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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What You as a Researcher Get for My Fees

As an international physician-researcher, you can pay another editing service less to edit your manuscript, but will you get the same level of attention and care that you can get from KOK Edit?

Medical journal editors want manuscripts that are spelled and punctuated correctly. They want manuscripts to have proper grammar and to follow the journal's preferences. And other editing services will do that for you.

But journal editors want more than that. They want manuscripts to be well structured, to have the right tone for their publication, and to tell a research story rather than just recite data. That's where I can help you.

In addition to having extensive training in editing, I am board-certified as an editor in the life sciences. I will advise you when a table or figure will illustrate your findings better than text alone, help you report your research concisely, and even help you write a cover letter to accompany your submission.

For more than 2 decades, I have been editing manuscripts written by non-native English writers, so I know exactly how to help you hone your writing to meet journals' expectations. Authors whose manuscripts have been rejected by journals often come to me for help and then achieve publication after my in-depth editing.

You will face competition from many other researchers when you submit your manuscript to a journal. I will work with you to set deadlines that will honor your manuscript, so that I can take the time necessary to help you make your manuscript its best.

When I edit for you, I am your advocate in the publishing process. I help you communicate your research well to your English-speaking peers worldwide. I polish your writing so that it sounds as if you are a native English writer. And I help you decrease the amount of jargon in your manuscript so that more people will want to read it.

Contact me today to get started.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Talk Up the Profession of Editing or Watch Editorial Budgets Shrink

Copyeditors at the New York Times have sent a letter to the paper's executive editor and managing editor outlining why the plan to chop the editing staff by half is going to cause big problems, including putting the paper at risk for lawsuits.

From the letter, this is why editors are necessary:

After all, we are, as one senior reporter put it, the immune system of this newspaper, the group that protects the institution from profoundly embarrassing errors, not to mention potentially actionable ones.

I believe that all editors should spend a lot more time, all the time, educating the people who make the budgets about why editing is necessary.

I see lots of posts, in various editors' Facebook groups and on editors' email discussion lists, about how we editors should never toot our own horns. Such self-effacing behavior is exactly what gets editorial budgets cut, and I'm not talking about just newspapers' budgets. Yes, of course remember that the author is the one who created the work and the one whose voice should generally not be tampered with, but why hide from the world and never tell anyone about what makes your profession valuable?

By keeping a very low profile, we editors have helped create this problem. Now we must work to resolve it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What Editors Do

I'm a published chapter author!

Editor Peter Ginna put together a book commissioned by the University of Chicago Press: What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing.

And I was asked to write the chapter on what it is that freelance editors do, how they come to be self-employed, and what professional and business issues they must deal with. Take a look at page 2 of the table of contents to see the listing for chapter 24, which is mine. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.) I hope all of you self-employed editors feel, when you read my chapter, that I have represented us well.

Some very cool people whom I admire also contributed chapters, including Scott Norton, who wrote the book Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers; the Carol Fisher Saller​, who wrote the book The Subversive Copy Editor; and Jane Friedman.

As Peter says in his most recent blog post, the book was written because

It seems ironic that for those who are interested in going into the book business, or those outside it who want to understand it, there is a dearth of published guidance about how editors do what they do, or why, or what constitutes best practices in editing. There are a few very good exceptions to that statement, most notably the late Gerald Gross's essay collection Editors on Editing, first published in 1962, updated twice since, and still in print. I read the second edition avidly when I got into publishing in the early 1980s, and it is still well worth reading, with contributions from many accomplished (in some cases legendary) editors. But EoE was last updated in the early 90s, before Amazon and the internet, among other factors, transformed the industry. It was long past time for another crack at the subject.

You are invited to preorder the book now; it will be available in October. It will come out first in paperback and hardcover, and then there will be an e-book version later.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Why Editors Don't Work for Free

Would you ask a computer repair technician or a real estate agent to work for free? Of course not. Then why would you ask an editor to work for free? Editing isn't a hobby or a cause; it's a profession that requires training.

But maybe you don't know what editing entails. Maybe you think anyone can do it because it's just like reading for pleasure (hint: it's not!), so you think it should be done for free. Here are links to articles and blog posts about what thorough work editing really is:

And here are links to blog posts about the training and continuing professional development necessary to be an editor:

Monday, April 03, 2017

An Editor's View of Manuscript-Editing Services for Academic Authors

Photograph of an editor at work
Editor at work
From what I have observed over the years, editing services put their editors under pressure to cut corners and do lower-quality work to meet deadlines. And it stands to reason that publishers of academic journals who partner with editing services would exert the same kind of pressure. Authors who use these services may be unhappy with the outcome. Some authors may even be inexperienced enough that they do not realize that the editing could have been much better, and then they may be unhappy when publishers reject their manuscripts for poor-quality writing.

See a definition of the term editing services in the section "Editing Services" on this page:

Editing firms may employ a team of in-house editors, rely on a network of individual contractors or both. ... Such firms are able to handle editing in a wide range of topics and genres, depending on the skills of individual editors. The services provided by these editors may be varied and can include proofreading, copy editing, online editing, developmental editing, editing for search engine optimization (SEO), etc.

I do understand that some self-employed editors may have to work with editing services for a while to build up their experience, and that some editors prefer to work through services rather than on their own. But I cannot believe that the authors who obtain editing through editing services are getting top-quality work for the low fees they pay. Cheaper is not always better.

newsletter article about American Journal Experts (AJE), an academic editing service for authors that says it has a partnership with Cambridge University Press, talks about how editing services work. The article reads less like news than like a promo for the editing service.

Many of these services don't allow direct contact with authors, which makes it harder for editors to do good work: Authors are the ones who know what they're trying to say in their manuscript, so it works best when the editors working on the manuscripts can have conversations with the authors about problematic passages.

Take a look at this article in the journal Nature for more on how editing services work in the academic world: "The Manuscript-Editing Marketplace." The article talks about AJE, Edanz, Editage, and MacMillan Science Communication, the latter of which is owned by Nature's parent company. It compares how those companies work with how the online editorial marketplace Peerwith works.

I looked at this page today (April 3) of Peerwith's website and saw very low rates that some Peerwith editors charge their clients: US$400 for a 10,000-word manuscript on Asian studies, US$220 for a 4500-word manuscript on medical mycology, and US$300 for a 4700-word manuscript on molecular biology. On top of that, Peerwith charges editors a service fee of 10% to 20%. (Find the information on services fees by clicking the "Fees & Payments" button on this page.)

Peerwith's structure, like that of editing services, does not seem to be designed for editors to earn livable incomes. Editors who want to work through such an intermediary will have to work on a lot of manuscripts in a very short period to earn much money at all, which can mean they must do lower-quality editing. That's a losing proposition for editors and authors alike.

Full disclosure: I do not work with editing services. Instead, I work directly with physician-authors who are non-native English speakers. In 2016, I took part in a panel presentation at the annual meeting of the Council of Science Editors. For that session, I spoke about being a sole proprietor who works directly with authors, and AJE's quality manager spoke about self-employed editors who accept project assignments through AJE.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tutorials and Tools for Doing PDF Markup

If you have to annotate PDFs, you can find plenty of help and answers to your questions. Both Adobe and several of my colleagues have provided video tutorials, blog posts, and articles on the topic.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Nitty-Gritty of the Editing Process

Each editor approaches the editing process differently. I wrote a post in April 2016 for the blog of the Indian Copyeditors' Forum on my particular process, in the hope that other editors would find it useful.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

How to Become a Medical Editor

There is no single official way to become a medical editor, but fellow editors frequently ask how to get into this niche. I wrote a post on the topic last May for The Editors' Weekly, the blog of Editors Canada/Réviseurs Canada, that outlines the steps I recommend. It is reprinted below, with some updates made to this version.

As a medical editor, I think I have the best job in the world. While I’m getting paid to edit medical manuscripts, I get to keep up with the latest research findings and treatment practices. There is a lot of this kind of work if you know where to look. Although there is no single way to become a medical editor, I have suggestions for you.

This was my path to becoming a medical editor: I earned a degree in journalism, worked as a newspaper reporter and ended up on the medical beat, moved into general publishing as a production editor, became a production editor for a medical publisher, started freelancing and then took an exam to obtain board certification as an editor in the life sciences. Journalism and publishing have both changed so much in the last few years, however, that you’ll have to take another path. It won’t be quick, but starting a new career or moving into a new niche never is.

Try all of these things, but not all at once:

  • Read medical journals frequently to get familiar with the language and style and to assess how well their editors follow the style manual that you’re studying.
  • Take online courses in medical writing and editing from
  • Join AMWA to
  • Consider freelancing initially for science and medical packagers (intermediaries) and editing services. The pay will be low, but you will learn a lot and can move on to better-paying clients. I periodically update a PDF with links to these organizations.
  • Contact medical publishers and journals about editing for them. You’ll be required to take an unpaid editing test.
I know that some of the advice I’ve provided here is U.S.-centric. Do you have additional Canadian resources to provide? Please share links to them in the comments, and I’ll gladly share them in other venues.

Note: Some links in this post were updated on January 25, 2019; one was updated April 1, 2024. Reprinted here with the permission of The Editors’ Weekly and Editors Canada.

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