For myself but also all current and future clients, I’m always on the hunt for resources to help with proofreading/copy-editing.
Strunk & White’s Elements of Style is generally always on hand, various dictionaries, style manuals…
But this one, I think, will be a new trusted source. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it for months, and the bookstore did not make it any easier, losing my order twice before it was finally delivered today.
It’s finally here! I WANT TO DEVOUR IT.
From everything I’ve heard and everything I’ve seen with a quick flip-through, my nerdy little heart is in ecstasies.
I’ll be sure to report back with my thoughts once I’m through it!
I had an interesting experience this week that really brought home how important it is to have a strong personal editor-writer rapport.
Along with working to build my own client list, I’ve been applying to positions to do some proofreading/copyediting for external companies. I see it as a great way to bring in a steady income while also developing the skills I want to put back into my own business.
This particular job would have been great. Working from home, choice of projects, ability to choose my own hours… but no client interaction. Everything would come from the company-as-mediator.
This sort of raised some questions for me, but I figured I would apply for it anyway as it couldn’t hurt to see what the process was like.
Part of the application was a series of mock assignments based on the various types of projects that would be coming in. Technical papers, English assignments, blog posts, etc.
But as I started it, I realized how much of a double-edged sword having the company-as-mediator would wind up being.
Now, to be fair, I come at projects very much with a creative-editor/writer mindset, where keeping the voice and authenticity of the piece clear is just as crucial as ensuring it’s typographically/grammatically clean. This company, I suspect, is looking for more of a technical editor. Someone who just dives in and makes changes at will.
But as I was working through these assignments, there were moment where I was left with questions. The meaning of the sentence wasn’t entirely clear. Was there more to the point they were trying to make? A sentence that started, but never really ended, arguments that never seemed to reach their point.
I suppose the point of the test was to prove that I could edit these sentences in a way that made them sound complete, however possible. But that would just be rewriting someone else’s work, which, I guess, just isn’t in me to do. I want to be able to foster relationships with my clients, just as I foster relationships with my editors. I want to be able to leave comments in track changes requesting/suggesting clarifications, just as I love when my editors do this for me. It allows the weaknesses to be caught without losing the authenticity of the piece.
It takes a great deal of trust to send someone your work. Ego is involved, money is involved, and your faith in the final product before it goes out into the world. More than anything else, you want to make sure that you’re working with someone who cares about your WIP as much as you do, who wants to make sure that the best version of it goes out into the world.
To date, I’ve been incredibly lucky in the editors I’ve worked with. They had turned the pages of my WIP black and blue, but I have walked away with the absolutely confidence my book was stronger for it.
If I can be that and offer that for someone else, then that just makes every comma question worthwhile.
As we’re now deeply in the new year and I’ve settled into a bit of a new routine, I figured it was time to start promoting my business again. You know, refilling the coffers post-Christmas, keeping myself out of trouble, making sure I keep my skills honed.
The year has gotten off to a good start, contract wise, but I still have a lot of room in my schedule for projects and manuscripts that need a fine-tooth combing.
And I don’t mean just novels.
One of the reasons I decided to offer proofreading services was my time at my dayjob. Part of my job was to distribute incoming correspondence to the appropriate teams, which meant reading them to see where they best fit.
Some of the letters were from private citizens, but most came from organizations. Not-for-profits, unions, funding programs, etc. Organizations and businesses that wanted to be taken seriously with their requests.
But often their letters were riddled with typographical, formatting, or grammatical errors.
Heck, I’ll go out to a restaurant, and the menu will be full of errors. We went to a mid-scale place one day, and they had spelled blackened salmon differently THREE TIMES (blackened salmon, backend salmon, blackend salmon), to the point where at first I thought it was actually three different varieties of salmon.
And yes, I am one of the people who questions the quality of the service and food if no one performs a quality assurance check on one of the first real impressions a customer will make of their establishment (yes, I am one of those people. No, I don’t point it out to the servers. It’s not their fault and they’ve probably already been told fifteen times).
From what I can tell, there are many reasons for these oversights:
Most likely, the errors were just missed. It happens. Even with a proofreader, the chances of having a 100% perfectly error-free document is small, especially with longer projects. The human brain is fascinating and autocorrects what it sees so that everything makes sense. But having someone unconnected with the creation of your project will mean a cleaner end result.
Hopefully not the case, but they might not care. Their mentality might be: Get the product out and move on to the next. The content will still be clear and the reader will figure it out for themselves. Sure… but impressions do matter. If you’re giving a presentation, do you make sure your outfit is tidy or go on in with a rumpled shirt and no brushed teeth after an onion- and garlic-filled sandwich?
They brought someone in who was too familiar with the project. Again, the brain autocorrects. If you know the subject matter too well, you’ll know what was intended and miss the errors. There are ways to help with this: change the font of what you’re editing or read it on a different medium (tablet vs. computer; print off a paper copy). Just the change in appearance can help you see things you might have missed.
They used someone they had on hand who doesn’t have the background/experience to know what they’re looking for. Typos can be caught easily enough, but grammar can be tricky. Sometimes it takes someone with a passion for knowing how semi-colons work to ensure they’re in the right spot.
This last one is what I suspect to be a huge reason for official/important documents going out with errors: proofreading is often lumped in with administrative assistant tasks, and admins are expected to a) know how to do the work; and b) get the work done between all their other tasks. I’ve seen this quite a bit as I’ve looked for new contracts, and I find it staggering. For one thing, it’s a whole different way of thinking between editing a document and booking travel arrangements (nothing but respect for folks who are able to do the latter; just the thought of doing it makes my palms sweat. Give me commas any day). For another thing, how on earth do you expect someone to be able to hunker down and really focus on the nitty-gritty of a document while being interrupted to book travel arrangements? You can do it, sure, but the quality won’t be there.
So that is where I am offering to come in. Even if you’re not an author, even if you’re a student, an entrepreneur, applying for grants, getting ready to submit a thesis, a research paper, an article, a really important blog post, it can absolutely be worth it to fork out a few bucks to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, making the best first impression. So if you’re interested in getting a quote, feel free to send me a message!
That being said, I also intend to continue doing research on how best to teach/share some of the rules and techniques I use to better help you do some of this on your own. Do you have any questions/any particular issues that pop up that you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comments!
I have quite a few business-related goals this year, most of which involve keeping on top of my administrative tasks (a goal I make every year. This will be the year I achieve it*!), but my primary focus is to find ways to feed my soul, as it were.
I begin this year on the search for a new dayjob contract to help my husband and I save up for some renos we want to do around the house, but I’m going to be choosy this time around.
I’m looking for a job that best suits me, and I won’t settle for anything less. The way I’ve always seen it is that life is too short to be unhappy or unfulfilled. Yes, yes, bills need to get paid and responsibility and adulting and all that fun stuff, but I don’t see where “misery” comes into any of that. Even if it’s not your dream job, it can still be satisfying, fulfilling, social, and — sometimes — fun. Food for thought for 2019…
Another possibility is that I fill my schedule with proofreading contracts, which would also thrill me to my fingertips.
So if you’ve got a book coming out this year that you want polished to a fine sheen, shoot me a message. I’d love to work with you!
What are your goals this year? The wild, the crazy, the realistic? I want to hear about them all!
It’s not a pet peeve this week, just a tricky one that often gets me thinking twice, too. And lately I’ve been seeing it in all kinds of trad pubbed books as well as indie.
The dreaded Lie vs. Lay
WHICH ONE DO YOU USE AND WHEN? It’s the frequent cry I hear in my dreams as some writer somewhere in the world stumbles upon this dilemma and proceeds to tear out their hair. WHY ARE THESE WORDS SO CLOSE BUT NOT THE SAME?
I know, my friend, I know.
So I’m going to attempt to help clear things up by sharing the tip that finally made it click in my own head. If you hear the same click in yours, huzzah! If not, it’s all right. Your time will come.
Lie is more of an active verb; lay is passive.
You lie down on the bed, but you lay the socks down on the dresser.
I lie in the grass, but I lay the blanket on the sand.
BUT WHAT ABOUT IN THE PAST TENSE???? you might scream in frustration.
A good question, because this is where grammar really hates us.
You lay down on the bed, but you laid the socks down on the dresser.
I lay in the grass, but I laid the blanket on the sand.
WHAT ABOUT THE PAST PARTICIPLE???
All right, all right, this one is a will be easier if you’ve gotten the past tense down:
You have lain down on the bed, but you have laid the socks down on the dresser
I have lain in the grass, but I have laid the blanket on the sand
Step right in, gals and pals, and see what we have on the menu.
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a way to earn a living between publications and to keep the bank account green during the lean months (thanks, instability of a career in the arts!), and a few months ago I had an epiphany: I love proofreading.
Like, I really like it. I see posts all the time from people in the proofreading stage treating their bleeding eyeballs after a day debating comma placement, but I get a kick out of it. It’s relaxing, it’s satisfying, and I’m good at it.
“Finally,” I thought, “I’d be able to put my four years of university and the fancy piece of paper I got at the end to good use!”
It means you won’t see any more posts directly related to my work as Krista Walsh, fantasy author. For those updates, you can check out my new fancy website, which I’ll be keeping up to date with all my publishing information.
Over here, you’ll find more industry-related posts: my experience as an independent author and how it might help others hoping to go in the same direction.
For example, right now I’m battling inDesign, trying to learn how to properly format my paperbacks. It’s a pain in the butt, and I have been able to find NO resources online. My solution is to learn it myself, and then post the step-by-step so it’s out there for anyone else who wants to give it a try.
There might still be a few personal posts as they relate to writing and publishing, but most of those will likely wind up on my author page.
So make yourselves comfortable, and let’s see what trouble we can get into.