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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

We've All Had Days Like This

When the editor's brain is overheating from intense editing, she begins to glow brightly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Value of Twitter Chats for the Self-Employed Editorial Pro

When we have plenty of work to do, why would we freelance editorial professionals take an hour or so off to chat? Because it's vital to our success, that's why!

For a good while now, I've been participating in the monthly Twitter chats ("Twitter Freelance Fridays"), under the hashtag #EFAChat, that are hosted by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), a wonderful organization I've been a member of since 1995. For one of those chats, I served as a guest expert on ergonomics. And having very recently joined the well-respected American Copy Editors Society (ACES), I took part yesterday in one of its twice-monthly chats, under the hashtag #ACESchat. For that chat, I was a guest expert, along with my colleague Ruth Thaler-Carter, on freelancing.

Because we sit (or stand) alone in our offices, we need to stay connected with our colleagues, wherever they are, so that we don't get lonely and so that we keep up with current thought in our profession. Plus, not a single one of us—newbie, mid-career professional, or veteran—knows everything there is to know about either editing or running a business, so Twitter chats offer us chances to ask questions and share advice. Chats can also make it possible to hit it off professionally with new-to-us colleagues. Those connections can become invaluable relationships that provide us with camaraderie, a shoulder to cry on, and referrals to potential clients. And finally, lurkers who follow the chats get a chance to see us talk about what we know, which just might eventually result in a referral.

If you love all things editing-related, come lurk during the next #EFAChat and the next #ACESchat. You don't have to be a member of either the EFA or ACES to participate. You just might connect with members of your tribe. You can find other Twitter chats here and here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The 1.5-Hour Daily Social Media Schedule

First, let me say there's no universally accepted schedule for engaging properly in social media. This is my own, and by following this schedule, I spend approximately 1.5 hours on any given weekday on marketing activities, excluding e-mail. That time is spread out in bits and pieces.

Back in the olden days, I'd have spent about that much time going to the library and researching potential clients, and then coming home to type up inquiries on my typewriter to snail-mail. These days I rarely see the need to send snail mail, write prospecting e-mails, or make cold calls.

As they arrive: Answer messages that require reply (e.g., from clients). Keep your e-mail program open during the workday but use tools to control how much time you spend on e-mail. (For example, I have set up an e-mail rule to play a certain sound when a message from any of my clients arrives, and another rule to play a different sound when my husband sends me a text message. Messages from colleagues, friends, and other people arrive unheralded by sounds so that I can ignore them until I take a work break.)

Your business web site
Each day: check that your web site loads properly and hasn’t been hacked.
Once a month: check that all outgoing links work; consider using an automated link-checking service if your site is large.
Once a month: read all site text for needed updates. (If you maintain a page or section of resources on your site, as I do, check it once a week for needed updates.)

Your blog
Post at regular intervals.
Once a day: check to make sure that it hasn't been hacked.

Your LinkedIn profile
At least once a week: update your LinkedIn status, read the digest-style e-mail about updates to your LinkedIn network, comment on some people’s status updates, and answer questions in your areas of expertise or in your LinkedIn groups.

Your Facebook profile (if you use one to market your business as I do)
Once a day or once every two days: update your status.
At least twice a week: post an interesting link to your wall with a little commentary.
At least twice a week: check your Facebook friends' or fans' statuses by clicking Home on the toolbar atop your profile. Post to their walls.

At least twice a weekday: Tweet something.

How do I remember all this? I live and die by calendar reminders. Without them, I’d never remember to do the more infrequent tasks. The rest becomes habit after a few days or weeks of calendar reminders.

Note: I originally wrote this piece as a guest post in 2011 on another blog, one that is apparently no longer functional. I transferred it here in January 2013.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review—Copyright and Permissions: What Every Writer and Editor Should Know

We editorial pros have all encountered manuscripts with quotations in them that led us to wonder about the limits of fair use. But where do we go for more information on this issue? Copyright and Permissions: What Every Writer and Editor Should Know, a new booklet just out from the Editorial Freelancers Association, is just what we've all been looking for.

Before I go further in this review, I must disclose this information: I have been friends with Elsa Peterson, the book's author, for years. And when she was employed by McGraw-Hill Higher Education as a developmental editor, I edited some manuscripts for her in my role as a freelancer.

But though Elsa is my friend, I can also tell you that she knows permissions quite well. She has more than 20 years' experience as a permissions editor, time spent hunting down the true owners of copyright and helping her clients negotiate the wording of credit lines and fees for the right to reproduce previously published illustrations and tables and such. She knows where to look, whom to ask, and—most important—how to ask for permission to reprint. So I have no trouble believing that Elsa knows what she's talking about when it comes to permissions.

This booklet is quite handy for freelancers who don't have a publishing house's legal department to back them up, and the writing is friendly, straightforward, and accessible. Will using the book replace getting advice from a lawyer? No, but it will point readers in the right direction. It covers

  • Whether it's necessary to obtain permission to use the material
  • Where and how to request permission
  • What to do if the copyright holder doesn't grant permission for reuse or requests a high fee for granting it
  • The basics of copyright, public domain, and fair use
  • Current issues concerning copyright
  • How permissions editing is done, step by step

I've been working in publishing for 29 years now, so the need to obtain permission for reusing material isn't new to me, but there are details I sometimes forget. Elsa's book makes it easy to find what I need to remember. I especially like these features of the book:

  • "Copyright Facts and Fallacies," where common misperceptions are debunked
  • Step-by-step lists of procedures that should be followed to get the best results
  • The table outlining duration of copyright protection (This is definitely one I'll bookmark.)
  • Discussion of where copyright issues are heading
  • The table of information fields for a permissions database
  • The sample permissions request letter

Copyright and Permissions (ISBN: 978-1-880407-23-3) is available as a download (US$8.25) and in traditional printed form (US$12.25; 48 pages). I don't think any editorial professional can afford to be without it.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Book: A Dream of Daring

Novel by Gen LaGreca: A Dream of Daring
Cover for A Dream of Daring
I'm so excited when a new book arrives in the mail, especially if it's one I edited—and doubly so if it's a novel with characters whom I was sad to leave behind when editing was done. Today's arrival is just such a book: A Dream of Daring, by one of my favorite authors, Gen LaGreca.

Because I edited the book, I can't give an unbiased review here. But because I love the book, I want to tell you all about it. Here is the apt description of the book from its back cover:

Tom Edmunton, the science-minded son of a cotton planter, has designed the precursor of the tractor in antebellum Louisiana. He foresees a new age of mechanized farming that will empty the fields of men and supplant the South’s peculiar institution. But the planters of his town don’t like his big ideas about changing their world or the intensity with which he’s pursuing them. Tensions peak when the tractor is stolen, and in the process, someone dear to the inventor is murdered.

Set at a crossroads of history when an old era is about to tumble and a new one ready to gain ground, the story centers on the clash between the men vying to take hold of the future—the men who seek to employ the power of science and industry to transform the world—and those who seek to maintain their grip on another kind of power upon which they built their lives and fortunes.

As Tom hears the call of the new age, he also feels the pull of two women—one at the top of society’s ladder and the other at the bottom. Rachel, a senator’s daughter, is the beautiful Southern belle who loves him, but will she break with her family to stand by his side when the town shuns him? Solo is the unbridled grassland filly, the feisty mulatto slave who despises Tom, along with every other man from the race that binds her. Rachel is free, but is her spirit chained? Solo is chained, but is her spirit free?

This is a haunting tale of the Old South, with its sweeping fields of white-gold cotton, its majestic plantations, its elegant gentry, and its embattled slaves. But the story also poses urgent questions for our own imperiled world as it delves into the souls of those who want to harness nature and those who want to harness other men. Which camp is on the rise today? Will it save us or destroy us?

Gen did impressively detailed research for the book. I couldn't find anything that was off kilter in the story. But beyond that, the book is an engrossing read. I edited late many nights simply because I didn't want to stop reading. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next.

The book's official publication date is February 12. It will be available in paperback (283 pages; 6″ × 9″) and as a Kindle e-book from Amazon. The ISBN for the paperback is 978-097445796-3; the ASIN for the Kindle version is B00B1HPMZY. Gen tells me that her novel made the cut for a Booklist review and recommendation in its January issue.

If you participate in Goodreads or LibraryThing (or want to register at no charge), you'll want to know that Gen is giving away 25 paperback copies at each site. The contest to win them is open until January 12, so don't wait to enter.

And if you end up buying and reading A Dream of Daring, please tell Gen that I sent you, and check out her first novel, which I also edited and loved: Noble Vision, a medical thriller.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

How to Be Memorable to Clients and Colleagues

In 2011, I wrote about how well it works for me to send "Happy New Year" greeting cards each year to my clients. The cards remind my clients that they've enjoyed working with me in the past and often make them think about sending more assignments my way.

It's all the better if the cards that you send to your clients and colleagues are memorable. I recently received a great New Year's postcard from Paula Gordon, a translator and editor who is a colleague of mine from the Editorial Freelancers Association and who subscribes to some of the same profession-related e-mail lists that I do. It's a gorgeous collage created by Paula's sister Zelda Leah Gatuskin, and it carries the caption "Wishing You Continued Strength and Wisdom." Zelda created the collage in 1994 for her book Ancestral Notes.

I like the postcard so much for several reasons:

  • It's a lot more fun than the bland cards that office-supply stores sell to business owners.
  • It doesn't focus on any religious holiday themes and so won't be offensive to anyone.
  • Who wouldn't want continued strength and wisdom?
Paula explained to me how she produced the postcard:

I used an already published collage, and worked with Zelda to turn it into a postcard with a captioned image. She prepared the file for printing and consulted on the text and layout of the reverse side. (I wanted less space so I wouldn't feel like I had to write a lot—that's my obstacle to sending cards—but she convinced me to leave a little more room.) I also like that I had it printed locally by an independent print shop. All in all, it was a fun and satisfying project.

The card is memorable enough that I have propped it up on my desk, beside my computer monitor, to cheer me up on those occasional days when I need extra strength and wisdom. I told Paula that, and she replied:

I was shooting for something that people would be happy to pin on their bulletin boards and not toss away at the end of the season. I find the image inspiring, and apt for my circle of editor, translator, and writer friends and colleagues.

If we solopreneurs follow Paula's example in choosing and/or creating greeting cards and postcards, our clients will remember us when they need our services and our colleagues will think of us when they need to refer clients to fellow professionals.

See this page, this page, this page, and this page for more of Zelda's fascinating collages, along with the stories they illustrate.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Start the New Year Out Right: Update Your Online Information

If you're self-employed, it's time to double-check that online information about you is up to date:

  • Check copyright years for all of the online venues you control. For example, the bottom of every page of my business website carries this line:
© 1984–2013 KOK Edit | All rights reserved. | 631-997-8191

The code is set to update the final year of that range on January 1 of each new year, so I no longer have to worry about it. Before that automation was in place, I had to go behind the scenes and update the year manually. The "About Me" sidebar on this blog also carries a copyright line; I must update it manually every year.

  • Review your résumé or curriculum vitae and ensure that it is up to date. If you update it, make sure that you upload the updated version to all online directories where you are listed.
  • Check all online directories and "About" pages where information about you is listed and make sure that all details are current. Be sure to include your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles. For example, the first line in the "About Me" sidebar on this blog at one point read: "I've been in publishing 29 years, the last 18 self-employed." Until I revamped that paragraph, I had to update those two numbers every year.
  • Check that all online photographs of you—ones that you uploaded yourself—are current.
  • Back up all of your social media profiles and your blog.
  • Check that your snail-mail address, phone and fax numbers, email address, and website address are current wherever you have posted them online.

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