An American Editor

September 25, 2020

2020 Be a Better Freelancer® conference program and speakers available!

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

2020 conference awaits your registration!

The 15th annual Be a Better Freelancer® conference is open for registration! This year’s event continues the partnership between Communication Central, the An American Editor blog, and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) as co-host and PerfectIt as lead sponsor.

Another sponsor is new to the conference: The Six-Figure Freelancer and its author, Laura Pennington Briggs.

If you’re interested in being a sponsor, act now using this PDF about 2020 opportunities.

2020 Be a Better Freelancer Conference-Sponsorships

Session topics will include an exciting array of current tips, resources and insights about business basics, expansion, self-publishing and more.

For most of the past 15 years, “Be a Better Freelancer”® has been the only conference specifically for freelancers in the editorial world — writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, desktop publishers, graphic artists, photographers, website creators, etc.

The 15th annual Communication Central-NAIWE Be a Better Freelancer conference will be held as an online event via Zoom on October 2–4, 2020. This year’s conference offers a strong emphasis on opportunities in the self-publishing realm, as well as resources for overall business success, productivity and expansion. Sessions will be consecutive rather than concurrent.

The conference event will be online and is free to all. Recordings of sessions will be available at $30 each after the event.

We plan to return to the full in-person format with concurrent sessions in each timeslot in 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri.

To register, go to:

https://naiwe.com/conference/

2020 Conference schedule

All times are Eastern (US).

Friday, October 2

9–10:30 a.m.
Startup Essentials and Business Basics, Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
If you’re thinking about launching a freelance communications business, there’s a lot to do before making your plans known to the world and in your first few months. Get the basics of structuring and announcing your freelance writing, editing, proofreading, indexing, website, book production, graphics or other publishing-related business from a freelancer who’s been leading the way for many years.

11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Getting Your Self-Publishing Client to a Finished Product, Dick Margulis
Opportunities for an editor to break into traditional book publishing are vanishing, but they continue to expand rapidly in self-publishing. Independent publishing is now an established and accepted part of the publishing industry. In this session, you will learn how to help your independent author–publisher clients produce the high-quality books they want. Learn how you can work with and guide independent authors in a way that is fair to them and worthwhile for you. The session will be an overview of the independent publishing process, including ethical, financial and practical considerations, to help you figure out where you can fit into the process in a way that works best for you.

This session will provide a comprehensive and detailed summary of the steps and skills entailed in producing a book that meets commercial standards. Armed with this knowledge, you can guide your client toward intelligent decisions about who should do what. The self-publishing author is a publisher. Publishing a book is a business activity. Making a book is a craft activity. Self-publishing should not be do-it-yourself publishing, and you can partner with others to produce the book so the (self-)publisher can focus on marketing, sales and distribution — their proper role.

1:30–2:30 p.m.
Perfecting Your Process with PerfectIt — Beginner Level, Daniel Heuman
No one became an editor because they like checking for consistency of hyphenation and capitalization. Thankfully, there is a faster way to do it! PerfectIt is an add-in for Word that speeds up checking while still leaving you in control of every decision. Thousands of editors around the world use PerfectIt to fix these small details so they can focus on the work that matters.

This session is primarily for complete beginners who have never used PerfectIt before. It will cover what the software can and cannot find, with an overview of all the styles and checks that it can run. It will show you how suggestions vary by location, and every location and suggestion needs to be checked for context. It’s open for users on Macs or PCs.

3–4 p.m.
Perfecting Your Process with PerfectIt — Advanced Level, Daniel Heuman
Spending hours checking that every detail conforms to a style manual is time-consuming and can distract you from the most important work of substantive editing. There is an easier way! This session will show how you can use PerfectIt to select a style sheet, build your own custom style sheet and check your preferences. The session will explain how to use PerfectIt’s advanced functionality with a focus on custom styles and custom checking. It will show how you can share style sheets with colleagues and set up a different style sheet for each client and every style that you work with. This will be an advanced workshop that is primarily for editors who already use PerfectIt on a PC with Windows.

4:15–5:15 p.m.
Questions and answers; general networking

Saturday, October 3

9–10:30 a.m.
Success in Working with Self-Publishing Authors, Katherine Pickett
With the continuing surge in self-publishing, more and more editors find themselves working with self-publishing authors, and many of them have no idea how the publishing process works. Although many editors have worked with writers for a long time, the needs of self-publishers are different, and anticipating those needs is key to good results. This session will help you avoid the pitfalls and find success when working with self-publishers. Topics include:
• Where to find self-publishing clients
• How to estimate time and cost of projects
• Why and how to set boundaries
• How to protect yourself from scam artists
• Areas of job growth
• Where to find additional resources for self-publishers

11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
The Magic of Macros, April Michelle Davis
The more we can do to increase efficiency in the writing, editing or proofreading process, the more valuable we are to employers and clients, and the more we can earn. Get the scoop on creating and using macros in Word to make your workflow faster, more efficient, more accurate and more productive from author and editor April Michelle Davis, executive director of NAIWE and a proven expert in this important approach tool.

1–2:30 p.m.
Editing Fiction in the Independent Arena, Carolyn Haley
More and more authors are publishing their own novels these days, whether solo or through a service. Most of them want — and need — editors just as much as their traditionally published peers, but there’s no formal infrastructure to support them, making indie publishing a free-for-all for both authors and editors. This session will address your questions about being an independent editor serving independent authors. Send your questions in advance for discussion during the session.

3–4:30 p.m.
Bigger and Better — Expanding an Existing Freelance Business, Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
After your freelance business has been up and running for a while, it’s time to think about how to make it more successful. Should you offer additional services? Look for new sources of clients? Get more training? Become more visible? Learn about ways to “grow” your business from Communication Central owner and conference creator Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, who has expanded her freelance business from writing only to providing editing, proofreading, websites, public speaking and event planning.

4:15–5:15 p.m.
Questions and answers; general networking

Sunday, October 4

9 a.m.–11 a.m.
The Business of Being a Business, April Michelle Davis
It takes more than good writing skills, a sharp eye for typos, a love of reading, the ability to alphabetize, a cellphone camera, etc., to be a successful writer, editor, proofreader, indexer, graphic artist or any other freelancer. Succeeding means taking seriously the concept of being in business. You can be brilliant at what you do and still fail if you don’t set up your freelance effort as a business and treat it as a serious venture. Find out how to incorporate key business skills and tools to make your freelancing a success.

Speaker bios

• Writer and editor April Michelle Davis (www.editorialinspirations.com) is executive director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) and an expert in macros, Word and business-organizing resources.

She is the chapter coordinator for the Virginia chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), and past chair and website administrator for the Mid- & South-Atlantic chapter of the American Society for Indexing. She has published two books through the EFA, A Guide for the Freelance Indexer and Choosing an Editor: What You Need to Know, and a young-adult novel, A Princess in Disguise.

She is a lifetime member of the ACES: The Society for Editing and a contributing member of the Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network.

She has a master of professional studies degree in publishing from George Washington University;  a bachelor of arts degree in English from Messiah College; and certificates in editing (University of Virginia), book publishing (University of Virginia) and professional editing (EEI Communications).

Before starting Editorial Inspirations in 2001, Davis was an assistant editor at the National Society of Professional Engineers and a program assistant for the American Prosecutors Research Institute.

Carolyn Haley lives fiction as an editor, author, reader, and reviewer. She has been editing professionally since 1977 and as DocuMania (documania.us) since 2006, working with publishers, packagers, and indie authors. She also has written three novels, which have been published both traditionally and independently (carolynhaley.wordpress.com). She is also the fiction columnist for An American Editor.

• Daniel Heuman is the CEO and founder of Intelligent Editing (intelligentediting.com), and developer of PerfectIt, which is used by thousands of professional editors around the world. He has spoken at conferences of Communication Central, ACES, the Chartered Institute
of Editing and Proofreading, Editors Canada, SENSE, the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), and many other organizations.

Dick Margulis (www.dmargulis.com) focuses on thoughtful editing, appropriate design, expert production and comprehensive project management for publishers of all sizes. He learned to set type at an early age and has been studying and practicing typography ever since, becoming a go-to resource for colleagues and independent authors interested in book publishing and memoirs. He is the co-author with Karin Cather of the invaluable book The Paper It’s Written On: Defining Your Relationship with an Editing Client, which he and Cather developed after presenting a session about contracts at a past Communication Central conference.

Margulis has more than four decades of experience in helping companies and authors communicate effectively, internally and externally. He has made significant contributions to client projects such as corporate identity, including logo design; user manuals and technical documentation; web and intranet sites; books and magazines; and much more. He is known for his deep understanding of and skill in typography and book production.

• Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services, LLC (www.POPediting.net) and author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro.

She worked in-house with McGraw-Hill Professional and Elsevier Inc. for seven years before starting POP in 2006. Through POP, she offers copyediting, proofreading, and developmental editing to authors and publishers across the country. She is an active member of the EFA and president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association. She has been educating writers and indie publishers about the book-publishing industry since 2008.

Ruth E. “I can write about anything”® Thaler-Carter started Communication Central in 2006 to serve and bring together colleagues at all stages of their freelance careers. She is the author/publisher of “Get Paid to Write: Getting Started as a Freelance Writer” and author of “Freelancing 101: Launching Your Editorial Business” for the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), with a new 2020 edition including contributions by Robin Martin. She presents webinars and in-person sessions on freelancing, the basics of editing and proofreading, websites for freelancers, and related topics for the EFA, NAIWE, Cat Writers Association, American Copy Editors Society (ACES; she was one of the first ACES freelancers), Association Media & Publishing, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Writers and Books, International Association of Business Communicators, and other professional organizations, including the UK’s Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and proofreader who has been published and worked on projects internationally, nationally, regionally and locally. She writes, edits and proofreads material in everything from the arts to the metric system to animals, education, communications, statistics and more.

Often called the Queen of Networking for her extensive involvement in professional organizations and ability to connect colleagues with projects, resources and each other, she is on the NAIWE Board of Experts member for networking; Resources chair of the SPJ Freelance Community; newsletter editor and chapter co-coordinator for the EFA; communications director for the St. Louis chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators; and more.

If you need more …

If you have questions, feel free to contact Communication Central here or use the contact form.

Read conference Testimonials here

September 9, 2020

On the Basics: Yet another scam warning

Filed under: Editorial Matters,On the Basics — An American Editor @ 12:35 pm
Tags: , ,

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

Sigh … the creeps of the world just keep on trying. If only they’d apply all that energy, effort and — yes — occasional creativity to something productive, maybe we’d achieve world peace.

There’s a new version of the scam pretending to offer editing, proofreading or writing jobs with major pharmaceutical or publishing companies. This one is supposedly from Grifols Pharmaceuticals and refers to something called Telegram for interviewing instead of Google Hangout. Like previous versions, it claims to have found you through the EFA member directory, which many colleagues have found convincing; there probably are versions citing other professional associations as well. Delete, delete, delete! If you’ve received this and responded, do not engage any longer, block the supposed sender to whom you responded and change your e-mail password.

And while I’m on the subject, here are some protection tips from AARP, via “Dear Heloise,” in case you (or someone you know) receive one of the increasingly common blackmail attempts from scammers claiming they have access to your e-mail program, Internet accounts or computer camera, and will release embarrassing photos, videos or social media posts if you don’t pay them, usually via bitcoin or buying gift cards:

Do not respond.

Change your password(s) immediately.

Make sure your anti-virus software is current.

Delete messages from any senders you don’t know or recognize.

If you have friends or relatives whose cognitive functions or access to information like this might be a bit compromised, please warn them about these and other common scams directed at older people. Let’s do our best to thwart these jerks and keep each other safe.

August 31, 2020

On the Basics: The ethics of editing college applications

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

Once again, inspiration for an An American Editor blog post struck in reaction to a collegial discussion list conversation. (Some of you may have seen the beginnings of the conversation; this is an expanded version.)

A colleague mentioned having received a request to write or edit the client’s kid’s college application and said she responded by telling them that college applications should be the student’s own work. She characterized the request as a possible ethics issue, and I agree; I said I would have responded the same way. If they had only asked for editing services, it might have been different.

This is a frequent, albeit unfortunate, type of request. The asker usually has every intention of paying for the service, so it isn’t a scam in the financial sense, but either doesn’t know or care that it could be unethical. I manage or respond to these requests by making it my policy not to provide editing for college or grad school applications; proofreading, maybe, but even that can seem borderline inappropriate.

This might be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but I’m interested in how colleagues think about it. Some institutions will let applicants use editors or proofreaders for application statements or essays, but forbid hiring someone to write those materials. Some draw distinctions between doing such work for native speakers vs. speakers of other languages, or between disciplines — hiring an editor or proofreader is OK for students in the sciences, engineering, maybe business, etc., but not for those in English degree programs.

I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who is willing to function in a language other than their original one, especially English, which can be a challenge even for well-educated origin speakers (as we often see here). And I’m not monolingual: I’ve studied and used French, German and Spanish — but wouldn’t want to tackle writing in any of them until I had spent time immersed in them again; even German, which I picked up in childhood mostly from listening to my Austrian parents and only studied formally much later.

In the application process, it seems more fair for someone’s command of any language to be clear in — literally — their own words, especially in areas like medicine, where lack of fluency could have life-threatening results.

On the other hand, rejecting an applicant because of clunky English in an application might be a disservice to all concerned. Many applicants are very talented in their fields and deserve the opportunity to continue their educations at institutions in countries other than their own. There also can be a difference between someone’s spoken and comprehended levels of language vs. their skills in writing it. And it’s valuable for students to meet and interact with peers from other countries and cultures, no matter which ones are involved. Being accepted into a program and interacting with native speakers, both instructors and fellow students, day in and day out would improve a non-native’s command of English as well.

One colleague found it “hard to believe someone has the nerve to ask for such a thing in this day and age.”

Actually, I find it understandable (not acceptable, but understandable). It isn’t new. There have always been ways for students to game the system, even if only by having their parents write or edit their school work or applications, and students have been selling their work to each other for ages and a day. It’s even easier to do nowadays than ever before: Entire businesses are built on writing student essays and applications (businesses that do the writing for students at any level, and people who work for such businesses, are unethical in my eyes and those of many others, both individuals and institutions/organizations). Papers, and probably application essays, can be purchased online with ease. Celebrities pay thousands to phony up their kids’ applications, sometimes without the kids’ knowledge.

There also can be a thin line between editing and rewriting, although the distinction between writing and editing is easier to draw.

I typed papers for fellow students when I was in college (back in the Dark Ages before computers 🙂 ), and would correct some of their spelling or basic punctuation errors as I went along, but I wouldn’t rewrite if their concepts weren’t clear. There was a big difference between typing up a handwritten paper and rewriting or even editing it. More recently, I proofread my niece’s résumé and a cover letter for her; she’s in landscape architecture and is bilingual in English and Hebrew. I was comfortable with catching a few typos that had nothing to do with her professional skills, but I did have an ulterior motive for making her material as close to perfect as possible: I’m hoping she gets a job offer here where I live!

The good news is that the growth of companies that do the work for students and the ease of plagiarizing via the Internet has led to innovation in response, such as anti-plagiarism software programs. These can be used not just to check on whether someone has copied from known published works, but whether they’ve used material that has been “outed” as generated by someone (or thing) other than the student in question.

In the discussion of this that I mentioned above, several colleagues had perspectives on this that were ethical and interesting. Some have worked for college writing centers by providing coaching and advice without actually doing students’ work for them. Others have developed freelance services with a similar focus — helping clients learn how to write more clearly and effectively, but not doing the writing for them.

How and where do you draw a line?

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com) is an award-winning provider of editorial and publishing services for publications, independent authors, publishers, associations, nonprofits and companies worldwide, and the editor-in-chief and — as of 2019 — owner of An American Editor. She also created the annual Communication Central Be a Better Freelancer® conference for colleagues (www.communication-central.com, now co-hosted with the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (www.naiwe.com), sponsored by An American Editor and this year planned for October 2–4 as a virtual event. She can be reached at Ruth@writerruth.com or Ruth.Thaler-Carter@AnAmericanEditor.com.

August 23, 2020

On the Basics: New resources for freelancers

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

I’m breaking precedent with a Sunday post to share some professional good news: The updated edition of my “Freelancing 101” booklet for the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), featuring new input from EFA Publications chairperson Robin Martin, and the updated new edition of the EFA’s “Resumés for Freelancers” booklet, which I’ve co-authored with original author Sheila Buff, are among the new publications available at the EFA’s new bookstore:
https://shop.aer.io/editorial_freelancers_association_bookstore

Robin deserves a huge round of applause for herding cats (um, authors) and – even more challenging – organizing the new bookstore.

I hope our subscribers find these publications useful. They were a lot of fun to produce and should be – if I say so myself – excellent resources for various aspects of a freelance editorial (not just editing) business.

August 5, 2020

On the Basics: The power of saying no as a reputation-builder

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

Owner, An American Editor

As editorial professionals, whether in-house or freelance, how do we build our reputations for not only what we do, but how we do it and who we are?

It may seem self-evident that doing good work is the first and most-important element of establishing a reputation of someone worth hiring, recommending, referring or subcontracting with. There’s more to it, though.

How we do business contributes mightily to an editorial professional’s reputation as well. And a huge factor in that process is knowing when, and how, to say no.

Saying no

It might seem odd to think of saying no as a way of establishing or solidifying your professional reputation, but it can work. Saying no to projects or clients means you know what’s right — or wrong — for your editorial business.

It’s hard to say no to a client or project, especially when you’re just starting out or funds are low and you’re worried about how you’ll pay the mortgage or rent, but doing so can be essential to the health of both your editorial business and your reputation. Saying no means you’re standing up for what you need from your business and what you expect from the people you work with or for. It means you have standards for, and limits on, how you do your work, and are willing to enforce them. Having the chutzpah to say no when appropriate gives you power.

Those standards or limits, and how saying no relates to them, can include:

Hours when you’re available — and saying no to requests (or demands) that you work outside those hours.

Type of projects you will accept and work on — and saying no to projects that aren’t right for you.

Rates you will work for — and saying no to rates that are too low.

Deadlines you will accept — and saying no to ridiculous ones that would make you crazy.

Treatment you expect from clients — and saying no to rudeness, unreasonableness, demandingness (is that a word?) and any other behavior that disrespects you as a professional.

Getting the message across

You can use your website to present your policies on these kinds of topics, as well as creating a template for responding to messages so you’re prepared to deal with challenges when they occur instead of feeling as if you’re a deer in the headlights of an unreasonable, confusing or inappropriate request. Here are a few suggestions for relaying your “just say no” message without actually saying no (at least, not upfront).

Posting work hours

The best way to head off client calls or messages at hours when you prefer not to be available is to put your “office hours” at your website (you do have your own website, of course). Many colleagues use their websites to let potential and current clients know that they aren’t available on weekends or outside specific hours.

Some people will still push that envelope, but posting your office hours means you have a way to push back. It’s also possible to set up a form of autoresponse that says something like “Thank you for your inquiry. I will respond at 9 a.m. of the next business day to discuss your project.”

You also can still do work outside those posted hours if and when you want — or need — to do so. That can mean saying no to the client but yes to whatever you have to do for a project or deadline to work in your favor.

Choosing your projects

Many colleagues prefer not to work on projects with content that is erotic, violent, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic or involves some other aspect that might be difficult to read. That’s our right. Some of us also have specific preferences for the genres we want to work on: fiction vs. nonfiction, young adult vs. adult or middle grade, fantasy, sci-fi, memoir, etc. You can make those go/no-go decisions as your business policy, post them at your website and incorporate them into your e-mail template for responding to potential clients. Like posting your office hours, that can say no for you.

Again, some people just don’t read such material and might contact you anyhow with the offer of work you don’t want, for whatever reason. You don’t even have to quote a reason, but it’s immensely helpful to be able to couch your no in terms of “Thank you for your inquiry, but as you can see from my website, I don’t work on projects such as this.”

Standing up for your rates

Most of us start out charging at the lower end of rates or accepting salaries at the low end of the bar for a variety of reasons, from lack of experience to lack of confidence. If you haven’t had any formal training or experience in your corner of the editorial world, are just launching a freelance business, want to try working in a new genre or topic area, or have no way of confirming that you’re good at what you do (or want to do), it makes sense to charge less rather than more. That goes for salary levels when you’re job-hunting in the traditional work world, as well as for freelancing.

Keep in mind that if you under-charge, you run the risk of spending so much time on low-paying projects to generate enough income to pay your bills that you won’t have the time or energy to find better-paying work.

Just be sure to, first of all, research rates through professional organizations and resources (such as Writer’s Market information, the Editorial Freelancers Association chart of common rates, conversations with colleagues, etc.) for a sense of what you might be able to charge based on your training, experience and skills.

Second, look for ways to defend what you want or need to charge. Your rates or salary should reflect that combination of training, experience and skill level with the added factor of what you need to cover your expenses and have something left for fun. An American Editor founder Rich Adin calls this your effective hourly rate: the income you have to generate to live your life on a level that is not just sufficient but rewarding; a rate based on you, not on someone else, whether a colleague or a client.

If you’re low on training, get some. Look to professional associations, college certificate programs and business resources to do two things: improve your knowledge and skills, and bolster your credibility. If you’re low on experience, look for ways to do more editorial work, even if it’s on a volunteer basis or at a starting-out rate. If your skills seem below par, look for volunteer opportunities, whether with a professional association or a charity you believe in, to do the kind of work you’re interested in and build up those skills. You might even look for a mentor who could help you strengthen your overall knowledge and specific areas of weakness.

The more you can show that you’re skilled and qualified, the easier it will be to say no to prospective clients that only pay peanuts.

Practice makes perfect

Because the necessity to say no is going to crop up for all of us, be prepared. Write out a script for how to turn down work that isn’t right for you, rates that don’t respect you, deadlines that are impossible for you to meet, etc. It can be brief. It doesn’t have to go into any detail or offer any excuses for your no. You might also want to create a backup script for the insistent client who doesn’t want to hear your no.

If you think about and plan for these moments beforehand, it will be much easier to stand up for what you want your business and your reputation to represent.

The bottom line

So how do all these aspects of saying no contribute to establishing your reputation?

Steeling yourself to say no when appropriate creates the impression of someone who is confident enough to have standards and stand up for them. Someone who is strong enough to resist pressure to behave in ways that would undermine their success and their ability to continually improve the quality of their editorial business. Someone who is more than reliable and skilled.

If you develop your ability to say no, you will establish your reputation as someone who is not only an editorial professional worth hiring, but one who can’t be scammed, scolded, underpaid or pushed around. That’s a reputation worth having.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com) is an award-winning provider of editorial and publishing services for publications, independent authors, publishers, associations, nonprofits and companies worldwide, and the editor-in-chief and — as of 2019 — owner of An American Editor. She also created and co-hosts the annual Communication Central “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference for colleagues (www.communication-central.com), with the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (www.naiwe.com), sponsored by An American Editor. She can be reached at Ruth@writerruth.com or Ruth.Thaler-Carter@AnAmericanEditor.com.

July 31, 2020

2020 “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference will go virtual

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 6:16 pm

Dear Colleagues:

We have made the very, very difficult decision to cancel the in-person 2020 “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference out of concern for the safety of speakers and attendees, especially anyone who would have to travel by plane or train to participate. We plan to develop a virtual version of this year’s conference. Watch this space for details in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for your understanding – and see you in person next year!

 

July 24, 2020

AAE columnist to present “Indexing: Arabic Names” webinar for ASI on August 12

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 1:23 pm

By Ælfwine Mischler

I will present a webinar about “Indexing Arabic Names: What Everyone Needs to Know” for the American Society for Indexing (ASI) at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. This article is only the beginning of what you will learn in the webinar.

Definitive approach to definite articles

In my earlier series about romanized Arabic in English texts, I wrote my blog posts “Spelling the Definite Article” and “Omitting, Capitalizing, and Alphabetizing the Definite Article” primarily for copyeditors. By the time the PDF of a book goes to the indexer, the decisions on whether to include the definite article and how to spell it have been made. This might not be the case if a book has an embedded index, which is often written while the book is still being copyedited — or worse, before the manuscript is submitted to the publisher.

Indexers have other concerns with the definite article. The first that comes to mind is how to deal with the article when it comes at the beginning of an entry, whether a main entry or a subentry (also called main head and subhead. See my post “Basic Vocabulary.”)

Publishers vary in how they treat the article at the beginning of a main entry. Some want the article cut off there and tacked on at the end of the name (Hakim, Tawfiq al-), while others want the article to remain in place but be ignored in sorting (al-Hakim, Tawfiq alphabetized under H).

In a subentry, The Chicago Manual of Style, which many U.S. publishers follow, suggests that in a run-in index, most often found in scholarly books, the definite article be left in place and ignored in sorting. In an indented index, however, the article should be moved to the end of the name. If the publisher keeps the article in place and ignores it in the main entry, I do the same in the subentry in both run-in and indented indexes.

But the beginning of an entry is not the only position where indexers have to worry about the definite article in Arabic names. It appears as part of the second element in many compound names and should also be ignored in sorting. If there are a lot of such names in an index, it is better to sort word by word rather than letter by letter. (See “The ABCs of Alphabetizing.”)

Here are some examples of sorting with different treatments of the definite article. After the long vowel in Abi, the vowel of the article is elided and replaced with an apostrophe in this style of transcription. (For simplification, I am not using diacritics in these names.)

Note how the two names Ibn Abi Khisal and Ibn Abi ’l-Khisal sort relative to each other. These are probably the same person, but the author was a bit careless in writing the name with and without a definite article. When the two names sort one after the other, the author is more likely to see the error (if it was an error) and can tell the indexer to merge the entries.

In the following examples, the articles and ibn (son of) have been ignored but the sorting is different. The advantage of word-by-word sorting becomes apparent when you have a mixture of classical and modern Arabic names, as I have here. When readers are scanning a long list of names beginning with ‘Abd or one of its modern variants, they are more likely to see the variants when those fall together with word-by-word sorting.

This article is only the beginning of what you need to know when indexing Arabic names. In recent weeks, I have looked at a lot of indexes containing Arabic names, and there is a lot that indexers and editors should learn. The link to take my webinar, “Indexing Arabic Names: What Everyone Should Know,” is available on the American Society for Indexing website. A recording of the webinar will be available to registrants, and it will be available for purchase later on the ASI Webinar page.

 

Ælfwine Mischler is an American copyeditor and indexer in Cairo, Egypt, who has been the head copyeditor at a large Islamic website and a senior editor for an EFL textbook publisher. She often edits and indexes books about Islamic studies, Middle East studies, and Egyptology.

June 15, 2020

On the Basics: Coping with recent events

Filed under: Editorial Matters,On the Basics,Philosophy & Ethics — An American Editor @ 2:07 pm

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

I’ve been quiet here because I haven’t known what to say about the various crises we’re all facing these days. I’m still not sure, but a few things started bubbling up that I hope will be helpful to colleagues.

COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic offers some lessons for moving on and thinking about the future. Among other aspects, it’s a hard lesson in financial planning. I’ve written several times about planning for emergencies, and this event certainly qualifies as a huge one for so many of us. It reinforces the importance of moves like these.

  • Try to save money as you go along. The best and easiest way to do this is to “Pay yourself first” — take a certain percentage out of every payment and stash it in a savings account. What you don’t see, you can’t spend. If the habit is ingrained, it will also be much easier to maintain in uncertain times.
  • Diversify your work. If you freelance, make sure you have more than one client and type of project, just in case someone you rely on for income has to cut back. If you work in-house and can moonlight without jeopardizing your job, have at least one freelance project in hand. It could be a lifesaver if your company cuts back on your hours or salary during a crisis like this one.
  • Swallow your pride. We all go through hills and valleys in our work. If yours tanks due to circumstances beyond your control, you might have to find a different kind of work to get by. At least one of my colleagues took a job with one of the big-box stores when her freelance work dried up recently. She plans to go back to freelancing, but in the meantime, she has a paycheck and health insurance, even if it means doing non-editorial work. Others have turned to some of the low-paying job sites just to have income for now.
    Several organizations have put together financial aid services for members and colleagues. If you need help, look for those resources and make use of them.
    If you qualified for any of the pandemic-related government loan or grant programs, try not to use all of the funds at once; sock some away in savings for the coming months — we don’t really know if the pandemic is under control or might come back in another wave.
  • Live frugally. Don’t go overboard and make yourself and your family miserable, but try to keep impulse buying and living expenses under control. Such habits come in handy in difficult times and are easier to maintain if they aren’t new.
  • Communicate. Most of us have been quarantined in recent weeks, many of us have been home alone and some of us aren’t comfortable with resuming regular activities yet. Try not to cut yourself off from the world, even when it seems to be coming apart. Use the phone, social media, blogs like this one, and resources of professional associations and community services to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues.
  • Look after yourself. Get out of the house for walks around the block or neighborhood or to nearby parks. Take up new hobbies that you can do at home. Order meals from local businesses that do pick up or delivery. Ask for help if you need it. As businesses reopen and people try to go back to “normal,” continue to use smart health and safety habits.

Civil rights protests

The efforts to respond to, make sense of and prevent deaths of Black people by police officers don’t seem likely to end any time soon. As someone who worked for the Urban League and has been active in the Black press for years, I just don’t know how to handle recent and continuing events in this arena, or what to say here. I just hope there will be positive change, and soon. All I can suggest to colleagues is to be aware, make efforts to be inclusive and stay safe.

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter (www.writerruth.com) is an award-winning provider of editorial and publishing services for publications, independent authors, publishers, associations, nonprofits and companies worldwide, and the editor-in-chief and — as of 2019 — owner of An American Editor. She also hosts the annual Communication Central “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference for colleagues (www.communication-central.com), this year co-hosted for the second time with the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (www.naiwe.com), sponsored by An American Editor, and (still) planned for October 2–4 in Baltimore, MD. She can be reached at Ruth@writerruth.com or Ruth.Thaler-Carter@AnAmericanEditor.com.

June 3, 2020

On the Basics: A resource for writing and editing about current events

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 11:15 am

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

Because our subscriber base is likely to include colleagues who write about or edit/proofread materials about current events, or whose employers/clients do so, I thought this resource from the Education Writers Association (EWA) might be of value. The EWA offers these tools for managing racial biases in covering current – and future – events:

https://www.ewa.org/blog-educated-reporter/tools-help-reporters-examine-their-racial-biases

And I remind colleagues of my An American Editor post about increasing diversity in your or your clients’/employers’ work:
https://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2020/03/02/on-the-basics-enhancing-diversity-and-inclusion-in-your-writing-and-workplace/

Stay safe, and stay woke.

May 31, 2020

Conference “call”: We need your input

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 5:12 pm

In these difficult, downright frightening times, it’s hard to focus on anything in the future, but I’m hoping that AAE subscribers will take a moment to think a few months ahead and let us know how you feel about the 2020 “Be a Better Freelancer”® that is planned for Oct. 2–4 in Baltimore. Please take a moment to respond to this brief survey to give us a sense of what you think now, with the understanding that perspectives may change in the next couple of months:

https://forms.gle/9hQdm3FqVSdpKyDE6

Thank you!

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