An American Editor

January 27, 2016

The Business of Editing: Creating Multiple Journals Datasets Simultaneously

I have written in past essays (see, e.g., The Business of Editing: Journals, References, & Dollars and The Business of Editing: Cite Work Can Be Profitable) about the Journals macro and how useful it is in my editing work. But the usefulness of the macro has always been tempered by the size of the dataset I am using. For example, the sizes of my current datasets are: American Chemical Society (ACS), 30,922; PubMed/American Medical Association (AMA), 98,669; Chicago/American Psychological Association (APA), 1981; and Harvard, 349. Clearly, my PubMed/AMA dataset is the most useful and reflects the type of projects I usually edit.

The other Journals datasets are increasingly being called on, yet at the moment, with the exception of the ACS dataset, they have too few names to be very useful.

The key to many of the macros in EditTools is the dataset; the larger the dataset, the more powerful the macro that uses the dataset. Consequently, how fast a dataset can be built is important.

Over the different versions of EditTools, changes have been introduced to the Journals Manager that were designed to increase the speed and efficiency with which Journals datasets are built. Originally, each entry variation to the dataset had to be made individually. To speed things up the Multiple Entry process was created. It allowed you to enter multiple variations at one time.

But you were still limited to dealing with a single dataset.

Journals version 7 changes that — now you can add entries to as many as five different datasets simultaneously. In addition, you no longer have to manually create each variation; many variations can be created automatically.

Switching to the Multiple Datasets Entry Screen

The first time you open the Journals Manager in EditTools v7, you will see the same Manager you have seen before (shown below) with one exception — the addition of the checkbox (circled in image):

Original Journals Manager Screen

Original Journals Manager Screen

Version 7 offers the Switch to Enhanced Journals Screen checkbox (#1 above). When you check the box, the dialog changes to the enhanced dialog shown here, which becomes the default:

New Enhanced Journals Manager Screen

New Enhanced Journals Manager Screen

If you do not need the multiple-dataset capability, you can return to the original single-dataset capability by checking the Switch to Original Journals Screen (#2), which will become the default journals entry screen again.

The enhanced screen allows journal entries to be added concurrently to as many as five different datasets. When you first open the enhanced screen, the available files are labeled Custom #1 through Custom #5 (#A and #B in above image). However, you can rename these to whatever you would like by double-clicking on the current name in the Always Correct Journal column to open the renaming dialog. For example, double-clicking PubMed/AMA (#3) opens the renaming dialog shown here:

Renaming Dialog

Renaming Dialog

Enter the new name in the provided field (#4), and click OK. The name will be changed immediately to the new name, both in the Always Correct Journal column (#3) and at the corresponding name in the File Data to Show fields (#5).

The enhanced screen can be used to enter a single title, just as in the original screen. In the example shown below, the journal name being entered is Physiol Meas (#6). That form is fine for PubMed/AMA (#7), but not for the other datasets. So, in the fields for the other datasets, the correct forms are entered (#8 to #10). When Add (#11) is clicked, all four datasets are updated simultaneously — a significant timesaver.

Example Journal Entry

Example Journal Entry

It is not necessary to make use of all of the dataset fields. You can use one, five, or any number between. Only those in which the Correct to field has an entry will be updated. In other words, if only the PubMed/AMA dataset is to be updated with the information in #6 and #7, then #8 through #10 are left empty. Clicking Add (#11) updates only the PubMed/AMA dataset — even though three other datasets are identified.

It is important to note that the journal names that appear in #7 through #10 are what the entry in #6 (and the multiple entries that will appear in #8 in the “Multiple Journal Name Entry Dialog” image below) will be changed to. In this example, when Add (#11) is clicked, the Chicago/APA dataset will have added to it the instruction to change Physiol Meas to Physiological Measurement in a document when the Journals macro is run and the Chicago/APA dataset is chosen. Similarly, the ACS dataset will gain the instruction to change Physiol Meas to Physiol. Meas. when the Journals macro is run and the ACS dataset is chosen.

The New Multiple Journal Name Entry Dialog

When the Multiple Entries button (#12 in the “Example Journal Entry” image above) is clicked, both the original and enhanced screens give access to the new Multiple Journal Name Entry dialog shown here:

Multiple Journal Name Entry Dialog

Multiple Journal Name Entry Dialog

This dialog is different from the dialog that appears in in earlier versions of EditTools. The new Multiple Journal Name Entry dialog offers new options, many of which can be preset as default options, that are designed to make entry of multiple items into a single or multiple datasets quick and easy.

Previously, you had to manually enter trailing punctuation; now you can either individually set the trailing punctuation each time or preselect some (or all) (#1) as the default (#2). (If you copy text and paste it in the Text to Add field [#6], and in doing so include ending punctuation, you can tell the macro to ignore that trailing punctuation by checking the Ignore punctuation at the end of entry string box [#5].) Also in earlier versions, if a journal name began with “The” and/or included either “and” or “&”, you had to manually change them. For example, if the journal name was The Journal of Rise & Shine, to enter The Journal of Rise & Shine plus Journal of Rise & Shine, The Journal of Rise and Shine, and Journal of Rise and Shine, you had to enter each variation manually. Now you just need to add checkmarks to the Variations (#3) options.

The same is true for the different capitalization options (#4), except that the Title Case option also has options that are accessed by clicking the Edit button (circled in the above image), which opens this dialog:

Journals Title Case Manager

Journals Title Case Manager

Here you tell the macro which words, when the Title Case option is checked, should always be lowercase unless they are the first word in the journal name. Consider the example shown below (#10). Note the option choices made (#11, #12, and #13). Clicking Add (#14) automatically adds the title and the variations to the main field (#15).

Journals Manager Multiple Entry Options

Journals Manager Multiple Entry Options

More than 50 variations are being added concurrently. You can see all of them at the Journals page at the wordsnSync website; we would need to add four additional images here to display them all.

Once you have generated the variations on a journal name that you want, you can add them to one or more of your journal datasets. The combination of the changes in the generation of variations and the ability to concurrently update up to five datasets makes creation of journals datasets a quick, efficient, and easy process.

The new enhanced Journals screen and the improved Multiple Journal Name Entry screen will enable you to build Journals datasets quickly. One thing to note: If a journal name (or variation) already exists in a dataset, a duplicate will not be added. Only unique names are added. Consequently, it does not matter if one of the Journals datasets already has, for example, The Rise & Shine Journal in it; that particular entry will be ignored for that dataset and the remaining variations that are not duplicates, such as The Rise and Shine Journal and Rise & Shine Journal, will be added.

Building datasets in EditTools is easy; building multiple journals datasets simultaneously in EditTools is also easy.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

___________________

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You can buy EditTools in a package with PerfectIt and Editor’s Toolkit Plus 2014 at a special savings of $78 off the price if bought individually. To purchase the package at the special deal price, click Editor’s Toolkit Ultimate.

January 25, 2016

The Proofreader’s Corner: Knowing and Showing Your Strengths (or Being Interesting)

by Louise Harnby

I’ve read plenty of convoluted and inaccessible definitions of marketing over the years, none of which would give confidence to a new entrant to the editorial field. I developed what I believe is an easier-to-understand definition of marketing, comprising only four words: being interesting and discoverable.

  • Being discoverable is how you enable your clients to find you.
  • Being interesting is how you make your customers want to hire you, and retain you, after they’ve found you.

There are, therefore, three different issues to contend with, and all do need attending to for the following reasons:

  • Someone who is interesting but undiscoverable will have no work because their potential clients don’t know they exist.
  • Someone who is discoverable but uninteresting will have no work because their potential clients don’t care that they exist.
  • Someone who has been discovered and hired in the past but failed to maintain that long-term discoverability and interestingness will have no work because they haven’t kept up to date with the requirements of the market – what their customers want and the latest platforms they are using to source their editorial freelancers.

This essay focuses on the challenge that the editorial freelancer faces of being interesting in such a competitive market. (For more information about being both interesting and discoverable, see my book Marketing Your Editing and Proofreading Business). An identification of self-strengths (and weaknesses) is key to differentiating oneself and thus being interesting.

An editorial freelancer may not have much experience of editorial work but this “weakness” can be ameliorated when she focuses a potential client’s attention on what she does know a lot about, and then targeting those clients who appreciate that knowledge and see it as part of a solution to the problems they have.

Be practical…

When I first started thinking about going freelance, I had dreams of being paid to proofread books in the genres that I most often read for pleasure: crime, mystery, and sci-fi novels. I scouted the major UK publishers of these genres (paying particular attention to web pages that give advice to prospective freelance editors and proofreaders) and my worst suspicions were confirmed: the chance of me picking up work with no prior experience in the field was poor.

It’s hardly surprising — many of us looking for trade publishing clients are attracted by the idea of being paid to read the works of our favorite authors (even if the fees on offer are not always competitive, and the definition of “proofreading” confounds those of us who have been professionally trained). The field is, thus, very competitive, and the publisher clients are very picky.

Certainly this wouldn’t have precluded me from working for self-publishing authors writing in these genres, but I was a new starter back in 2006. The self-publishing market wasn’t as developed as it is now. But even if it had been, my website’s search engine optimization was so poor that it’s unlikely that I would have been discoverable to those clients. In the startup phase, I was building my business by going to clients, not expecting them to come to me. I needed to put my practical head on.

Focus on what’s gone before

Instead, I decided to focus on the experience I did have. Having got myself trained by the highly regarded Publishing Training Centre, and paid my membership dues to an equally well-respected national editorial society (the Society for Editors and Proofreaders), I took stock of my background. The questions I asked were:

  • What educational qualifications do I have?
  • What work experience do I have?
  • Do I have hobbies that make me an informal specialist in a particular field?
  • Do I have domestic skills that give me particular strengths?
  • Do I lack certain skills and thus have particular weaknesses?

Education

I have a degree in the politics. I’d spent three years in higher education, reading social science texts; I understood the way they were structured as well as the language and style of the books. This wouldn’t make me attractive to a fiction publishing client, but perhaps it would give me a chance with social science presses.

If you have a scientific background, science, technical, engineering, and medical (STEM) publishers will be much more interested in you than me – indeed, many editors/proofreaders I know who are working in STEM have scientific qualifications of some type. If you have a legal qualification, consider focusing on legal societies, law and criminology publishers, and law students. In my article “Does Training Matter?”, several publishers commented on how much they valued their freelancers having knowledge of the subject matter in which they publish. So, selling your educational background is a critical marketing tool. It differentiates you, and differentiation is interesting to your clients.

Past career

If you’re targeting publishing clients, and you’ve worked in publishing, make sure you use this as a key selling point. It shows that you understand the business of publishing: the importance of deadlines, the diplomacy involved in author liaison, the challenges that your in-house contacts will be facing, the standards required, and the financial margins they are working within.

If you don’t have publishing experience, consider what work you have done and target clients who are publishing material in your field of expertise. If you’ve been a nurse, focus on clients with a strong nursing and allied health list; if you’ve been a social worker, initially target clients who are publishing in the areas of social work, social policy, and administration.

A few years ago, I had a discussion with a new proofreader who wanted to get into fiction proofreading. He’d been a military police officer and a teacher prior to starting out on his freelance journey. My advice to him was to focus his marketing efforts on (a) publisher clients with lists in military security studies, political science, and international relations, as well as educational publishing houses, and (b) self-publishers writing military science fiction and alternative history.

Using your previous career as a tool in your marketing arsenal is vital to helping you to stand out from the crowd.

Armchair specialisms

Hobbies are not to be ignored. Using them as a focus for your initial marketing strategy may well turn out to be fruitful. There are many independent and niche publishers who will be happier turning their manuscripts over to you if you can demonstrate a high level of knowledge in a niche area.

Domestic skills

One of my regular clients once asked me if I felt comfortable proofreading a book about baking. I’m not interested in cooking and don’t know a huge amount about the subject, and that makes me uninteresting to cookery publishers. We mutually agreed the project should go elsewhere – they needed someone who understood the catastrophe that might ensue if “3 tsp baking powder” had been typeset as “3 tbsp baking power”.

The things that some people do in the home, and that may be considered simple to them, are highly prized by some clients. If you’re a fine cook, then search for those publishers with a strong list in food and cookery books. The same goes for gardening or do-it-yourself (DIY), just to give two examples. There are scores of books that are published in these fields, and taking some time to research those presses with relevant lists in any given area could help you to differentiate yourself from your colleagues.

Selling your current know-how

Editorial practice is not the same as it was 30 years ago. If we are to retain long-term interest, we need to demonstrate to our potential clients that we are equipped to use the tools of choice for twenty-first-century editorial work. That means not just being able to proofread or copy-edit, but being able to do those things in ways that our customers now prefer. Consider the following:

  • How likely are you to secure work from independent fiction authors who want to send you Word files if you still only copy-edit on paper?
  • How likely are you to secure proofreading work from a business in another country if you don’t have the skills and equipment to annotate a PDF?
  • How likely are you to continue securing work from publishers who want you to edit efficiently onscreen if you are unable to use their house macro suite or use a style palette to code the different elements of the text?
  • How likely are you to retain work from clients who want you to use the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) when you insist on amending texts based on outdated usage preferences?

Telling our potential clients upfront that we are fit for purpose to carry out editorial work according to present, rather than past, preferences is key to retaining interest. Your marketing materials should reflect your ability to use, with confidence, the likes of Word or InDesign, Acrobat Reader or PDF Xchange, macro suites, and consistency checkers.

It’s not just about digital tools. Even tools that were in use 30 years ago have been updated. We need to ensure that our clients know that we have the access to the latest edition of relevant style manuals, dictionaries, and guidance on industry-recognized markup language, for example. The advice from the British Standards Institution on how to mark a proof with the instruction “delete and close up” is not the same as it was prior to 2005. And regarding publication of the 16th edition of CMOS, “In a return to the 14th edition of the manual, the generic term in a proper noun is uppercased if used in the plural (e.g., Fifty-Fifth and Fifty-Seventh Streets, the Thames and Mersey Rivers, the American and French Revolutions)” (CMOS, “Significant Rule Changes in The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition”).

Editorial preferences are not static. New tools and platform are developed. Keep up to date with these changes and use them as key selling points to retain interest. For example, consider listing on your website the resources and reference materials you consult. In that way, current clients are less likely to become past clients, and potential clients are more likely to become existing clients.

Be strategic and be patient

Starting out as an editorial freelancer is all about focusing on what you already have that prospective clients will view as the wow factor. There’s no quick fix to building a strong client list – it takes time and hard work. Making the effort in the beginning to identify what makes you look different – interesting – will provide you with the foundation on which to build your business. As your experience increases, you will be in a stronger position to diversify your client portfolio.

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.

January 20, 2016

Business of Editing: Dealing with Reference Renumbering

Over the years I have had to deal with the unpleasant task of renumbering references. Perhaps the author updated the references by inserting “a,b,c” references, such as 57a, 62a, 62b, rather than renumbering. Perhaps the author inadvertently numbered two different references with the same number. Or, even more troublesome, made the reference list alphabetical, numbered the list, and inserted in the text the reference numbers but in a random order, depending on which reference needed to be referred to (e.g., reference callouts in the text might be in this order: 77, 23, 44, 45, 1, 5, 3, 88). In all instances, the client wants the references called out in order (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) and “a,b,c” references converted to the correct number (e.g., 57a would become 58, what was 58 would become 59, etc.).

This renumbering problem isn’t so bad when there are only a handful of references, but I have dealt with chapters requiring renumbering of 400, 500, 600 — even as many as 1100 — references. (Occasionally, the client would agree to leave the numbering as it was provided by the author when the number of references to be renumbered was more than a few hundred, but more times than not the client insisted that the references be renumbered regardless of the number involved.) The process meant that I not only had to renumber the in-text callout, but I had to renumber the reference itself and move it — plus I had to have some method of tracking the changes because of the ripple effect. For example, if the first in-text callout was 77, it had to become 1, and the reference had to be moved to the 1 position in the reference list. I had to have a method to note that what was 77 was now 1 in case 77 appeared in the text again (e.g., as part of a range, such as 74–79) and so that I knew that the number 77 could be assigned to another reference number.

Until EditTools 7.0, the method was pen and paper, a method that took time and invited errors, especially in chapters with many hundreds of references. The original version of Reference # Order check only tracked callout order (see “The Business of Editing: Keeping Reference Callouts in Number Order“); version 7 is greatly enhanced.

The References # Order Check macro (found in the References menu on the EditTools Ribbon) does not actually alter any document data. Unlike other EditTools macros, this macro is wholly self-contained and everything occurs in its dialog, shown here (click images to enlarge them):

Reference # Order Check dialog

Reference # Order Check dialog

Note that there are two “list” areas in the dialog: #1 and #9. Although each is used for a different purpose, they are complementary. The #9 list is used to track reference callouts; #1, combined with #2, is used to track renumbering.

You begin by creating a list of the reference numbers in the document. If the reference list has 50 entries, you enter 50 in the Update List field (#A) and click the Update List button. This will cause the lists at #9 and #1 to be populated with the numbers 1 to 50. If you happen to spot some a,b,c numbers, you add them by entering them one at a time using the Value to Insert (#B) field and either the Insert Before or Insert After field, and clicking the Insert button. For example, if you need to add 39a and 39b, you would enter 39a in the Value to Insert field and either 40 in the Insert Before or 39 in the Insert After field. Once 39a is inserted, you would repeat the process for 39b except that you would use 40 in the Insert Before field or 39a in the Insert after field. Clicking Insert adds the a,b,c references to both the #9 and the #1 lists.

If no renumbering is needed, you use the #1 list to track references to ensure they are called out in number order. When you come to the first callout, if it is number 1 as it is supposed to be, you click on 1 in the #9 list. That will remove the 1 from that list, but not from the renumbering list (#1). If the next called-out number is a range, such as 2–15, you can either click on each number individually in list #9 or you can delete the entire range at once by entering the 2 in first Delete Range field (#7) and 15 in the second field and clicking Delete.

The Count (#8) tracks the number of references in the document at the start and how many remain to be checked. The Next Renumber (#4) serves as a reminder of the next renumber to use. The Renumber Dataset Information file (#6) allows you to save the renumbering information.

Using this macro to track callouts is certainly better than using pen and paper, but the real value comes in the event of renumbering. List #1 is the original number; list #2 shows the new number. An example is shown here:

Preparing to Renumber

Preparing to Renumber

If the first reference called out in the chapter is 5, it needs to be renumbered as 1. To do so you enter 5 in the Original field (#11) by either typing it in or by clicking on the 5 in the list (#10). Then you enter the 1 in the Renumber field and click Modify. The result is shown here:

The First Renumbering

The First Renumbering

In the renumbering fields, 1 appears next to the 5 (#14), indicating that former reference number 5 is now reference number 1. In addition, because the Remove renumbers from main list is checked (the default) (#5 above), the number 1 has been automatically removed from the main list (#16). And, the Next Renumber (#15) shows 2 (compare to #13 where it was 0), meaning that if you have to renumber the next callout, it is to be renumbered as 2.

If the next callout is 2, then it needs to be removed from the main list (#16 above). If then the next callout is 7, it is renumbered as 3 following the same process (#17 shown below) and the Next Renumber becomes 4 (#18). Note that the Counts at #20 have not changed from the original numbers; it still shows that there are 50 references in the document, none of which have been called out.

The Second Renumbering

The Second Renumbering

That is because we have not manually removed a number from the Reference Order list (#19). When we click on the 2 to remove it (#21), the Count updates automatically (#22), as shown below. The Count now tells us that 47 of the original 50 reference callouts have yet to be checked.

Checking the Count

Checking the Count

One of the problems with the pen-and-paper method was that it was difficult to save a copy of the renumbering for future reference in case a client had a question and, more importantly, to give a client comprehensive information about renumbering when there was a lot of it.

Now, when the document’s editing is complete, I export the information to a text file. To export the data, click Export (#23). The data will be saved to the file shown in the Renumber Dataset Information field (#23). The file is saved as a text file (.txt) and if you open the text file using a program like Notepad, you will see the following format:

The Exported File

The Exported File

Everything you see is automatically generated, including the first line that explains the numbers (#25). In this example, all of the references were renumbered except for 7. I rename the file to reflect the filename of the file it relates to (e.g., “Jones Disorders 011 Renumbering.txt”). I keep a copy with my copy of the edited project files and send a copy to the client along with the edited document. This way the client and the proofreader can track the renumbering, and should a question arise, I have a copy to review.

One key to being a successful freelance editor is providing clients with services they cannot easily get elsewhere. A second key is being able to do tasks efficiently and accurately. The Reference # Order Check 7.0 macro provides both keys. If used, the macro can make an otherwise problematic task easy to accomplish.

If you aren’t using EditToolsReference # Order Check 7.0 to track and renumber references, how do you do it efficiently and profitably?

Richard Adin, An American Editor

____________

Looking for a Deal?

You can buy EditTools in a package with PerfectIt and Editor’s Toolkit Plus 2014 at a special savings of $78 off the price if bought individually. To purchase the package at the special deal price, click Editor’s Toolkit Ultimate.

January 13, 2016

The Business of Editing: Using Click Lists to Increase Efficiency

One of Word’s features with which I have a love–hate relationship is the Symbol dialog. I am sure there must be a rationale for where symbols are placed in the various categories, but it escapes me.

Dealing with the Symbol dialog was one of the impetuses for the creation of the original Click List macro in EditTools. Needless to say, although the original Click List was helpful, it was problematic to remember that [*8214*] meant a double vertical line. And as my list of symbols grew, it became apparent that some other system was needed — I was neither saving time nor making money by using Click List (in its original incarnation) for symbols.

Then I had a project where the author kept reusing the same basic references (134 of them) but didn’t style them the same way twice. So, I thought, this could be a great use for Click List. And I started adding the references in their correct form to Click List.

The result was unusable if efficiency was my goal — I was trying to add to a single Click List too many disparate items, which made it hard to find specific items. This approach was contrary to the approach I was using in other EditTools macros, which was to have multiple tabs so that data could be better organized and managed; consequently, it became evident that I needed to add tabs to Click List.

Consequently, significant changes have been made to Click List in the recent EditTools 7.0 release. Version 6.2 provided a single tab and essentially no options. Version 7.0 has added tabs and expanded the options. The new Click List Manager looks like this (clicking on the images will enlarge them):

Click List Manager v7.0

Click List Manager v7.0

and Click List like this:

Click List v7.0

Click List v7.0

Instead of one tab for everything, there are now four tabs (#1 in above images) — three of which can be renamed (the Click List tab cannot be renamed) — one of which, Symbols Definition, is specifically designed to deal with Word’s Symbols. Each tab has its own dataset (#C above and below), so each list is independently maintained.

Symbols Definitions Tab in Click List Manager v7.0

Symbols Definitions Tab in Click List Manager v7.0

Symbols and Click List

The Symbols Definitions tab in Click List Manager is shown above. The Symbols tab in Click List is shown in the Click List image above.

The Manager has two information columns (#A and #B), which correspond to the Symbol Name field (#6) and the Symbol field (#5), respectively. I click the Insert Symbol button (#E) to open Word’s Symbol dialog. I locate the symbol I want to add to Click List and double-click it. That both inserts the symbol in the Symbol field (#5) and closes the Symbol dialog. Then I enter a name for the symbol in the Symbol Name field (#6). The name can be the any name you choose. (Hint: If certain symbols are rarely used and you use the alphabetize option [#2], start the name with an x and a space — for example, “x euro” [no quote marks] for € — to put the symbol at the end of the list. Similarly, if there are a few symbols that are often used, start the name with a hyphen and a space — for example, “- section” [no quote marks] for § — to put the symbol at the beginning of the list, and reduce the time to access it.)

Note that there are 30 entries in the list (#D). Under Word’s system, it would be difficult to access some of these symbols quickly. In addition, Word requires multiple clicks each time I want to access a symbol: (1) to switch to the Insert menu, (2) to open the Symbol dialog, (3) to open the More Symbols dialog if the symbol I want is not on the short “quick access” list, (4) to scroll (or to select the group, if I know which group it is in, from the dropdown) to find the symbol I want, (5) to select the symbol, and (6) to insert the symbol into my document.

In contrast, with Click List, once I use the Manager to add the symbol to Click List (the Manager can be opened from the EditTools toolbar or by clicking the button in Click List [#11]), it takes three steps: (1) a click to go to the Symbols tab if it is not already showing (assuming Click List is already open; the way I work, I open it when I start Word and keep it open until I close Word or click Cancel [#F]), (2) scroll to locate the symbol by the name I have given it, and (3) click on the name to insert the symbol in my document. Half the steps plus significant time saving in locating.

References and Click List

As I noted earlier, I had a project in which the author repeatedly cited the same sources but never the same way twice. That project was the impetus for the Reference tab. The References Click List and Manager are shown here:

References Tab in Click List and Click List Manager v7.0

References Tab in Click List and Click List Manager v7.0

The Reference tab is the same as the Click List and Miscellaneous tabs, but if you compare it to the Symbols Definition tab above, you will see some significant differences. For example, the Format Options (#G), the Text Color option (#17), and the ability to add a Return to an entry by typing ^p (#18) are not available in the Symbols Definitions tab.

In the project, the author would cite a book or a chapter in a book, but do so inconsistently. So when I initially came to a reference, I corrected it and I then copied the “fixed” portion (i.e., the portion of the reference that would remain the same in any future use of the cite) of the corrected version into the Text field (#14) of the Manager and added it to the list (#15) by clicking Add. I did not apply any of the Format Options (#G) because they apply to the whole text string, not just to select words in the text string.

Because Alphabetize (#2) is the default, clicking either Save or Save & Close added the cite to Click List (#16) in alphabetical order. When I came to a reference entry in the document, I checked for it in the Click List using the ability to go to a particular letter in the alphabet by clicking on the letter in the Alphabet (#13). If it was present, I then selected the incorrect “fixed” portion of the cite in the document and clicked on the correct “fixed” form in Click List to replace the selected text.

This was a great time-saving method for fixing citations. It took much less time once the entry was in Click List than it took to manually correct the cites. With a click, this author-supplied cite

Dunn, P. J., The chemical development of the commercial route to sildenafil citrate, (Ed. Gadamasetti, K.; Braish, T.), Proc. Chem. Pharmaceut., Ind. (2008), 267-277.

became this (as per the client’s style)

Dunn, P. J., The chemical development of the commercial route to sildenafil citrate, Process Chemistry in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Volume 2: Challenges in an Ever Changing Climate, (Ed. Gadamasetti, K.; Braish, T.), (2008), (CRC Press), 267-277.

A lot of typing (and repeat typing) was saved by using the Reference tab of Click List. And because the reference list I created could be saved to a project-specific dataset, I can recall this list when I edit the next edition of the book. If the format had been a standard style, such as AMA or Chicago, I could have saved the list as a style-specific list, for example, as “Chicago Style Drug References,” and used it (and added to it) the next time I had a project calling for that style in the same subject area.

Alphabetizing and Click Lists

I always alphabetize my Click Lists, so I leave Alphabetize (#2) checked. If it is checked, it remains the default until you uncheck it, which then becomes the default until the box is rechecked. (In the case of Symbols, the alphabetization is by the name [#A] I assign the symbol, not the Unicode [#B] number.)

I found that as my Click List datasets grew, it became difficult to quickly find a specific entry. This was especially true with the Symbols and the References tabs. The result was the Alphabetize option (#2) on Manager and the Alphabet go-to function (#13) on Click List. Clicking on a letter of the alphabet takes you to the first entry that begins with the selected letter, eliminating a lot scrolling in long lists.

Click List and Toggle Word

The EditTools 7 Click List is an excellent way to save time and increase profits. I use it to insert specific text that a client requires (e.g., copyright lines or permission lines) and anything else that can be standardized.

Remember that Click List and Toggle Word are complementary. Click List inserts new text; Toggle Word changes existing text. Using both significantly increases efficiency and, thus, profitability.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

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January 6, 2016

Should Editors Give Trigger Warnings?

I was catching up with some reading of magazines I haven’t had time to get to (for months), when I came across an article on trigger warnings at the university level (“The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic, September 2015, pp. 42-52). I am surprised at how different the expectations are today on a college campus than when I attended college 50 years ago.

One example given in the article was a demand by some law school students that “professors at Harvard not […] teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in ‘that violates the law’) lest it cause students distress” (p. 44). Having gone to law school myself, I wondered how that would work. How could a professor ignore the subject of rape or abuse (spousal or child) in a class on, for example, criminal law, criminal procedure, or constitutional law? How will these future attorneys make it in the real-world practice of law where “violates” is a commonly used word? And what about their clients? How well would a rape victim (or a rapist) be served by a lawyer who doesn’t acknowledge the word rape?

But that got me thinking about editing. Not once in my 32 years of editing have I given a warning at the beginning of a manuscript. Have I been remiss? Have I neglected to take into account the sensibilities or sensitivities of my client or my client’s author?

Of course, I also have never received a warning that the manuscript contains explicit descriptions of things that would not make for everyday conversation in “polite” society. Have my clients or my clients’ authors been remiss by not warning me of the horrors to come should I proceed with editing their manuscript?

I am currently editing a book that requires a heavy editing hand, just the opposite of what I was told when I was hired (“It only needs a very light edit.”). Should I put a warning at the beginning of each chapter, one that says:

WARNING! Read the edited version of this chapter with caution. You may be offended by the number and type of queries added and corrections made to your manuscript. They might cause you undue stress, especially if you perceive it as an attack on your language skills rather than an attempt to help you improve your manuscript.

Okay, perhaps the warning needs a little work but the idea is conveyed. What if a person needs to be warned about literature?

WARNING: William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice contains blatant anti-Semitic text that may offend you. As this text is foundational to this course on works by Shakespeare, perhaps you should consider taking a different, potentially less-offending course.

Or a about a book that focuses on a genre of literature?

WARNING: In this book on 19th-century American literature of the South, words that are politically incorrect today and that might remind you of slavery and/or second-class status are common. If such words deeply offend you, perhaps you should consider reading a different, potentially less-offending book.

Or about the contents of a book discussing history?

WARNING: Since the beginning of recorded history, slavery has been a prominent part of history. Consequently, slavery is discussed in this book. If a discussion of slavery deeply offends you, perhaps you should consider reading a different, potentially less-offending book.

Perhaps, then, editors need to warn clients that the perfect manuscript the client submitted was found to be imperfect, so the client should be prepared to deal with the stress that the discovered imperfections may cause.

Then, again, perhaps clients owe editors a warning that editing a manuscript may be stressful.

I understand that the traumas some people have experienced are such that reliving those traumas can be exceedingly painful and that some subjects trigger that reexperiencing. The goal of trigger warnings is commendable; I just wonder how well those who require trigger warnings to deal with life on the college campus will be able to deal with work life after college, when the shelter college affords is no longer available.

I also wonder where the line is drawn. Are we not to talk about the Holocaust because it may trigger anxiety in someone who lost much of their family in the concentration camps? Do we not mention the Vietnam War because it may trigger posttraumatic stress disorder in a Vietnam veteran? Do we not discuss the march on Selma because it may trigger severe stress in someone by reminding them of the Ferguson events? Are we not to mention President Obama because it may cause severe stress in an ultraconservative Republican?

I know there are defenders of trigger warnings (see the comments to Trigger Warning: This Essay May Cause Mental Disturbance), but no one has yet defined the boundary beyond which trigger warnings need not be given. In addition, the argument always seems to be one-sided and focused on offering protection to the person that might be offended and ignoring everyone else. Yet the movement grows.

An article by Rani Neutill, “My trigger-warning disaster: ‘9 1/2 Weeks,’ ‘The Wire’ and how coddled young radicals got discomfort all wrong,” (Salon, October 28, 2015), and the video of a HuffPost Live discussion at the end of the article are worth reading and watching.

In the end, however, the question remains: Should I offer the trigger warning about the editing or not? For now my answer is no, but if the trigger-warning movement keeps its momentum, the trigger warning will become a necessary tool in the editor’s toolkit because the future generation of authors will have grown up in an academic environment where such warnings were routinely given and so they will expect them everywhere, including on edited versions of their manuscript.

The question will be this: Will these new authors give warnings to editors that their manuscript might be poorly written and stressful to edit, or that it contains such potentially distasteful and stress-causing things as putting milk and sugar in tea or an allusion to sex between bees?

Richard Adin, An American Editor

 

December 14, 2015

The Proofreader’s Corner: Tackling Editorial Learning Anxiety (or Embracing Change Rather Than Resisting It) — Part II

by Louise Harnby

In this two-part series, I consider how resistance to change can stop us from learning new skills or testing new methods to make our editorial businesses more successful.

In Part I, I discussed “learning anxiety” and how it can stop us from embracing change. I introduced three ideas for how to tackle anxiety: planning the change so that it’s considered and systematic; redefining “failure” as “lessons learned”; and doing a cost-to-benefit analysis.

In Part II, I present a personal case study of how I dealt with anxiety about offering a new customer-engagement service with regard to quoting. I explain how I used a cost-to-benefit analysis to identify my concerns and come up with a solution that enabled me to move forward rather than rejecting change outright.

Case study

I recently carried out an exercise with regard to a new marketing technique. My colleagues Adrienne Montgomerie and Nick Jones were the inspiration for it. Nick’s Full Proof website includes a Get a Quote button and a page that details a range of rates per 1,000 words. Adrienne’s Right Angels and Polo Bears website has an Instant Estimate tab.

I love the customer-centric nature of these websites – when I’m considering buying something, I want to have a rough idea of what it’s going to cost, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that my customers are the same. Nick and Adrienne already provide this sense of immediacy and customer engagement, though in different ways. Up until recently, I’d resisted including such a device on my own website. I’d read a lot of opinions on the issue, most of it focusing on how one can’t offer a quotation unless one’s seen a sample of the work. That’s all well and good, but is it what the customer wants? Both Nick and Adrienne make it clear that their instant quotations are preliminary and nonbinding. I wanted to take this idea and run with it in my own way – provide a quick way for the customer to engage with me, a device that would give them a sense of immediacy. I wanted to be able to provide them with a ballpark price for proofreading that they could use to decide whether to continue the discussion. So I tackled the questions above, and the answers helped me to map out a solution that I could test.

What are the potential gains from the change?

  • Customers who previously passed me over because they wanted an immediate sense of what the cost would be might be more inclined to contact me.
  • In particular, I might be a more attractive prospect for self-publishing authors (a client group that I particularly enjoy working with) scouting for editorial assistance but who have a fixed budget in mind.
  • I’ve always provided detailed value-on quotations in the past (see “Value-on or money-off? Putting a price on your editorial services”, Proofreader’s Parlour, September 2013 http://www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com/blog-the-proofreaders-parlour/value-on-or-money-off-putting-a-price-on-your-editorial-services) but these take time to produce, and if the price isn’t even in the customer’s ballpark I’ve invested a lot of time for no return. The quick-quote option would be an interesting alternative to test.

What will I potentially lose if I introduce a quick-quote function?

  • I’m always “on” – customers can contact me whenever they want and I’ll be committed to responding to them accordingly.
  • An instant quotation is all about the money, not about the value.
  • If I want to avoid placing prices on my website, I’ll need to have a device with me that enables me to calculate a price – this could be a challenge, as I want to offer different rates for different client groups, and I want to introduce economies of scale for larger word counts.

What will stay the same, even though I’ve made this change?

  • My proofreading website is still focused on providing comprehensive advice about the value I bring to the table. The customer comes through that medium and so will see this information.
  • My current client list is not affected.
  • I’m still offering a proofreading service.
  • I can still refuse the work after I’ve seen a sample if I don’t think I’m a good fit for the customer – the quote is preliminary with no obligation on either side. Critics can argue that no matter how much one protests that the quote is not binding, it gives the user a number around which to wrap their thinking. If my quote is £150 but then I see the manuscript and realize that the real quote needs to be £450, I have a major hill to climb to move the client off the £150 mark. However, I’d counter this as follows: I’m a proofreader. If the sample file arrives with me and it needs so much work that there is going to be a significant difference between the preliminary quote and the post-sample quote, the manuscript is not ready for me to work on and I’ll decline the work anyway.
  • I’m still in a position to turn down the work if it doesn’t fit in my schedule.

How will the changes make me feel once I’ve completed them?

  • I hope I’ll be glad that I’ve tried something new.
  • I’ll be excited to see what the results are.
  • It will give me even more confidence to embrace future ideas for change that I might have rejected in the past.
  • I’m in control of my website, so I’ll still feel secure in the knowledge that I can withdraw the quick-quote service instantly if I deem this to be necessary.

My solution was to offer a “Within 1 hour” service via text messaging to customers requiring a preliminary ballpark price. I require a few words of description, a deadline, and a word count. I commit to responding within 1 hour to any request that comes in prior to 10 p.m. GMT. I don’t want to have to carry around a tablet or laptop all the time because I won’t always have internet access, but my phone is always with me and I can always take calls or texts. I’ve set up a spreadsheet in the Excel app on my phone; this contains formulae that calculate the preliminary price based on different word-count ranges and client types. When a text comes through, I can place the word count into the spreadsheet; the fee is calculated automatically. I reply to the customer with the preliminary price and an invitation to continue the discussion, this time with a sample. At that point, I’ll be able to demonstrate the value I can offer.

I’ve placed this quick-quote service on a dedicated “Get a quote” page of my website. I’ve copied some of the client testimonials onto the page so that customers have a sense of the quality of service I offer.

On the same page I also offer a “Within 1 day” service via email. This provides customers with a confirmed quotation (rather than a preliminary ballpark figure) but requires them to furnish me with additional information and a sample of the work.

The quick-quotation tool has been up for a month at the time of writing, and early results are encouraging. I’ve had around 20 enquiries via text messaging, 4 of which have led to commissions to proofread works of self-published fiction. I also acquired a small, fast-turnaround job for a business client. I’ve turned down requests to proofread a business book and several theses, owing to the time frame.

I’m delighted that I decided to work out a creative solution to my earlier resistance. I’m even more delighted that the outcome has been positive. My fears about what I’d lose have been overshadowed by the decisions I made on how to manage the service: The time limit means that I’m not available 24/7; the fact that I’ve limited the service to text messaging means that I’m using a device that is always with me, so there’s no added inconvenience on that front; I’ve not been so inundated with requests that the service has felt intrusive; I can tweak the Excel spreadsheet at will; and if I decide to withdraw the service, I can update my website in an instant, even from my phone. I’ve also found a way to display the information in a way that provides social proof of the quality of service I offer.

Even more importantly, perhaps, carrying out this exercise has forced me to think more broadly how customer trust relates to pricing transparency, and about whether I want to increase my customer engagement further by being more explicit on my website about my pricing model – but that’s another test for another time! For the next few months, I’m going to focus on monitoring the “Within 1 hour” text-messaging service.

Taking professional responsibility

Resistance to change is a normal human emotion. However, we are business owners. We work for ourselves. There’s no one in the HR department to walk us through the changes we might need to make even though we feel nervous about them. Change is inevitable. The fact that it can be anxiety-inducing needs to be acknowledged. The key is to ensure that anxiety doesn’t get in the way of action. The decision I’ve made about my quick-quote service will not be something all my colleagues will agree with or want to implement. That’s fine – they have their businesses to run and I have mine. They make the decisions that are best for them while I make the decisions that are best for me.

Still feel reluctant to make a change, or learn something new? Break it down into smaller components so that it seems more manageable. View it as an opportunity for discovery rather than failure. And analyze it in terms of what you stand to gain and what you stand to lose. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. Whatever happens, you’ll know that Woody and Thomas would pat you on the back for it!

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.

December 7, 2015

On the Basics: Who are Those “Right People to Know” — and Do We Really Need to Know Them?

by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

In an online discussion sparked by my mentioning that I recently got an editing project from the son of a high-school–days friend who knew my work because he works for a law firm for which I do proofreading, someone responded with, in part, “… the world is not a level playing field. I have a friend who cannot get editing work because he doesn’t know the right people and doesn’t know how to properly market himself.”

Putting aside my initial reaction of “Who said the world was fair?” and “The friend should quit whining and do what he needs to do,” here are a few suggestions for anyone who feels the same way — that you only can get editing work if you “know someone.”

Few of us started out by “knowing someone” important in the field. Some of us started as lowly interns, in secretarial positions, or — at best — as gofers and slush-pile readers at publishing houses. Others started in jobs at associations or companies where a natural eye for editing got them out of clerical positions and into something related to in-house publishing. Still others might have been entry-level reporters thanks to journalism degrees.

There’s also the question of who these mysterious “right people” might be. In my book, anyone who has work to offer is a “right person.” So is any colleague who refers me for work, past employer or coworker who remembers and hires or refers me, family member or old friend who cheers me on. Yes, there are major players in the editing world, and we can get to know them by attending conferences, reading their books and blogs, taking their classes, following them on Twitter. But we get work from clients, and the way to get to know them — or for them to get to know us — is to find them and pitch them.

Regardless, most of us started out at ground zero. We didn’t know anyone important. We weren’t known for our skills. If we’ve become successful either in in-house jobs or as freelancers, it’s because we made the effort to develop strong skills, develop networks with colleagues, and make names for ourselves.

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to become known and to get to know prospective clients (or colleagues who might recommend us, subcontract to us, even hire us or hand off excess work to us).

Someone who “doesn’t know the right people” can remedy that by joining a professional organization, such as the EAC, SfEP, EFA, ACES, etc., to become known and respected among colleagues, or just to have his or her name listed in an association membership directory. And even the rankest newcomer actually may know people who could be leads to work. If that’s you (or if you’re established but have hit a slow time), assess your past employers and coworkers, friends, family, classmates (at all levels), etc., and consider sending them something about what you’re doing and the kind of work you’re looking for.

The reality, though, is that you must market yourself if you want to have a successful editing, proofreading, or other publishing-oriented business. It might seem hard to do, but it’s essential. Work won’t just float in the door without the worker making that kind of effort.

The good news for anyone who feels uncomfortable with that reality is that you can find work without being in with the in crowd. Judging from what I see from colleagues, quite a few find editing work without doing a lot of networking — primarily through cold queries and by using association/organization resources such as job services or directory listings.

If you think you have to know “the right people” to succeed in your editing career, this is the moment to take control and do something about it. The new year is right around the corner. Start planning now to meet some of those people, either online or in person, and to become someone they want to meet — and hire.

You can use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook’s business groups, and a boatload of other online resources to find people worth connecting with because they might need an editor, and to position yourself as both skilled and worth knowing and hiring. That’s marketing yourself, and all it takes is time. It doesn’t require much in the way of interpersonal connections, so those among us who are introverts can manage it without the terrible pressure of interacting in person.

Identify the types of projects you want to do and the kinds of clients who might have such projects for you. Look for them in Literary Market Place, Writer’s Market, online, at websites, in colleagues’ conversations — and go after them. Polish up your résumé, craft a convincing cover letter, and go for it.

You also have to be findable, because sometimes work will come to us without our trying. Being listed in a membership directory is a good way to make it possible to be found for projects without making any further effort. Having a website is essential, even if it’s only minimal. Being at least a little visible in social media can make a difference — especially if you can give as well as take: offer advice, share resources, answer questions. And don’t be shy about mentioning your projects, skills, and successes.

There’s also self-marketing, which includes somewhat traditional approaches such as putting together and mailing out a promotional brochure or postcard; creating and distributing a newsletter about your skills, achievements, and projects; and doing the occasional press release — you start your freelance business, when you land an impressive client (but wait to announce that until after you’ve completed at least once project with that client!), win an award, make a presentation, etc. These kinds of activities will bring you the attention of prospective clients who are not in your network of colleagues or friends and family.

It may seem that some people have better luck than others when it comes to finding work. Whenever I would attribute a new job or project to luck, my beloved dad would say that I made my own luck. And he was right. Luck is a combination of effort and serendipity, among other things. Getting a new editing project because I stay in touch with old friends and do good work for current clients, as in the recent experience that touched off this column, is a form of luck, but I don’t stay in contact with friends to make use of them as potential clients or referrers. I stay in contact because I like them. It’s part of who I am. If those connections result in new work sometimes, that’s a bonus. You can call it luck, if you’d like.

If a one-time project turns into an ongoing relationship and series of projects, that’s a form of luck. It’s also the result of my letting that client know that I enjoyed doing the first project and would like to do more, or my suggesting new topics I could work on for that client, rather than my sitting by the computer waiting for the client to call with a new assignment.

You need a combination of both aggressive and passive marketing efforts to succeed in any profession, including editing. Even passive marketing is better than no marketing. You can’t sit back and wait for success, and you won’t succeed by worrying or whining about not knowing the “right people.”

Instead of complaining about not knowing the right people, make your own luck by looking for them and becoming findable by them.

Have you developed a network? How did you find “the right people” to know? How long did it take? Was there one key moment, effort, or connection that did the trick? Who are your “right people”?

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.

December 2, 2015

Market Magic: The In-Tandem Duo — Declining Price & Declining Quality

There is a disconnect in the editorial marketplace. The disconnect occurs at several levels but is most prominent when a publisher outsources production and editorial work to a single provider (a packager), often an offshore provider, that promises to deliver high-quality editing at a price lower than the publisher itself can get directly in the editorial market it wants tapped (e.g., a U.S. publisher wanting a U.S. editor).

The disconnect occurs because the packager has not first determined that, when tapping the publisher’s desired editor market, it can obtain and deliver the promised quality for a price even lower than the price it promised the publisher. The disconnect also occurs because the publisher has misbudgeted for a manuscript’s editorial work on the basis of the packager’s representations.

There is a line below which quality and price decrease as one, and packagers have been embracing that downward trajectory for short-term gains, at the expense of long-term survival and growth. If the reports are correct, many packagers are facing revenue and growth problems — the long-term penalty is now starting to be paid for their having focused on the short term. They have entered that cycle in which they must continue to promise low editorial costs (sometimes even lower than previously promised) in exchange for more short-term business. However, the packagers increasingly find that they cannot hire the better editors and so return to the publisher lower-quality editing (often, much lower quality) than was promised. The editorial members of the publisher’s staff are unhappy, but the accounting staff remains unmoved.

As a result, the publisher continues to budget low prices for high-quality editing because the packager continues to represent that it can provide that level of editing using the publisher’s preferred editors at the lower price, a price that the publishers themselves cannot get in the editorial marketplace for high-quality editing. (One publisher, for example, budgets $1.25 per manuscript page for high-level editing and lesser amounts for “normal” editing; a second publisher budgets less than $1 per page based on promises from its packagers. In both instances, the publishers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the quality of editing their books have received, making the relationship with the packager less secure than the packager requires, and sometimes the publishers will insist that the editing be redone at the packager’s expense using specifically named editors.)

What the publisher ignores is that if it pays the packager $2 per page for editing, the packager pays the editor significantly less as the packager retains some of the price for its own coffers. The publisher also ignores that it has required the packager to hire skilled editors from a certain editorial marketplace. For example, it is not unusual for a U.S. publisher to insist that “a U.S. editor” be hired, without considering whether a U.S. editor who delivers the level of editing quality the publisher wants can be hired for the amount that the packager will offer to pay. (A companion problem is that publishers will tell a packager that a particular manuscript requires a “high” or “medium” edit “by a U.S. editor,” but neither the publisher nor the packager adjusts the editing price so that it matches the editing expectations.)

The result is that between the packager’s actions and the publisher’s acquiescence in and promotion of the packager’s actions, neither the packager’s promise nor the publisher’s expectation of high-quality editing comes about. As the price paid to the editor declines, so does the quality of the edit. (We are addressing just the effect of pricing on quality and ignoring the effect of scheduling.)

Recently, I was discussing future projects with a publisher. The publisher needs — not just wants — the particular manuscripts to receive a high-quality edit. The problem is that we are a universe apart on fee. The budgeters at the publisher have become accustomed to the prices paid to packagers and have decided to reduce those already low prices by 15% as part of a cost-saving measure. Apparently, many of the packagers they work with have agreed to that price lowering. The result is that while the publisher is willing to pay me more directly, its “more” is what it was paying the packagers before the new lower fee. The budgeters consider those rates the “standard.” They are immune to complaints about the poor editorial quality from in-house editorial staff and from authors and purchasers of the publisher’s books.

The packagers have set marketplace expectations without having determined beforehand whether they can deliver. Those expectations have leaked so as to infect relationships with nonpackagers, and when publishers deal directly with editors so that they can ensure the quality they want and need, they are unprepared to face the cost.

Unfortunately for packagers, the expectations they have created are beginning to harm their businesses. In discussions with colleagues, I find that many of the better-skilled editors are resisting, preferring to pass on work that is too low priced. This is, I think, a result of editors becoming more businesslike and actually understanding what they require to run a profitable business. Over the years, packagers have been both a bane and a boon to editors: a bane because of the high demands for low pay, but a boon because they have forced editors to increasingly recognize that they are a business and must act like a business.

I am finding that packagers are increasingly, albeit slowly, becoming flexible about editing fees — although the range of flexibility is not wide — as long as the majority of projects are still undertaken at the “standard” price. But that there is any flexibility speaks volumes about the long-term problems of the packager industry’s business plan; not so long ago, a packager faced with a demand for higher pay would simply say “no” and move the project to another editor. What they have found is that, as with all things in life, some editors have better skills than other editors and are more appropriate for a particular project; that is, editors are not wholly interchangeable — an experienced medical editor is likely to do a better editing job on a medical tome than an editor whose experience has been primarily in historical romance fiction. Both may be excellent editors in their genres, but poor choices outside their genres. And within genres, there are levels of editors, levels based on experience, learned skills, editing methodology, education, and so on.

I have suggested many times to packagers that it is smarter, thinking long term, to take less profit and deliver higher-quality editing than to focus on the short term and seek higher profit at the expense of editing quality — a short-term focus may lead to having nothing on which to make a profit long term. The message may finally be getting through. It will be interesting to see which packagers survive. My bet is that the packagers who revert to more realistic pricing for high-quality editing, thereby changing unreasonable and unrealistic expectations, will be the survivors. They may struggle in the beginning, but survive in the end.

Do you turn down work because of price? Are you finding that packagers are making changes for the better in your relationships with them?

Richard Adin, An American Editor

November 16, 2015

The Proofreader’s Corner: Tackling Editorial Learning Anxiety (or Embracing Change Rather Than Resisting It) — Part I

by Louise Harnby

In this two-part series, I consider how resistance to change can stop us from learning new skills or testing new methods to make our editorial businesses more successful.

Part I looks at “learning anxiety” and how it can stop us from embracing change. It introduces three ideas for how to tackle our anxiety: planning the change so that it’s considered and systematic; redefining “failure” as “lessons learned”; and doing a cost-to-benefit analysis.

Part II presents a personal case study of how I dealt with anxiety about offering a new customer-engagement service with regard to quoting. I explain how I used a cost-to-benefit analysis to identify my concerns and come up with a solution that enabled me to move forward rather than rejecting change.

“I’m not trying that!”

Editors, like any other professionals, can fall into the trap of resisting change – for example, not trying out a new marketing strategy; claiming they have no need for business tools such as macros; or refusing to take on work that requires using a new platform, software package, or format. All of us have either said, or heard one of our colleagues say, “I don’t work in that way,” “That’s a bad idea,” “I don’t like the idea of that,” “That’s not the way I do things,” or “I just couldn’t bring myself to do that” at some point in our careers.

We work in a highly competitive, crowded, and international marketplace. We’re business owners, not hobbyists. That means our businesses have to earn us a living. Our market isn’t static – it’s always shifting. New software and digital tools are developed; new platforms on which we can make ourselves visible emerge and expand in terms of their importance; our clients ask us to work in ways that colleagues in the editorial field 40 years ago likely never anticipated; the types of clients for whom we are discoverable, and the ways in which they find us, are more varied than I expected when I set up my proofreading business only a decade ago.

All of that means that resisting change and failing to learn the new skills or to try new methods (whether technical, promotional, or practical) simply doesn’t make sense for today’s editorial business owner. If we refuse to change, we refuse to compete – and that’s a path to business failure.

So why do we resist change? According to psychologist Edgar H. Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, it can be a result of “learning anxiety” (Diane Coutu, “The Anxiety of Learning,” Harvard Business Review, March 2002). Says Schein:

“Learning anxiety comes from being afraid to try something new for fear that it will be too difficult, that we will look stupid in the attempt, or that we will have to part from old habits that have worked for us in the past. Learning something new can cast us as the deviant in the groups we belong to. It can threaten our self-esteem and, in extreme cases, even our identity.”

Back in 2002, Schein discussed the issue in relation to the challenges of organizational change and transformation, corporate culture, and leadership. But that quotation can apply just as well to the editorial solopreneur in 2015. We may be anxious about making a change for fear of not doing it well; equally, we might have heard or read negative opinions from our colleagues about using a particular technical tool, testing a new marketing effort, or changing to a new way of working — and that makes us wary of being seen publicly to be trying such things, lest they draw negative attention.

So how might we go about tackling learning anxiety so that we can embrace change rather than resisting it? There are several options:

  • Plan the change so that it’s considered and systematic
  • Redefine “failure” as “lessons learned”
  • Do a cost-to-benefit analysis

Plan the change so that it’s considered and systematic

If you think there are changes that should be made, or new skills learned, approach them as you would a business plan. By breaking the changes down into components, they will seem more manageable and less anxiety-inducing.

  • Write down the proposed changes (e.g., learning how to use macros; working with a new editorial tool; working in a new format, such as PDF using digital markup; studying a new editorial skill such as proofreading or localization; testing a new marketing technique or pricing model; making yourself visible to a new type of customer group such as self-publishers, students, or publishers).
  • Make a list of the objectives (e.g., increased productivity, new work stream, more diverse skill base to offer potential customers, enhanced customer engagement).
  • Make a note of how difficult you think the task(s) will be to learn and implement.
  • Make a note of how making the process of bringing in these changes makes you feel (e.g., reluctant, anxious).
  • Record the financial outlay required to make the changes to your business.
  • Consider the time frame in which you think you could make the changes. If there are several, you can stagger them so as not to overload yourself in terms of action and pressure.
  • Ask yourself whether you will need assistance to make the changes (e.g., a trainer or mentor) or whether you can implement them on your own.

Redefine “failure” as “lessons learned”

We must accept that change always brings risk. However well we plan change, however well it appears to meet our business objectives, the outcomes aren’t always what we hoped for or expected. The key here is to redefine those results in a positive light whereby “failure” becomes “lessons learned.” What if that cold-calling session to local businesses doesn’t bring in any immediate new clients? What if that training course in a particular software program won’t pay for itself because no clients will ask you for that skill? What if some people in your social media network think that the directory you’ve chosen to advertise in is disreputable and encourages a race to the bottom, rates-wise?

All those outcomes could occur; but it’s also possible – particularly if you’ve made thoughtful, informed decisions about what changes to test – that you might acquire a new lead, take on a piece of work using your software skills, or generate interest from your online colleagues about your marketing efforts. And even if you do end up in the worst-case scenario, who’s to say that the changes you’ve made won’t reap rewards farther down the line? Who’s to say that those colleagues who were disparaging about your efforts are correct in their assumptions?

Being prepared to try new things is how we learn. When the outcomes are not as expected, that’s not failure; that’s information on which we can make future decisions about what not to do, what needs tweaking, and what needs retrying. Not being prepared to learn and change in a competitive market is more likely to lead to failure that trying something new. If you don’t try, you don’t know.

There’s nothing wrong with trying something new, only to find that it didn’t work. Any normal human being trying to be creative when running their business is not going to get it right every time. And if things don’t go to plan, you’ll be in great company. Here’s Woody Allen: “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” And here’s Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Do a cost-to-benefit analysis

If you’re nervous about making a particular change, do a cost-to-benefit analysis by considering the following questions:

  • What will I gain from the change?
  • What will I lose if I change the way I do things?
  • What will stay the same, even though I’ve changed things?
  • How will the changes make me feel once I’ve completed them?

Working through these questions can highlight benefits and challenges, and help you to think through ways to maximize the former and minimize the stress of the latter.

In Part II, I’ll discuss how I used a cost-to-benefit analysis to help me introduce a change to the way in which I invited customers to engage with me over pricing. I wanted to make things as easy and as quick as possible for my customers to ask me for a price, but in a way that wouldn’t ignore value. Up until this point, I’d let my anxiety stop me from testing a new method. However, by thinking about what I might gain, what I might lose, what would stay the same, and how any changes would make me feel, I was able to come up with a solution to test.

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.

November 11, 2015

The Business of Editing: A Fifth Fundamental Business Mistake That Editors Make

Profit & Business Model

A business has to either be profitable so that its owners can earn a living or it has to have investors who are willing to fund the business for years and let the business lose money during those years because of greater future profit expectations or the business has to go out of business.

The first option is usually the option of the freelance editor. We rarely can convince people to invest in our business and let us generate losses for years (the Amazon model), because of the type of business editing is — personal and hands on. Amazon sells goods; the goods are not unique and buyers of the goods do not care whether Jeff Bezos has ever touched the goods. Amazon sells to us based on customer service and price.

Editing, as we know, is different. We are usually hired because of our skills (there are semi-exceptions as in my business model in which clients hire me because of my skills and because of the skills of the editors who work for me) and those skills are hands-on skills. We are hired to read each and every word and pass judgment on the words, the sentence structure, the grammar, and so on. Editors are hired to exercise judgment and improve a product; we do not expect Amazon to edit the book we buy from it.

As a result of this difference, Amazon can go years without making a profit, but freelance editors cannot. And Amazon can get people to invest money in it based on a not-written-in-stone promise of future rewards; outside editors themselves and immediate family, it is the rare person who will invest in an editor’s business with the expectation of a future profit.

Yet there is something in our business model and in Amazon’s business model that is identical (aside from the need for stellar customer service): We both need data to determine how we are doing and what we should be doing. The types of data we need are different, but we both need data.

Why Collect Data?

And this is where editors make a fundamental business mistake. Many editors simply do not collect data or if they do collect data, they make no business use of it. Yet data can tell us lots of things about our business. For example, data can tell us whether

  • a client should be kept or fired
  • certain types of projects should be avoided or sought
  • we are charging too little or too much
  • our focus is wrong or right
  • we need to start a marketing campaign now or can wait
  • our marketing campaign is a success or failure
  • making an investment is likely to increase or decrease our profitability
  • subcontracting would be a smart or dumb direction to go
  • and myriad other things

— all we need to do is gather and explore the data.

We’ve discussed several times how to calculate what to charge (see the five-part series, Business of Editing: What to Charge), but knowing what you need to earn and charge does not necessarily equate to profitability. It is not difficult to have calculated the rate you need to charge, charge that rate, yet be unprofitable. That’s because knowing what to charge is only part of the necessary information.

Consider the type of editing you do. I focus on long manuscripts, the longer the better, preferably 1,000 manuscript pages or longer. Offer me a manuscript that runs 15,000 pages and you will make me happy. Over the years I have been professionally editing, I have collected data on hundreds of projects — in fact, on every project that has passed through my office. Among the information I collected was project subject matter; whether single author or multiauthor; number of manuscript pages (which was calculated using my own formula); the time it took to complete the project; the number of projects I was offered, indicating the number I accepted and the number I turned down; the reason for acceptance or rejection; and the fee I was paid. (I gathered other data, too, but for our discussion, this list is sufficient.)

Analyzing Data

From this data, I learned what manuscripts were likely to be profitable for me. It is important to remember that we are not all alike; that is, what is profitable for me may be highly unprofitable for you. What is important, however, is to know whether what you are doing is, in fact, profitable for you.

Editors focus on editing — it is what they know best and what they feel most comfortable doing. But freelancers wear multiple hats. Not only do they wear an editing hat, but they wear the business owner’s hat. When wearing the business owner’s hat, editors need to assess their business objectively. It does not matter whether they love or hate editing; what matters is whether they are running a profitable business. To make that determination, editors must objectively collect and analyze data about their business.

One of the most important bits of data is time. How long a project takes to edit — not approximately, but exactly — is key information. It is information that is used to determine your effective hourly rate as well as the number of pages you can edit in an hour. It also is information that is needed when giving a client a quote. An editor needs to know whether, as a general rule, a heavy edit means 2 pages an hour or 6 pages an hour, because that helps you determine the likelihood of profitability at different price points.

The Excuses

I have heard editors say that data collection isn’t all that important for them because they bill by the hour, not by the page or project. Contrary to such sentiment, it is equally important to collect data regardless of how you charge, unless your clients have unlimited budgets (and I have yet to meet a client who does). It is also important because in the absence of data, it is not possible to determine whether you are making a sufficient profit.

Editors have told me that they know they are making a sufficient profit because they are able to pay their bills, put a little bit away in savings, and have money for entertainment, and that they are doing this without collecting and analyzing data about their business. Accepting that as true, data collection is still necessary because you may well discover, for example, that you can earn the same but in less time and with less effort. Or you might discover after analyzing the data that although you are making a profit, you are spending more time and effort to do so than is warranted and that making some changes in your business would increase your profit but require less effort.

The Reason

Data collection is key to business growth and profitability. Data inform decisions; data provide a foundation for action. It is a fundamental business error to not collect as much data as you can about your business.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

Related An American Editor essays include:

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