Communication Skills

All parties working on a project need to work as a team. They must also respect each other’s point of view. If everyone is working in different directions then the project will not succeed.

Point of View

Everyone has a point of view. Often everyone thinks their point of view is the right one. This is only natural because we all see things/situations differently. However, it doesn’t mean we are always right and it can be that part of or all of the other points of view are also correct.

The key is to be objective. It’s OK to have a different point of view which you are willing to put aside because the majority thinks another way. However, never compromise your ethics.

Compromise

As the editor, you must learn to compromise. And, remember, you are not the author and should not be attempting to change the author’s style.

Remember quality and profit from the last post? Ask yourself will compromising make either of these things suffer.

Key Communication Skills

Active Listening means to respond and question. All parties need to be able to question without fear of reprisal.

Consideration must always be given to the author’s goal. The publisher/editor/copyeditor/proofreader should not become so intent on grammar and correctness that this is forgotten. This means the other parties (publisher and editors) must never become narrow-minded. And, if you are wrong…admit it!

Non-Verbal Language will tell other parties what you think even if you don’t say it. This is true on the phone too. The other person cannot see you, but they can hear the smile on your face or the roll of your eyes, and they respond to these things. They also feel the distance if they can hear you doing other things. They may feel hurried if you speak fast. Where possible, learn to adjust your tone, pace and vocal range to the person you are talking to.

Communicating the Editors Role to the Author

As an editor, the best thing you can do is define your role to the author at your first meeting. This will help develop a good editor/author relationship.

Some things you should do are: explain your role in the company; advise that your suggestions are just that suggestions and the author has the final say; explain the manuscript must comply with the publisher’s in-house style; talk about the importance of readership and what they want and expect; and, briefly explain the publishing process. Be sure to mention that once the manuscript goes to print, no more corrections can be made.

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Editing Course: Developing Good Working Relationship

Before I get started on the course notes, I’d like to mention that the last two months has been hectic. I’ve been too busy to post or to do my courses. I’ve taken up the editing course again this week, but will defer the writing course until after the editing course is complete. That way, both courses will get my full attention, which will ultimately be better for me.

Unit 6: The Importance of Understanding

Relationships with anyone are delicate. They need to be worked on. The important factor for success for a partnership between two people, especially in a work relationship, is understanding the ultimate goal. All parties need to know they aim for quality and profit.

Quality: the end product needs to meet standards expected by the author and publisher.

Profit: there is no point publishing something if there’s no profit. Publishers need profit to survive.

The Editor/Author Relationship

Many works are edited three or more times. Yet it is not uncommon for an error to be found even after numerous edits. It’s also not uncommon for someone else to find an error after the work is published.

The editor must work ‘with’ the author and not ‘against’ the author. The number of edits is not a reflection on the author and does not indicate poor quality.

To obtain a more objective viewpoint, the author must be able to take a break after the first draft is finished. When they return to the work they will see things much more clearly.

The editor has a more objective eye because they are not as close to the work, they have not invested hours and hours of time working of the manuscript. And they are not emotionally connected with the work. Because of this, the editor easily spots the faults.

Where the author immerses themselves into the work, the editor must remain detached and objective. This does not mean, however, being cold and unfeeling.

The author and editor must understand what will be accepted and wanted by the audience. Because if disappointed, the audience may never purchase anything by that author again.

The Editor/Proofreader Relationship

The proofreader’s role is to help the editor bring the project to a stage of completion. The key to success here is communication.

Proofreaders need to stay up-to-date with language and style changes, new printing procedures and changes in industry standards.

And editor needs to be able to trust the proofreader in this regard and will expect an acceptable degree of accuracy.

A proofreader must detach themselves from the content and read character by character, line by line. They do not look for plot/story faults and will never be held responsible for not spotting these faults.

The Editor/Publisher Relationship

The level of responsibility will be determined by the publisher. It can be a difficult job as you may end up the ‘middle man’ between the publisher and the author. Remember, you are accountable to the publisher and that’s where your loyalty should be. You’ll need to be aware of deadlines, profit margins, sales etc but you will also need to be conscious of the author’s professional position.

Editing Course: Be Aware of What You Edit

As an editor it is part of your job to watch out for things like offensive language and discriminatory wording — but only when it is out of context.

Most of the time, the author does not intend harm or it may be a case of misinterpretation, but the editor must be objective and consider the ramifications of inappropriate use and bring it to the author’s attention.

There are many grey areas that make this difficult such as cultural differences, freedom of speech and inconsistent laws, but the key here is keeping it within context. Ultimately, it is the author’s decision if the wording is changed or not.

Professional Integrity

It’s important to maintain objectivity and independent judgement in thinking when working as an editor, copyeditor or proofreader.

This means being able to think for yourself and being able to discuss potential problems with your clients, and remain professional when doing so.

Objectivity means being impartial, intellectually honest and free of conflicts of interest. An editor must be able to put their personal views aside and approach their work on an individual basis. It may mean that you do NOT take on a particular job because you feel so strongly about the topic. Whatever the case, you must always stand back, keep a clear head, do not pass judgement on what you are reading and stay professional.

Confidentiality means that you must never disclose information about the editing project to a third person. Never discuss manuscripts, never share company details, never gossip about your clients. If you do, your client can take legal action against you.

Cultural Awareness means understanding that groups of people have patterns of behaviour and beliefs that may impact on the way they do, say and write things. Words and meanings can be totally different with the groups. What does not offend one group, may highly offend another group. The editor should arrange a client pre-brief (in person or by phone) before editing material to discuss what the author’s intentions are as this will often be beneficial to the editor.

Some Terms You Should Know

Defamation is ‘the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image’. Source Wikipedia.

Slander is the spoken form of ‘defamation’.

Libel is the written form of ‘defamation’.

Discrimination is the unfavourable or unfair treatment of a person based on their sex, age, religion, physical appearance, sexual orientation or race.

Blasphemy is ‘irreverence toward holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, and beliefs’. Source: Wikipedia.

Editing Course: Moral Rights and Plagiarism

The following notes are extracts from the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) website.

Copyright Agency Limited
Level 15, 233 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9394 7600
Fax: 02 9394 7601
Email: info@copyright.com.au
Website: http://www.copyright.com.au

What are moral rights?

Moral rights are provided to the creator of works under copyright laws to protect their reputation and their work.

In Australia, moral rights provide creators with three rights:

1. The right of attribution of authorship.
2. The right not to have authorship of their work falsely attributed.
3. The right of integrity of authorship.

This protects the creator from their work being used in a derogatory way that may lead to their reputation suffering.

Moral rights last for the same term as copyright — 70 years after the death of the creator.

Why are moral rights different?

Copyright protects the ‘economic rights’ of a work. In other words, it is aimed at the financial side of things.

Moral rights protect the reputation and integrity of the creator.

Moral rights cannot be held by a company, so the person who wrote the piece retains the moral rights.

What types of works do moral rights apply to?

Moral rights apply to a wide range of works including books, articles, textbooks, poems, songs, plays, film scripts, drawings, paintings, sculptures, musical works, computer programs and films.

What would be considered an infringement?

There are numerous ways that moral rights can be infringed:

  • not attributing a work to its rightful creator
  • falsely attributing a work to someone else
  • producing a falsely attributed work
  • treating a work in a derogatory way (including altering the work)
  • dealing commercially with a work that has been treated in a derogatory fashion

 

However, the creator can give written consent for their work to be used in another way than how it was created.

Other considerations to be taken into account are the nature of the work, the purpose for which it was created, if the work was created while in employment and if there are more than one author. Some of these may not constitute a breach in moral rights if the use of the work is considered ‘reasonable’.

The law also takes into account ‘relevant industry practice’. For example, an advertising team brainstorm an idea for a single advertisement. It would be difficult to attribute moral rights to every person or a single person, so no attribution would be permitted.

Can moral rights be sold?

No. Unlike copyright, moral rights cannot be transferred or sold.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when someone tries to present someone else’s work as their own.

An editor and/or publisher must keep an eye open for two things:

1. Work that is a direct copy of another person’s work but has their client’s name on it.
2. Work that paraphrases or summarises someone else’s work but does not credit the original author.

Citing a work means referring to the creator of the work. This can be done in the text or at the end of the text.

Example:

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
— Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

What is NOT plagiarism?

  • new and original ideas
  • writing that comes from your own experiences, thoughts and observations
  • writing that is written in your own words and your own voice
  • work written from your own conclusions from studies
  • compiled and stated facts

 

What is a copying licence?

Copying licences allow organisations to access information but fulfil their legal copyright requirements. The organisation pays an annual fee to CAL and this allows them to use copyright material as long as it is important to their business.

Go to the CAL website to find out more on copyright licences.

Editing Course: What is Copyright?

Most people recognise the copyright symbol, but everyone in the publishing industry needs to know what might cause a copyright issue.

© This is the worldwide symbol that signals a work is owned by someone and no one else has the right to use it. Sounds simple, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Firstly, each country has its own laws. In Australia, our laws are administered by the federal Government. The Australian Copyright Council is a non-profit organisation that offers free advice, information and training.

Australian Copyright Council
3/245 Chalmers Street, Redfern NSW 2106
Phone: 02 9318 1788
Fax: 02 9698 3536
Email: cpright@copyright.org.au
Website: http://www.copyright.org.au

Who Owns the Work?

Anything you write, be it a book, play, course, or piece of music is copyright. To assert your intellectual property right you can use the copyright symbol in the following manner:

© The Publishing Company 2010
© Karen Lee Field 2011

You may also insert the word ‘copyright’ too:

Copyright © The Publishing Company 2010
© Copyright Karen Lee Field 2011

If someone copies your work, it is known as a copyright infringement. However, sometimes you do NOT own the copyright even when you wrote the piece.

If you work for a company or contract to a company and you are paid to write the piece for them, then the company owns copyright, not you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve signed a contract without a intellectual property clause, it is still implicit under the law.

This means you cannot sell the piece to another person or company, as you do not own it. However, there is nothing to stop you writing a similar piece to sell.

Defending Your Copyright

Most authors cannot afford legal representation. This is also the case for many small publishing companies. Mega companies can and do defend their copyright and it costs a lot of money.

Nevertheless, as an author, editor or publisher you must be responsible for making sure you do not breach copyright.

As an editor or publisher, if the manuscript you are working on appears to be a copy of a book you’re read, mention this to the author. People do have similar ideas and maybe it is a coincidence. If, however, it is word for word alarm bells should be ringing. No publisher should publish a manuscript that breaches copyright as they could possibly find themselves in court!

When Does Copyright Expire?

Generally, copyright lasts for seventy years after the death of the creator.

In many cases the rights to books, artwork, songs and other works may have been purchase by another individual or company so copyright continues for much longer.

Never assume a work is out of copyright. You need to be 100% sure before using anything that may be considered an infringement.

What About Book Titles?

Titles are not copyright yet you must be careful as using a title of a highly successful book may be seen as a breach of copyright.

For example, say a book is published with the title ‘Cats’ and, as an editor, you are working on a manuscript with the same title. ‘Cats’ is a word and anyone can use it, but it may be worth mentioning this to the author due to the possibility of future confusion.

Having said that, if the manuscript has the title ‘The Da Vinci Code’ then the publisher would be taking a huge risk and would be wise to suggest the author change the name as the title is synonymous with the successful book and to try and reuse it would be unthinkable. Something related to the title would be much better.

Trademarks

Never use a trademarked name and then defame the owner of it. However, it’s fine to refer to the trademarked product in general.

Example: Jenny took her parents to Gloria Jeans for coffee.

There are two types of trademarks: ™ and ®

™ means registration of the trademark is pending. This can often take months, sometimes years.

® means registration has been approved.

It is illegal to use ® unless approval has been granted.

Editing Course: Types of Electronic Documents

This is pretty basic and I wasn’t going to include it on the website, but then I realised that not everyone knows what electronic documents are. My mother still can’t understand why digital cameras don’t need a film or how an email can be received within seconds of sending it, especially when the recipient is on the other side of the world.

With this in mind, here’s a very basic list of electronic documents.

Ebooks: Electronic books, viewed on an ereader. This is a fast growing market in electronic publishing.

E-zines: Electronic magazines distributed electronically via email. They may be the size of a newsletter (under 10 pages) or as large as a printed magazine.

E-newsletters: Mostly referred to as e-zines. They are a short electronic publication, usually sharing news on a specific topic. They are distributed via email.

E-documents: Mostly used in the business sector. E-documents are useful as they can be updated regularly and easily. They can be downloaded from websites as a PDF and emailed with ease.

A Few Editing/Proofreading Tips

It is harder to find errors on screen so wherever possible it is better to print the document before attempting to edit/proofread it.

However, printing the document is not always an option. If you must edit/proofread on screen remember the glare of the screen can cause eye strain so take regular breaks to rest your eyes.

Editing Course: Online Webpages

When editing or proofreading webpages online there are a few things to remember. It is more difficult to read screen based documents. And you are not only checking the content. Once you have edited or proofread the site, you will need to type up your report and send it to the client via email.

Elements of a Website

Reporting for a website is slightly different than reporting for a PDF document. You must ensure your client understands which page you are referring to. Here are some website elements and how to report them.

Functionality: Check the content is useful and helpful, and make sure a contact page is provided.

home/index.html: doesn’t mention the product
contacts/site.html: there is no email address

Navigation: Ensure the site is user-friendly, a navigation bar is on all pages and easy to locate and use.

products/style.html: no navigation bar on page
products/postage.html: sub-menu is not clickable

Consistency: Ensure the content is consistent, as well as the layout and placement of graphics.

about us/history.html: irrelevant information
index.html: different logo used to rest of site

Accuracy: Ensure all links work, all headings are correct, all references to the company are spelt correctly, and all banners, menus, etc work.

prices/design.html: page doesn’t load
products/faq.html: para 2, line 4: “there’ sb “their”

Speed: Too many graphics will cause a page to load slowly.

products/design.html: page loads slowly

Appearance: Does the site look professional? Will it appeal to its target audience?

contactus.html: emoticons look unbusiness like
products/design.html: graphics slow loading

Browsers: Check to ensure the website displays correctly in various browsers.

Website does not display properly in IE.

Resolutions: Check the screen resolutions, where possible, as some designs look shabby when viewed with smaller or larger screens.

Website does not display properly when viewed on larger screens.

Maintenance: Are the file names complicated or user-friendly? Is the coding easy to change on pages that need frequent updating?

homepage/index.html: file name too complicated
products/pricing.html: content difficult to update

Some Basics of Online Editing

Successful websites tend to offer “byte-sized” chunks of information rather than long pieces of written material as most visitors skim over the content if there’s too much reading involved.

The layout should be user-friendly, with key elements such as links and headlines easy to find and standing out from the rest of the text.

Websites make use of colour, graphics, bullet points and underlined links but should never be cluttered and cramped as it puts the viewer/reader off.

When proofing a website some proofreaders like to scroll down the page, reading each line as it appears at the bottom of the page. Others prefer to use the cursor, moving it across the page as they check each word. Remember, ALL text must be checked on every page (ie headings, banners, logos, content, links, address bars, etc). It is always wise to write your report as you check each page.

Editing Course: Reporting Corrections by Email

If a client emails you a document in PDF, you can proofread it, write up the corrections in an email or Word document and attach it to an email and send the email back to the client.

To write up corrections, you use a simple reporting apprach based on abbreviated terms. These are common reporting terms used across the industry:

Term What it Means
P#. (ie P1) page (ie page 1)
Col column
row row
Para or P paragraph
line or L line
sb should be
no corrections There are no corrections to be made to the page

If reporting to a client who does not understand the reporting process or abbreviations then you would set out your report in full. For example:

Page 1
Para 1 line 1: “th launch” sb “the launch”
Para 1 line 5: insert comma after “Saturday”
Para 2 line 3: remove apostrophe from “it’s” sb “its”

However, if the client is familiar with the process, use abbreviated terms. Example:

P1.
P1 L1: “th” sb “the”
P1 L5: insert comma after “Saturday”
P2 L3: remove apostrophe from “it’s” sb “its”

Steps to Handling a Reporting Job

1. Print out the PDF, website page or document.
2. Mark it up in the normal manner.
3. Type the corrections into an email or Word document, using 1.5 spacing for easier reading and an extra space between page indications.
4. Email back to client.

Editing Course: Using Technology

Editing and proofreading is not just about printed matter/publications, it also involves working with other technology such as:

A website, where you would proof the pages on-screen and either email, fax or post back the corrections.

A PDF document, where you would proof the document on-screen and email back the corrections.

A Word, RTF or other soft document created in a word processor, where you would edit the document using “Track Changes” and email it back to the client.

An editor/proofreader must understand the processes of doing their work using technology. However, it is up to the individual if these services are offered. Of course, the more flexible you are, the better for you.

How Much to Charge

To start with you would probably charge about $20 – $25 per hour, but this will increase to $25 – $35 per hour as you gain experience. This is the same amount you would charge to edit/proofread hard copies.

Remember, proofreading attracts a lower fee – $20 – $25 per hour. Copyediting is around $25 – $35 per hour. And substantive editing is $40 upwards.

Keep in mind also that you will probably have to print out the soft document as it is usually easier to work with.

Technology Jargon

It is always helpful to know the jargon when using technology. Here is a short list of meanings:

These days it is not uncommon to see “e” in front of words (for example, email, e-zine, e-commerce, ebooks). The “e” means electronic.

“Uploading files” means sending files.

“Downloading files” means receiving files.

“PDF” means portable document format.

“RTF” means rich text format.

“Log in” means to access an account (and is two words).

When editing/proofreading, it is important to remember the following:

Internet should always be spelt with a capital “I” as it is a proper noun.

World Wide Web should always be capitalised too, for the same reason.

Web, when referring to the Internet, should be capitalised as it is the formal abbreviation of a proper noun.

Email can be hyphenated (e-mail) or can be written without the hyphen (email), but all other “e” words should be written with the hyphen, unless house-style dictates otherwise.

Using Spelling and Grammar Checkers

It is dicey to use spell checkers included in word processors as they are unreliable.

Use them only if you have the right one installed for your location (ie it is no use using a US spell checker if you are in Australia), and you only use it to pick up everyday typos at a glance. Do not depend on them and always edit your own work for errors.

Remember, these checkers are often wrong!

Editing Course: Putting it all Together

So far during the course I’ve learned many things. Some interesting theory about the publishing world and some stuff I already knew but was pleased to do a refresher for. The main thing I’ve learned, however, is the proofreading marks and conventions.

The topics in the current unit are now all practical exercises, putting together all the editing and proofreading marks I’ve learned so far so there’s nothing for me to type about. However, there was a simple list of quick tips I thought would be interesting to share.

Here is the list:

  • Take care with proofreading marks and make sure they are clear.
  • Make the marks short and fat rather than long and skinny. This will save space and give more room for marks on the lines of text above and below the one you’re working on.
  • Start your margin marks further to the left (in both margins) to allow room for other marks on the same line of text.
  • By pressing more lightly on the marking pen, the marks become clearer.
  • Use a ruler, if necessary.
  • Use white out to erase a mark. Even copyeditors and proofreaders make mistakes.