Probsolutely the most useful linguistic collaborations

Susie Dent's Wonderful Words

The word collaboration is from the Latin for ‘working together’. It may be overused as a word, but its results can be remarkable. A well-known story tells how, when John F Kennedy toured NASA in the mid-1960s, he came across a man mopping the floor. ‘What does your job entail?’ the President asked. The reply came: ‘I’m helping put a man on the Moon.’ The exchange between the two men beautifully illustrates the value of a shared objective.

Collaboration can happen linguistically too – notably when words come together and create something new. ‘Brunch’ is a famous example, alongside ‘motel’ and ‘modem’. ‘Blends’ like these are a form of word-play that we have been indulging in for centuries: revellers in the 1800s were already talking about alcoholidays, while nobodaddy was the term du jour for someone who had dramatically fallen from grace. In the 20th century, smog (smoke + fog), ginormous (gigantic + enormous) and piccalilli (pickle + chilli) continued the vogue. One of the best was surely pifflicated – a useful descriptor for the act of ‘being drunk and talking piffle’.

It was Lewis Carroll who gave us the word ‘portmanteau’ for such creations, based on the image of words that are ‘packed together’ like two halves of a suitcase. He himself gave us some of the best – chortle, for example (chuckle + snort), as well as slithy (slimy + lithe) and mimsy (miserable + flimsy).

Today, blending is still the most popular mechanism for creating a new word. Some of the results may be fly-by-nights, but they raise a smile nonetheless. We all know about bromances and labradoodles, but how about anticipointment, the disappointment that comes from something eagerly anticipated? A snaccident, meanwhile, is the inadvertent consumption of an entire packet of biscuits when you meant to have just the one.

Others look set to stay the course – hangry was a recent addition to Oxford’s dictionaries, defined as ‘bad-tempered or irritable as the result of hunger’. Devon’s moodle, meanwhile, meaning to ‘dawdle aimlessly’, is a euphonious blend of ‘mooch’ and ‘noodle’. But if I had to choose a personal favourite from this century, it would be probsolutely: the pithy and highly useful articulation of a ‘definite maybe’.

Hard-working, innovative, useful and fun – linguistic collaborations may not put a man on the Moon, but they can offer some very useful pointers for successful teamwork (no probsolutely about it.)

Susie Dent, honorary vice-president of the Society for Editors and ProofreadersWonderful Words is a regular feature by Susie Dent, honorary vice-president of the SfEP. Susie is a writer and broadcaster on language. She is perhaps best known as the resident word expert on C4’s Countdown.

Building the best team for editorial project management

What is editorial project management?

bringing the pieces together

Editorial project management involves taking a piece of content (primarily words, and related images and figures) from its raw form to its published state – whatever content that may be, and however it is published. Traditional publishing companies have in-house editorial project managers (EPMs), as do many corporations, charities, government bodies, research institutions – any organisation that wants to disseminate information. Those EPMs come with a plethora of job titles: publishing manager, desk editor, content specialist, project coordinator, content lead, development officer. Some organisations use freelance editorial project managers, expanding their publishing team without longer-term overheads.

Editorial project management is, in one way, similar to copy-editing and proofreading: every organisation will do it slightly (or completely) differently. A different workflow, a different content management system, a different scheduling tool, different reporting mechanisms, different responsibilities. Even within one organisation, no two projects will be managed in exactly the same way.

In many other ways, of course, editorial project management is a whole other beast. Whereas copy-editors and proofreaders often work almost in isolation – taking content, doing the necessary task and then returning the content – EPMs have to collaborate with internal stakeholders and external suppliers over schedules that cover a few, or many, months. That collaboration relies on the softer skills: communication, time management, the ability to quickly adapt and learn, cooperation, delegation, networking, organisation, and the ability to prioritise. Technical expertise is less important, but experience and training in other areas of the editorial process can be an advantage when briefing suppliers and checking their work.

Training for editorial project management

A lot of EPMs learn those skills and gain their expertise through on-the-job experience and training. Experience from life outside work – volunteering, running a household, playing an active role in a community – also contributes to building an EPM’s repertoire. To support that knowledge, or to provide a strong foundation on which to build a project management career, the SfEP has launched a new Editorial Project Management course. This online course uses two fictitious projects to guide students through the publishing process and understand what an EPM does. The Publishing Training Centre offers several classroom-based courses covering different aspects of project management.

What does an editorial project manager do?

The actual tasks involved in editorial project management vary depending on an organisation’s needs, but it’s very likely that, over the course of a project, an EPM will need to arrange for the content to be copy-edited, typeset, proofread (at least once) and indexed. That will involve sourcing, briefing and feeding back to the specialists carrying out those tasks. There will be liaison with the author(s) – perhaps also the commissioning team, rights and permissions experts, designers and illustrators. An EPM has to keep all these people and their related tasks (and budgets) on track, being aware of any issues and risks; if issues do arise, they need to be addressed appropriately and quickly so that they don’t snowball into bigger problems.

Building your team

building a team

Freelance EPMs – whether an individual or a company – can be an excellent, flexible resource, enabling organisations to share the workload of a busy team for a specific time period. Those EPMs bring with them a fresh pair of eyes and experiences from other organisations and projects, as well as a network of trusted suppliers. They may also be able to take on other specific tasks in the workflow, such as copy-editing or indexing. Many freelance EPMs are SfEP Advanced Professional and Professional Members and have a listing in the SfEP’s Directory.

A knowledgeable and approachable EPM can make a big difference to a publishing project – getting content out into the wider world requires more than box ticking. The right EPM for a project will not only produce great content but will also build good relationships and unite a team – it is the ultimate exercise in editorial collaboration.

Abi SaffreyAbi Saffrey is an Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP. She project manages, copy-edits and proofreads a cornucopia of fascinating material in her editing shed in Essex. Her office assistant, Gaston the Cat, provides no useful editorial support whatsoever.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Sharing is caring: Collaboration among freelance fiction editors

Carrie O’Grady

The other day, I sat down with some of my fellow fiction editors for coffee and a chat. One looked particularly brow-beaten. ‘I’m really stumped on this structural edit of the latest in the Two-Dimensional Murders series,’ she confessed. ‘The author has Miss Scarlet committing the crime in the billiard room with the candlestick. But how she manages to sneak it away from the dining-table unseen, while the rest of the guests are enjoying a candlelit dinner, is beyond me.’

confused

We sympathised. ‘I know just how you feel,’ said another. ‘In the mystery I’m working on, this professor – Plum, he’s called – bumps off the host in the conservatory with a length of lead pipe. It’s causing me no end of problems, considering that the author also has him chatting to the colonel in the lounge at the exact moment the murder is committed.’

‘A good alibi,’ mused a third. ‘Perhaps too good. Is there any possibility of, say, a secret passage?’

‘Why – that’s brilliant!’ gasped the editor. And we all cheered and hugged and congratulated ourselves on another problem solved.

In reality, of course, it’s not like that. Fiction editors, like all other editors, are bound by confidentiality clauses that prevent them from spilling the details of their clients’ plots. (Which is a shame, in a way, because we are all people who love stories and love talking about stories. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has to bite my tongue so as not to enthuse to others about a particularly ingenious plot workaround that a client and I have cooked up together.)

That’s not to say that we don’t help each other out. There are certain problems particular to fiction that have no single ‘best-practice’ solution, and it’s not easy to work out which will suit your project best. For instance, say you have a third-person narrator, Emma. As she talks to her friend, Harriet, she is struck by a sudden realisation. How do you convey her thoughts to the reader? Do you put them in italics? In her own words, or yours? Is it lapsing into ‘filtering’ to tell us that ‘it darted through her, with the speed of an arrow, that Mr Knightley must marry no one but herself’?

Questions such as these are easily phrased so as to give away little or nothing about the nature of the book. They often crop up on social media or in the SfEP forums, where other editors love to pitch in with suggestions. The supportive nature of the community is astonishing; new entrants to the field are greeted with a chorus of warm wishes and friendly advice.

What’s particularly useful about Facebook and its ilk, to fiction editors, is its international breadth of expertise. Say your client, a Brit, has penned a romance set in Seattle. ‘Perhaps he simply doesn’t fancy me,’ sighs the heroine. You know it’s not quite right, but if you haven’t heard much American slang, it can be hard to reword such a line so that it sounds remotely convincing. Ask the internet, and a chorus of voices will sing out across the Atlantic: ‘Guess he’s just not that into me!’

Fiction editors around the world are constantly giving each other tips on other regional matters, such as copyright law and cultural sensitivities. When e-books can be read anywhere across the globe from Day One of publication, there is great scope for offence in even the most innocuous novel. And we all know the damage even a single outraged Amazon review can do.

coffee break

The most rewarding form of collaboration, though, is the kind where we really do get together, in person, and sit down for a coffee and a chat. The SfEP annual conference is one such occasion, warmly anticipated by many editors around the UK and beyond. Smaller workshops throughout the year are organised cooperatively, with the twin aims of improving our professional skills and building personal links with our colleagues.

We may be prohibited from sharing our clients’ stories, but there’s nothing we like better than sharing our own. This is not just editorial self-indulgence. Having such a collaborative network ultimately helps our clients too, and it hopefully means the published work is even better for some collective input.

Carrie O'GradyCarrie O’Grady is a fiction editor and former reviewer for the Guardian. You’ll find her at the Hackney Fiction Doctor or on Twitter at  @carrietoast.

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

Find a professional proofreader or editor using the SfEP Directory

Search the SfEP Directory for a proofreader or editor

If you’re looking for a professional proofreader, editor or editorial project manager, or to build a team of editorial professionals, the SfEP Directory of Editorial Services provides details of the skills, subjects and services offered by around 700 SfEP members, a non-profit professional association.

Only Professional and Advanced Professional Members can advertise in the Directory – our top two tiers of membership – so you can be sure they have attained a certain level of competence and experience.

Here are some ways you can direct your search, using keywords:

  • Search all members – members are listed alphabetically by first name.
  • Search for either Professional or Advanced Professional Members only – again, members are listed alphabetically.
  • Search geographically – most editors are happy to work remotely, but this could be helpful if you would like to find editors in your area, for example if you need them to work on site.
  • Search by industry sector – for example fiction, academic, trade, charity, government, business …
  • Search by subject specialism – anything from gardening, to finance, to science, to cookery; members often list broad subject areas, and some surprisingly specific ones!
  • Search by software – almost all editors use Word and Adobe Reader or another PDF mark-up app, but many also have expertise in other editing, CMS and layout programs.
  • Search for other skills – as well as proofreading and copy-editing, many of our members offer services such as project management, indexing, copyright clearance, research, localisation, translation …
  • Search by client – many members list their recent clients, which can help you assess the fields they work in.

Did you find a good editor via the Directory? Do let us know!

The SfEP encourages companies and other organisations to add a link to the SfEP Directory on their intranets and websites. To make this as easy as possible, we’ve supplied the code to add to your site. See Linking to the SfEP Directory of Editorial Services.

 

What’s So Exciting About PerfectIt Running on a Mac?

Daniel Heuman, CEO & Founder of Intelligent Editing, brings us some long-awaited news about PerfectIt.

In a world where cars are driving themselves, computers are recognizing faces, and hackers are stealing elections, it’s perhaps unsurprising that proofreading software is not the tech that’s on most people’s minds. However, by January of this year, more than 600 people had written to us to request a Mac version. In editing circles there is no doubt that a Mac-compatible version of PerfectIt is the cause of considerable excitement. Why so much fuss?

PerfectIt doesn’t involve artificial intelligence. However, in many ways, that’s exactly why it’s right for editors. As the authors of PerfectIt, we believe that humans make the best editing decisions and that they always will. We build technology to help people edit faster and better. What that means in practice is:

  • PerfectIt finds mistakes that are tedious, time-consuming and difficult to locate.
  • PerfectIt can substantially reduce the number of readthroughs an edit requires.
  • PerfectIt is the difference between spending your day on mundane consistency checking or using that time for substantive editing where you add the most value to clients.
  • PerfectIt is intuitive and doesn’t require any training.
  • PerfectIt leaves all decisions to the editor and doesn’t get in the way of how you work.

Up until now, PerfectIt has only been available for PCs. As a result, some Mac users have bought Parallels, Windows and Word just to run PerfectIt. Some have even bought laptops just for the purpose. On 26 June, those days will come to an end with the launch of PerfectIt Cloud. But after all of that, can PerfectIt on a Mac live up to the excitement?

I can’t wait to show everyone. However, one reason why I’m writing before launch is not to drum up excitement, but to dampen it down a little! We launched PerfectIt in 2009. We’ve had almost ten years to build it into the product that it is today. PerfectIt Cloud is just a first version. It requires Office 2016. It needs an internet connection. It can’t drive a car for you. However, it is at the cutting edge of what is technically possible for a Word add-in. Being at the forefront means that at launch you won’t be able to customize styles or check footnotes. We’re committed to building those, but it’s going to take time and it’s going to take your support.

That said, I’m delighted about what we’re delivering. As well as Mac, it works on iPads, PCs or Word Online. Almost all of the checks that PerfectIt 3 runs are built into PerfectIt Cloud at launch. That includes checks of hyphenation consistency, capitalization consistency, abbreviations without definitions, punctuation and capitalization of lists, consistency of headings, and much more. Moreover, PerfectIt Cloud shares the same codebase as PerfectIt 3. That means the results it finds are almost identical to those found in the PC version. When it comes to checking text, it is every bit as good as the original.

The feedback we’ve been getting from the beta trials has been phenomenal. Users describe:

“My working life is now so much more time-efficient and I feel the surety of not having missed spacing, spelling or consistency issues.”

“I’ve just started to use it but already I can tell it’s helping my speed and consistency while editing.”

“This product is fantastic! After switching over to Macs a few years ago, PerfectIt was the one thing I missed, and I am thrilled that it’s now available to Mac users.”

In some ways PerfectIt Cloud is better than PerfectIt 3. It updates automatically. You can add it directly from the Office Store without downloading an installer. And we’ve built a new interface that makes it easier, faster and more intuitive than ever (as you might expect from a Mac-compatible version). You can see that from even one screenshot. Which of the below would you rather use?

I’d like to think that another reason for the excitement is that while Intelligent Editing has grown, we’ve never forgotten where we’re from. PerfectIt’s development has been driven by feedback from professional editors (and it still is). PerfectIt Cloud probably wouldn’t even exist without that support. So we’re working with editing societies around the world to keep the price down for editors. If you’re a member of SfEP, ACES, EFA, Editors Canada, IPED, PEG or others, we’ve set up an affinity discount that’s 30% below the price others pay. With the discount, PerfectIt is just $49 USD (+VAT) per year which pays for itself quickly if you’re in the business of editing.

PerfectIt won’t carry out surgery, control drones or launch cars into space. Its launch doesn’t yet include all the features that we’re looking forward to adding. However, from 26 June, what it will do is provide an affordable way to improve the working lives of editors. There is a reason why so many are so excited!

Daniel HeumanDaniel Heuman is the creator of PerfectIt and the CEO and Founder of Intelligent Editing. His software is used by thousands of editors around the world as well as more than 500 members of SfEP. Members of professional editing societies (including the SfEP) can get a 30% discount on PerfectIt here.

 

 

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

Sharing experience and wisdom: a new local group is born

SfEP local groups are much valued by members as a place to share wisdom and experience in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. But what if there isn’t one near you? Why not start one yourself? Anna Nolan tells us how she did just that.

circle of different-coloured figures holding hands

Particularly tired and weary on Mondays from an alarm that goes off too early, schlepping 40 minutes up the M11 for a monthly Cambridge SfEP group meeting was just something I didn’t want to commit to regularly. My alternatives were the Essex group – again, 40-odd minutes away, or the Hertfordshire group around 50 minutes away. Surely there must be more members closer to me? Could I start a new group? I had already been meeting up over a few years with a handful of well-established SfEP editors – quite irregularly though – and the idea of adding to us to meet locally really appealed. After making contact with various people close by according to the members’ map and putting the feelers out, our first meeting was planned.

I live in Stansted Mountfitchet (yep, close to the airport – but not beneath the flight path, thank God!), close to the Hertfordshire/Essex border. There’s a Herts & Essex hospital not far away, a Herts & Essex High School (my daughter goes there) and now a Herts & Essex SfEP group that’s been running for just over a year. Our meetings alternate between Bishop’s Stortford (Herts) and Saffron Walden (Essex) every two months. There’s nothing formal – mainly it’s a chance for a bunch of us to share experiences and impart wisdom, and an opportunity for people thinking about following this career path to meet us and decide whether indeed it’s something they’d like to pursue. We’ve had some educational meets: last May, Abi Saffrey hosted a practical macro-themed gathering followed by a fabulous bring-and-share lunch. One of our meetings will be hosting the endlessly enthusiastic Janet MacMillan, who will talk to us about style sheets.

The initial mailing list of 12 has now grown to a staggering 37, and generally, we have between 8 and 12 attending. Our group comprises the whole spectrum of membership, as well as a few non-members umming and aahing about becoming editors and/or joining. I use Doodle for arranging dates and times (thanks, Forums!).

Venue-wise, we have found a lovely pub in Bishop’s Stortford, the choice of which has nothing at all to do with the menu gastronomique. In Saffron Walden we meet in quaint cafés – after all, Saffron Walden is nothing if not quaint.

Our Christmas party started with a brief presentation and was followed by a delicious Christmas-themed bring-and-share lunch. Actually, when it comes to bring-and-share lunches, ours rock (I know the group members will testify to that)! And we enjoy each other’s company so much, we’re travelling together to conference this year!

Editors, by the nature of our work, are at high risk of isolation. There are plenty of members not getting to local groups, not meeting editorial colleagues having similar highs and lows, as groups are located just too sparsely. If your local group isn’t ideal, I’d urge you to consider the viability of a new group: take a look at the membership map. Or join the Skype Club (soon to become the Cloud Club). Running a group isn’t as draining as you might imagine! If you’d like to come along to one of the Herts & Essex meetings, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here.

Anna NolanAnna is part-time freelance copy-editor and part-time paediatric dietician. She is one of the SfEP social media team volunteers and has been busy running the Herts & Essex SfEP local group since it started in early 2017.

 

 

 

 

If you think you might like to start a group in your area, contact the community director.

The strange (and slightly tipsy) history of ‘training’

Susie Dent's Wonderful Words

The word ‘train’ has led a complicated life, one that has taken in tractors, cloaks, grapevines and royal processions. It all began, like so much else in English, with the Romans, whose Latin trahere meant to ‘pull’ or ‘draw’. The past participle of the same verb was tractus, which hides behind both the ‘pulling’ vehicles that are tractors and the tracts of land they cover, as well as contracts (which draw together arrangements), and extracts (in which something is ‘drawn out’). In sartorial matters, that same, highly versatile Latin word also gave us ‘train’: the trailing part of a skirt, gown or cloak that was dragged across the ground as the wearer moved. From this sense of something being pulled along came the idea of a series or procession of things – a royal retinue perhaps, or a locomotive and the cars coupled to it, or even a figurative train of thought.

It takes some leap of the imagination to go from this sense of ‘dragging’ to the modern training we experience today (even if, on occasions, time can seem to slow down a little). There is a link, however – in the 14th century, to ‘train’ a vine was to draw it out and manipulate it into a desired form – we talk of ‘training’ our roses to this day. This idea of ‘shaping’ something eventually gave rise to our modern business use of training, which aims to mould our minds and equip us for a particular task.

Good training, of course, may require a mentor – a word we inherited from the ancient Greeks, for whom Mentor was an adviser to the young Telemachus in Homer’s epic Odyssey. An effective mentor will always monitor progress, but monitoring wasn’t always so benevolent – it comes from the Latin monere, to ‘warn’, and its siblings include ‘admonish’ and ‘monster’.

All of which might lead you to seek cover in a ‘symposium’, a formal discussion or conference. Or at least, to seek out its earliest incarnation, for in ancient Greece symposia were convivial discussions held after a banquet, and involved copious amounts of wine. Which explains why the word ‘symposium’ is from the Greek sumposion, ‘drinking party’. Now, if we’re looking for ideas, that kind of training might be an even bigger pull.

Susie Dent, honorary vice-president of the Society for Editors and ProofreadersWonderful Words is a regular feature by Susie Dent, honorary vice-president of the SfEP. Susie is a writer and broadcaster on language. She is perhaps best known as the resident word expert on C4’s Countdown.

Editorial CPD: new courses to skill up in project management, web editing, copyright and more

SfEP courses cater for the whole range of experience, from beginners to established editors who would like to update and extend their existing skills. Our proofreading and copy-editing suites give a sound basic training to anyone, no matter what their background.

We also offer courses in specific types of editing and proofreading.

Our newly launched online course Proofreading Theses and Dissertations is a good example. The work required may be the same as for any other proofread – checking for errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and consistency – but the thesis or dissertation must be the student’s own work, so there are ethical issues around what you can change or, indeed, what you can point out to the student.

Are you looking to widen the scope of the work you undertake? Our online course Editorial Project Management may be what you are looking for. The course is aimed at experienced editorial and other publishing professionals. It explains what project management is, without using jargon. It aims to give you the skills to undertake the tasks involved and to equip you with the understanding to manage a project and yourself skilfully. Throughout the course, you will work on two (fictitious) projects in 35 self-assessed exercises.

Courses under development

We are constantly working on improving our courses. A revamp of the look and feel of the online courses is currently in progress – watch this space for developments!

New courses scheduled to come onstream in 2018/19 include:

Editing Digital Content – a complementary course to Web Editing, this course will look at the special considerations involved in editing digital materials such as interactive content (where the user interacts with material on a computer screen) and other non-interactive content, such as video clips, spreadsheets, PDF files, which may or may not be downloadable. The course will be especially useful to anyone working in the fields of education and training.

Copyright for Editorial Professionals – this course will help you to understand what copyright is, what types of material are copyrighted and the process by which you can gain permission to reuse material.

Jane Moody, training director

SfEP mentoring: taking your training to the next level

Basic editorial training gives you… well, the basics. Here Howard Walwyn takes it to the next level and tells us how SfEP mentoring really prepares you for professional work – in all its glory.

When, like I did, you branch into a new freelance career writing, editing and proofreading – after what seemed like an eternity slogging through the corporate career mudbath – you need all the help you can muster.

I set out in my first year of freelance work to make training a centrepiece of that help-need, to do as much as I could. The SfEP turned out to play a big part in that strategy, although oddly enough not the first part: more on that later.

Mentoring was the culmination of it, and the highlight. By the time I finished my proofreading mentoring I felt ready. I felt confident. I felt – if not ‘qualified’ – that I could legitimately describe myself as a professional proofreader without demur and without being drummed out of the SfEP offices. Such was the level, intensity and value of the mentoring programme. It really prepared me, technically, practically and in a business sense, for life as a professional. And I formed what I consider an unassailable bond with my mentor, whom I have never met in person nor even spoken to! How can these things happen?

A bit of a bruising

Let’s look at the technical side first. I felt reasonably well prepared by my training – essentially the SfEP intros to proofreading and copy-editing and the not-at-all-euphemistically named ‘proofreading progress’ – at that point still one course rather than two and the necessary condition for moving on to mentoring. But I was surprised by the step-up to doing real proofreading assignments in all their glorious idiosyncrasy. I came face to face with the real life of biography entries, marketing leaflets, course brochures and travel guides, with their weird formats, blatant inconsistencies, limited space to work with, and in some cases horrible, interminable detail. What a good testing ground for applying the British Standard marks in a challenging, realistic environment. After one submission I admitted to my mentor that I had found it frustrating and quite bruising, and that was the right word – although met with slight surprise.

Invisible to the naked eye

The practical side was best demonstrated in two ways. (1) The mentoring was structured so you had to do assignments in a range of formats including complex (A3) hard copy as well as other non-standard page formats in pdf. It was good practice, though fiddly in places. (2) You started to really get that there is not always a clear answer to every conundrum: judgement is called for as well as precision and thoroughness, but as long as you can demonstrate you had a reasonable basis for most decisions, your mentor would buy it. Mine still went through every piece in incredible detail, each item of feedback a learning point, but delivered with constructive kindness and understanding. Some of the pieces were just – hard! And they involved things like inadequate briefs, cultural sensitivity, non-standard English and really tough differentials that were invisible without a looking glass. I exaggerate, but I think the pieces are deliberately calibrated to stretch, to show the boundaries of how bad things can get. So don’t judge just on the marks – which in one case were pretty low – judge more on the feedback points, and recognise that all mentees struggle with some of the pieces.

Minutes not hours

Finally, business-wise: perhaps the most telling advice from my mentor came right at the start, with an indication of how long an SfEP APM would expect to take to do so-and-so pieces. I was shocked at how small those numbers were, mere minutes where I was taking hours. But they gave me a target, and have proved utterly realistic and valuable. A year down the line, I am still using those parameters to guide my price quotations and my internal scheduling. In other words, they have helped me get work and manage my business.

So that is what mentoring does. It prepares you for proper professional work, and properly professionalises your work.

Preparing to feast again

I said earlier that I did not actually start with the SfEP when I launched my training plan. My first look at proofreading and editing was a five-day seminar with a publishing house provider, not necessarily the best or most professional, but an insight at least. There are other ways of doing things, and an alternative way can have value. But it did not take me long to latch on to the SfEP programme as a far more professional, integrated, intensive and flexible way of training. And proofreading mentoring was the pinnacle of that process. I still bother my mentor with daft email questions and social media observations. They don’t mind. It is a true, professional and much-appreciated relationship.

The proof (sorry) is in the eating, and I am planning a further feast – copy-editing mentoring – when I can make time in my ridiculous schedule to get through the preparatory courses. Maybe paths will cross once again with my proofreading mentor. Secretly I hope so. If not, hey! The SfEP is brimful of similar stars and whoever I get I know it will be another fantastic experience. I can’t wait.

Howard WalwynHoward Walwyn is a freelance writer, editor and trainer, who helps people to write clear business English and bridge the worlds of language and finance. Howard set up his company Prism-Clarity two years ago, after a 30-year career working in financial risk and regulation at banks including the Bank of England and J.P. Morgan, and he still works with mainly financial sector clients, including regulators, investment banks, wealth and investment managers, consultancy firms, a risk management institute and a digital marketing agency. He is also a visiting lecturer in Writing for Business at City, University of London. Howard recently completed his first academic book edit, and is slowly working his way through the SfEP training, mentoring and certification levels. Earlier he gained degrees in English Language & Literature (Newcastle) and Economics (London). He lives and works in Hertfordshire. Find him on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Find out more about the SfEP mentoring scheme.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

The SfEP conference – career development for all editorial professionals

The 29th SfEP conference is being held at Lancaster University from 8–10 September 2018. The conference is always an excellent opportunity to develop professional editorial knowledge, find out about developments in the publishing industry, and network and socialise with like-minded colleagues.

The theme of the 2018 conference is Education, education, education, and the emphasis will be on continuing professional development and its value to editorial professionals. The programme will feature hands-on workshops, stimulating and relevant speakers, and opportunities to explore areas of editorial work that may be new to you.

Every year, there are enthusiastic articles and blog posts written by delegates, many of whom are freelance editors and proofreaders. But the conference is attended by in-house staff too, and a few have shared their thoughts here on how useful it has been for them in their work.

Marissa d’Auvergne of the IFRS Foundation attended the conference in 2017 for the first time. She decided to attend for CPD, having attended an in-house training course at another workplace led by a tutor from the SfEP. When her new manager suggested the conference, she ‘leapt at the chance to attend’. She was impressed by the variety of sessions available, and enjoyed the chance to meet colleagues from other editorial disciplines, and editors with many more years of experience. As she put it, ‘I was exposed to so many new things and learned so much.’ She commented on specific points of learning that have helped in her work:

We started to use PerfectIt, which has increased our speed and efficiency. I learned about corpora, and have since been able to find more authoritative answers to questions about collocation. I also learned skills that made some personal writing projects run a lot more smoothly.

It was also the first time for Hedi Burza from the European Parliament. She ‘saw the conference as a learning as well as a networking opportunity’, and was also curious to see how others working in the same profession do their jobs outside the EU institutions. She felt it improved her attitude towards and perception of her editorial practice, and also wished for ‘a similar organisation [to the SfEP] in Hungary and/or an international one in the EU’.

Finally, Michele Staple of The Stationery Office has attended the SfEP conference many times, for ‘networking opportunities’ and ‘keeping abreast of changes in the industry’. She uses it to find new contacts to try for freelance work she needs to outsource. Commenting on last year’s conference, she felt it improved her editorial practice, saying that ‘it was stimulating, and encouraged me to try things I’d put off doing’. She said that she’s ‘always made to feel very welcome’. Finally, she added that ‘It’s the only time I actually get to meet the people who have so often helped me out with my last-minute requests.’

photo 2016 croppedLiz Jones worked in-house between 1998 and 2008. When not editing she writes fiction, and also blogs about editing and freelancing at Eat Sleep Edit Repeat.

 

 

Places for the 2018 conference are selling well, so don’t delay – book your place now! The early-bird rate is available until 20 April.