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How to write a successful academic grant application

Grant Writing

Editors can wear many hats. Sara Scharf dons a grant-writing hat, especially in the fall. She sees a great many applications and she has a few tips, which she has kindly given BoldFace permission to share from her blog.

 

I’ve been editing a lot of grant applications lately. To borrow from Tolstoy, good grant applications all have several things in common, but there are many, many different ways for grant applications to be bad. Here are some tips to help you succeed in applying for grants.

The number one thing that successful grant applications have in common is that they follow the directions. Most granting agencies have many applicants for a limited pool of resources. Don’t let your application get screened out early for failing to follow directions. It’s about respect: if you can’t even be bothered to submit what the instructions call for, the reviewers will have less reason to believe that you’ll use the grant money appropriately. Beyond showing basic respect by following the directions, be kind to your reviewers. Make your application easy to read and easy to understand so they will focus on your content. Here’s how:

Layout tips

Even if there is no minimum font size specified, use a font size of at least 10 points – even in figures – to make your text easy to read. Don’t play with the spacing, margins, line height or paper size, either. Reviewers see many applications and will notice when something about the layout is unusual. Giving reviewers more to read when they’re already swamped with applications is not a way to stay on their good side. But there are still ways to use the space you have to maximum effect.

All grant applications have limits of some kind on how much writing should go in each section. Page limits and word limits are pretty unambiguous. Character limits usually crop up when submission through specific types of digital forms is required. Many of these forms count spaces as characters. Maximize the amount of text available by using only one space between sentences. (Two spaces between sentences is a hangover from the days of typewriters and not a habit that holds up well now). Make sure there are no extra spaces by searching for and replacing “ ” (two spaces, no quotation marks) with a single space. Check that there are no stray spaces at the end of paragraphs. (more…)

Editor for Life: Greg Ioannou, freelance editor, owner of Colborne Communications, and co-founder of PubLaunch.com and Iguana Books

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Greg Ioannou

Greg, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I started freelancing on September 6, 1977, though I’d done lots of writing and some volunteer editing for a couple of years before that. So not quite 40 years. My first paid editing gig was working on Coles Notes (I edited almost 200 of them), and from there I branched out into textbooks, dictionaries, and trade books. By 1982, I was working for a range of publishers, and also editing a section of Ontario’s provincial budget. I’ve always been a complete generalist. My all-time favourite customer was Cranium, the board game company. I worked on over 30 games for them.

In 1985, I agreed to share a small office with two friends, which ended my days as a lonely freelancer working from my spare bedroom. That became a company that was originally called The Editorial Centre and is now Colborne Communications.

Five of us founded Iguana Books in 1991 as a book packaging company. (We put out one book soon after we launched the company. It was someone else’s pet project—an academic book on a business subject—and I’ve never seen a copy of it.) In 2011 I converted Iguana to a hybrid publisher, serving self-publishing authors. Iguana has published about 70 books, many of which I’m intensely proud of.

Iguana publishes general trade books—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, kids’ books, whatever. I won’t publish a book unless it is at a fully professional standard. Our books are as well edited and designed as the books coming out of the major trade-publishing companies. As an editor, I’ve always been a complete generalist, and my publishing company is the same.

Iguana started crowdfunding its books in 2013, mostly using a New York-based website called Pubslush. By early 2015, a large portion of my income was coming through Pubslush, so when the company announced in August 2015 that it was going out of business, I sort of acquired the company. That deal fell apart seven weeks later. We’d been planning to rebrand the company as PubLaunch anyway, so that was an opportunity to program PubLaunch the way we’d wished that Pubslush had worked. (more…)

Editor for life: Marnie Lamb, freelance editor, indexer, and writer

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Marnie Lamb
 

Please tell us a little about yourself, Marnie, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

My first paid editing job was at the, then named, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in Hull, Quebec. I was hired during the summer when I was doing my master’s degree in English literature. (I won’t tell you how many years ago that was!) The job was quite a coup for a student, considering that most of my classmates stacked books at Chapters or worked as teaching assistants in mandatory English courses for unruly engineering students.

After I graduated, I left Indian Affairs and pursued other goals over the next few years (including a second master’s degree, this one a combined creative writing and English literature program). I then worked for a year as an editor for a professor at the University of Ottawa before moving to Toronto. I freelanced for a few months and then landed a position as a catalogue editor for an advertising agency that produced all of Sears’s advertising. I remained in that job over five years before making one of the best decisions of my life in September 2009, when I left the agency to start my own freelance editing business, Ewe Editorial Services.

Since then, I’ve completed a Publishing certificate at Ryerson University and watched my business blossom. I work mainly in book publishing, with scholarly, educational, and trade publishers. My specialties are permissions research, indexing, copy editing, and proofreading. Like most other freelancers, I love the variety and the freedom that comes with being my own boss.

Outside of editing, I have many hobbies and not enough time to pursue them! My passion is writing fiction. Several of my short stories have been published in Canadian literary journals. My first book, a preteen/teen novel named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, has just been published by Iguana Books, the publishing company of Editors Canada past president Greg Ioannou. (more…)

Toronto summers are made for freelancing

Toronto Summers Are for Freelancers
by Emma Warnken Johnson

When I first started full-time freelancing a little over a year ago, I worried about working from home. Would I feel cooped up in my little apartment? Would I end up editing from my couch? Would I ever remember to leave the house again?

Luckily, I started freelancing just as the weather got warmer. After years of life as a nine-to-fiver, it shocked me to discover that Toronto is a busy, bustling place—all day, every day. This is even truer in the summer: businesses bust down their doors and windows and spill out onto the sidewalks, and people take advantage of every inch of outdoor space. Once I figured out how to do the same, Toronto summers quickly became one of my favourite things about going freelance. (more…)

Editor for Life: Wilf Popoff, freelance editor, owner/founder of Executive Editorial Consultants

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Wilf Popoff

 

Wilf, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I edit and write technical material, mainly in law and engineering, disciplines I believe central to our civilization: law fosters its political accord while engineering creates its physical structure. I enjoy having a small role in both camps.

My wife, a non-fiction writer, and I live in Saskatoon, a prairie city with decent libraries and insufferable winters.     

I’ve always been an editor or at least since the last glacier retreated. Volunteering for my university weekly hooked me, and I spent 35 years at two daily newspapers, the Edmonton Journal and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Eventually, I no longer edited copy but supervised a newsroom. But at all levels one is still an editor.

When newspapers began to atrophy and no longer needed me I set up a freelance company. And I’m still editing after more than 55 years.

 

Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?

I am in awe of famous authors, but for me reading them can be upsetting. I frequently pause and say, “I could never write anything so brilliant.”

Therefore I would be reluctant to touch the MS [manuscript] of any famous author. Only a brave and confident editor could change something Orwell, Waugh or Atwood wrote. A seemingly unnecessary word may have an artful purpose.  (more…)

Book Review: Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

(Chronicle Books)

 Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

By Christine Albert

Time is a commodity that often seems to be in short supply. Recognizing the need for professionals to learn not only how they’re using their time, but also how to work more efficiently, Kari Chapin created Make It Happen: A Workbook and Productivity Tracker for Getting Stuff Done. A business consultant, podcaster, and public speaker, Chapin has also authored two books on growing a creative business and has designed an idea-generation workbook. Having worked for 15 years in marketing and publicity, Chapin understands that time is money—so it’s important to work faster, smarter, and better.

As the title suggests, Make It Happen is not simply a time-tracking tool. Part journal, part productivity tracker, it lets users create schedules, track time spent on various tasks, reflect on their work habits and possibly improve their process. The workbook provides prompts, activity trackers, schedule outlines, and blank notes sections. While some elements repeat (such as the “Make It Happen,” “Break It Down,” “My Time Today,” “I Could Swap,” and double-page reflection prompts), they’re not set in repeating order. Instead, Chapin includes a blank date box on each recto page—a good choice as it allows for greater flexibility. This open-ended design lets users tailor the workbook to their own work style and preferences. (more…)

Editor for Life: Patrick Geraghty, editor, Whitecap Books

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

 

Patrick Geraghty,/ Photo by Jon Vincent

Patrick Geraghty/ Photo by Jon Vincent

Patrick, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I am the editor at Whitecap Books, a Vancouver-based publishing company that produces cookbooks and kids’ non-fiction. Mostly cookbooks. I’ve worked here for a few years now, before which I wrote for a few local arts papers and edited a bit of film criticism, sort of. I enjoy my current situation because editing cookbooks feels more like doing a Highlights puzzle than doing an actual job. For the most part, it’s just about looking for mistakes and things that aren’t like all the other things. It’s like doing a word- search, or a jumble. When I find incorrect conversions, an incomplete methodology, or something that disagrees with the overall style, it’s exhilarating! Plus, I don’t know anything about cooking really. I never cook, so trying to make sense of recipes is like . . . I get to ask a lot of dumb questions and everyone thinks I’m just playing devil’s advocate. Failing upwards I guess.

Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?

I would love to have edited one of those Doc Savage pulps from the sixties or, from the present, maybe one of those Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child? It would be fun to edit a book where the bulk of your criticism is just things like, “You should mention how tall the main character is again.”

What: Do you have a favourite punctuation mark and/or a favourite word?

I used to really like the square bracket and I would use it incorrectly all the time in college papers just because I felt like it had a cool austerity to it. But I got made fun of by my profs and now it’s not really in my life at all anymore. I haven’t really liked anything else much since then.

Where: If you could work anywhere in the world as an editor, where would that be?

I feel uncomfortable answering this question in case it’s a monkey’s paw–style situation. I mean, I’m sure it would be lovely to edit books from a beach in the south of Spain, but not if I had to wear a horsehair shirt, you know what I mean? I guess it would be nice if I worked somewhere with free bagels and energy drinks.

When: Was there ever a time in your life when you seriously questioned your career choice?

I was previously working as a baker (I wasn’t good at it), and my boss told me I was a terrible baker and that I should try to get a job with my English degree. That sounded easier said than done, but then she fired me and so okay. I asked some friends for a job and they helped me out, then later I asked some other friends for a different job and they were like, “Do you have any experience” and I said, “Yeah I had that first job.” I feel extremely lucky to have a job where I don’t have to wake up at 4 AM, so I haven’t questioned much since then.

Why: Why did you choose to become an editor? Or, should we ask: Why did editing choose you? 

I used to really like writing when I was younger, and I even went to creative writing school in England. I wrote some poorly received Medieval fiction, but it took so much time and energy, and then no one liked it after all that anyways. Writing is hard work . . . you have to generate so much text, and you get so little feedback along the way. Being an editor is much easier. You can delegate all the ideas to other people, and they generate the text for you! Just kidding, sort of. Maybe this would be a good place for an emoticon.

And, of course, we just had to ask the inevitable how: How would you sum up your motto?

Do whatever you want, don’t do whatever you don’t want.

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance editor and writer, specializing in book and custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. She is also chair of Editors Toronto and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series.

This article was copy edited by Afara Kimkeran.

Report on ACES 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida

By Berna Ozunal

This year, 591 people travelled to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference held from March 23 to 25 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel—the second-highest attendance ever.

I went to St. Pete’s for a few reasons this year: I enjoyed last year’s conference in Portland and learned a lot, I seriously needed to “defrost,” and I was presenting a session.

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, St. Petersburg has a population of just over 250,000. From the Tampa International Airport, it’s just a 30-minute taxi or shuttle ride to the hotel.

I was told that March is the perfect time to travel to Florida, and it’s true. With highs between 24ºC and 28ºC, you are transported to another dimension—one where people do not walk around half the year swaddled like mummies in wool and down. (more…)