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Ask Aunt Elizabeth: The authors I work with see me as the enemy

By Elizabeth d’Anjou

Looking for advice on editing the editing life? Whether you’re a beginner looking for tips on starting out or an old hand looking for another perspective, veteran editor Aunt Elizabeth is ready to address your queries. Submit them to [email protected]—you may find the answers you are looking for in next month’s column.

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: The authors I work with see me as the enemy

(1) Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

At my current in-house editorial job, I have to provide feedback to authors on ways they can improve their writing. This often involves using examples from their work, explaining why the examples are incorrect, and discussing possible solutions. I also rate them on the quality of their work, and these ratings are used to determine their bonuses.

While I try to be diplomatic, half the time the authors resist my suggestions and refuse to incorporate them, sometimes rudely questioning my qualifications. This often translates into no improvement in their work and the continued assignation of low ratings by me. It’s a vicious cycle that is not conducive to a good working relationship. (more…)

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: How do I get work-life balance back?

By Elizabeth d’Anjou

Looking for advice on editing the editing life? Whether you’re a beginner looking for tips on starting out or an old hand looking for another perspective, veteran editor Aunt Elizabeth is ready to address your queries. Submit them to [email protected]—you may find the answers you are looking for in next month’s column.

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: How do I get work-life balance back?

(1) Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I’ve been freelancing from home since my long-term in-house job ended in late 2014. My routine is to wake up at 7 AM, eat breakfast, shower, and then start work. I usually work till 6 PM (longer if there’s a deadline looming), shut off my computer, and make dinner, with only short breaks throughout the day for lunch and tea. 

This routine is getting to me.

My life is so uneventful! I feel so isolated! I rarely see the outside world except through my office window, let alone talk to anyone besides my spouse, who does not work from home. This is so different from the “forced” socialization of the office I was used to (and, admittedly, enjoyed). How do I find the right work-life balance as a freelancer? What steps can I take to feel a part of the world again? 

Sincerely,

Going Stir-Crazy (more…)

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: Help! I edited the wrong version of my client’s file!

By Elizabeth d’Anjou

Looking for advice on editing the editing life? Whether you’re a beginner looking for tips on starting out or an old hand looking for another perspective, veteran editor Aunt Elizabeth is ready to address your queries. Submit them to [email protected]—you may find the answers you are looking for in next month’s column.

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: Help! I edited the wrong version of my client’s file!

(1) Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

Recently a client sent me a book foreword he wanted edited. A few hours later, he emailed me asking if he could send me an updated version. I received the second draft on Sunday and he wanted the edit by Tuesday because he needed to get it to his publisher on Wednesday. Tuesday afternoon I returned the edited foreword to him.

But on Wednesday morning, 6:30 AM, when I checked my email, there he was, telling me that I had edited the wrong version. He had painstakingly transferred my edits into his second version so that he could meet his deadline. Gasp! Not a nice wake-up call! I told him I wouldn’t charge him; he replied saying he had to pay me; I replied saying not charging him was the only way I could acknowledge my mistake. In the end, we agreed I would charge him for three of the five hours I spent editing. Did I do the right thing? (more…)

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: How do I let my boyfriend know his manuscript sucks?

By Elizabeth d’Anjou

Looking for advice on editing the editing life? Whether you’re a beginner looking for tips on starting out or an old hand looking for another perspective, veteran editor Aunt Elizabeth is ready to address your queries. Submit them to [email protected]—you may find the answers you are looking for in next month’s column.

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: How do I let my boyfriend know his manuscript sucks?

1) Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I’m a long-time freelance editor with a successful business in the book publishing field. My boyfriend of the last four years just finished writing a manuscript, and he asked me to read it. I have been avoiding reading it for months. I finally finished it, and my worst fears were realized: it is terrible. The plot was boring, the characters were unbelievable, and the dialogue was riddled with clichés. Do you have any suggestions on how I should approach this sensitive situation? I want to be honest, but he’s so excited about the prospect of becoming a published author, and I don’t want to crush his dream.

Thank you for your advice,
Panicked in Port Hope

Dear Panicked,

Yikes. Every editor has awkward moments related to the writing of friends and relations from time to time, but your case is particularly unfortunate! (more…)

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: To freelance or not to freelance?

By Elizabeth d’Anjou

Looking for advice on editing the editing life? Whether you’re a beginner looking for tips on starting out or an old hand looking for another perspective, veteran editor Aunt Elizabeth is ready to address your queries. Submit them to [email protected]—you may find the answers you are looking for in next month’s column.

Ask Aunt Elizabeth: To freelance or not to freelance?

(1) Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I’m thinking of becoming a freelance editor. I’ve worked in-house for many years as an editor at several different magazines, and I’m currently an in-house editor at a major publishing house. I love being an editor, but I yearn to be my own boss. What kind of person do you think it takes to be a freelancer, and can you kindly list a few of the pros and cons of running your own freelance editing business?

Sincerely,
Contemplating in Cabbagetown

Dear Contemplating,

I wouldn’t trade my freelance life for any job on earth, but self-employment isn’t for everyone. How can you tell if it’s for you? Well, that yearning to be your own boss is a big indicator that you might be well suited to freelancing; not taking orders from anyone is the biggest appeal for me. (As God is my witness, I will never again have to redo work—or, worse, ask an author to—because of my manager’s poor decisions!) (more…)