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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…)

Next-level networking for freelancers

Diversity Editors Networking

Photo copyright Rawpixel


by Michelle Waitzman

As a freelance editor, you know that networking is an important part of marketing. But the prospect of networking is unappealing to many editors. Freelance editors generally tend to be introverts who are uncomfortable when surrounded by strangers and forced to make small talk. It can be downright nerve-racking! Joining Editors Canada is a good first step toward successful self-promotion, and you may have also explored writers’ groups in hopes of finding clients. But networking with writers and editors will only take you so far. Contrary to popular belief, however, extra networking doesn’t have to mean extra work.

Clients can come from unexpected places, and the more diverse your network becomes the more opportunities you will have to meet people who can expand your client list. A diverse network doesn’t mean a random one; by finding people you share common interests, skills, or philosophies with, you will increase your chances of working with compatible clients. Follow your passions and interests, and you may just find clients where you least expect them. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. (more…)

Top events for editors: June to December 2016

By Olga Sushinsky

Top events for editors: June to December 2016

Are you an editor looking for opportunities to network with your fellow colleagues or potential clients? Perhaps you are at the beginning or middle of your editing career and are wondering about other options, such as business writing or indexing. No matter what your goals are, there are still plenty of events that you can attend this year.

Editors Canada national conference, Vancouver, BC, June 10–12

Anyone serious about embarking on a career in editing should attend the Editors Canada national conference at least once in their lifetime. Every year, the association organizes a conference devoted to editing work. Previous conference themes/topics have included editing and technology, global editing, and book indexing. This year’s conference will focus on the business side of editing. New freelancers will greatly benefit from this event, as sessions will cover such topics as finding and keeping clients, managing the business side of freelancing, and editing various media, from web communications to self-published books. Pre-conference seminars will include PDF editing, efficient document production, and editorial design basics. During the conference, you’ll have a chance to meet colleagues from across Canada, former classmates from your continuing education courses, and, of course, experienced editing professionals who you can connect with. (more…)

The resumé, every which way: Show, don’t tell

By Berna Ozunal

The resumé, every which way: Show, don’t tell

In earlier posts I talked about some fairly basic points to keep in mind when applying for editing work, and I offered some advice on how to position yourself on a resumé as an editor. Today, I’d like to talk about some typical errors people make concerning the language and content in their resumés. These are pervasive issues that don’t just apply to editors, but as language experts, editors should avoid them.

Adjective overkill

Hardworking, energetic, motivated, highly skilled, detail oriented, proficient, passionate, professional, outgoing, personable… . These are on the laundry list of adjectives peppering most resumés. It’s a problem because these adjectives tell, not show. By this I mean everyone can say these things about themselves, and they may very well be true, but you need to provide the evidence to back it up. That’s where the show part comes in. Admittedly, this is easier said than done, especially in our field. How do we show people the painstaking, quiet, veiled work we do? After all, our work is mostly invisible, and it’s hard to show anyone how many errors in logic, meaning, grammar, etc. we’ve eliminated or how transformative our work can be to a piece of text, whether it be on a billboard or in a thousand-page scholarly tome.

The first thing to do is to think in terms of verbs instead of adjectives. Use terms like clarified, parsed, organized, queried, resolved, distilled, researched, revised, improved, analyzed, evaluated, eliminated, negotiated, rewrote, reworded, communicated, recommended, flagged, corrected, fact-checked, managed… . You get the idea. Think long and hard about all the editing work that you’ve done. Chances are you’re overlooking a lot of the tasks, skills, and actions you perform while working. Verbs show what you’re able to do for the employer. Listing a bunch of presupposed qualities is not a good idea, that is, it goes without saying that you are hardworking and reliable; if you weren’t, chances are you wouldn’t be applying for the job—you’d be on your sofa, in your underwear, staring deeply into an empty bag of Cheetos. (more…)

The resumé, every which way: Either/or

By Berna Ozunal
The resumé, every which way: Either/or

What is editing?

Earlier, I talked about some pretty basic things editors should keep in mind when preparing a resumé. Let’s talk about something more interesting and more important this time. I think, as editors, we can agree that what editors do is not fully understood— particularly by people who need editors. From the different types of editing (e.g., copy editing, structural editing), different types of editors (e.g., production, technical), different specialty and niche areas (e.g., academic, graphic novels), and different components of editing (e.g., indexing, fact-checking), there is a perpetual fog patch that obscures our profession.

So let’s talk about what makes an editor an editor.

As with all disciplines, there are professionals, and there’s everybody else. But it’s harder for people to make that distinction in editing. I think it’s because when people edit their own writing, it typically involves checking for typos and other such peccadilloes, and they think that’s all paid editors do—not true. People also think an aptitude for language is all it takes. That is, if someone is “nitpicky” when it comes to grammar or a “word nerd,” ta-da, that person is qualified to edit—also not true. Having a high degree of literacy or having a degree in English, linguistics, philosophy—these are all excellent foundations. But what makes an editor a true editor? I think, very simply, it is being dedicated to editing, taking the discipline seriously, working full-time at it, and always building your knowledge (this includes unlearning, which is equally important). And with resumés, this is where the problem lies. (more…)

The moving target of indie publishing: What every editor (and writer) needs to know

By Nina Munteanuindependent

I’m a writer and an editor. I’ve written and published novels, short stories, and non-fiction books with traditional publishing houses and indie publishers. I’ve also self-published. As editor, I serve as the in-house copy editor for a publishing house in the United States and have acted as acquisition editor for several anthologies put out by a local indie publisher. I also coach novice writers to publication and edit in that capacity.  You could say I know the industry from many angles and perspectives. That’s been good for me, because this industry is a moving target, and it’s good to triangulate on a moving object. The entire publishing industry is evolving, and it’s a slippery evolution.

Even the words we use are slippery. Indie. Hybrid. Publisher.

Many people, like award-winning author Kristine Kathryn Rusch, when they use the terms indie writer and indie publishing, include what some call self-publishing in their definitions of indie, “because so many [professional] writers who are not with traditional publishers have started their own presses. It’s not accurate to lump all writers who are not following the traditional route into the self-publishing basket any longer.” According to Rusch, an indie publisher is anyone who is not a traditional publisher. For this article, I’ve adopted Rusch’s definition to provide the full range of expectations for editors working with writers in the indie field. I define a traditional publisher as an established and often larger publishing house or press that (1) follows traditional submission criteria; (2) does not charge writers; (3) pays out royalties; and (4) employs in-house editors.

Indie writing and publishing can then be described in several ways depending on where the writer submits and by what mechanism and what model they use. All of these will affect a writer’s needs and perceptions for an editor and, in turn, an editor’s expectations as well. (more…)

The Nitpicker’s Nook: June’s linguistic links roundup

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts from around the Web. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

By Robin MarwickThe Nitpicker's Nook

If you’re a Toronto editor who didn’t go to Editing Goes Global on the weekend of June 12 to 14, you missed out on a weekend filled with more great sessions than any one person could attend. Fortunately, quite a few people tweeted and blogged about their weekend, so those who couldn’t make it can still learn.

  • Sarah Grey presented a session on inclusive editing: the art of making sure that language doesn’t hurt people. (Grey Editing)
  • Adrienne Montgomerie and Cheryl Stephens discussed the elusive art of editing visuals, including graphs and illustrations, and ensuring that they are as clear and useful as the text they accompany. (Iva Cheung)
  • James Harbeck gave a talk on the many possible reasons to use “bad” English. (Sesquiotica)
  • Teresa Schmedding and Karen Martwick discussed “triage editing.” In an ideal world, we would all have time to make sure everything we edit is perfect; of course, this is not an ideal world. Schmedding and Martwick’s goal is to bring evidence, rather than hunches, to editors’ decision-making. (Copydesk.org)

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