The State of the Guild . . . Depends on You!

October 2019 By Elaine Duncan, president of the Northwest Editors Guild Note: In this State of the Guild address, presented at our October 12 potluck, Elaine acknowledged the many volunteers who made things happen in 2019 and suggested ways volunteers can move the Guild’s mission forward in 2020. A few of those opportunities are highlighted in boldface below, and we’re always open to members’ fresh, creative ideas for future community building. It’s my pleasure to be here today to update you on where we stand. First, a personal note. I joined the Guild in 2013 right after moving here from the Bay Area. I still remember walking into that first meeting at the Good Shepherd Center. I didn’t know a single person. I didn’t even know what developmental editing was. I never thought I’d be president one day. But that first meeting was fun, I met some really nice people, and here I am. Now for the Guild. Two years ago, we generated a lot of new ideas, and this year we spent most of our time implementing those ideas, which can be challenging. We have had a lot of success, but there is still a lot of opportunity. I’d like to highlight some of each. Our most recent success was the Red Pencil Conference, which came off beautifully last month at Bastyr University. The theme of the conference was a new one, Voice & Voices. It was aimed at including and recognizing the contributions of groups who are not traditionally part of the editing community. To support that theme, for the first time ever, we offered six scholarships—funded by contributions from individual Guild members—to editors from underrepresented groups who would not otherwise have been able to attend their first conference. I know the recipients appreciated our effort, and I hope we have laid the groundwork for future relationships. Anyone who’s ever done something like organizing a conference knows how hard it is. But the committee was so well-run and so hard-working that the whole event looked seamless, despite a few speakers who cancelled at the last minute. Even the weather cooperated! And who can forget the editors’ lament to the tune of “Home on the Range” at the end of the conference? That was brilliant. And they’re still not done. The committee is documenting its process to make things easier for future conference planners to do their work without reinventing the wheel. I’d like to recognize the committee for everything they have done: Tori Smith, Kyra Freestar, Lea Galanter, Erica Akiko Howard, Tina Loucks-Jaret, Barbara Mulvey Little (Spokane), Ivonne Ward, and Polly Zetterberg. Other big changes have come from the Communications committee, which has been implementing our first-ever marketing plan to develop a unifying Guild voice for our public face and social media—the motto is “approachable, credible, and clear.” The committee, has designed beautiful marketing materials for Guild members to use in public, for example, at one of our half dozen regular regional meetings, plus topical meetings on technical editing, book clubs, …

English as We Have Loved It

September 16, 2019 By Marilyn Schwartz, guest blogger and co-author of the new Copyeditor’s Handbook and Copyeditor’s Workbook Editor’s note: You can meet Marilyn at the Red Pencil Conference on September 21. She would be delighted if fellow conference attendees take the initiative to introduce themselves and even ask her a copyediting question or two. Join us in welcoming Marilyn to the Northwest, won’t you? When Amy Einsohn’s classic Copyeditor’s Handbook was first published in 2000, at least 50 percent of copyeditors in the book industry (a sector of publishing rarely ahead of the technology curve) were still marking paper manuscripts with No. 2 pencils, according to panelists at a conference for on-screen editing held in San Francisco that year. Many deft amateurs still learned their craft, as Amy and I had, by apprenticing to a battle-tested in-house editor or by following hand-marked foul copy while proofreading typeset galleys. Publishers, the traditional gatekeepers of content, still typically anointed lucky authors for fifteen minutes of fame, although spurned writers sometimes resorted to the widely disparaged practice of “vanity publishing” by digging into their own pockets. Some of us editors even had “real jobs”—the kind with regular paychecks and benefits. (Secure in my niche as managing editor at the University of California Press, I was among the fortunate ones.) The culture and practice of editing have profoundly changed since then. With major disruptions to the publishing industry over the past twenty years, especially the elimination of thousands of staff editorial jobs, more editors now work as independent contractors. The old apprentice system for training novices has nearly disappeared. Freelancers typically acquire and update their skills through formal academic programs and the education offered by their professional associations. For their daily work they rely on the advice of colleagues in their online editorial communities rather than on the guidance of a senior editor peering over their shoulder. And that “hive mind” buzzes with business talk: sole proprietorships, LLCs, and incorporation; editorial labor contractors and online scams; small-business and self-employment taxes; rates, billing, and collections; negotiations and client relations; health care and retirement plans; marketing, marketing, and, of course, marketing. Meanwhile, new technologies and publication outlets enable writers from every social stratum to bypass traditional publishers and seek an audience directly. The growing number of “indie” writers claiming public space has democratized authorship and removed the stigma of self-publishing. Freelance editors now assist many such nontraditional clients, offering an expanded menu of services once provided by conventional publishers, including fact-checking, art editing, permissions research, project management, formatting and design, proofreading, indexing, printing and e-book distribution, and even marketing and order fulfillment. New editorial specialties and freelance opportunities have also emerged since the clock turned on our new century. The US Plain Language Movement, a post–World War II effort to reform government and corporate gobbledygook, received a boost with the Obama administration’s federal Plain Language Act of 2010. Now government and business organizations hire editors to simplify documents addressed to the general public. The Plain …

Red Pencil Conference 2019: Access to Learning

SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 By Kyra Freestar Dear editors, I am looking forward to September 21 and this year’s Red Pencil Conference—a day for learning new skills and discovering new ideas and approaches to the practice and business of editing. I joined the conference committee with one goal: for everyone who attends the conference—whether it’s their first editing conference or their twentieth—to learn and grow as editors. My focus on the committee is accessibility. Accessibility can mean many things. Everyone’s needs and experiences are different. In the writing and editing world, plain language is defined as language that allows users to find, understand, and use the information they need. This definition focuses on the end result—it’s about people getting what they need. Along those lines, my current definition of accessibility is an environment that allows each of us to find and use the space we need to participate and to learn. That includes physical, mental, emotional, and even social space. So this blog post is about what accessibility means to me and why I think accessibility is something we create together, for ourselves and for each other. For our own voice and for others’. (If you’re already on board and need no convincing, skip to the end for some ideas on what you can do to help make this happen.) You can find specific information about physical access to participating in the Red Pencil Conference 2019 on the conference FAQ page, under the Accessibility tab. This information has been updated! Go read it now! Why focus on accessibility? Over the past eight years, I’ve had some health challenges, as have some close family members and friends. I have friends who have gone through chemotherapy and friends who have had major injuries that resulted in ongoing physical disability. I also have friends who have given birth or spent time caring for relatives—experiences that are part of normal life for healthy people, yet often lead to periods of time when physical, mental, and emotional energy is depleted. In other words, I’ve learned firsthand that each person’s capacity to participate in life’s adventures is different, and for most of us, it is constantly changing. For me, it took this personal experience to start noticing the things that can make life difficult for others and to start doing the work to ensure that an event like the Red Pencil Conference is accessible to as many editors as possible. This means thinking about physical access and mobility. About visual and auditory access. About fragrance and food sensitivities that make it hard for some people to spend long hours in social settings. About energy levels and overwhelm and social anxieties that have the same effect. And about what makes us feel heard, included, valued, welcome. I want everyone at the conference to be able to learn and grow. Access to learning is not just about the physical. What’s privilege got to do with it? I love editing, partly because of the constant opportunities to learn new things. …

Q&A with Nevin Mays, mentoring program coordinator

August 27, 2019 Editor’s note: Meet Nevin Mays in-person at the upcoming Red Pencil conference, where she’ll answer your burning questions about being a mentor or mentee in a session called “Q&A: Mentoring for Editors.” See you there! Like all Northwest Editors Guild activities, our peer mentoring program is an all-volunteer affair, from the mentors and mentees to the volunteer who holds the program together—the mentoring program coordinator. The mentoring program was launched by Guild member Julie Van Pelt, out of Port Townsend, Washington, in late 2014. Julie handed the reins to Kyra Freestar, in Seattle, at the end of 2016. In April of this year, Nevin Mays, in Portland, took on the coordinator role, and she is bringing new ideas and enthusiasm to the job. We thought it would be fun to hear some of Nevin’s thoughts about professional mentoring. Q: What inspired you to step up to coordinate the Guild’s mentoring program? A: I am a huge believer that members of communities should actively work to pull up other members of their community, and mentorship is one way we do that, especially in professional settings. I think a mentorship program is especially important for an organization that supports people who so often work in solitude. I’m looking forward to supporting the mentoring program and everyone involved with it.  Q: You recently participated in the Guild’s mentoring program as a mentee. What was that experience like? A: It was fantastic to have a professional editor who supported my goals and helped me work through the things that were blocking me from reaching those goals. One of the things I wanted to work on was marketing my business, so over the course of our conversations, I put together a list of concrete materials and tasks that I’ll continue to implement in the coming months. My mentor also helped me gather up the courage to take on some speaking gigs that I don’t think I would have taken on without her encouragement.  Q: And you’re a mentor yourself for another organization, right? A: I volunteer for Dress for Success Oregon as a mentor. The mentoring program matches professional women with Dress for Success Oregon clients “to provide support and structured assistance, offering help getting, keeping, and advancing in a job.” My mentee and I work on setting short-term and long-term goals (we both do this!) and then meet about once a month to check in and make sure we’re both still on track and to discuss any obstacles we’ve encountered recently. I make sure she knows she can talk about the good and the bad things about her work and her life. I don’t always have ideas to “fix” what’s not great, but I try to at least be someone she can vent to and celebrate with as she navigates work and life. Q: What do you think is unique about mentoring relationships? A: Each relationship is different, but at its best, professional mentoring is a way that both parties can …

A Q&A for the Board Curious

August 1, 2019 By Elaine Duncan Anyone who wants to know more about serving on the Guild’s board of directors is invited to an open board meeting on Monday, August 12, 6:30 p.m. Email Elaine@edsguild.org or editor@aliciazramos.com to let us know you’re coming and get location details. Until then, current Guild president Elaine Duncan discusses why members should consider board service in 2020 and answers the most frequently asked questions. UPDATE: The next board recruitment happy hour is Monday, August 26 in Seattle. Full details on our events page. Can I serve on the board? Of course! The Guild is an all-volunteer organization blessed with incredible richness in the skills of its members, all of whom collectively have helped make it what it is today. We are on a sound financial footing, have a well-developed committee structure to accomplish our work, and have a solid five-year strategic plan to guide our efforts. New projects are in the works: expanded outreach, a revitalized speaker’s bureau, and a new marketing plan, to name a few. We meet as a board just six times per year, but the real work of running the Guild occurs in the handful of committees that offer a wide range of opportunities for contribution. The details are described in our current FAQs for Prospective Board Members. Why would I want to serve on the board? Here are some reasons: Board service is fun. You get the opportunity to meet and work with a range of friendly people who share your interest in editing. You will learn more about the editing profession in the Pacific Northwest and how other writers and editors approach their craft. It’s fulfilling. Everyone brings something different to board service, but more important, everyone takes away something different. You will grow as a person and an editor, make new friends, develop confidence in new skills, and know that you have made the Guild better by your contribution. It’s brief. We ask for a two-year commitment, starting in January. You will see that change happens incrementally as board members come and go, which helps keep things on an even keel. Just as personalities on the board change, the collective wisdom and our detailed documentation on the functions of all the varied board roles help keep the Guild on track. No prior experience necessary. We will fill you in on the nuts and bolts of serving on a board and what is expected in the roles you choose. It is our diversity—in perspectives, work experience, background, and skills—that makes things happen. Like to keep notes? Tinker with budgets? Contribute to social media or post blogs? Want to try developing a webinar? Videotaping member meetings? Build new relationships? Offer your opinions on Guild direction? Then, by all means, we need you! But by the same token, you don’t need to be an expert in anything: just be willing to contribute some time, energy, and thought. You could be president. If you like thinking ahead, serving on the board makes you eligible to …

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 IMPORTANT UPDATE: Early bird registration has been extended through August 15! 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 …

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 …