How I Became An Editor – by Stefani Nielson

My earliest training as an editor was as a reader. Personal reading time as a child and onwards was crucial. I read everything from newspaper horoscopes and tabloids  to supermarket flyers and fashion articles to book reviews and history to teen romance and spy fiction. Later, as a university student, I read “serious” literature, communications and philosophy.

 Reading widely creates a feeling for language. The rules of a language can be studied but an understanding for language and what it can and should do comes from reading. In short, reading widely creates a sense of taste: what I like, what others like and what is published (which is sometimes different from the previous two).

 Work experience is important, too. Work creates real demands on your writing and editing ability. Having an employer or client who requires an end product that accomplishes a certain task keeps your writing focused. Hopefully those employers and clients have style guides for page and content development. If so, these guides are invaluable tools for learning the rules of “good writing” for that particular organization or publication.Like Hemingway learning his rules of the trade from his Toronto Star editor as a cub reporter, so  I learned (in my humble way) editing, copywriting and proofing principles as a page design assistant for an old-school course designer. This experience was formative for my career.

 Since then, graduate degrees, certificate programs and writing for different professional purposes have sharpened my editing and writing skills for different contexts. I have written and edited general interest magazines, academic papers and courses (including some for developing writers), and technical and business documents for public and private organizations.

 The key is to keep growing . Improvement requires active work. So I advise the following:

* Read everything that can help you write better for the contexts in which you work and build a toolbox of tried and true references. Read guides for online writing (McGovern’s Killer Web Content), the classics of English style (Orwell’s Politics and the English Language) and staple references (The Chicago Manual of Style).

 * Take courses to freshen up your skills. Recently I took a technical writing course to remind myself of what I can and should be doing to write for a new employer. Don’t rest on your laurels.

 * Keep learning about new media and adapt. Publishing platforms keep changing and expanding. Read guides about new media for a sense of how to keep your language alive and useful in ways that are appropriate for different formats and audiences.

 * And finally, practice. Exercise your writing and editing muscles by editing and writing as much as you can even if it be in a personal journal.

Remember that language is a tool supported by other tools.  Taste + continuous practice + growing knowledge = formula for the ever-developing editor and writer.

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On Being Edited: An Editorial By Kaarina Stiff

As editors, we are taught about the importance of communication. University courses and professional development seminars emphasize the need for clarity and sensitivity when making recommendations, and Editors Canada’s own Professional Editorial Standards indicate that “professional editors should communicate clearly and tactfully.”

All of this matters. But even though we think we know what this means, the truth is, sometimes the best way to learn something is from experience. And that can be tricky, since not all editors are writers or creators of their own work.

Last month, I attended a seminar on substantive editing, where veteran instructor Jennifer Latham helped us navigate the thorny topic of how to tell a client or colleague that their text needs more than just the spit and polish that they asked for. The advice, simply put, comes down to diplomacy. We all nodded, because of course that was true, right? Jennifer also recommended that, when possible, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting is often the easiest way to communicate complex thoughts that might present as sarcasm or impatience in written comments.

“Having said that,” said one participant, “I have a good working relationship with several of my colleagues, and I don’t need to be as delicate with them as I do with some others.” Indeed, Jennifer stressed that rapport and trust counts for a lot but there is still value in treading with caution.

As someone who edits and writes (and is therefore edited), I endorse this caution wholeheartedly: never underestimate the value of thoughtful feedback.

I recently updated my business website by adding some testimonials from past clients. One in particular said, “… she was positive and encouraging, while still clearly describing the issues she found and possible approaches to addressing them.” Until I read those words, I had no idea how much my client valued the effort I put into my recommendations. And then I thought about recent experiences that I’ve had being edited, and how much professional respect I have for the people whose feedback was crafted most thoughtfully, even when the feedback was critical.

Diplomacy and tact often take effort—sometimes a lot. I have no doubt that the colleagues I’m thinking of spent a lot of time choosing their words carefully. But as editors, that is part of our job. Even if it takes time, in my opinion, it is time well spent.

While anyone receiving editorial feedback should also practice accepting it graciously, it is worth remembering that giving gracious feedback is about much more than just preventing hurt feelings or out-of-joint noses. Among other things, it is about precision and efficiency. Marginal notes that say, “Really?!” might express your gut reaction, but it does nothing to help the writer understand how to fix the problem, and it doesn’t resolve things any faster.

Just as importantly, it’s about the personal impression you want to leave with the person that you’re giving feedback to. Would you want to be on the receiving end of your words? If not, pause to ask yourself if there’s a better way to convey your advice. As editors committed to high standards of excellence, such as those described in the Professional Editorial Standards, professionalism should always take the place of impatience and sarcasm, no matter who you’re working with—for your client or colleague’s sake, for your own sake, and for the benefit of the editorial profession.

Editing Identity Crisis by Barbara Erb

Barbara Erb

I have been mulling over the results of our branch’s survey to know our members better and I realize that at the dawn of a new career, I am experiencing an identity crisis!

I am a student (campus and distance education) at Simon Fraser University, nearing completion of the Editing Certificate program. I am not young, and neither do I consider myself over the hill.

When I retired from public service, my lifelong love affair with the written word continued to haunt me so I decided to pursue editing as a post-retirement occupation only to find myself where I am today! My demeanor may not reveal the identity crisis but let me tell you, it exists—because I feel like a 19-year-old trying to find my place in life. This is my fourth diploma. One would think I would be accustomed to the ventures of pursuing a new career by this time.

It may well be that novice editors—younger and older, are feeling the same angst. In the branch’s survey, my demographic profile hovers painstakingly in the minority percentages of the results. This adds to my dilemma and cultivates a whole new set of questions:

Is editing a viable career? Is the advent of electronic technology diminishing the need for editors? Which aspect of editing is feasible for me to pursue? What are the industry needs for skilled editors? Where do I start? Will I be prejudiced against because of my age? Did I study editing to become an editor or do I really want to be a writer? How do I market myself?

The survey results provide a gateway to membership engagement and growth for the future. Personally, it has revved up thought processes to help me resolve the career issues currently on my radar. Whether the resolution of my editing identity crisis is to edit, write, or do something completely different… continued networking and professional development with Editors Ottawa–Gatineau is highly beneficial and can only be helpful.

Editors Ottawa–Gatineau is a community of like-minded colleagues who see a common need to learn and grow through seminars, speaker nights, pub meets, and especially a Wine & Cheese event once a year! Thank you for being there and for all you do.

Barbara Erb

Student Member and Branch Secretary

Editors Ottawa–Gatineau

 

Join us for wine and cheese on November 15!

As the days get colder, what could be more enticing than spending a cozy evening with friends? Especially friends who love language, wine and cheese?

If this sounds like your idea of fun, then join us on November 15 for Editors Ottawa—Gatineau’s annual wine and cheese social. Our guest this year is Rod Phillips—a wine writer, wine historian, and wine judge who writes a regular column for the Ottawa Citizen.

Write down your top three favourite wines, and we’ll swap and collect them to build a list of editors’ recommendations! RSVP by November 10 to ottawa-gatineau@editors.ca.

When: Wednesday, November 15, 6:00 p.m.

Where: Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert Street, Ottawa

Cost: Tickets are $20 for members and non-members for sale at the door for cash only. Please also consider bringing a non-perishable, nutritious food donation for the Ottawa Food Bank.

2017–18 Seminar Overview

By Elaine Vininsky

We’re excited to announce the seminar lineup for another season at Editors Ottawa–Gatineau.

Just like one stretches before exercising or warms up before the cardio in a fitness class, the 10-seminar season starts on September 21 with a good grammar warm-up and with Graham Young at the helm of Grammar and Punctuation.  Last year’s seminar evaluation sheets indicated a strong demand for Substantive and Stylistic Editing, so we’re bringing back these two seminars on October 16 and December 12, respectively.  On November 8, Moira White returns to teach Writing and Editing for the Web. Creating a House Style with Elizabeth Macfie is offered on November 30.

Elizabeth Macfie and Moira White will ring in 2018 together, co-presenting Copy Editing II: Judgment Calls and Added Value on January 11.  We are pleased to offer a French seminar this year: on January 31, Louise Brunette of the University of Ottawa will teach Révision de textes unilingues et bilingues. On Saturday, February 24, Christine LeBlanc leads two half-day seminars:  Starting a Freelance Career and Social Media Marketing. The latter course is a more advanced version of her previous Social Media seminar. As the weather warms up, we’ll have Practical Proofreading on March 15 and conclude the season on April 10, 2018, with 8-Step Editing.

Past seminar participants will be happy to learn that our host hotel, the Capital Suites, has changed the modem (routers) in the meeting rooms to improve the Wi-Fi.

Please visit the Editors Ottawa–Gatineau seminars web page < www.editors.ca/local-groups/ottawa-gatineau/seminars-ottawa-gatineau > for complete details.

Speed mentoring sessions available—deadline extended

Editors Ottawa–Gatineau will close out its season May 17 with its annual general meeting, followed by a couple of rounds of speed mentoring.

Get expert advice and fresh perspectives from our Seven Sages on your editing business or career. Whether you’re just starting out, changing the focus of your career or wanting to discuss specific editing challenges with a peer who’s been there, the Sages will have…advice.

You’ll need to make a reservation, though, by emailing Tom Vradenburg by Tuesday, May 16. State your preference for up to three Sages—we’ll do what we can to match you up, according to demand. Each session will last 15 minutes.

The Seven Sages and their specialties are:

Laura Byrne Paquet: freelancing, copy editing, proofreading, government work, journalism, travel writing, genre fiction writing and editing, social history writing, blogging, teaching

Moira White: teaching editing and writing, building a diversified business, substantive editing, copy editing, plain language editing and writing, government reports

Elizabeth Macfie: copy editing, stylistic editing, proofreading, comparative reading of translations, training (groups and one-on-one coaching), style guide development, business networking, indexing, conference session delivery

Christine LeBlanc (Dossier Communications): marketing (for your clients and yourself), social media, event promotion, integrated communication strategies, project management (ranging from textbooks to journals), freelancing, editing and writing

Marion Soublière: winning Government of Canada contracts, writing and editing for the federal government (web writing, and plain language writing and editing), social media, copy editing, proofreading

Beverly Ensom: copy editing, proofreading, freelancing, prep for certification, transition from in-house to freelance, government work, House of Commons work

Carolyn Brown: scientific and medical editing and writing, managerial positions in editing, making the move to freelancing, money management, teaching and public speaking, stylistic editing, certification

Annual General Meeting

We will start the evening with our annual general meeting, which will include a recap of this year’s highlights, as well as elections for next year’s Executive.

Wednesday, May 17, 6:30 pm

Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Queen St., Lackey Room, 6:30 p.m.

Free for members; $10 for non-members

March Speakers Night—Stacey Atkinson on Self-Publishing

Speaker Nights March 15How to self-publish a book

Stacey Atkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Ottawa. In 2012, she began Mirror Image Publishing as a way to self-publish her first novel, Stuck. She learned so much along the way, especially when it came to publishing and marketing a book, that she began offering advice and services to other independent authors. In 2016, she self-published her second novel, Letters from Labrador.

After self-publishing two books and working primarily as an editor of self-published fiction and nonfiction, Stacey took what she had learned and developed an online course on how to publish a book.

At this event, Stacey will explain her ten-step process and answer your questions about self-publishing. She’ll also be asking people to share their own self-publishing stories.

Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Queen St., Lackey Room, 6:30 p.m.
Free for members; $10 for non-members

 

Meet the Instructor: Electronic Editing for Editors by Cécile Dubois

Cecile Dubois

Are your Electronic Editing skills up to par?

Microsoft Word is ubiquitous. Whether or not it is the primary word processing tool for your work, as a writer and editor, your co-workers and clients generally expect you to be highly proficient. Are you?  We asked Cécile Dubois, who will be leading the Electronic Editing seminar on Friday, March 24th 2017, to tell us a little bit about what to expect.

Q. Who would benefit from taking this seminar?

A. This seminar is targeted for intermediate users who wish to become more efficient with Word, or as a refresher for those who haven’t used Word for a while and want to become familiar with changes and new features in different versions. This session takes you out of the work environment and gives you an opportunity to sharpen your skills.

Q. Is it possible to get though the seminar without a laptop?

A. It would be best to have a laptop to be able to do the exercises along with me. People learn much better by doing than by watching, but a laptop is not absolutely obligatory. I strongly recommend bringing one with MS Word 2010, 2013, or 2016.

Q. How will what I learn be relevant to my work?

A. When we work, we usually use the same familiar set of features that we know well, but we do not always have the time (or the need) to discover what other toolsets are available. We will cover many tips and tricks to make you more efficient and a power user!

Q. What if I have some specific questions or needs?

A. I try to make sure that everyone leaves the seminar feeling more competent and confident about using Word. The seminar is interactive, and I will try to make sure your questions and needs are answered.

Cécile Dubois has six years of experience as a software instructor. She is a creative professional who conveys a high level of preparation and enthusiasm to the classroom and to her relationships with her students. This is her first time delivering  Electronic Editing for Editors Ottawa-Gatineau.

Register at www.editors.ca/local-groups/ottawa-gatineau/electronic-editing 

 

 

February Speakers Night – Beverly Ensom

The spoken word becomes a written report

Hansard is the written record of what is said in the House of Commons. Most people think it’s verbatim—and it is, except when it’s not.

Beverly Ensom is a member of the House of Commons team that gently edits Hansard and the similar record of parliamentary committees. She will describe the process of producing these records and the editing decisions that have to be made; and she’ll give some examples of wording that had to be handled with care (although “fuddle-duddle” was before her time).

Christ Church Cathedral, Lackey Room, 414 Queen St., 6:30 p.m.
Free for members, $10 for non-members

HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK (PART 3 OF 4) BY STACEY ATKINSON

 

In parts one and two of this blog, we looked at the first five steps to self-publishing a book. This included discussing the differences between being a traditionally published author and a self-published author, as well as offering tips for writing, editing, and designing a book. In this blog, we’ll look at steps six, seven, and eight—printing, distribution, and marketing.

6. Printing a Book

Deciding on a printing company depends on what your plans are for your book. Do you need inventory or can you print on demand? Do you even need a print book? Or could you focus on selling an e-book instead? When choosing a printer, some authors are motivated by price, others by location.

Let’s explore the different types of printers available to you.

Print on Demand: A print-on-demand (POD) company offers the option of ordering the exact number of books you want printed, whether it’s one copy or several hundred copies, and the books are printed and delivered exactly when you need them. POD is a popular option because you don’t have to worry about inventory. Often POD is used to fulfill a sales order, and the books are usually printed on a digital printing press.

CreateSpace and Ingram Spark are examples of print-on-demand companies catering to self-published authors.

Short-Run Printing: You would use a short-run printer if you wanted to order a small batch of books for printing (e.g., 200 copies). You may not have orders for the books yet, but short-run printing enables you to have some inventory on hand. There may be a setup charge for your print job, but then after that the printing should be fairly low cost. Short-run printing can be a good option for self-published authors because the printers are usually easy to work with, and some even offer interior layout and book-cover templates.

Bookbaby and Friesens are examples of short-run printers.

Four-Colour Offset Printing: You would generally hire an offset printing company if you needed high-quality printing in large volumes. Essentially, offset printing, or offset lithography, uses ink transferred onto rollers and then onto printing plates. This is likely not your first choice as a self-published author, but it’s good to know about it anyways.

Bookmasters is an example of an offset printing company.

Espresso Book Machines: If you want to print a single copy of your book, the Espresso Book Machine might be the answer for you. You’ll find these printing kiosks in select bookstores and cafes, where you can print your book while you wait and sip a cappuccino. You can find locations for these Espresso Book Machines through the website OnDemandBooks.

7. Distributing a Book

Book distribution is the delivery system for placing your books into the hands of bookstores and customers. The Association of Canadian Publishers offers up a list of book distributors on its website, as well as this advice:

Once a book has been published it will need a distributor. If your book has been published by an established publishing house, they will already have distribution contacts. If you self-publish or publish with a very small house that does not have distribution set up, you will need to make this contact on your own. Remember that distributors will generally take 55–65 percent of the cover price (40 percent of which is going to the bookseller). Make sure your pricing formula has taken this into account

Distribution for Print Books

To further break down book distribution, let’s look at the role of a wholesaler versus a distributor.

Wholesaler: This is a company that fulfills bookstore orders. For example, you provide the book to the wholesaler at a 55 percent discount, and then the wholesaler sells it to the retailer at a 40 percent discount. So you (author/publisher) make 45 percent, the wholesaler makes 15 percent, and the bookstore makes 40 percent.

Distributor: This is also a company that fulfills bookstore orders (sometimes through a wholesaler). However, one of the main differences between a distributor and a wholesaler is that the distributor usually has a sales team to promote your book to bookstores and wholesalers.

Remember, just because you have book distribution doesn’t mean that a bookstore will actually place an order for your book. You need to promote your book in order for it to sell. A self-published author may also choose to sell directly to local bookstores (usually on consignment) and niche markets such as gift shops.

Distribution for E-books

Given that an e-book is a digital file, it is sold exclusively online. You need to deliver your files—mobi for Kindle and epub for all other e-readers—to the online stores that sell e-books, such as Kindle.

There are two main approaches to getting your e-book into these online stores:

  1. You can open a seller (author) account with each of the online e-book stores, such as Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBook. You would upload your e-book file to each store, and each store would interact directly with you and pay you directly for your e-book sales.
  2. You can open one account with an e-book distribution aggregator, which is a company that will act as a distributor between you and the online stores. The aggregator company will take care of ensuring your e-book files are properly formatted for different e-reader devices, will collect your sales proceeds, and will distribute your files to as many as 60 online e-book sellers. The aggregator company will charge you a percentage fee for this services, but in the end they are saving you lots of administration time. Smashwords and Bookbaby are two main e-book aggregators.

8. Marketing a Book

No matter how great your book is, you have to remember the following: people can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists. You need to promote it. In order to effectively promote your book and achieve book sales, you’ll need to make a basic marketing plan and carry out the activities in that plan. To begin, you’ll need to

  • Know your audience. What is your book genre? Who are your target readers? Where do these readers buy books? Where do they shop in general? What would make them buy your book?
  • Make a plan. Create a list of marketing activities and then implement them one by one and watch the results. If you start to see sales attributed to one particular action (e.g., a Facebook ad, an email list, a radio interview), then you know you’ve hit upon something that is reaching your target audience, and you can repeat it.
  • Try different marketing activities, and then narrow them down. Test several marketing activities, but don’t try to sustain them all; you’ll be spreading yourself too thin. Instead, test out ideas and social media sites, and then focus in on a few and work at them as hard as you can to reach your target audience.
  • Set a budget. You’ll want to recover your publishing investment plus make money from selling your book. The only way to do that is to set a budget and stick to it.

Marketing Communications

Marketing communications is the act of influencing or affecting behavior of an audience. In other words, you want to influence the people in your target market to buy your book. Marketing is a set of activities that creates exchanges between you (the author/publisher) and your customers (the reader). Here are six marketing approaches to selling your self-published book:

  1. Personal selling: an in-store book launch
  2. Advertising: a Facebook ad
  3. Sales promotion: a price discount offered
  4. Sponsorship marketing: associating your book with another company’s brand
  5. Publicity: free advertising such as an editorial write-up in the newspaper
  6. Social media marketing: using Facebook and Twitter to promote yourself

What Are the Top Social Media Sites for Authors?

According to the 2015 Smashwords Survey, best-selling authors are more likely to be on Facebook and Twitter and to have a blog. Similarly, a panel discussion at a past Digital Book World conference revealed that Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and author blogs were most widely used by authors. So, if you’re looking for where to start building your audience online, theses are excellent places to begin.

So there you have it—choosing the right printer and distributor, as well as having well-planned marketing communications, are key steps to successfully self-publishing a book. In the next and final blog in this series, we’ll review the last two steps to self-publishing a book—setting your book price and planning activities for after the book launch.

Stacey D. Atkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Ottawa. The advice offered in this blog series is taken from excerpts from the 10-lesson online course on How to Publish a Book.