My bags are packed and I’m ready for my 60-second commute to Billy Bishop Airport, off to the annual conference of Biographers International Organization (BIO…of course!) in New York City.
It was not an easy decision to choose from the plethora of annual editor-related conferences. This year’s choices were Editors Canada (Saskatoon), American Copy Editors Society (Chicago), Indexing Society of Canada (Winnipeg) and Plain Language Association International (Montreal). I confess, New York held the most appeal for me as a locale. But in this group I will know…no one. I admit I’m a little nervous.
I love reading biographies, am working away at my own life story, and I’m looking forward to editing biographies, which is the real reason I chose to go to this conference. I hope to meet writers looking for an editor! Luckily, I’ll have my trusty ice breaker Rosa the Wonder Dog (i.e. service animal) by my side. I met several editors I now call friends because of her!
The point is, I want to encourage other fresh freelance editors to think outside the box when seeking out clients. It can be tough to decide where to spend limited business investment funds; workshops and courses sometimes feel like the most important way to go, but I’ve discovered that, in the business of editing, nothing beats networking. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!
- Really good writing is a genuine art. I’m currently lapping up The Best American Travel Writing 2016 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co.) and had one of those moments word lovers experience, like a brilliant flash of colour in the mind’s eye, as I read a sentence from Gretel Ehrlich’s article, “Rotten Ice”:
“Below us, a cracked elbow of ice bent and dropped, and long stretches of open water made sparkling slits cuffed by rising mist.”
A friend asked me the other day about my work as an editor. He wondered whether I spent a lot of time thinking of ways to express people’s writing better. It’s a valid question, and a concern for most writers when they work with an editor. The short answer is a big NO. Just as the medical practitioner’s Hippocratic Oath includes the concept of “first, do no harm”, the professional editor must preserve the author’s voice. That means a number of things: maintaining the tone (or attitude) of the writing, ensuring the author’s intended meaning is not lost or changed, and making sure our personal preferences don’t affect our editing decisions.
For instance, in the sentence cited above, suppose I personally want nothing to do with alliteration. Ever. The appearance of “sparkling slits” might make me grate my teeth in revulsion, but there is nothing grammatically incorrect about it. In fact, these words paint a vivid and accurate picture of what the author is describing. (For the record, I love alliteration. See?)
We may be asked to offer our advice on re-wording certain sections of the manuscript, or watch out for specific author tics they are trying to avoid, but most copy edits involve polishing the mechanics of the writing; correctness, consistency, and clarity are the goals.
Editing is a collaboration between author and editor. Each is an expert with their own skills, and a good rapport between the two is of the utmost importance. If everything falls into place, an excellent piece of writing that gives readers goosebump moments will be the result.
These days, entrepreneurs in general, and we editors in particular, seem inseparable from our screens. Rarely does my phone ring, but I feel obligated to check my email addresses and social media accounts several times a day, lest I miss an opportunity. Therefore, the first step I took when I was ready to launch Ann Kennedy Editorial Services to the public was raise my profile online, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and my own website. I joined several organizations, figuring that membership in Plain Language Association International (PLAIN), Biographers International Organization (BIO) and the Indexing Society of Canada (ISC) would help my professional standing as well as increase my network. But face-to-face meetings with people involved in these specialties and other editors who work with them is key to my strategy.
I believe there’s nothing like putting a face–and a personality–to the name when trying to build a reputation. I’m friendly and curious and genuinely want to help potential clients. After a meeting, I hand over my business card, which has my photo on it. We all exchange so many cards and despite the best of intentions, not all of the people register in our brains when we go back to review our collection. New acquaintances often comment on my big smile, so I’m counting on that visual characteristic to ring the proverbial bell!
So, whether it’s attending an Editors Canada event or volunteering at Word on the Street, offering to host the branch meeting of the Indexing Society or registering for the annual conference of Biographers International, I am also doing the “networking thing” old-school, and it has paid off in work three times in the last six months! Even as an introvert, plunking myself in the middle of a group of people with which I have an interest in common helps me meet colleagues and build connections. Combine what I know with who I know and put it all on shareable social media, where getting in touch is convenient and instant–that’s my two-part plan. Feel free to follow me!
I thrive on routine; it gives me benchmarks for achievement throughout the day. Get out of bed – check. Turn on the computer – check. I’ve found that, when I spend the early hours of my day online, sending emails, doing research and writing my blog, the important business things are accomplished and I set myself up for success the rest of the day. Problem is, life happens and we rarely have control over what will throw our routine off the rails.
With a new freelance business, anything that makes me stand out is an advantage, so early on I decided that I wanted to choose some specialty areas in which I have personal experience and interest. For me, those are travel, biography and memoir, and disability culture. The latter I have been immersed in my entire life. However, the former require me to do research, which can feel overwhelming. So, this past week when my routine was disrupted and I just did not feel up for hours of internet mining, I headed for my happy place–the bookstore!
My latest purchases include Lonely Planet’s How to be a Travel Writer, Adventures with Camera and Pen by writer, adventurer, and photographer Anthony Dalton from Bookland Press in Toronto, and The Best American Travel Writing 2016 which includes contributions by guest editor Bill Bryson (and one of my favourite travel writers) as well as Elizabeth Gilbert, Paul Theroux and many more. I also picked up a copy of Roberta Temes’ How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days. The rationale for my shopping spree, (aside from being able to count these as business expenses!) is that, in order to edit the material, I need to know the elements that are generally considered to constitute great memoir and travel writing. So, when I need a break from the computer screen or I’m in transit, I can pick up a book and keep checking things off my to-do list. After all, my love of books and the written word is the whole reason Ann Kennedy Editorial Services exists!
Editors are often known, at least within our own circles, to be introverts. The other night, I was sitting right beside a singer-songwriter I was sure I recognized. It was a very small club filled with friends of the musical acts. The performer seemed personable enough, but rather than introduce myself and say something like “Weren’t you in a really popular band back in the early 90s?” I surreptitiously googled him. Yep, I was right. Founding member of the Lowest of the Low, who soared and fizzled within 2 frenetic years of recording one of the 10 best Canadian albums ever and playing to thousands of rabid fans. Of course, I wouldn’t have gotten as much juicy detail from a face-to-face conversation as I did from Wikipedia, but it might have been a pleasant exchange. I’ll never know!
Being an introvert is a frequently misunderstood quality. We’re not really aloof, and not necessarily shy. We just absorb what’s going on around us, figure out how each person present is feeling and think about how we want to respond. These are great characteristics for editors. We have in our care someone else’s personal thoughts, opinions and creative expression. We mustn’t interfere with their intended message or their literary voice. That takes careful analysis, observation, and quiet reflection. We gently massage the words on the page and polish the prose until it shines. Then we humbly hand it over and enjoy watching the writer take centre stage. Their success is our success.
Editors spend a lot of time alone, staring at a computer. That suits us just fine, as we enjoy and are energized by time with our own thoughts. So its almost like editors are created through natural selection. No square pegs being stuffed into round holes here! So if you find yourself needing an editor for a writing project, don’t judge us at the first meeting for being too quiet. We may not be the life of the party, but we definitely have your best interests at heart and the tools to give you the results you’re looking for.
That’s right–I may have been silent for a long time, but I have NOT been idle. I went back to school (George Brown College), got my Editing Certificate, and I’m hanging out my shingle! What exactly does an editor do, you ask? We help people who work with words polish their message so that it is error free–that covers not just spelling, grammar and syntax, but also facts, cross-references, order, consistency, formatting and so much more. I offer proofreading, copy editing and writing services as well as sensitivity reading with regard to disability-related writing. My website is under construction as I write this–I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can connect with me through my Ann Kennedy Editorial Services Facebook page, LinkedIn and Twitter. Whether you’re writing a book, a blog, an article, an instruction guide, your memoirs (my specialty!), advertising copy or promotional materials, you’ll need an independent pair of eyes with the un-biased, professional skills to help make your words make the desired impact. How can I help you?
I suffer from “Doug brain”. You know the movie “Up”? Doug the dog, completely focused on his master until a rodent runs by. That’s me, and there are lots of squirrels in my world.
Typically, I wake up at 7 am, roll into the kitchen to dish out the dog’s breakfast, and, because I’ve more often than not been awake ’til 3, head back to bed. In that brief interval, however, my mind is flooded with an overload of information reminiscent of Times Square’s glaring billboards. If I were wired to a machine that could transcribe the clatter, I’m sure it would explode with the effort to keep up. This is both my challenge and my inspiration for writing today’s blog. Instead of going back to bed, I’m at the computer, hoping to harness some of that mental energy and channel it into something compelling, or at least funny. It feels a bit like trying to catch a squirrel. Excuse me while I get more tea and a bite to eat…
Okay, I’m back, but in the interest of full disclosure you should know that while I was gone I had 5 more ideas for blogs, thought of 6 other things I need to do this morning and had to go back into the kitchen to retrieve something I forgot only to forget what I forgot.
Writing is something I’ve always loved to do. When I find just the right word to convey the meaning and emotion I’m describing, I’m euphoric. However, I never truly believed I could do it. Well, this is the year I fake it ’til I make it. This blog is my beginning and I’m looking for your feedback to help keep me focused on my journey.
Insomnia sucks. But it has some interesting side effects. For instance, I was just about to type “it’s okay to end a sandwich with a preposition” on my Facebook status update. I’m not even hungry. My tablet keyboard is also starting to give me attitude via annoyingly unresponsive keys. Like, my fingers are getting a friggin’ workout just trying to express my thoughts here without typos. I’m obsessive about catching typos, and by saying that I’m guaranteed to leave at least one in this blog entry, especially having been awake most of the night due to my insomnia.
See what I did there? Full circle.
Welcome to my blog! I’ve been ‘thinking about’ doing this for months, and what better time than on New Years Day, when people are full of the promise of a New Year and promises they don’t intend to keep? Or maybe they do, but life gets in the way. I let myself get consumed with making way too many decisions, establishing guidelines, structure, meaning and direction…hence the months of procrastination. I’m just gonna write something. Every day. It’s not going to be the next Hemingway, but I’m sure it will take me somewhere exciting. You’re welcome to follow.
For now, I pledge to eat less, exercise more (let’s just get that one out of the way); Facebook less, LinkedIn more; text less, telephone more (I’m not attached to my cell, I generally don’t have it on my person when I’m at home, and I missed opportunities to see friends because they’ve texted me about getting together on the spur of the moment–texts which I didn’t see until hours or days later. I hope to lead by example!); sleep more instead of studying into the night; study more instead of sleeping into the day; call my dad every day, and ‘think’ a little less, ‘do’ a little more. I hope the next 364 days inspire you!