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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…)

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…)

Editor for Life: Sara Scharf, freelance editor

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.

Sara Scharf

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

I’ve been editing for pay for more than 20 years. My specialty is academic editing, especially for clients in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. I have many interests and have switched fields repeatedly, completing a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and technology, working as a medical market analyst, and then, as a postdoctoral fellow in engineering, studying how to increase innovation in extremely multicultural environments. I thrive on variety and intellectual engagement, which is probably why substantive editing, stylistic editing, and fact-checking are my favourite editing tasks. Of course, I copy edit, too, but I nearly lost my mind earlier this week putting more than 700 references into APA format on a tight schedule.

Journal articles, grant applications, promotion packages, and PhD dissertations are my bread and butter. While I help my clients further their careers, they give me the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research in a wide range of disciplines, from paleontology to polymer chemistry to sociology to electrical engineering. Since many of my clients are not native speakers of English, I often learn about their languages and cultures, too. They also inspire me to learn more about my own language and culture when I explain the origins of English idioms and the subtle differences among expressions. I love how some of the questions they ask really make me think. For instance, one client asked me to explain how possible, probable, potential, and putative are different from each other.

Helping people from a variety of backgrounds express themselves clearly and appropriately in contexts requiring vastly different tones draws on my creativity and is very rewarding. (more…)

Book Review: Hustle by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Jonas Koffler

(Rodale Books, 2016)
Hustle

By Deepi Harish

Most people talk about their dreams, yet few people do anything to achieve them. From start to finish, Hustle is a burst of inspiration to “do something. Do something that moves you. Do something that excites or energizes you. Don’t talk about it. Don’t dream it. Don’t plan it. Don’t plan to plan it,” say authors Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Jonas Koffler. All three authors are entrepreneurs who come from immigrant families and faced plenty of ups and downs as they experimented with their career choices. Now they are considered the top startup consultants in the United States today.

The phrase “Hustle Generation” refers to people who have gone from dreamers to doers, and it is a common thread throughout the book. Examples of self-made millionaires include John Paul DeJoria, the man behind Patrón Tequila, and Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Several other examples are sprinkled throughout the chapters. (more…)

Seminar: Search engine optimization (SEO): The art, the science, and the magic

Search engine optimization, or SEO, might seem like an art for which you have no talent, a science of which you have no understanding, or a magic trick that you just can’t figure out. In reality, however, SEO is simply a series of principles and processes that anyone can use to drive more traffic to their website.

In this half-day session for novice SEO practitioners, we’ll discuss the importance of SEO, the philosophy behind search engine algorithms, and the tried-and-true methods for increasing page rank. Specific topics include:

• on-page and off-page SEO;
• keyword research, selection, and use;
• inbound and outbound links;
• metadata, tags, and basic HTML; and
• site architecture and page structure.

Participants will also be introduced to useful free or low-cost tools for implementing and improving SEO on virtually any type of website. (more…)

Seminars: Getting government work

Some of the highest-paid, most challenging and satisfying editing work is for government. But landing the projects can be as challenging and time-consuming as doing the work. This seminar covers the various ways in which governments at various levels farm out freelance and contract work. We will look at the complexities of getting on suppliers’ lists (and staying on them) and becoming a Vendor of Record, as well as how to get standing-order contracts and how to get work from them. The seminar will also cover the entire process of finding and responding to RFPs, RFQs, RFIs, and other government procurement documents. Finally, you’ll learn when to submit a proposal and how to do so effectively (more…)

Promoting accessibility in editorial businesses

Web Accessibility Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

By Christine Albert

As a student enrolled in an editing program, I’m often asked to reflect on issues that may arise when working with clients. The discussion and module notes invariably focus on respect, clear communications, and diplomacy—about how the language of our queries and comments can affect authors. Yet, accessibility is rarely discussed, and few resources from professional associations or courses exist on how to make editorial businesses inclusive and accessible.

This lack of information on accessibility creates a disadvantage for those potential clients who may be physically or cognitively unable to use the same editing services as their peers. An author with multiple learning disabilities once explained to me that she found it difficult working with other editors: they simply wrote long comments using Track Changes, which she had difficulty reading. As a result, she had to constantly ask her transcriber to read her the edits and comments. After discussing the author’s needs, she and I worked out an alternate method that involved verbally communicating comments and large changes, which would let her work through the draft independently—a tactic that surprisingly hadn’t been considered by the other editors.

Lack of accessibility not only affects the services side of our businesses but it also affects our marketing efforts. Google searches for accessible and inclusive editing services turned up no relevant results. While searching editor websites, I was surprised to find that many do not follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) nor incorporate basic accessibility features. For instance, a number of websites could not be zoomed in when viewed on a tablet, while others did not have enough contrast between the text and background. As someone with moderate vision issues, I struggled to read the content on these websites. Potential clients with visual or learning disabilities may be deterred by these difficulties and look elsewhere for an editor. If we are to operate our editorial businesses successfully, we need to go beyond our assumptions of what clients need and make our services accessible so we can provide them with what they actually require. (more…)