led to my current work polishing other people’s prose. I have a BA in Spanish and a Certificate in Editing from the University of Washington, along with many credits in English writing and literature courses. Before editing I taught ESL, and I enjoy working with ESL clients and native English speakers alike. Secretary: Christina Johnson Technical editor and writer with more than 15 years of experience working for high-profile clients on tight deadlines. For the past two years I’ve been documenting cloud-based technologies, web apps, and software. In the past, I’ve written and edited legal, financial, and marketing …