KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, July 31, 2009

Why I Love Social Media

I was trying to hunt down some software for a colleague of mine, so I posted his description of it to several of the profession-related e-mail lists I subscribe to. I ended with

I'm on Twitter, I use Ping.fm, I use Twhirl, I have a web site, I have a blog, I subscribe to numerous RSS feeds through a feed aggregator ... but I am not sure exactly what it is he wants. Do any of you know?

That prompted one listmate to ask

I am not on Twitter, I do not use Ping or Twhirl, I do not have a web site (though I do have a blog), and I do not subscribe to numerous RSS feeds. I am starting to wonder why so many people do. ... So ... am I shooting myself in the foot? Are these communication options offering people a significant upturn in work opportunities or enriching their professional and personal relationships? Are these, in fact, today's Tools For Success?

So I explained why I like social media:

What my business web site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn do for me is give potential clients more arenas in which to find me. And find me, they have—in droves. I am perpetually busy; I haven't had a work dry spell in years now. Now, it helps that I've been freelancing full time for nearly 15 years and have 25 years' experience, so I'm well established. But if I were well established and less visible, far fewer clients would find me. I ask new clients how they found me, and they've found me through my web site, my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They've also found me through the online member directory of the Editorial Freelancers Association and through the online directory of Copyediting-L freelancers. They've found me through my ad on the web site of the Council of Science Editors.

I simply do not want to close off any avenue through which potential clients find me. I wasn't fond of the feast-or-famine roller coaster (to mix metaphors) of my early years as a freelancer. The absolute only way to get off that roller coaster is to constantly be doing marketing, whether your desktop is empty or piled high with projects. And the various social media venues make it much easier for me to market my services: I don't have to get on the phone and talk with people I've never met and who might not want to talk with me because they don't know me, I don't have to prepare snail-mail marketing letters, and I don't have to get all dressed up and meet potential clients in person.

At the moment, I'm incredibly grateful for those venues, because my family very much needs all the income I can bring in. The recession has made my cabinetmaker husband's wealthy clientele sit on its money, so the only income he's bringing in right now is from a low-paying part-time job as a driver for a grocery-delivery service. It isn't that he hasn't been looking for fuller employment, either. He's about to turn 48 and has 25 years' experience in his profession, as I do in mine. No one wants to hire someone whom they think has "too much" experience, because they think he'll demand high pay or won't work well with younger, less experienced managers—and they won't even give him a shot to see whether their prejudices are true. Without additional income from him, we are in danger of foreclosure on our mortgage. But because I am constantly booked with work, we can still pay all our other bills, including expensive health-insurance premiums, with my income alone. Except for our mortgage, I am nearly single-handedly supporting a family of four, no mean feat on New York State's Long Island.

So yeah, I'll spend the time necessary each day to maintain an active presence on multiple forms of social media, but I try not to let the process take up too much time.

The value of RSS feeds? Blog posts and news stories on topics I'm interested in come to me, saving me valuable time because I don't have to go hunt them down, one by one. I'll use all the time-saving devices I can find. I find it extremely helpful to my business to keep on top of information about industry trends. If' I'm out of the loop on major events and trends, I can't prepare for changes in my industry and will likely be less able to attract enough work to keep busy through every industry sea change.

Another listmate posted to say that he thinks social media sap people's thinking time and thus their creativity. He wrote:

Don't even get me started on Twitter, which strikes me as egotism run amok.

He explained to me later that the Twitter feeds he's

been encouraged to subscribe to are riddled with cute kid stories, pining for happy hours that are hours away, and cute back-and-forth—in other words, life as Facebook-status update.

That "egotism" charge really ticked me off. My response:

Twitter is a tool that universities use to let their students know about emergency conditions. It's a tool that people used today [July 30] in Texas to let people in the area of Texas A&M University know that if they hadn't heard already, they should evacuate the area because a large chemical plant was on fire and could be explosive. It's a tool that professors use to communicate online with their students. It's a tool that one town used to update commuters with BlackBerry devices regarding traffic snarls during a major event. It's a tool that medical journals use to draw in more readers, which could be seen as bad because it's a kind of advertising, but when journal staff members tweet, they often post headlines and links to quite helpful medical research—that's how I found out recently that the brand of insulin that I take just might be linked to increased rates of cancer.

E-mail can be abused, as it is by spammers. That doesn't make e-mail bad overall. Blogging can be abused, to cast aspersions on others or to impart misinformation. That doesn't make blogs bad overall. Facebook users can post inane and boring stuff; that doesn't mean everything posted to Facebook is valueless. Some, like me, post information there about their industry that others find helpful. And others use it to make contact with people they haven't seen in decades, which can be life-changing.

Once upon a time, the typewriter was seen as a bad thing because it lured women away from home (gasp!) to work in offices. But the world did not end because lots of women used typewriters. TV could be seen as evil, I suppose, because some of the shows on it are mushy oatmeal for the brain and the ads try to sell people junk they don't need. But it does have good uses: news coverage, broadcasts of political debates, broadcasts of classical or jazz music concerts ...

A tool is just a tool. And people don't have to use any particular tool if they don't want to. No one's forcing anyone to use Twitter or any other social media tool. But please don't tar all users of a tool with one broad brushstroke. We're not all egotistical or stupid or boring.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Medical Journals on Twitter

medicine on TwitterIf you're a medical editor—and even if you're not—and are interested in following some biomedical journals on Twitter, here is a list of which ones are there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Editor–Author Relationship

It was a very short message, but it made my day.

I'm slammed by deadlines, with several projects all needing to be done at once. So I reluctantly e-mailed one of my favorite ESL (English as a second language) authors to tell him that I needed to postpone the start date for editing his research paper. I told him that I would prefer to be the one to edit his manuscript but that I would refer him to one of my colleagues if he had a deadline for submitting it to a medical journal.

His reply:

Katharine, I want your editing. My concern is the quality, not the time. I will wait.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Racism: Alive and Well in Publishing

Liar, by Justine LarbalestierThis is a tale of damnable, ridiculous book-cover racism by a publisher.

Publishers Weekly reports on the industry's response, which is bogus.

If it makes you as angry as it does me that the publisher, Bloomsbury, thinks book covers featuring white people sell better than those featuring black people and so put a white girl on the cover of a book about a girl who is "black with nappy hair," as the author describes her, e-mail Bloomsbury's public relations department to say so.

Updated at 4:00 p.m., 8/6/09: I'm happy to report an update: Because of the public outcry and the author's unhappiness, the book's publisher says it will rejacket the U.S. version of the book:

"... This week Bloomsbury officials have switched course. 'We regret that our original creative direction for Liar—which was intended to symbolically reflect the narrator's complex psychological makeup—has been interpreted by some as a calculated decision to mask the character's ethnicity,' Bloomsbury officials said in a statement to [Publishers Weekly]. 'In response to this concern, and in support of the author's vision for the novel, Bloomsbury has decided to re-jacket the hardcover edition with a new look in time for its publication in October. It is our hope that the important discussions about race and its representation in teen literature continue. As the publisher of Liar, we also hope that nothing further distracts from the quality of the author's nuanced and accomplished story, and that a new cover will allow this novel's many advocates to celebrate its U.S. publication without reservation.' ..."

You can read the rest of the story in Publishers Weekly here.

Updated at 6:29 p.m., 8/6/09: And, from the book author's blog, here's what the new cover will look like, with a gorgeous young black woman on it:

Liar, by Justine Larbalestier

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Freelancers Charge What They Do

Artist N.C. Winters, creator of the comic strip Freelance Freedom, has produced another winner: His July 20 episode, #114, explains exactly why freelancers truly need to charge rates that are higher than employees' salaries broken out as hourly rates.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

So Long, Farewell ...

I always feel a bit sad when nearing the end of a book editing project. For each book manuscript I edit, I get inside author's head and the book's world, so finishing a project is like saying a permanent good-bye to a friend.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Middle-Aged Eyes

I finally found the sweet spot in my new progressive bifocals for comfortable reading on the computer screen! I'd almost been ready to request a redo from the ophthalmologist.

It's not like I hadn't been wearing progressive bifocials—you know, bifocals without the horizontal lines through the lenses—for a few years already. But my most recent vision check resulted in the biggest change in my prescription in years. It seems that middle age, and presbyopia, have hit. Past prescription changes have taken me only a few hours to get used to. This one took me 24 hours. Maybe that's not long to most people, but I suppose I'm not very patient when it comes to being able to see well, especially because visual acuity is an important tool in my profession. You can't see well? Then you can't edit well. Gee, I'm starting to sound cranky. Better quit now before I end up a stereotype.

EditorMom's Got a New Skin

Hi, all my thousands of readers. ... Okay, make that all 20 of my readers. I'll bet you think you accidentally wandered off EditorMom and onto some other blog.

But you haven't. This is the same EditorMom you know and love. It's just shed the old Blogger skin and gotten a lovely new professional skin that ties in visually with my business web site and my Twitter page. I figured that if I'm going to be all over the Internet, I might as well be easy to spot by my looks. In marketing-speak, I wanted a unified image. ;-)

I hired brilliant web fairy Jennette Fulda of Make My Blog Pretty to adapt the look of my business web site for use on Blogger and Twitter. And if Facebook and LinkedIn ever make it practical for users to change the skins of their pages there, I'll hire Jennette again. (Facebook does allow some adaptation, but only with a plug-in that viewers also have to be using to see other users' fancied-up pages.)

Jennette's fast, her prices are great, she knows what she's doing, she's friendly, she's funny, and she's not a prima donna. Hire her, please! I'd like to see her stay in business for a long, long time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Editing Scholarly Works

Copyediting newsletter is offering you the chance to learn from the best about editing scholarly publications.

As newsrooms downsize and corporate publishing units consolidate, the scholarly sector of the publishing industry is looking newly attractive to editors. Copyeditors who have the education, training, and skills to succeed in scholarly publishing report high levels of job satisfaction. But is scholarly copyediting right for you? How different is it from what you are used to? How do you break in? If you're already in, how can you improve your skills and expand your client roster?

Find out on Thursday, July 23, when Copyediting will host "How to Copyedit Scholarly Publications," a 90-minute interactive audio conference led by the Amy Einsohn, author of The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, second edition, the book that has helped many copyeditors get started. She has worked as a freelance writer and copyeditor for more than 25 years and has taught courses in copyediting, developmental editing, and grammar. She earned a B.A. and an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of Michigan and a C.Phil. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Go here for more details and to register for the conference.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Handwritten kanjiO Cruel Asian Spammers!
Your e-mails in lovely kanji, hiragana, and Hangul
Briefly fool me into thinking
That you might be
A new ESL editing client.

(Public-domain illustration of handwritten kanji from Wikipedia)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Breaking News

Put on your pantsJuly 10 will be the first annual Freelancers, Put on Your Pants Day.

What? You thought that we all wore business suits every day?

Updated at 12:27 p.m., 7/10/09: Before anybody goes all serious on me and thinks that I think freelancers are really just laid-off job holders or underemployed professionals who accidentally fell into freelancing—as some people on e-mail lists apparently believe that I think by virtue of my having posted the above link—I will explain:

Hey ... I'm a freelancer myself. No, I don't like it when people equate freelance with unemployed or underemployed. I consciously made the decision to freelance full time 14 years ago and am most often overbooked. I'm not moping around for lack of work.

But I had to laugh when I saw the post at the above link. I have lately been guilty of working while wearing a deep-purple nightshirt and fake leopard-skin slippers.

I sit down, still wearing my nightshirt, to eat breakfast but then get caught up in reading and answering the morning's e-mail and essential blog posts and tweets. I progress to doing project estimates or invoices, having finished my breakfast, but notice I'm still wearing my nightshirt. I intend to go get dressed for the day. I get back into the estimates, answer more e-mail messages, and begin doing "just a little" editing. Two hours later, I look down and notice that I'm still in my nightshirt. Work is just so engrossing that lately, taking time out to get dressed first thing in the morning seems like a time-waster. ;-)

By the way, it's now after midnight and I'm dressed in a T-shirt and shorts ... yet I'm still rebelliously wearing those fake leopard-skin slippers from yesterday morning.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Marketing Tips for Freelancers

These are the marketing tips for freelancers that I posted to Twitter throughout May and June 2009. Please keep in mind that each one, including labels and hashtags (keywords) that don't appear here, had to be 140 characters and spaces or fewer to fit Twitter's limits on the length of individual tweets. I have not rewritten them here; they appear in the same telegraphic speech that I used on Twitter to meet those limits. When I wrote them, I had generalist freelance copyeditors in mind, but I believe that most of them will work for freelancers of any kind. Use them and prosper:

  • Network. Join and participate in professional associations and e-mail lists.
  • Post résumé everywhere you can, such as the EFA'S directory: http://bit.ly/2xJ9Pwk[Note: This tip was updated January 28, 2019.]
  • Hand out business cards absolutely everywhere. You never know who'll need your services.
  • Be helpful to colleagues. It's fun and can also get you referrals from grateful associates.
  • Maintain a professional-looking Web site. It's your calling card on the Internet.
  • Keep in contact w/ clients. The one whom clients remember is the one who gets the gigs.
  • Advertise judiciously. I'm med editor and have ad on CSE site; https://bit.ly/41MrT1q.
  • Send small thank-you gifts to clients so they have something tactile to remember you by.
  • Put your name and contact info on everything: mss., style sheets, invoices, e-mails ...
  • Always be on lookout for new clients: mentioned on e-mail lists, in news, online ...
  • During both feast and; famine, schedule time each week to contact potential clients.
  • Approach clients—current and potential—from perspective of their needs, not yours.
  • Buy "Getting Started as a Freelance Copyeditor": http://tinyurl.com/3cfww27.
  • Use the Copyeditors' Knowledge Base: http://www.kokedit.com/ckb.php. [Note: This tip was updated April 29, 2012.]
  • Read and use Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business: http://bit.ly/UopLvS. [Note: This tip was added August 27, 2014.]
  • Buy audio recordings: getting started, http://bit.ly/2RTf3PS; medical editing, http://bit.ly/2khtIRA[Note: This tip was updated January 28, 2019.]
  • Don't look like an employee: Résumés for Freelancers; https://www.the-efa.org/booklets/[Note: This tip was updated January 28, 2019.]
  • What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. https://amzn.to/2FRqj9b [Note: This tip was updated January 28, 2019.]
  • Search online to learn who publishes materials you want to edit. E-mail those pubs.
  • Find potential clients by looking thru ref work Literary Market Place at library.
  • Improve marketability by honing your skills—learn from books: https://www.the-efa.org/booklets/[Note: This tip was updated January 28, 2019.]
  • Improve marketability by honing your skills—take classes: https://www.the-efa.org/education/[Note: This tip was updated January 28, 2019.]
  • Actively give and take on editing e-mail lists to build contacts: http://tinyurl.com/c2m66z4.
  • Monitor publishing job listings; where there are jobs, there are freelance gigs.
  • Publishing job listings to watch: http://url.ie/1pac and http://url.ie/8yax. [Note: This tip was updated September 2, 2016.]
  • More publishing job listings to watch: http://bit.ly/2TeZizk[Note: This tip was updated January 28, 2019.]
  • Set up a profile at LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/, and share your expertise.
  • Use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to showcase your skills and what you're like to work with: http://tinyurl.com/2bqknek [Note: This tip was added here on August 18, 2011; it was not tweeted.]
  • Contact former employers about the possibility of freelancing for them.
  • See feature story on co. that’s doing well? Contact them re need for editors.
  • Don't limit the hunt for clients to your geographic area. The Internet is your friend.
  • Snail-mail small periodic newsletter to clients so they have tangible reminder of you.
  • Snail-mail "Happy New Year" cards to your clients, thanking them for their business. Enclose biz cards.
  • Don't wait till your current gig is done to look for more work; contact clients now.
  • Keep up with clients as they move from job to job, and they'll take you with them.
  • Do pro bono editing for a charity? Request a credit line in the published work.
  • Newbie? Sign with temp agencies that handle editors. Gigs may lead to good contacts.
  • Join networking groups and tell them what you do. Be an active member.
  • Treat all clients with the utmost respect and expect the same in return.
  • Make sure authors know you're on their side. Query respectfully and give compliments.
  • Booked up and have to turn down a gig? Thank the client for the offer and check back soon.
  • Referring a client to trusted colleague when you're booked up helps client and you.
  • It's exciting to land new clients, but don't let old clients feel taken for granted.
  • Ask what you can do for clients. Never: "Got work for me?" Focus on clients' needs.
  • Notify clients about your upcoming vacation. Some will offer projects for afterward.
  • Never complain about your clients on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or e-mail lists.
  • Seek work from an attitude of abundance. Desperation rarely attracts project offers.
  • When clients praise your work, get written permission to quote them on your web site.
  • You’re an independent contractor. Don't just accept "This is what we pay." Negotiate!
  • Clear, frank communication during projects heads off problems and pleases clients.
  • If you make a mistake, be professional: own up, apologize, fix it, move on.
  • Get project parameters before accepting a project, so you can set an accurate fee.
  • Put this in all your contracts: If project scope increases midway, your fee goes up.
  • Specify payment terms in all of your contracts, for your protection and clients'.
  • A client contract can consist of your e-mails to and from client regarding a project.
  • If you want offered gig but you're booked, ask client if there's schedule wiggle room.
  • Don't keep accepting projects from a client who hasn't paid your invoices on time.
  • Clients fold and contacts leave. Ensure your income by cultivating multiple clients.
  • Protect your income. Vet new clients—research their payment history with freelancers.
  • It may be comfy w/ just 1 client, but IRS may call you an employee. Get more clients.
  • Never assume; get client's approval on overall style points early in project.
  • Secret to keeping clients? Always do your best work. Don't get lazy.
  • Get off feast-or-famine roller coaster: spend time each week marketing your services.
  • Thank colleagues for referrals w/ thank-you notes, small gifts, reciprocal referrals.
  • "Businesslike" doesn't equal "humorless stiff." Be professional but be yourself.
  • Avoid dry spells by having more than one project at a time, each in different stage.
  • Remember—the author is the subject-matter expert; you're the editorial expert.
Can you think of additional tips? Let me know.


Summertime: when working parents must remember it's not really their children's life goal to slowly drive them mad.

You Say "Copy Editor"; I Say "Copyeditor"

Here's your chance to weigh in on whether the term should be copy editor (two words), copy-editor, or copyeditor.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Want Marketing Tips for Freelancers?

Hey, copyeditors and medical editors: want to see my marketing tips for freelancers here, as they appeared on Twitter in May and June? I'll repeat them in a single new post here if enough of you are interested. Let me know by commenting on this post.

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