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 …

How to Table: A Guide for Introverts

By Jill Walters, Guild Board VP of Member Services and Polly Zetterberg, Guild volunteer You’ve signed up for a shift at the NWIEG table at an event or conference. Maybe you’re excited for free or discounted entrance into the event. Maybe you’re making an effort to get out and network more often. Maybe you want to share the wide variety of talents held by Guild members. These are all good reasons to volunteer to represent the Guild. But wait! Aren’t you an introvert? How the heck are you supposed to make small talk with a bunch of strangers for several hours? What are you supposed to do during the downtimes? Can you just sit there with a pile of flyers and hope they magically drift into the hands of attendees? Don’t panic. We’ve got a strategy for you and a list of ways to ensure that you, your tablemates, and the people you meet all leave happy and with a positive impression of the Guild. Despite popular belief, editors are not all a bunch of curmudgeonly pedants. Put on Your “Guild Representative Face” Think of it as “putting on your Guild representative face.” Actors put on different personas all the time. Salespeople have to be “on” to be successful. But these people aren’t necessarily outgoing and sociable all the time. Even the most introverted editor can make an effort to be a happy, friendly, knowledgeable representative of the Guild for a set amount of time. You don’t have to pretend to be someone else—just a slightly more outgoing version of yourself. You can do it for a few hours. When you’re done, be sure reward yourself for going outside your comfort zone. Do Don’t Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that make you feel confident when you wear them Wear clothing that makes you visibly uncomfortable: anything too restrictive, too itchy, ill-fitting, etc. Look professional (you are representing a professional organization after all, but you don’t need a formal suit) Wear yoga pants, sweats, pajamas, old T-shirts, baggy jeans, Ugg boots or Crocs; or overly revealing or inappropriate clothes Talk yourself up: tell yourself that you can do this for a few hours Panic and lock yourself in a closet Be prepared: research the event, read over any information provided by your volunteer coordinator ahead of time, ask questions beforehand Walk in to the event with no idea what’s going on If you know you will have downtimes with no table visitors (during a conference session or lunch break, for example), bring a book or other (silent) entertainment Bring a book that’s so good you can’t tear yourself away from it when the downtime is over Bring a water bottle, a mug of tea, or some coffee; have some mints or throat lozenges on Lose your voice, resort to charades or mime At the Event Do Don’t Put on your “Guild representative face” Panic and hide in the bathroom, bury yourself in your smartphone Introduce yourself to the other table volunteers if …

2016 State of the Guild

By Kathleen Walker, NWIEG President This speech was delivered at the annual Northwest Independent Editors Guild potluck, hosted this year at the Sky Lounge at the Post Apartments in downtown Seattle. I don’t know where the urge to shoot myself in the foot comes from, but I’m going to tell on myself now: the Guild met in this same fabulous Sky Lounge for a potluck two years ago, and I brought my standard potluck dish, which is a Greek potato salad. Everyone was asked to create a label, naming their food item, and place the label next to their dish. I’ll never forget the horror of standing in this room, looking at my Magic-markered word “Potatoe” and thinking maybe I should take the e off the end. But not being so sure about that. All the while, fifty hungry editors were lining up to make the rounds on the buffet table. I left the e on there. Please forgive me–this happened at the end of a long, hard week and you all made me nervous. I discovered that I come unglued in the presence of genius. Well, now it’s fall 2016, I’ve finally recovered from my humiliation, and I am privileged to return to the scene as president of this illustrious organization. Life certainly takes interesting twists and turns. Fall 2016 is a significant season: the Northwest Independent Editors Guild has now officially entered its twentieth year. Starting from the first meeting in the summer of 1997 when eleven editors gathered in a Seattle living room, we’ve burgeoned to a membership of more than 300, with representation in three states. How did this success happen, considering it came about only through the power of volunteers? The answer, I believe, is twofold: The first source of our success is a little bit mysterious. In fact, it’s magical—it’s our people. Look to your left and look to your right: you are surrounded by high-caliber, thoughtful people who have a broad range of interests and experience. These are not just bookish word nerds or grammar police. They are fascinating people who are brimming with curiosity and who are compulsive learners. Among us are tailors, sailors, engineers, chefs, mountaineers, silk acrobats, musicians, scientists, and artists of every ilk. This wealth of talent and knowledge creates a synergy of inspired volunteers who enrich our editing craft by brainstorming bimonthly programming, organizing neighborhood coffee hours, hammering out details of our biennial conference, and nailing down annual budgets that keep an eye on the future. The second source of our success has nothing to do with magic. It’s strictly nuts and bolts, the hard work of our founders, previous and current board members, advisors, and contributing members. This is the nitty-gritty stuff that includes, for example, unseen tasks such as developing and updating a detailed handbook of role definitions and procedures that maintain a healthy organization, enable the smooth succession of board roles, and create effective volunteer opportunities.