Nuances of Editing for Global Audiences

The Presenter David B. Schlosser is an award-winning fiction and non-fiction writer and an award-winning editor. He taught higher-education writing and crime fiction, and served the boards of Editorial Freelancers Association and Mystery Writers of America regional chapters. His fiction appears in literary journals and online magazines. His non-fiction appears in global news outlets and industry publications. As a communications strategist, political consultant, and candidate, he has delighted and offended people around the world. Meeting Notes Due to technical difficulties, a video of the July 8 presentation will not be available, but you can read an excellent recap below, or peruse the speaker’s “Editing for a Global Audience” presentation in PDF format here. (Written notes from the 07/08/19 meeting by Molly Hollenbach) In his introduction, presenter David B. Schlosser (dbschlosser.com) noted that he had given this talk at the Red Pencil Conference in 2013. He reviewed his background, from running political campaigns to P.R., to scripts for micro devices, to editing, and then more editing. He now edits or writes Web content for Express Scripts, an online service for pharmacies. He has also written and published crime fiction. Cardinal rule: “Don’t edit the language in a way that would make it sound unnatural to native speakers of English.”   From his experience editing technical documents, Schlosser became fascinated by the particular challenges of making English clear to non-native speakers of English. He pointed out that “In our digitally connected, 24/7 world,” we are writing and editing for a global audience, of whom fewer than 15 percent grow up speaking English. Iceland is the most wired non-English speaking country in the world. Access to the Internet is growing, especially in Africa. Everything written will soon be available to everyone! Thus, unlike editing in other contexts, it may be more important to understand and convey the sense than to be absolutely accurate. It may even be better to make it clear than to preserve the authorial voice. He noted that engineers don’t care – but other kinds of writers may. (Be careful with poets!) SIMPLIFY Use the simplest and fewest verbs possible, and the simplest possible structure and tense. For example:  Instead of I had planned to go – write I plan to go. Gerunds and other -ing verbs are confusing to non-native speakers because there are also -ing nouns such as thing and setting. Avoid them if you can. Phrasal verbs and split infinitives can be problematic, e.g. turn off – keep the phrase together. Turn off the machine, not turn the machine off.  To go boldly, not to boldly go. Words that indicate logical relationships, such as however, therefore, and thus are better at the beginning than stuck in the middle of the sentence. Limit the passive voice – it’s hard to translate. Don’t verb nouns.  Don’t verb TLAs (three-letter acronyms), e.g. He got RIF’d Avoid rhetorical flourishes:  as well as = and.  Within = in. Make short sentences – 20-25 words max. CLARIFY Be stupidly literal.  Instead of The …

Red Pencil Conference 2019: July Conference News

July 15, 2019 Contributed by the 2019 Red Pencil conference committee Dear editors, here’s a friendly reminder to register for the Guild’s biennial Red Pencil Conference before early bird rates fly away. Prices go up after July 31, so you’ll save money if you register now! Eager for more news about the upcoming Red Pencil Conference 2019: Voice & Voices? On the blog last month, the June conference news post shared a first peek at sessions you’ll have the chance to attend in September. This month we’re offering a peek at the rest of the lineup—from presentations on building your business and taking care of your health to sessions that address the conference theme of Voice & Voices in different ways and from different perspectives. Want to get involved? You can still contribute your voice to the choir—figuratively and possibly even literally. More on that after a look at conference presenters and sessions. Conference Sessions: The Business of Editing The June blog post introduced conference sessions focused on what we edit, such as medical or technical texts, government reports, social media, or graphic novels. Here are a few sessions that address how we edit and how we build an editing career. Macros 101: Work Smarter, Not Harder Are macros a mystery to you? Amy J. Schneider, who has been a full-time freelance copyeditor and proofreader since 1995, long ago discovered that macros are marvelous, magical tools that editors can use to increase efficiency and accuracy. In this session, you’ll learn how to record macros, view them in Visual Basic Editor, and save them to a template. Amy will then share several of her favorite and most commonly used simple macros. Working with Independent Authors Tanya Gold is a book editor and writing coach from Cambridge, Massachusetts, who edits fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry (she’s also events coordinator for the Editorial Freelancers Association’s Boston chapter). In this session, she’ll present tips and strategies for working directly with authors. Learn skills for better understanding an author’s goals, setting expectations, establishing good communication, talking about pricing, and giving effective feedback that creates a positive working relationship. Proof Your Health, Performance, and Finances: Wellness for Editors When K. Aleisha Fetters was working as assistant editor and associate online editor for Women’s Health, she used to joke that she “sat at a computer all day, writing about how bad it is to sit at a computer all day.” Putting her writing into action, she became a certified strength and conditioning specialist. In this session, Aleisha will explore some of the biggest health and wellness concerns for editors while sharing practical, data-driven strategies for improving your energy, performance, and career. Saving Your Voice: Freelancing Outside the Box Joanie Eppinga has a bachelor’s degree in English, has a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and studied medieval mysticism and literature at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in Oxford, England. In this session, she aims to demonstrate how editors at all levels can—as she has—follow their own …

Tips for Offering Editing Samples

July 1, 2019 By Stephanie Amargi When I first began as a freelance editor, I was encouraged to offer my potential clients a complimentary editing sample. Something small—a few pages from their manuscript to demonstrate the edits I could offer. It made sense, but the idea still made me cringe. Editing for free? I’d just graduated from the nine-month-long Certificate in Editing program at the University of Washington. I was ready to work as an editor. Frankly, I was ready to make money (oh, how naïve I was!). I quickly learned, though, that one does not preclude the other. In fact, offering editing samples is a big reason why many of my clients decide to work with me. I believe that once they see how exactly I could support their unique manuscript, their confidence grows. Perhaps you are an editor wondering if you should offer editing samples or how to improve your current method. While there’s still much for me to learn, I have some suggestions on how to make this a smooth, enjoyable process. Review the manuscript first. Of course, you’ll need the whole manuscript to make an estimate, but it’s helpful for a sample, too. Unless the author has a specific section they want you to edit, choose somewhere in the middle of the manuscript, where things like plot and characters have already been established. It’ll be more “representative” of the edits you’re likely to make. Consider project compatibility. You be the judge on whether or not the manuscript is one you’d actually want to work on, and hence, spend time sample editing. If you’re one paragraph deep and none of it is making sense, it may not be the right project for you. Save yourself and the client that precious time (if you can) for a better fit. Spend just one hour. When I first began editing samples, I offered five to ten pages. Since I was new, I was also really slow, so you can guess how long those five to ten pages took me. Once I set parameters around the amount of time I’d spend on a sample, I could relax and enjoy the process a lot more. Perhaps this sounds like you, too. This approach is also advantageous because many editors base their estimate on an hourly rate anyway. Emphasize the mutual benefits. A sample is useful for you to get a feel for the text and its needs, the editing level, etc. But you should also discuss the sample’s usefulness to the client. Before starting a sample, you could ask questions such as, how do you prefer to receive feedback? Are there specific questions you want me to keep in mind as I edit? Dare to make new suggestions. Maybe the client asked for a copyedit, but after reviewing the manuscript, you believe it would benefit more from a developmental edit. It can feel intimidating to suggest something the client wasn’t anticipating—but it can also build their trust in your abilities and experience. …

Red Pencil Conference 2019: June Conference News

June 19, 2019 Contributed by the 2019 Red Pencil conference committee Have you noticed we’re excited about what’s coming this September? The Northwest Editors Guild’s Red Pencil Conference 2019: Voice & Voices is getting closer and closer, and we hope you’re excited too. Registration is open now, and you’ll get the best price if you register before July 31 at the early bird rates. If you’re still on the fence, here are a few reasons you might want to join us: to catch up with old and new friends to feast on the food at Bastyr (No, really! It’s delicious!) to expand your imagination by learning about types of editing you may never have touched before to deepen your practice by exploring a variety of ways editors think about voice and voices to join in the choir of voices that make up this magnificent community of Pacific Northwest editors Read on to learn about a few of the many inspiring sessions you’ll have to choose from. And consider how you might contribute, too. First Peek at Presenters and Sessions How Many Words in a Picture? Editing Graphic Novels Christina Frey joins us from Baltimore, where she is a developmental/line editor as well as co-executive of the Editorial Freelancers Association. Christina is also a traditionally published graphic novelist who knows that, in some cases, words alone don’t tell the story. In her session, she will demonstrate the graphic novel writing process from start to finish—from characters and plot to art and script—and discuss where editors and proofreaders fit in this industry. Technical Editing for Science and Engineering: The Art of Translating Technical Topics into Clear Language Thanks go to Northwest Editors Guild member Mike Maisen for organizing this panel of in-house and freelance technical editors, who will talk about how they approach the work of making science writing easy to navigate and digest for a variety of audiences. In this session, you’ll hear about the panelists’ day-to-day work at science-focused consulting firms and have the opportunity to ask questions about skills and careers in technical editing. Jennifer Koogler, Guild member, technical editor, and proposal writer at Aspect Consulting, will moderate, with panelists Hannah Garrison, technical editor at Anchor QEA; Kristen Legg, managing technical editor at Floyd|Snider; and Marcy McAuliffe, owner and editor at McAuliffe Technical Editing Services. Tweet This, Not That: How to Write and Edit for Social Media Alysha Love is a multiplatform editor at the Idaho Statesman in Boise and on the executive board of ACES: The Society for Editing. Her session will discuss crafting multiple voices to meet many audiences, because what works on one social media platform might not work on another. You’ll learn how various types of social media work, how to most effectively engage audiences, and how to adapt tone and language for each platform to meet what different audiences are looking for. Many Authors, Unified Voices Olympia, Washington, editor Laura Cameron works in-house at the Washington State Auditor’s Office, where her role ranges from …

Red Pencil Conference 2019: Welcome Keynote Speaker Viniyanka Prasad

June 1, 2019 By Erica Akiko Howard The 2017 Red Pencil conference, which I attended as I was transitioning into full-time freelancing, was my introduction to the Northwest Editors Guild. In that one day, I learned an enormous amount from both the presenters and other participants, and I remember being particularly inspired by the keynote speech given by Karen Yin, creator of Conscious Style Guide. When guild member Kyra Freestar asked me to join the 2019 conference committee, I wasn’t sure what my role would be, but I knew I would gain a lot from the collective knowledge and perspectives of the other members. And indeed, we’ve had several long and stimulating conversations about the conference theme and programming, including about what we would be excited to hear in a keynote. The Red Pencil conference is about sharing knowledge and building skills as professionals, yes. But other fundamental purposes are to bring together a diverse group of people who are passionate about the written word, to spark conversation, to grow community, and to offer opportunities to learn from each other’s unique viewpoints. With our theme, Voice & Voices, we particularly wanted to foster conversations about how we as editors can better serve diverse authors and audiences and amplify a greater range of voices. One of the challenges is that the demographics of those who work in the publishing industry do not match those of the general population. And even in a time when, theoretically, anyone can be published, studies show that certain voices and perspectives continue to be better represented than others. So we are delighted to announce the keynote speaker for the Northwest Editors Guild Red Pencil Conference 2019: Viniyanka Prasad, founder and executive director of The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary. Viniyanka’s keynote, “The Power to Hear Another’s Truth,” will address “recognizing the central and essential in stories told from another’s perspective and embracing our capacity to provide structure without redefining.” The Word is a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity in literature and, in its own words, is “working to build a publishing community that will fight for inclusivity.” Its programs aim to remove blockages in the publishing pipeline by opening new doors into the publishing industry, linking writers from marginalized backgrounds with needed resources and community, and connecting readers with titles from a variety of perspectives. For example, with its Editor-Writer Mentorship Program for Diverse Writers, the organization pairs emerging writers from underrepresented backgrounds with experienced editors, such as Andrea Davis Pinkney (vice president, Scholastic) and Alvina Ling (vice president, Little, Brown), who help writers develop manuscripts with insights available only through a publisher’s lens. Viniyanka tells us that “my insistence on authenticity and dignity in storytelling started with my work as an attorney. As a former litigation attorney and chief appellate attorney for a federal public defender organization, and now as a civil rights attorney, I have been entrusted with sharing clients’ stories. While my work requires me to listen and narrate, I have long been aware …

Brass Tacks Season

MAY 7, 2019 By Matthew Bennett Before becoming a full-time editor, I went out and picked up Sara Horowitz’s The Freelancer’s Bible. I had taken many contracts but had never strung them together as my sole source of income. Horowitz’s insightful book introduced me to the regular beats of an editor’s day: early-morning emails, the job hunt, marketing, marketing, and marketing, followed by the nitty-gritty of editing. But importantly for this post, the Freelancer’s Bible taught me how to calculate my rates. Our May 13 meeting builds off the 2018 rate survey information provided by members. This survey shows that editors charge a range of prices, in part due to our members living in both urban and rural areas, where costs of living diverge. Client types also determine a freelancer’s rates. Some members work with deep-pocketed corporations, while others work with shoe-stringed poets. As a result of the survey, and so members may negotiate rates better, the Guild will publish a rate chart on our website based on the results. (A link will be sent to members upon publication.) Let’s look at a formula that’s an easy and necessary one, especially living in the Northwest. Here’s how freelancers may calculate the rates they need to earn a livable wage. Horowitz asks that editors determine their desired salaries, then their real-world costs (e.g., rent, transportation, health insurance, and food), then their profits, usually at 10 to 20 percent. “Profit isn’t the same as salary,” Horowitz explains, continuing, “consider your salary a business expense (paid out to you as your own boss). Profit is charged over and above your expenses.” Here’s the formula: (annual salary + annual expenses + annual profit) / annual billable work hours = basic hourly rate This budgetary approach—depending on how you tinker—might produce the sock or the buskin, the traditional masks of comedy or tragedy. I’d suggest finding the rate that leaves you smiling. For your own sanity, estimate fewer than 80 hours of work per week (seriously, folks). I’d also recommend you use the formula to find your rate before next week’s member meeting, where the Guild’s survey and rate negotiation tactics will be discussed. At the May 13 meeting, advisor to creatives Ted Leonhardt will guide members in the art of negotiation. Horowitz is doing great things with the nonprofit Freelancers Union out in New York. For more information on rates, see the The Freelancer’s Bible, especially pages 38–45. See also the several rates calculators available online, such as the beautifully simplified Your Rate, which works elegantly from desired salary, hours per week, and weeks off per year. What do the results of the 2018 member rate survey mean for you and your business?  What’s the best way to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome? Come to the Seattle-area members meeting next week and find out: Monday, May 13, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Community Hall at Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave N., Seattle.

A Long-time Guild Member’s First ACES Conference

MAY 1 By Beth Chapple This year I joined ACES: The Society for Editing just in time for their annual conference in Providence, RI, on March 27-30, 2019. I pictured the trip as a pilgrimage to the New England of my youth, complete with grime on the streets, weeds growing up through cracks in the sidewalk, a vague smell of fish . . . Nope, nuttin’ like that. Instead, it was about putting faces to institutions, such as Peter Sokolowski to Merriam-Webster or Helen Eby to the new Spanish Editors Association. Experiencing the buzz around AP style, particularly this year’s “gasp moment”: cutting hyphens from common constructions like “third grade teacher.” (I am sure glad most of my own clients prefer Chicago style!) The event was also about finding one’s place in the world of editors and freelancing. I definitely had the feeling of being among my people! Both Boston and Providence have seen major renovation since I lived there. A bonus: delicious food. For me the trip to Providence began at the train station, where my hostess for the week whisked me off to a lovely lunch of strawberry quinoa salad in her Eastside home. Next came the spelling bee. Some at the conference said they felt torn between that and the freelancer happy hour—but I just walked over to Trinity Brewhouse afterward with all my winnings in a new #WordsMatter tote bag. Fun to meet the ten other spellers and face not only the audience of word critics  but also the judging panel, which consisted of lexicologist extraordinaire Kory Stamper (!), Peter Sokolowski, and AP Stylebook Lead Editor Paula Froke. Read more in my “Adult Spelling Bees” post. It was a thrill to meet other seasoned editors and language lovers such as @The_GrammarGeek (Dave Nelsen) and @grammartable (Ellen Jovin). Surely you are wondering why I call them by their social media handles. Well, it turns out that Twitter is an integral part of an ACES conference. At the session by Ashley Bischoff called “Be the Helvetica of Ergonomics,” I was one of at least three audience members live-tweeting her helpful tips and gear suggestions. (See #BeHelvetica for those tips.) A session called Social Media 101 exhorted us to follow the rule of thirds: make one-third of your posts original to you, one-third curated posts from relevant others, and one-third just to engage your audience, such as polls and chats. That same session used Giant Pencil in an example! Every session got a hashtag, and it’s possible to catch up even now using those or at least the #NotAtACES hashtag. Something to consider for our own Red Pencil conference this fall. The first session I attended was “Copy Editing in the Government during a Crisis,” where one editor from the CIA and one at the FBI gave me many reasons to be thankful that my work does not usually involve deadlines spelled out to the hour, unreasonable workloads, and stakeholders breathing down my neck. My favorite session was Mark …

Red Pencil Conference 2019: Voice & Voices

APRIL 18, 2019 Contributed by the 2019 Red Pencil conference committee: Kyra Freestar, Lea Galanter, Erica Akiko Howard, Tina Loucks-Jaret, Barbara Mulvey Little, Tori Smith, Ivonne Ward, Polly Zetterberg. A slate of inspiring sessions is coming together for the Northwest Editors Guild Red Pencil Conference 2019: Voice & Voices. The seventh biennial conference returns Saturday, September 21, to the campus of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, northeast of Seattle. The Red Pencil conference is a gathering to share in a day of making connections with fellow editors and puzzling with words. This year’s lineup features over twenty professionals from a variety of backgrounds, some whose names you will recognize and some who we are thrilled to welcome into the Red Pencil community for the first time. We’ve designed a mix of sessions to help us tighten our craft, strengthen our business and self-care skills, and stretch our understanding of our place as intermediaries in a dynamic and evolving field. Our theme, Voice & Voices, explores how we as editors engage with the concept of voice at its many levels. Beyond the daily practice of editing voice on the page, the conference examines our part in championing the unique voices of the under- and unheard and our role in fostering communication rather than acting as gatekeepers. We will look at how we can do this and why it matters. Most importantly, we will look at how editors can better support the voices of a greater range of writers, publishers, and readers, with a professionalism and polish that lifts and honors their words and needs. A few highlights include “Macros 101” with Amy Schneider, “Tweet This, Not That: How to Write Social Media” with Alysha Love, “Technical Editing for Science and Engineering” with moderator Jen Koogler, “Holding Space: The Importance of Helping African Americans Heal through Storytelling” with Christy Abram, and a session on nutrition, fitness, and wellness for editors with K. Aleisha Fetters. We’re also excited to announce that the after-party will be held on-site at Bastyr immediately following the closing remarks. The gathering will provide attendees and presenters an opportunity to linger and celebrate a mind-stirring day over tasty nibbles featuring the “voices” of local Northwest farmers and food producers. Interested in supporting the Red Pencil conference as a sponsor? We’ll be sharing sponsorship package details in a few weeks. In the meantime, if you would like to feature your company or organization at the conference, contact the committee at sponsorship@edsguild.org. Direct any other inquiries to conference@edsguild.org. The Northwest Editors Guild and the Red Pencil committee are looking forward to hosting more than two hundred editors from the Pacific Northwest, California, Canada, and beyond. Watch for announcements about early-bird registration and our keynote speaker in May. The lovely wooded setting at Bastyr is the perfect spot for a well-deserved retreat, high-quality professional development, and growth as a community. Mark your calendar for what is sure to be truly stimulating day! Check the Guild’s website, our Facebook page, our LinkedIn page, …

Giant Pencil Interviews Mary Norris, the Comma Queen

April 2019 Our own mascot, Giant Pencil, met up with author and copy editor extraordinaire Mary Norris at the ACES 2019 conference in Providence, RI, to chat about her latest book, Greek to Me. Giant Pencil: You’ve spoken lovingly about your favorite pencils in numerous past interviews, but have you ever been interviewed by an actual pencil? Mary Norris: This is the first time I have been interviewed directly by a pencil, but I have shot a video in a pencil boutique and had its owner, Caroline Weaver, splay an array of gorgeous pencils in her well-manicured hands for my admiration. If you don’t know C.W. Pencil Enterprise, you’re in for a treat. GP: In Greek to Me, you discuss how learning Greek and traveling to Greece helped sharpen your English knowledge. What is one useful Greek word or phrase (ancient or modern) that all editors should know? MN: The Greek for “O.K.” is entáxei (εντάξει), pronounced “enDOXy” (rhymes with “epoxy,” if I am pronouncing that right). The literal meaning is “in order”: the prefix for “in” is en (εν) and taxei (τάξει) is a form of the noun that means (among other things) class, as in classroom at school, where everyone sits in order and things are under control (supposedly). We cannot do without “O.K.” in English. In Greek, it’s a very reassuring word. GP: What other fine points do you think the editorial types will enjoy most about your new book? MN: Writers and editors and all word nerds enjoy the alphabet, and I have a chapter at the beginning of the book in which I did my best to write something interesting about it. It’s about the Greek alphabet as the ancestral alphabet of English. I started out writing an abcedarian for the barbarian (Alpha is for Athena, Beta is for Bios, etc.), but it kept putting me to sleep, so I jumped all the way to chi and omega and had fun with fraternity names, Sigma Tau Delta (STD), of which I am an honorary member. I think people who like words will enjoy the prospect of a new alphabet. GP: Erasing the thought that editing—as we know it today—didn’t really exist in ancient times, how do you think you would have fared as an editor of ancient Greek epigraphs? You’ve edited many famous authors in The New Yorker, but how would you have marked up, say, an early written version of the Iliad? MN: It’s a little hard to edit something that is written in stone. If it has a mistake, do you fix it or preserve it? I wouldn’t want to draw attention to it . . . I think I’d be paralyzed by the idea of editing epigraphs. The epic poems are more forgiving. Once they were written down, some of the repetition in them was no longer necessary, but it is part of their fabric, and if I changed anything, I would immediately change it back. I hope. GP: What was it like …

Cooking with Adverbs

MARCH 2019 By Jody Gentian Bower, PhD One of my first writing teachers forbade use of the word very, a rule he underlined by asking us to compare the two following sentences: He was an honest man. He was a very honest man. In the first sentence, honesty is absolute: one either is or is not honest, and this man is. But in the second honesty has become relative, with the man in question at the “more honest” end of the spectrum—but not, perhaps, completely honest? The attempt to emphasize his honesty by using very backfires. Many writing experts agree that adverbs can weaken rather than strengthen the point being made. “The adverb is not your friend,” states Steven King, one of the leaders of the movement to avoid adverbs. Some go so far as to say it is the mark of the novice writer to use adverbs when they are not necessary and even redundant: to have someone “shout loudly” or “stomp heavily.” A few advise avoiding adverbs in dialogue altogether to avoid such errors. Overuse of adverbs can also make a writer lazy. It’s easier to throw in an adverb instead of providing enough description that the reader can imagine how someone is behaving. But there is a middle ground between overuse and avoiding all adverbs that most writing mavens fail to address! Used with care, the right adverb can add zing and depth. “To boldly go where no one has gone before” is far more interesting than “To go where no one has gone before.” We understand from this adverb that the crew of the Enterprise is courageous and undaunted, that they welcome challenges. It does precisely what an adverb is meant to do: it tells us how an action is undertaken. Lois McMaster Bujold shows us when to describe action and when to use an adverb in a passage from The Curse of Chalion. The protagonist has been seriously wounded and is recuperating, when: A great party of persons shuffled into his chamber, attempting to make themselves quiet and gentle, like a parade gone suddenly shy. Any adverb attached to the verb “shuffled” would fall far short of evoking the image provided by her simile of the parade. But later on, she reinforces this image by saying: The mob withdrew, tiptoeing loudly. Her use of an adverb that contradicts the verb makes us slow down and think about the scene again. Plus, it’s funny! Much more enjoyable than if she had written “The mob withdrew, trying and failing to tiptoe quietly.” The right adverb enhances prose. The key is to use adverbs deliberately. Think of them as seasoning. Don’t use them to emphasize what the verb already implies; that’s like throwing cayenne pepper on top of a jalapeno. Don’t use them to avoid the time and effort required to describe the scene adequately; that’s like using a lot of imitation lemon extract instead of grated zest and fresh lemon juice when baking lemon bars. It won’t …