An American Editor

May 28, 2014

On Books: Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business

What is the one thing that every freelancer needs to do but most don’t do? Self-marketing!

Many freelancers have websites or participate in social media, but their marketing efforts are more passive than active. We are uncomfortable with active marketing largely because we do not know how to do it.

Years ago I taught marketing to editors and writers. It was an all-day course and I was surprised at how few people attended and, in follow-up, how few of the few who did take the course actually implemented what they learned. I suspect that in those pre–social media days, we believed that our community was small enough that personal relationships were more important and “marketing” was an unnecessary evil. (This view was often stated on editor forums.)

I admit that my view was different and for many years, I dedicated at least 10% of my gross income to marketing my services. My experience convinces me that smart marketing was and is necessary. Over the years I would read in online forums complaints from colleagues about having too little work, too long between jobs, too low an income, etc. These were phenomena with which I was unfamiliar and I attribute that to marketing. But I was preaching to the deaf.

It appears that the new generation of freelancers recognizes the need to market but needs direction on how to do it. At long last, there is a starting point for learning how to market. Louise Harnby has written Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business, a guide for freelancers through the labyrinth of self-marketing.

Harnby’s book is not perfect and I have some disagreements with some of her statements, but then I look at marketing through much different glasses. For example, early in her book (p. 6), Harnby writes: “The truth is this — there are no rules.” Yes, there are rules. What there aren’t are limitations to what can be done — marketing is limited only by your imagination and pocketbook. But there are fundamental rules to successful marketing.

One such rule is that to be successful you must repeatedly market to the same audience. You cannot, for example, send an inquiry once to a prospect and leave it at that, even if the prospect says no or ignores you. If you want to work for that prospect, you must repeatedly remind that prospect of your interest and availability. Harnby both makes and skirts this point in Chapter 10, “Regular Marketing.” She emphasizes the need to keep marketing but doesn’t point out directly the need to keep marketing to the same group.

One of the great strengths of Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business is its “case studies.” I wish more detail was given in some instances, but every case study was enlightening. Importantly, the case studies reinforce the idea that what Harnby suggests is both doable and worthwhile. I particularly liked her sample marketing plan. If you read nothing else in the book, you need to read this because it is a good introduction to preparing a marketing strategy.

Another exemplary chapter is Chapter 20, “Going Direct.” When I worked in advertising and marketing in the very early 1970s, going direct was a cornerstone of a marketing plan for a small business. With the growth of the Internet and social media, going direct declined greatly or turned into spam. Harnby explains both how to go direct and why to go direct, making the case for its use even in the age of social media.

Not talked about in the book, but something that should be included in any revision, is the marketing calendar. Creating and maintaining a marketing calendar is important and a key to marketing success. Marketing is about timing as well as content. Great content that is used at the wrong time loses impact. A marketing calendar lets you focus on creating a marketing tidbit around a specific time or event. For example, I used to send out special gift packages for Halloween with my marketing pitch, which pitch was also Halloween oriented. Next up on the calendar was Thanksgiving. Because I kept a calendar, I knew when I had to prepare the material for each of these marketing events and when I had to mail the items. It would do little good to send something for Thanksgiving and have it arrive after the holiday or when no one was likely to be in the office to receive it. In addition to the detailed marketing plan that Harnby discusses, the detailed marketing calendar is also important.

Another item that should be included in a future edition is the marketing budget. How to create one, how to fund one, how to spend one — these are all important issues that need addressing when dealing with any marketing effort. For example, an issue that would fall under the budget category is should you design your own website or hire a professional? How do you make the budgetary analysis?

Harnby’s book, Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business, demonstrates that any of us can do successful marketing. All we need is a little help and guidance, which Harnby’s book provides. It is the first book on marketing for freelancers that I would whole-heartedly recommend. It covers the essentials in sufficient detail for any freelancer to start a successful marketing campaign.

Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business is a must-have book in my library. I learned quite a bit that I was unaware of and that I am not taking advantage of in my marketing efforts, which I will think about rectifying. I am convinced that freelancers who follow Harnby’s advice — and persist in their marketing efforts — will ultimately find themselves overwhelmed with offers for work. For more information about Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business, click this link.

Richard Adin, An American Editor


May 26, 2014

The Proofreader’s Corner: Page Proofs and the Domino Effect

Page Proofs and the Domino Effect

by Louise Harnby

If we want to proofread for publishers, we need to be comfortable with working on page proofs. Good proofreading practice requires us to acknowledge that, for example, changing one word, or moving one line, can have unintended and damaging consequences throughout the rest of the book if we aren’t careful.

What are Page Proofs?

The mainstream publisher will usually require the proofreader to work on page proofs: “Page proofs are so-called because they are laid out as exactly as they will appear in the final printed book. If all has gone well, what the proofreader is looking at will be almost what the reader sees if they were to walk into a bookshop, pull this title off the shelf and browse through the pages. The layout process has been taken care of by a professional typesetter who designs the text in a way that is pleasing to the eye and in accordance with a publisher’s brief” (Harnby, 2014. “Not all proofreading is the same: Part I–Working with page proofs”). In this case, the proofreader does not amend the text directly. She annotates the page proofs.

I work on both hard-copy page and PDF page proofs—it depends on the client’s preference. I’m looking for any final spelling, punctuation, grammatical, and consistency errors that remain in the text. However, I’m also expected to check the appearance of the text. There’s a more comprehensive list of what this entails here. Suffice it to say that every amendment I suggest might have an impact somewhere else. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make the amendment; it means, rather, that I need to be mindful of the consequences of my actions—the “domino effect.”

What’s the Domino Effect?

In the UK, proofreaders refer to the indirect consequences of our mark-up as knock-on effects. But let’s stick with the term “domino effect” here because it provides us with the perfect description of what’s at stake.

You line up four dominos: A, B, C, and D. You push over A and it pushes over B. B then knocks over C, which in turn causes D to fall. Domino D’s topple was caused indirectly by Domino A, even though A didn’t touch D. This process can occur on page proofs and can have serious consequences. The changes we make can, if we’re not careful, impact on the text flow, the pagination, the contents list, and the index.

Here’s an example to illustrate the point. Imagine the publisher’s brief tasks the proofreader with attending to orphans and widows (those stranded single lines at the bottom or top of a page). Solutions that involve instructing a typesetter to shuffle a line backward to a previous page, or forward to the next page, in order to avoid the widow/orphan might cause one, or all, of the following problems:

  • The repositioning of a line onto a different page automatically forces a reflow of text. Things look fine for the next six pages, but on the seventh page after the amendment was made, a new orphaned or widowed line has now appeared. The previous arrangement of the text prevented this.
  • Let’s imagine that the seventh page is still widow/orphan-free. But the reflow of text means that this seventh page now contains a line that appeared on the previous page. This line includes a keyword term that is cross-referenced 130 pages later. The cross-reference is now incorrect.
  •  The index is being created simultaneously by a professional indexer. It’s not uncommon for proofreaders to never see the index, nor to spot check it. The line that’s been repositioned on a different page contains an author citation that is included in the index. The indexer doesn’t know what the proofreader’s done, and the proofreader doesn’t know which terms are being included in the index. Neither of them knows that the index entry now has the wrong page number attached to it.

In all three cases, the proofreader has prevented one problem but caused others. Consequently, good practice involves more than blindly placing mark-up instruction on any given page. Thought needs to be given to how the problem can be tackled and the impact managed so that there is no domino effect. Spotting an orphaned or widowed line is not enough. We might also have to consider the following:

  • Providing additional instructions to the typesetter regarding to how to manage the problem by compensating elsewhere on the page (e.g., increasing or reducing line spaces and page depths, new line creation, etc.) so that the impact of moving one line is restricted to the page where the change has been made and its facing recto/verso.
  • Telling the project manager about the suggested line move so that the manager can inform the indexer.
  • Looking out for obvious key words or citations in lines that have been moved to check whether they are cross-referenced in the text (having a PDF, even when working on hard copy, is a must in these circumstances).

Summing Up

If you’re considering training as a proofreader and want to be fit for the purpose of marking up page proofs, check that your course includes a component about domino/knock-on effects. Even when we are supplied with detailed briefs about an ideal layout, the publisher client expects us to be mindful of the consequences of our amendments. The proofreader’s job is to find solutions to problems in ways that don’t cause unintended damage.

Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and the curator of The Proofreader’s Parlour. Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader, follow her on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or find her on LinkedIn. She is the author of Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers and Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business.

May 23, 2014

Worth Noting: Be a Better Freelancer! (Re)Invent Your Business

The Countdown Begins

Wondering how to launch or improve an editorial business, whether you offer writing, editing, proofreading, indexing or other related services? Come to “Be a Better Freelancer! (Re)Invent Your Business,” the ninth annual Communication Central conference for freelancers, September 26–27, 2014, in Rochester, NY, with an Editorial Bootcamp on September 28 at the same location.

Topics include launching your business, macros and other efficiency/productivity tools, working with MS Office, organization tips, a self-publishing roundtable, balancing freelancing and family life, resources, benefiting from social media, and more. Keynote speaker is Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier. Other speakers include Erin Brenner, Ally Machate, April Michelle Davis, Daniel Heuman, Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, Dick Margulis, Greg Ioannou, Geoff Hart, Jack Lyon, Laura Poole, Ben Davis, Amy Schneider, and Ruth E. Thaler-Carter.

Until June 30, AAE subscribers can receive a special discount. Use this link to register and receive the special AAE price (the password is 2014c-c). Be sure to make your hotel reservations early — the conference coincides with the last weekend of a film festival and space will be at a premium the closer it gets to September.

Interested in Laura Poole’s editorial bootcamp? Info for the Editorial Bootcamp is included in the conference registration PDF. The Editorial Bootcamp may be taken without attending the conference.

Questions? Contact Communication Central owner Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, at or 585-248-0318.

Remember that the countdown begins. There are 38 days until the AAE discount expires.

Disclaimer: Neither I nor the An American Editor blog has any financial or other interest in this conference. — Richard Adin, An American Editor

May 21, 2014

The Business of Editing: Does the Trend Ever Go Up?

Let’s set the stage with the following two music videos. They aren’t really on point, but they do broadly cover the theme. First up is “Money, Money, Money” by Abba.

Next up are Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey in the classic “Money” from the film Cabaret.

Now that the stage is set, let’s talk money.

I was contacted by a potential new client recently (for ease of writing, I will refer to the company as if it is a client). The client needed a couple of large medical books edited and wondered if I would be available. After saying that I would be available depending on schedule and other terms, we started discussing terms.

The client indicated that a new process would be inaugurated with these books. No longer would the editor do any type coding or deal in any way with references. In addition, the editor would not have to convert any words from British spelling to American spelling (or vice versa); the client would have someone else deal with these “mechanical aspects.” The editor’s sole role would be to provide a “language” edit.

Consequently, the client believed that the following should be agreeable:

  1. The definition of a page could be changed so that more data constituted a page; and
  2. My usual fee could be reduced by more than one-third.

Needless to say, we hit a snag immediately.

Our competing definitions of what constitutes a page were not so divergent that we could not eventually come to an agreement. Truly, we were very close. But the reduction in fee was another matter.

I wish I could say that this was the first client to think this way; unfortunately, it seems to be a trend. There is something amiss when clients think that not requiring the editor to type code (or apply styles) amounts to a significant amount of work savings. I tried to explain to the client that in a 500-page manuscript, the type coding could be done in about an hour and often less, especially with the use of Code Inserter in EditTools (or, in the case of styles, Style Inserter, which is now in beta testing).

It is true that if an editor does not have to format references that could be a significant timesaver, but that depends on many factors, including how many references there are. More importantly, however, as I explained to the client, if the editor does not have to deal with the references, then the references are not included in the page count calculation or, the if fee is hourly, in the number of hours spent editing. In other words, it is no different than if the manuscript has no references.

But this “new” process leaves a lot of things undecided. For example, if the author uses “recognize” five times then uses “recognise” once, who changes the British spelling to American spelling? If it is not the “language” editor, then how does the “someone else” find the incorrect version? Similarly, if the editor is no longer responsible for determining head levels, how does “someone else” determine whether a head should be a primary or a subsidiary head?

As for references, if the editor is no longer responsible for them, who determines whether the reference is called out in the text, is complete, or is appropriate to the material at the callout location?

The list goes on.

There seems to be a misunderstanding, perhaps, a willful one, about what an editor does and what it takes to do certain tasks in the editing process. For example, an editor doesn’t willy-nilly assign head levels. The editor reads the material and determines its rank in the scheme of the manuscript. It is not possible to determine a head level without having read the preceding and following explanatory material. So, unless the author has marked the manuscript, someone has to read it to determine head levels. And what about whether a list should be bulleted, numbered, or unnumbered, or material should be quote indented, or myriad other things that can only be determined by reading the manuscript.

Yet the client thinks that these are “just mechanical” tasks that can be separated from the “language editing” and because the editor is no longer responsible for those tasks, the editing is much easier and thus worth less.

I have always viewed the editor’s role as primarily that of “language” editing. The editor needs to help an author with message delivery. Yes, the editor also does some mechanical things, like type coding, but they are incidental to the editing, not a major (or perhaps even significant) part of the editor’s job.

Thus, I explained to the client, although the editor is relieved of some rote work, the relief doesn’t amount to a great deal in terms of what the editor does. A professional editor is hired not to type code or look up references for missing information, even if the editor does that work. The professional editor is hired to police the language of the manuscript, to help the author deliver his or her message clearly and accurately. Consequently, the editor’s fee is not based on whether a job includes or excludes type coding, but on the editor’s language skills and experience.

Alas, increasingly I am seeing these arguments fall on deaf ears. Publishers and packagers have learned and taken the wrong lesson from the offshoring of editorial work. The lesson learned is that editorial work can be done more cheaply; the lesson not learned is that there has to be a balance between fees paid for editing and the quality of the editing. The lower the fee paid, the lower the quality that should be expected.

A professional editor knows that she must earn a certain amount per hour in order to make ends meet and produce a profit. This is a fundamental rule (equation) of all businesses: it is not enough to have work, the work must be profitable. If you cut my fee by one-third, how many more pages must I churn per hour in order to make up for that cut? Presumably, the uncut fee level represents the amount I must earn to be profitable.

I find this mindset difficult to change, although I keep trying. It is worrisome to me that the trend is to bring more work onshore because of perceived quality problems yet to offer editors the offshore price, with the thought that the client can receive onshore quality for offshore pricing. That is a no-win formula for both the client and the editor.

Just when I thought it was getting better for professional editors, the trend downslope returns.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

May 19, 2014

The Practical Editor: Teaching the Art of Copyediting

Teaching the Art of Copyediting

by Erin Brenner

A while back, Rich Adin wrote in a blog post, Is Editing Teachable?, that copyediting can’t be taught. He said:

Editing is…a craft, a skill. It is more than knowing an adjective from an adverb, a noun from a pronoun. It is more than being able to construct and deconstruct a sentence or a paragraph. We know that grammar and spelling are things that can be taught.…But editing has an air of unteachability about it.

I agree that editing is a craft, one that editors continue to learn throughout their careers. And while telling an adjective from an adverb is useful, it’s just the beginning of learning copyediting.

Editing courses, Adin says, teach only the mechanics of copyediting because that’s all they can teach. By “mechanics,” he means “the things that are applied by rule [or] rote,” he told me in an email.

But you can’t teach students how to “reconstruct a sentence so that it is clear and accurately portrays the message,” Adin continued.

“It is not possible to teach one to be a good or great editor,” Adin had written in his blog post. “If it were possible, there would be more great editors and fewer average editors.”

Let’s look at these two ideas separately.

Teaching More Than Editing Mechanics

My own definitions of editing come from The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn. Einsohn breaks down the task of copyediting into several parts, including:

  • Mechanical editing: making a manuscript conform to a house style, including correcting for such items as spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, punctuation, treatment of numbers, and so on.
  • Language editing: correcting or querying the author on errors in grammar, syntax, usage, and diction.
  • Content editing: correcting or querying the author on errors of internal consistency, content discrepancies, and structural and organizational problems.

Adin and I have essentially the same definition of mechanics, then. Editing a weak sentence into something clear and accurate would seem like language editing to me; in some instances, it might be content editing. Both are teachable, though, and deconstructing sentences and paragraphs is an excellent way to do so.

Break that sentence into its parts and see how it works. What happens when you move modifying phrases around? Does a sentence sound stronger with an important phrase at the beginning or end? These are places of power in a sentence, and a copyeditor can learn to use those places wisely.

Maybe word choice is the problem. Has the author chosen a word that’s precise enough to carry the meaning? Copyeditors should be alert to connotation and denotation of words.

Another key to finding clarity in sentences is understanding rhythm and how that’s achieved. An awkward rhythm can distract readers from the message.

All of these things and more can be explained and, more importantly, practiced. A recent lesson for my Copyediting II students included an exercise in coordinating and subordinating ideas in sentences and paragraphs. My job is to judge how well they’ve done that based on the original meaning of the text and to guide them to better decisions when necessary.

A lot of language editing can be taught by teaching writing style. In The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing, Thomas S. Kane broadly defines style as “the total of all the choices a writer makes concerning words and their arrangements.” What kind of choices are we talking about? Things such as:

  • Diction
  • Verb choice
  • Passive vs. active voice
  • Coordination and subordination of ideas
  • Use of negatives
  • Variety in words, sentence structure, and paragraph structure
  • Redundancy

In addition, copyeditors can learn how to create transitions between sentences and paragraphs and how to organize words in a sentence to better emphasize the main idea. All of these items can be taught and practiced.

Of course, a writing style is a complex thing and not always easy to identify minutely, but we can identify certain characteristics of style and note when something doesn’t fit. When you can identify the problem, you can fix it.

Why Aren’t There More Great Editors?

If teaching copyediting is possible, then, how come there aren’t more great editors? Many reasons, including:

  • Not all copyediting training is created equal. Some materials, no matter what kind you use, are simply better than others. In part, you’re only as good as your training.
  • Not all copyeditors are created equal. Like any other career, copyediting demands certain abilities, such as attention to detail. Some people are simply better at noticing details. Others are good at seeing the big picture. We all have innate abilities that suit us to certain kinds of work.
  • If more people were great, who would be average? Those at the top of their industry are just that: the top. The exceptions, not the rule. Most folks are average, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, though, we don’t really know how many copyeditors are great. As Adin has pointed out, we lack a national organization in the United States that measures how good a copyeditor is. How can we know how many great copyeditors labor in obscurity? We may bemoan the quality of the published word, but can we lay all the blame on copyeditors and ignore writers’ skills, the time given to edit, or any other variable in the publishing process?

I, too, would like to see a national organization that sets a standard for editing, recognizes those editors that achieve it, and educates the world about the importance of those standards. Doing so would also indicate that we think copyediting can be taught.

Erin Brenner is the editor of the Copyediting newsletter and the owner of Right Touch Editing. You can follow her on Twitter. Erin is also a guest presenter at various conferences on topics of interest to freelancers.

May 14, 2014

Are University Presses Missing Out on Sales?

I recently bought a half-dozen hardcover books published by university presses, such as The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898 by Lisa Tetrault (University of North Carolina Press) and Confronting the Good Death: Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953 by Michael S. Bryant (University Press of Colorado). I considered buying several more books published by university presses but didn’t, and it is the reason why I didn’t and the reason why I didn’t buy the books I did buy directly from the presses that is the topic of this article.

(On the off-chance someone from a university press is reading this essay, let me say that the way I found some of the books — both those bought and those I thought about buying — is from ads in the New York Review of Books or their being reviewed or mentioned in a review in the NYRB.)

What would have induced me to buy the additional books even though the cost was high?

As is typically the case with university press books, they are expensive and only slightly discounted (usually 5% to 10%) by booksellers. Consequently, I think carefully about whether to buy a book. The other problem is that although I want to buy the hardcover for my library, I would prefer, in many cases, to read the book as an ebook. Some of the books, like the two I identified above, are not available in ebook form; others that I did consider buying but didn’t buy are available in both print and ebook formats.

And that is where the university presses are failing in their sales pitch. Why not make their books more attractive by including a free ebook version to anyone who pays list price? I know that rather than save 5% on a book, I would rather have a free ebook version, and I am confident that there is a group of consumers who think the same.

I grant that many of the books published by university presses are of interest only to academics. I own several that I would be surprised even if fellow academics found comprehensible, but which I bought because I am interested in the topic. (Alas, these books are so dense that years later they are still unfinished, although they do look nice on my library shelves.)

I understand that an ebook is not cheap to produce. However, if properly planned for during the production stages of the print book, the cost is significantly less than if the job had to be tackled from the beginning. If done simultaneously with the print version, the cost is very minimal today.

The idea of buying the hardcover version and getting a free ebook version is not new but it is an idea that has yet to be implemented fully by university presses.

The logistics are not all that difficult. More difficult is getting people to part with $60 for a book, even with a free ebook. University presses charge such high prices because sales are expected to be very limited, in some instances at most a few hundred books. But I suspect that their books would have increased sales with the ebook sweetener. Perhaps not lifting a book into six-figure sales, but perhaps into five-figure sales.

Yet it is not enough to have such a program in place; it has to be advertised. If I were running the university press, I would start by advertising that for a limited time, if a reader buys the book directly from the press, the reader will also receive the free ebook. Eventually I would expand the program so that booksellers could also offer the free ebook.

Once I started advertising the buy-with-free-ebook scheme, I would be certain that I did at least two things: First, I would be sure to add purchaser names and addresses to my mailing list so I could notify them of new releases and deals. Second, I would track sales carefully to try to determine whether the bonus ebook increases nonacademic sales.

University presses serve a very important function in publishing. The question is for how much longer will they be able to survive and fulfill that function in the absence of increased sales. Because their function is to publish academically worthy books rather than “bestsellers,” profits and sales numbers — although important — are secondary considerations. But at some point, as some university presses have already discovered, they become primary considerations.

Few university presses are prepared for that moment when profits and sales numbers become primary considerations; it goes against the primary purpose of the press. But thinking about how to increase sales, making plans to do so, and implementing those plans is something every university press should do. For buyers of university press books like me, one answer to how to increase sales is to include a free ebook version of the hardcover book. I know that had at least several, if not all, of the books I considered buying but decided not to buy had included the free ebook, I would have bought the books.

Would a free ebook version induce you to buy a book?

Richard Adin, An American Editor

May 12, 2014

On the Basics: Are Networking and Marketing Essential to an Editing Business?

Are Networking and Marketing
Essential to an Editing Business?

by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

A recent discussion on the Copy Editing List (CE-L) raised the interesting question of whether it’s necessary to do marketing to have a successful editing business. At the heart of the conversation were varying takes on what “marketing” actually means. Networking came into the discussion as well.

Most of the participants in the conversation agreed that it’s essential not just to market your skills and business to be a success, but to do so constantly and regularly. A number of participants spoke up to reassure the introverted and shy amongst us that “marketing” can be done in a way that doesn’t force them into behaviors that don’t come naturally.

I see marketing as a necessary process for the success of any business, and as a constant one to work effectively on your behalf. I also see networking as a vital element of your marketing efforts.

A couple of “CELmates” argued that they have successful freelance editing businesses without ever doing any real marketing, making the point that having worked in editing jobs created a natural base of marketing and networking activity for their freelance ventures. They had a built-in network of employers and colleagues who would call on them for freelance services without their making much of an effort to get work from those prospective clients. Just “hanging out a shingle” by letting those former employers and colleagues know they were going freelance was often enough to establish a strong base of ongoing work. They saw no need to do any conscious marketing or further networking.

That laidback, no-effort approach may work — but only “may.” Nowadays, when the marketplace includes consolidation in the publishing world, outsourcing to cheaper markets or providers, and the proliferation of inexperienced people using the Internet to hang out their shingles as freelance editors, marketing and networking become more important to a freelance business, especially for anyone who doesn’t have years of experience and contacts to rely on.

What the colleagues who were able to launch their editing businesses didn’t realize is that simply letting an employer and coworkers know that you’re going out on your own is marketing. It may be a one-time effort, it may not feel like a marketing campaign — but it’s still marketing. Marketing is nothing more than letting the world know, on a large or small scale, that you’re open for business and available for assignments. Whether you tell five people or 500 that you’re a freelance editor, you’re doing marketing. The larger audience you reach, the more likely you are to succeed.

Neither networking nor marketing has to be especially aggressive. Among the less-aggressive techniques is joining professional organizations or communities that have membership directories you can be listed in or discussion lists where you can be visible. A well-crafted profile on LinkedIn can result in prospective clients contacting you, instead of you having to contact them; participating in relevant LinkedIn groups takes some time and energy, but also can generate new clients and assignments by clients coming to you, rather than you having to find or go to them.

Having your own website is also an effective marketing tool, because it gets your name (or business name) out there among those of other freelancers and in the environment that many prospective clients will use to find us. Once the site is up, you can let it function as a static “online business card” or you can make it active and up to date; how much time and effort you want to put into it is up to you and where you fall on the passive–active scale of marketing efforts.

These are essentially passive marketing activities that are ideal for the shy and retiring types, because they don’t involve any in-person, face-to-face activity and they don’t require leaving the comfort of a home office to engage directly with the outside world.

One colleague made the point that rethinking her approach helped her be better at marketing, despite a reluctance to engage in that activity in any formal way. She started focusing on how she could help her clients and presenting herself from that perspective, which felt more comfortable and less-pressured than anything using a “here I am, hire me!” approach that she saw as marketing.

That ties in nicely with another colleague’s approach: to put the focus on storytelling — telling people something about who you are, how you approach the editing world or process, how skilled editing can make a difference in the value of a document or project — and “stop beating people over the head with ‘marketing.’”

That makes sense when you consider that many freelance editors find the whole concept of marketing a little scary. We don’t want to seem pushy or aggressive; we just want to get and do the work. But you can do networking and marketing without much effort or being more aggressive than is comfortable for you (although more — when done well — is usually better in terms of building up your business).

Even subscribing to and commenting on a blog like this one is a form of networking — you’re interacting with colleagues, making your views known, showing how well you use language or understand the business of editing, as well as the editing process itself. Making cogent, coherent contributions to a blog or discussion list is also marketing, because it’s another way of putting yourself and some aspects of your skills out there, in front of potential clients or at least colleagues who might refer you for projects.

The vital thing for any freelancer, whether a newbie or a long-time pro, is to find ways to get in front of prospective new clients. Those prospects include friends, family, colleagues, and employers from past jobs, clients you haven’t heard from or worked with in a while — and people who don’t know you yet. How you do this is less important than that you do it. Whatever you call it and however you do it, marketing is important, if not essential, to a successful editing business — just as it is to any business.

We freelance editors have to remember that we are businesses and have to act like businesses, and that includes getting the word out about who we are and what we can do for clients — that is, marketing. Because we are businesses.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher, and speaker whose motto is “I can write about anything!”® She is also the owner of Communication Central, author of the Freelance Basics blog for the Society for Technical Communication, and a regular contributor to An American Editor.

May 7, 2014

The Business of Editing: Backing Up Is Easy to Do

The title of this article put me in mind of a Neil Sedaka concert I attended more than 50 years ago. So before getting into backups, I thought we would take a trip down my memory lane. The two videos are of the same song, but performed at different tempos. The song was a big hit in both tempos, but 50 years ago, it was the faster version that made number 1 on the charts. Here is Neil Sedaka and his song, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”:

The faster, peppier version

The slower, more “soulful” version

Now onward…

My computers are my livelihood. But as we know, computers go bad, they get stolen, viruses infect them — in other words, disaster preparedness needs to be in my vocabulary.

In prior articles (see, e.g., Business of Editing: Preparing for Disaster), I talked about how I have gone from fixed internal hard drives to removable internal hard drives as one method of protecting myself. And removable hard drives are really a boon. If you recall, I also wrote about twice getting hit with a ransomware virus that stopped me cold until it was removed at some expense (see Business of Editing: URLs, Authors, & Viruses).

Even then, my data was well protected, but I wasn’t able to return to work within seconds, which is my goal. I had to wait until the ransomware was removed because the ransomware didn’t let me access my computer so that I could access backups.

Last week I took the next step in my quest for protection. I upgraded my computer. My computer has been so stress-free and satisfactory, that the last major overhaul was about 5 years ago. Previously, I replaced my computers every 18 to 24 months.

This overhaul was essentially building a new computer. I replaced the RAM (and doubled it to 16 GB), the motherboard, the processor (went from a dual core to a quad core), a couple of hard drives (replaced older drives with two 2 TB hard drives and added a third solid state drive [SSD]), and the video card. Basically, I kept the case (I’ll never give up my Antec case), my three monitors, and my two SSDs.

In terms of performance, the new computer is like lightning compared to the previous version. My Journals macro currently has a dataset of more than 27,500 entries (and is constantly growing); it is my benchmark for speed. On the prior system took approximately 20 to 25 minutes to run through 800+ references; on the new system, it took 10 minutes to run through 883.

I’m drifting; back to backups.

One of the reasons for the upgrade was that I wanted to modify how I was doing backups. Previously, I relied largely on Carbonite for offsite backup and Backup4All for onsite. This worked well when combined with the removable drives — until the ransomware struck. That demonstrated to me a weak link in my system.

With the upgrade, I have added a 2-TB drive just for imaging backups, a second 2-TB drive for the Backup4All backups, and a third SSD that is a clone boot drive.

For the imaging, I purchased Acronis 2014 software (3-license version). I have set it to do a full image of my boot and data drives every 3 days; between those times it is set to do incremental backups. The Backup4All does daily backups of my full data drives and of select files on the boot drive. Carbonite backs up files that change from both the boot and data drives.

But the key to my new procedure is the third SSD drive. That drive, like all of the other drives, is removable and “hot swappable.” More importantly, that drive is a clone of my boot drive.

When malware strikes, it generally seeks to infect the boot drive. After all, if it only infects a data file, the cure is easy and the malware is just an annoyance, not a major problem. But if it infects the boot drive, it becomes a major problem and headache. The ransomware is such a problem because it prevents you from accessing your boot drive to get at it.

With my clone boot drive, should I be infected, I simply pop out the infected boot drive and insert the clone boot drive. I now have a running computer as if never struck by the malware. Granted, I will need to do some updating of a few of the files on the boot and data drives, but that takes a few minutes and is easy to do from Carbonite, Backup4All, or the Acronis image. I can then put the infected drive in another slot and reformat it. Once the drive is reformatted, I can use the Acronis software to clone the boot drive to the reformatted drive and I’m set should malware strike again (or even the boot drive fail).

Of course, I want the clone drive to be as current as possible, so I use Acronis to update the clone drive daily. I usually do it first thing in the morning after bootup, when I am confident that I do not have an infection on my system.

Each of the programs I use for backing up include a scheduler. When first installed, it took a few minutes to set the scheduler for each program, but once that was done, the backups take place when scheduled and in the background. How much easier can it be?

The keys to successful backups are (1) establishing a backup schedule and adhering to it, (2) using established software that is popular and well supported (and something more than barebones like what comes with Windows), and (3) using removable drives.

The removable drives are important because I can physically separate the drives from the computer. Thus, if someone steals my computer, all they are getting is the shell: The important material, the data, is elsewhere.

The removable drives are also important for malware protection, because they let you have a clone boot drive. Even if I cannot or do not want to deal with an infected drive myself, having the removable drives lets me remove the infected drive, replace it with a clone so I can go back to work, and give the infected drive to my computer tech for him to deal with. My downtime is the time it takes to swap the drives and update the few files that need updating, 30 minutes at most.

In talking with colleagues, I find that few are prepared for disaster. Perhaps now is the time to rethink our disaster preparedness and figure out what we can do should disaster strike.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

May 5, 2014

Lyonizing Word: Removing Spaces at the End of Table Cells

Removing Spaces at the End of Table Cells

by Jack Lyon

Authors do funny things. Sometimes these things are inadvertent; sometimes they’re the result of trying to “prettify” documents for publication. In either case, editors have to clean up what the authors have done.

One such problem is spaces at the ends of table cells. A table cell should end with the text it contains. If there are spaces after that text, they can cause alignment (and other) problems if they’re allowed to persist into typesetting.

It should be a simple matter to clean up the extraneous spaces: Search for a space followed by an end-of-cell marker and replace with just an end-of-cell marker. But what magic code can we use to find or replace an end-of-cell marker? As it turns out, there isn’t one. But we can still get rid of those spaces with a macro. Here it is, with comments about what’s going on (text following a single quotation mark is a “comment”, which is also in green for clarity):

The Macro

Sub CleanCellEndSpaces()

‘Define variables (that is, containers for information)
Dim aTable As Table
Dim aCell As Cell
Dim aRow As Row
Dim aColumn As Column
Dim aRange As Range ‘That is, a specific area of the document
Dim aLen As Integer ‘That is, a number
Dim LastChar As String ‘That is, a string of characters (text)

Dim Tracking As Boolean ‘True or False
Tracking = ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions ‘Get setting of revision tracking
ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = False ‘Turn off revision tracking

On Error Resume Next ‘In case of tables with “vertically merged” cells
‘Cycle through tables, rows, and cells

For Each aTable In ActiveDocument.Tables
For Each aRow In aTable.Rows
For Each aCell In aRow.Cells


Set aRange = aCell.Range ‘Set aRange variable to the contents of the current cell
aRange.End = aRange.End – 1 ‘Don’t include the end-of-cell marker
aLen = Len(aRange.Text) ‘Get the length of the cell’s text
aString = aRange.Text ‘Assign the text to a variable
LastChar = Right(aString, 1) ‘Get the last character of the text
If LastChar = ” ” Then ‘If the last character is a space

aRange.Text = Left(aRange.Text, aLen – 1) ‘Set the text to be itself minus the trailing space
GoTo CheckAgain ‘Go back and check for another space (there may be several)

End If
Next aCell
Next aRow
Next aTable

ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = Tracking ‘Set revision tracking back to its original state

End Sub

The Explanation

Here’s how the macro works.

We start by “dimensioning” (defining) our variables, like this:

Dim aTable As Table

“aTable” is an arbitrary name; I just made it up. But that whole line tells Word that aTable will represent a table in our document. The other “Dim” statements follow suit, with “aCell” representing a table cell, “aRow” representing a table row, and so on.

These three lines deserve special attention:

Dim Tracking As Boolean
Tracking = ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions
ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = False

Dimensioning the “Tracking” variable as Boolean tells Word that the variable will be either true or false; those are the only two values it can hold.

Next, we set “Tracking” to the value of ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions. If revision tracking is on, “Tracking” will be set to “True.” If revision tracking is off, “Tracking” will be set to “False.” We do that to remember the current setting for revision tracking, because the next line, “ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = False” actually turns revision tracking off (we’ll reset it later). This is necessary because (1) tracking the deletion of those extraneous spaces isn’t needed, and (2) using revision tracking may send this macro into an endless loop as it keeps “finding” the character that it just deleted (but is still there as a tracked revision).

The next line —

On Error Resume Next

— needs to be there in case a table includes “merged” cells, which will cause an error when the macro runs. If that happens, the macro will skip to the next line, which means that tables with “merged” cells will be ignored. There may be a better way to deal with such tables, but I don’t know what it is.

After that line, things get really interesting:

For Each aTable In ActiveDocument.Tables

This tells Word to work on “Each” table in ActiveDocument.Tables. “What’s that?” you ask. Well, obviously “ActiveDocument” is the active document — the document that’s open in Word with our cursor moving around in it. (Other documents may be open but not active.) In the active document, there’s a collection of objects called “Tables” — which are, of course, the tables in the document.

And now, a brief digression: As far as macros are concerned, a Microsoft Word document is “simply” a collection of various objects, such as tables, headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, paragraphs, words, and much, much more. All of these objects have certain “properties.” For example, a paragraph may have the property of FirstLineIndent set to “True” — in other words, its first line is indented. Objects can also contain other objects. For example, a table always contains at least one row and one column. So, in our macro, we have this:

For Each aRow In aTable.Rows

That tells Word to work on each row in the current table. Similarly, this —

For Each aCell In aRow.Cells

— tells Word to work on each cell in the current row.

Next, we’re going to set the range of text we want to use (that is, aRange) to be the current cell:

Set aRange = aCell.Range

Then we’ll reduce the end of that range by one character, so we don’t include the end-of-cell marker:

aRange.End = aRange.End – 1

And, using the Len command, we’ll find out the length (number of characters) included in the range’s text:

aLen = Len(aRange.Text)

Now let’s get that text by putting it into the variable called “aString”:

aString = aRange.Text

And we’ll use the Right command to find out the last character of the text string (that is, the first character on the right of the string):

LastChar = Right(aString, 1)

That looks a little complicated, but it’s actually fairly simple. Let’s say our text string is “Hi, Mom!” The “1” tells the Right command at which character to start counting (from the right of the string). In other words, LastChar is assigned the last character of the string, which in this case is an exclamation mark (“Hi, Mom!”).

But what if the last character is a space? That’s what we really we want to know. The next line will tell us if that’s the case:

If LastChar = ” ” Then

If the last character is a space, we need to get rid of it, which we can do like this:

aRange.Text = Left(aRange.Text, aLen – 1)

That line changes the text of our range to itself minus its last character (if the previous line identified its last character as a space). But what if there’s more than one space? We want to get rid of those spaces too! And that’s where the next line comes in:

GoTo CheckAgain

That sends the macro back to the “label” we’ve created at this line:


And the operation is repeated on the cell until no more spaces remain at the end of the cell.

All of the “Next” commands that follow repeat the whole operation for every cell in every row in every table of the active document. Powerful stuff!

Finally, the macro restores revision tracking to its original setting as stored in the “Tracking” variable:

ActiveDocument.TrackRevisions = Tracking

As they taught us in kindergarten, it’s good to clean up after yourself.

This article is a brief introduction to manipulating Word “objects” with macros. Future articles may explore more of those objects, along with their “properties” and “methods.” If that’s more than you want to know, you may still find the macros themselves to be useful.

How to Add Macro to Word & to the QAT

Here’s how to put this macro (or any other) into Microsoft Word so it will be available when you need it:

  1. Copy the text of the macro, starting with the first “Sub” and ending with the last “Sub.”
  2. Click the “View” tab on Microsoft Word’s ribbon.
  3. Click the “Macros” button.
  4. Type a name for the macro in the “Macro name” box — probably the name used after the first “Sub.” For this macro, that’s “CleanCellEndSpaces.”
  5. Click the “Create” button.
  6. Delete the “Sub [macro name]” and “End Sub” lines that Word created in the macro window. The macro window should now be completely empty (unless you already have other macros in there).
  7. Paste the macro text at the current insertion point.
  8. Click “File,” then “Close and Return to Microsoft Word.”

To actually use the macro:

  1. Place your cursor at the beginning of the document.
  2. Click the “View” tab on Microsoft Word’s ribbon.
  3. Click the “Macros” button.
  4. Click the name of your macro to select it.
  5. Click the “Run” button. (If you wanted to delete the macro, you could press the “Delete” button instead.)

Here’s how to put the macro on Word’s QAT (Quick Access Toolbar):

  1. Locate the QAT (it’s probably on the top left of your screen either above or below Word’s Ribbon interface).
  2. Right-click the QAT.
  3. Click “Customize Quick Access Toolbar.”
  4. Under “Choose commands from:” click the dropdown list and select “Macros.”
  5. Find and select your macro in the list on the left.
  6. Click the “Add” button to add it to the QAT.
  7. Click the “OK” button to finish.

Jack Lyon ( owns and operates the Editorium, which provides macros and information to help editors and publishers do mundane tasks quickly and efficiently. He is the author of Microsoft Word for Publishing Professionals and of Macro Cookbook for Microsoft Word. Both books will help you learn more about macros and how to use them.

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