Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It seems that my 14-year-old son, Neil, has inherited his father's skilled hands.
I am so impressed with Neil these days. In addition to being fairly emotionally mature for a 14-year-old (he'll be 15 in December), he is becoming quite a skilled handyperson. The photos above show what he did today for my husband, Ed: repairing our wooden utility trailer.
Ed uses this trailer to transport equipment from his cabinetmaking shop and cabinetry when it won't fit into our van even with the back seats removed. Periodically, Ed has to replace sections of the trailer even though by this point in its life, most sections are made from less-likely-to-rot pressure-treated plywood—because sometimes it sits outdoors, holding tree and bush cutoffs from our yard until it's full enough to be emptied at the town dump, exposing it to rot-inducing dampness.
Right now, Ed has absolutely no time to fix the trailer because he has a small cabinetmaking project going on in addition to his usual two days a week driving a truck for a company that delivers groceries to individual customers. But he'll need the trailer soon to transport a refinished cabinet to a customer in the Hamptons. So after Ed provided instructions this morning, it was Neil to the rescue. Neil has just now finished, doing it all without supervision because Ed was off delivering groceries. I'm so proud of both the work Neil has done and his attitude about it. We're not able to pay him anything for this, yet he happily worked away, probably because our pride in him fueled him.
It's so great to have two very handy guys in the house!
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Being aware of the Asian tendency to what one of my editor colleagues has called a "much more rigorous and formal structure of politeness in negotiations" (in comparison with that used by, say, Americans), I am always careful to compose my first few e-mail communications with new Asian clients very formally and letting them know that I am "very happy" or "pleased" or even "delighted" to work with them, and I always thank them for their trust in my editing skills. I also keep track of national holidays in Japan, China, and Korea and e-mail clients in those nations the appropriate holiday wishes at the appropriate times, and I include a "thank you for your continued trust in my editing" sentence. When there have been natural disasters or warnings of them in countries where I have clients, I have always e-mailed them to check on their welfare.
After I've worked with clients a few times, I ask them to call me Katharine, rather than Ms. O'Moore-Klopf (or Editor or Editor O'Moore-Klopf, as some have addressed me), if they wish. They in turn become less formal and will often tell me about their vacations or departmental events when they get back in touch with me to ask that I edit their newest manuscript. Some even ask me to address them by their nicknames.
Generally, what I'm editing for my ESL (English as a second language) authors are medical journal manuscripts. They may want me to edit the manuscripts immediately, but I may have to ask them to wait a few days because I already have a journal manuscript or two, plus a book manuscript, in process. Occasionally, a project scheduled ahead of theirs may run longer than planned or an emergency editing project may come in, pushing theirs back a couple of days.
That happened a few weeks ago with a PhD from Korea, one of my repeat clients. I do keep my authors informed about the status of their manuscripts in my schedule. But not having heard from me as soon as she would have preferred, this client wrote:
I cannot receive the editted manuscript. What's the problem with you? Please check up the process of my paper. Thank you.
Now, if a U.S. author were to write me and ask, "What's the problem with you?" I would be offended, thinking that the author was being rude by implying that I am incompetent. Knowing, however, that with this author there is more of a language barrier than with some of my other ESL authors, I wrote back:
I started work on your manuscript today and should be able to finish the first round of editing tomorrow. I have had some emergency editing projects in the last few days, which required that I do triage on all of my projects. I apologize for the delay; it was unavoidable.
I understand that you may be unhappy about the delay. I am hoping that you are not angry with me.
Fortunately, she replied:
I'm not angry with you. I apologize for the my poor expression. I will wait your reply.
And then I replied:
I am very pleased. I like to keep my authors happy.
She has since asked me to edit two more manuscripts for her, and you can bet that I'm now updating her about my schedule much more often than I do with other clients. I'm glad that I addressed the issue of her satisfaction and didn't just assume that she was fuming and that I'd not be asked to work with her again.
Being forthright, honest, and unfailingly polite serves a freelancer well when working with any client, but it works especially well with clients from different cultures.
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Monday, August 24, 2009
Here's an excellent summary of who it is that you'll reach—and how—when you use a particular social media platform. That page is just part of a more in-depth blog post, which you should read to get the bigger picture.
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Monday, August 17, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Punctuation—return to two spaces after the period at the end of the sentence recommended for ease of reading comprehensionJust when we'd gotten all our holdout authors trained to use one space, the APA goes and messes with our heads.
Updated at 9:25 p.m.: The APA Style blog says that this change is just to make reviewing draft manuscripts easier for the people who do it; it's not intended for published articles. But that's silly, because somewhere down the line after peer review, some poor schmuck of a production assistant or a freelance copyeditor is going to have to run a macro to remove all the extra spaces.
But holy cow! Someone's set up an entire blog—not just a blog post—in protest of the change.
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Monday, August 03, 2009
Go to the Widget section of the LibraryThing web site to read about them.
A good while back, I used the the "LibraryThing Blog Widget" to create a rotating mini showcase of the books I've copyedited over the years. I placed it in the sidebar of this blog. But the really exciting use for it didn't occur to me until just this week: I also placed a book widget on the main Projects page of my business web site. I used the "Advanced options" link on the widget-creation page at LibraryThing to tweak the colors and type used in the widget for my web site. I really like it on the Projects page because it's something visual amid all the text there and so it brings to life the lists of clients there. I don't want visitors to my site put to sleep by too much text.
When you're filling out the LibraryThing form in preparation for generating the HTML for the widget that you will eventually paste into your web site's or blog's HTML, you can narrow down what books will be shown by choosing the tags you've used on LibraryThing to group your books together. I chose the tag "copyedited by KOK Edit" so that only books with that tag, and not also the ones that I've read for pleasure or that I use as reference works, appear in my widgets. If you're a proofreader, you might use the tag "proofread by Josef Detailoriented"; if you're an indexer, "indexed by Marina del Category"; if you're a designer of book covers and/or book interiors, "cover [or interior] designed by Vanessa Talent"; if you're an author, "written by Martin Scribner."
You see the possibilities?
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