Editors who blog

Quite possibly one of my favourite sessions from the 2013 IPEd national conference, Dr Katy McDevitt AE asks the question ‘Should editors blog?’ As an editor and writer who currently blogs I was surprised at the amount of interest in this session (one: because it was at the end of a very long day, and two: because I assumed that blogging and other online activities were already part of the Editors’ Toolkit). For me it’s not about whether editors should blog, but more about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of blogging.

McDevitt’s tips are simple:

  • Choose your niche, audience and style (tone of voice)
  • Create a regular schedule of posts
  • Create connections with others (guests posts and comments)
  • Use a platform that is best for you

I couldn’t stop myself from nodding in the affirmative when McDevitt says ‘it’s not about the money’. It’s really not. In fact, if editors were paid for the amount of words they typed (and I’m speaking from personal experience here) in addition to the words they read their worlds would be richer. What’s great about editors who blog is that they are proficient at identifying areas of editing, writing or publishing that would benefit from being discussed and they discuss it.

Perhaps the chord that struck the sweetest tune in McDevitt’s presentation was that editors who (want to) blog need to maintain a schedule, and this is where I have been going wrong. As one delegate says via Twitter ‘I started out with a blog schedule … then life got in the way … *sigh*’ (@jasmineleong), but the worst thing you can do is walk away from the schedule completely. Scheduling doesn’t have to be complicated either – a simple Excel spreadsheet and a link to my Outlook calendar is enough to get me back on track.

McDevitt finished by tabling a number of editor blogs already available, which goes to show that we’re a passionate bunch when it comes to the industry and that we also share some similar issues. If you’re an editor with a blog, I’d love to ‘check you out’, so drop me a line and let’s see if we can’t solve the sentence structures of the world.

Thanks Katy!

Editing outside the box

What is the editor’s role in the new context of digital interface, ereaders, cloud-based libraries and mobile content? It’s the question editor and writer Selena Hanet-Hutchins tries to answer in her session ‘Editing outside the box—how freelance editors can thrive in digital publishing’ at the 2013 IPEd national conference. The fact of the matter is this, according to Hanet-Hutchins, all editors are — or will be — required to edit ‘outside the box’ and that’s something to be positive about.

Drawing on her experience, her inspiration from the likes of Sean Cubitt and the key concepts of GOD* and BOOK** Hanet-Hutchins steps us through the ways in which editors can embrace the process of getting book from brain to ‘shelf’, ‘shrunken workflows’ and the increasing use of digital formats in publishing. She talks about how digital and online methods of publishing have created greater agility and more flexibility, such as authors working on large chunks of text while editors turn them around in quicker timeframes. However, I feel the over-arching message is that the editor’s focus should remain audience and purpose when reading between the lines and finding the relationships between characters.

It is about  giving greater consideration to ‘what the reader wants’

Hanet-Hutchins also highlights the greater challenges for editors. It is not about what is ‘good for the author’, but giving greater consideration to ‘what the reader wants’. Editors, in guiding authors, now more than ever need to consider how readers want to interact with the material. Such considerations open the door to greater collaboration between not just author and editor, but increasingly with the reader (how else are you going to accurately answer the question?). For some this will be a new and differenct concept, and for others there will be a willingness to embrace the change.

Definitely a thought-provoking session.

*GOD: Good Orderly Direction

** BOOK: Beneficial Organised Operational Knowledge

Hanet-Hutchins also touched on BOOKn, which is Book to the power of networking

The next world language

Novelist Nury Vittachi firmly believes the next ‘world language’ will not be English. In today’s keynote address to delegates attending the 2013 IPEd national conference, Vittachi conveyed his belief that the ‘globalese’ – a fusion of English vocabulary, Asian grammar and fad terms associated with technology, commerce and savvy marketing – will be what global communities embrace as the mother tongue in the future.

His was a highly entertaining speech, filled with many examples of this ‘globalese’. Born in Sri Lanka with a writing career that has taken him to Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Vittachi is now based in Hong Kong, so there is no doubt to his first-hand experience in the new language he believes will take over the world. On arrival in the UK his first English phrase was ‘How do you do?’ which was met with puzzled and almost suspicious expressions of response from those fearing an alien invasion had commenced. Those familiar with London vocab would know that a simple ‘Whatcha?’ is sufficient when wanting to determine what someone is up to/doing.

The internet increased the confusion, and websites – one of which Vittachi was editor – popped up highlighting the differences between English and Asian phrases. It provides for a good laugh, especially when ‘Google’ in Vietnam is not a well-known internet search engine, but a well-used brand of toilet paper. Worth deeper consideration with all the crap we can find online…

Vittachi says that work for editors on an international scale, particularly in Asian countries, is abundant. While Western nations are fast moving towards an online environment with little thought for quality (and therefore the role of the editor), a study he conducted in 2005 showed that 80 per cent of Asians did not have internet and valued books and newspapers more. He says that although internet use has risen, little has changed in the way Asian nations relate to hard copy publications, and so the need for editors in these countries is huge.

Good to know. Thanks Nury, yours was an excellent way to start the conference.

New Australian editing standards launched

It’s been a long time coming (more than 10 years if I’m right), but finally the second edition of the Australian standards for editing practice has been launched.

These are the core standards professional editors should meet and form the basis of the Institute of Professional Editors’ national accreditation scheme. The first edition was released in 2001, a very positive step when I consider how long some people have been involved in the industry and what sort of pressure an absence of professional standards must have placed on them in practice. This second edition follows an extensive process of workshops and discussions between key stakeholders from which final sign off of the members of the Australian societies of editors was obtained. The IPEd Council ratified the standards in August of 2012.

For those who have been involved, it has been a long and tiring journey of which the ultimate reward is the publication of the Standards booklet. Its 25 pages do not adequately convey the determination and dedication of those involved, and today’s launch is an opportunity to not only welcome the new standards into the industry, but to publicly recognise those who have been committed to the goal of advancing the profession of editing from the very beginning.