Over the weekend there was quite a discussion (from my standpoint, anyway, for a discussion on a Saturday afternoon) on Twitter about how to style a specific compound. What the compound was is of no consequence. I’m here to talk about opinions. Continue reading “That’s your opinion, man: thoughts on style”
I’ve been working my butt off, and I’ve been fighting some form of plague for the last couple of weeks, but I’m still here.
Let’s see. So far this year, I’ve edited eight projects ranging from a short story to a 115-thousand-word novel. Two were for new clients; the balance were for “regulars” (in some cases long-term!). How many words total, you ask?
Three hundred ninety-nine thousand. (Give or take. I rounded up.)
In two months.
Now, I schedule myself at about 160K words/month. That’s my ideal. But as you can see, ideal doesn’t always happen. Projects slide; people get sick; cars need repairs; life happens. And when life happens, I work with every client to ensure we both get what we want and need out of the situation. It might mean contacting a couple of other clients to see if we can play with deadlines. It might mean suggesting to a new client that they take an extra month to coddle their baby project before they turn it over to me, so that a) they feel better about it, and b) I can better work on one that arrived late and needs extra TLC.
Things happen. And I roll with them, and talk to whoever I need to talk to, and keep on working.
If you click on this link, you’ll see much of what I did for the month of January. My main project was editing A Facet for the Gem, the first in a series by Charles L. Murray.
Within a few hours of my returning the edited file to him, Charles made a lovely public post about the process of working with me and the kinds of things I found, which of course I’d find for any of my clients. (It’s what I pride myself on. It’s not only about grammar and usage and mechanics. It’s about style and facts and physics and history and culture and yeah.)
I linked to that collection back in December as “Clients in the Hot Seat,” but these posts weren’t there yet. Charles is so pleased, and I had such a good time working with him, I wanted to be sure to share this for those of you who might still be wondering what it’s like to work with me. (You can get a feel for how it would be to work with any professional editor, to a point, but keep in mind we all have our own methods, strengths, and weaknesses.)
Fair warning: I’m quickly filling every open slot left on my schedule. Don’t hesitate to ask, but be ready for an “I’m sorry.” If your project is over 80,000 words, I probably won’t have time this year.
And I do mean “this year,” as in 2016. I went from not knowing what I’d be working on after June to ZOMG WAT WAIT in the space of 24 hours last week.
Still, it’s always worth asking.
The collection I think is most helpful to writers looking for an editor is the one I call Broad Daylight Editing.
The purpose is to show potential clients (often new indie writers) what it’s like to work with me as a professional editor. With a client’s permission, I bring questions “into the daylight” so others can see what I look at when I’m working on a project, how I ask my clients the pertinent questions, and what kind of feedback I expect from them as well as what kind I provide.
The drawback is: Readers often feel the need to answer my questions themselves. I’m not asking for input from readers of the collection. I’m asking specifically for the author’s responses. No one else’s opinion matters to me: only my client’s words make a difference. Some folks get huffy when I remind them of the collection’s focus. Oh well, kids — it’s not about you. It’s about my process and my interactions with a specific client on a specific project, and it’s there to show folks what it’s like to work with me.
It ain’t about you, unless you’re the client in the hot seat.
And I can say that this collection has netted me some new clients, so apparently it’s workin’.
Tomorrow: Homophone Hell.
It came to my attention last night (thanks to my auto-tweets) that the link from two years ago was broken. Quelle surprise, non? Pursuant to that information, here’s an updated link. Just follow the trail if you want to see more.
We did eight or ten of these. I’m honestly not sure they’re still all available. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’ve said this a lot in the last couple of weeks, and I’m saying it again.
I’ve learned more about my craft and English in general after my formal education (I graduated from college in 1979) than I ever did during it.
While I was in school studying to become a teacher (which I actually did do, for a year), I believed that we had Rules and only Rules, no guidelines. Rules were made to be Followed, and if one did not Follow the Rules, one would be in Serious Trouble.
I was SO WRONG.
Anyway, before this turns into a wholly different type of post than I intend it to be, here are three books I bought this month and really should have bought long ago.
The Business of Editing by Richard H. Adin is a rather heavy read for me, but not unreadable by any stretch. I’ve skimmed the entire book and am now taking my time, forcing myself not to read only the chapters with interesting titles (like “The Elusive Editorial Higgs Boson”). By the time I’m done I’ll have gotten some validation, some thwacks on the knuckles, and a good deal of excellent advice. As with Carol Fisher Saller’s The Subversive Copy Editor, I’m finding that I’m already on the same page in many areas as the esteemed author. How I managed to do that with no formal training as an editor — only OTJ for me! — I have no idea. But I think as they do, when it comes to interacting with clients. That’s a big HOORAY for me.
Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business: Being interesting and discoverable by Louise Harnby is a handy little text, too. Most of us editorial types see “marketing” and freeze. That is NOT what we do. We’re not marketing people. But we must be. No one’s going to market for us, not even our happiest clients. Word of mouth goes only so far. Harnby’s book is filled with ideas to take and make one’s own, from cold-calling (UGH) to social media posting (YAY). Again, I’m glad to see that I’m getting some of it right all on my own. I can do more, though, and I will.
The third book, on the bottom in the photo, is (sorry, Mr. Adin and Ms. Harnby) the most invaluable of the three in my professional (I can say that!) opinion. Amy Einsohn’s The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications is proving just as useful to me, with my 20+ years of experience, as it would to someone just starting out. It is not a style guide. It’s a thorough discussion of the rules of copyediting. Quoting the back cover: “[This book] is a lively, practical manual for newcomers to publishing and for experienced editors who want to fine-tune their skills or broaden their understanding of the craft.” There’s nothing for me to add, really. So far I have worked through three of the exercises (yes, it’s a workbook! With an answer key!) and scored 100% on each.
I’m waiting for the shoe to drop. And then the other one. (And probably a few more.)
Each of these books is available from Amazon.com. Even with the “we’re sorry, we’re not able to ship these together” emails, I still had all three texts within a week of ordering, and they came a day apart in two shipments. I can’t complain.
Here is the daily comic panel for October 11, 2013. I took a screenshot in case it’s revised and replaced anytime soon.
Do I need to point out the error (which appears twice)?
This comic was written, drawn, colored, lettered, checked (maybe?), and distributed. King Features Syndicate says that The Family Circus is one of the most widely syndicated comic panels in the world, appearing in more than 1,500 newspapers every day. You’d think there’d be a little quality control somewhere in that chain. Then again, this is The Family Circus, so maybe no one read it.
More ways to improve your enjoyment of this comic:
The original comic appeared here. By the time you click the link, maybe they’ll have fixed the errors. Then again, this is The Family Circus, so . . . well, you know.
Some mistakes are harder to erase than others. In Oklahoma, state representative Mike Ritze sponsored a bill (and donated money) to install a granite monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol building. The monument is 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and it weighs 2,000 pounds.
One potential problem is that it might invite a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union because the monument violates the separation of church and state. But perhaps of more immediate concern is the fact that the granite contains a few spelling errors.
The Fourth Commandment mistakenly says, “Remember the Sabbeth day, to keep it holy.” (The correct spelling is Sabbath.)
The Tenth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidseruant . . .” That final word, of course, should be maidservant. (Or perhaps this is actually a clever way to get around the rule. “Hey, God’s totally cool with me coveting my neighbor’s maidservant! It’s just the maidseruants I’ve gotta stay away from.”)
Ritze plans to have the misspellings corrected. No word on whether he’s adding another commandment that says, “Thou shalt not skip the spellcheck.”
The photo comes from this site.
Lately I’ve been posting pictures of signs that feature typos. Here’s one that suffers from a different kind of problem. It meant to say one thing but ended up saying another.
So if parking is limited to 90 minutes for Whole Foods Market customers only, does that mean people who are shopping in a different store can park in the lot for as long as they want? Can the guy who lives down the block leave his car in the lot all the time? I guess Whole Foods Market customers are the only ones getting the shaft here. Doesn’t seem like the best way to treat the people spending money in your store!
They could have avoided the problem by adding a few more words to the sign. Something like: “. . . parking is limited to 90 minutes and is for Whole Foods Market customers only.” It’s usually worth giving a little extra attention to ensure that your message is being conveyed accurately, especially when it’s displayed in public.
(The above photo was kindly donated to the blog by Josh Weinberg. Thanks, Josh!)
The Red Lion Area school district in Pennsylvania tried to drum up some sponsors by creating a snazzy banner to display at football games. I imagine the idea was “Hey, once local businesses see how cool our banner looks, they’ll want to become sponsors and get their names up on the next banner!”
But their banner had a wee bit of a typo.
Don Dimoff, the marketing and communications manager for the district, said:
“Of all the missed letters, it had to be that one. The poor sign company feels horrible because they missed it. The people who hung the sign feel horrible because they missed it. I feel horrible. I’ve been losing sleep and haven’t eaten in two days trying to deal with this.”
The school district has apologized for what they described as an “unfortunate error.”
Cheer up, Red Lion folks! Maybe the banner will attract some sponsors after all—though maybe not the kind you were expecting.