Scholarly Editing Panel

January 13, 2021

Nancy Wills was an enthusiastic and informative host for this discussion.

Panellists: Ellie Barton, Angela Pietrobon, Stephanie Stone (see bios below)

Moderator for Q&A: Wade Guyitt

Q. How would you define scholarly?

A. Ellie described it as a form of nonfiction that has been peer-reviewed, as opposed to other types of nonfiction such as memoir and trade books for a general audience. The main goal of scholarly books is to share research and generate knowledge.

Q. Please describe your scholarly publishing clients.

A. Angela edits for University of Alberta Press and Athabasca University Press, and she works with private clients to develop their scholarly books. She is also the managing editor of Encounters in Theory and History of Education (Queen’s University), Global Africana Review (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and Africana Public Interest Journal (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Ellie copy edits for McGill-Queen’s University Press (MQUP) and University of Toronto Press (UTP), and also works with private clients. Stephanie copy edits for UTP.

Q. Do you specialize in a certain subject area?

A. Angela doesn’t like to work only within one subject area because she can get bored with doing the same thing. She doesn’t do math and has edited enough engineering theses. She must be interested in the topic when she takes on a job, and she feels it’s her ethical responsibility to represent the reader. When she does accept a job, her biggest task is to learn the subject matter, to be curious. This gives her the confidence to tackle a manuscript or a new subject; she needs to be willing to learn.

Stephanie works in law, government, constitution, philosophy, and social science. These were the areas that her associate managing editor was responsible for when she started working with him. Ellie prefers to edit books on subjects she’s interested in, like history, religion, health care, mental health, culture, and the arts.

Q. How did you come to work for your client(s)? What process and/or experience led up to it?

A. Ellie started working for MQUP after a copy editor friend recommended her, and her work with UTP came as a result of being recommended by Stephanie. Stephanie started working for MQUP after Ellie recommended her. She started working for UTP after an associate managing editor there found her name in the Editors Canada online directory. (He recognized her name from working with her decades before.)

Angela had worked with her own client on a book for which Doug Hildebrand was the acquisitions editor at UTP. When he moved to University of Alberta Press as the new Director and Publisher, she asked him if she could work with the Press as a copy editor. Athabasca University Press approached her because they wanted to try her out after she had been referred to them a few times. Running your own business successfully, for Angela, means you focus on always having lots of work.

Q. How long does it take you to copy edit a manuscript? How much time do you need to commit to a book?

A. For Ellie, it depends on the length of the manuscript. Stephanie agreed, adding that it depends how many elements a manuscript has (beyond the text, citations, and references, there may also be figures, tables, and notes). For example, the most recent manuscript she worked on had 75 pages of references; they didn’t require a lot of work in themselves, but reading them and cross-checking them against the citations took a lot of time. She figures it takes her about two months to copy edit a manuscript. When she receives the files back from the author, it can take a few days to go through the tracked changes and “clean up” the files. UTP asks for about four weeks for copy editing, which she’s rarely achieved.

Q. Please talk about process and workflow.

A. Both Ellie and Stephanie copy edit all the chapters in a manuscript, then send it to the author for review; this was an original instruction from UTP. In some cases, Stephanie receives a manuscript as one file when a book isn’t very long. Ellie finds that once she’s copy edited the entire manuscript, she’s able to make sense of unclear passages and resolve some of the queries herself. The downside of this approach is that the author has to respond to all the edits and queries at once, instead of responding chapter by chapter.

The process that Angela uses is to copy edit and send out individual chapters. This allows her to apply the problems resolved in the early chapters to the later ones. It’s like a conversation in that chapters are passed back and forth until the final version is agreed upon. Wade (who copy edits for Oxford and Cambridge University Presses) uses this process too. It establishes a flow for the rest of the manuscript. One downside is that styles applied in an early chapter may no longer be viable by the time he reaches a later chapter.

We didn’t talk in detail about the sorts of things we look for or correct during copy editing, although everyone does two passes through a manuscript and keeps style sheets. Ellie line edits where necessary and queries ambiguous phrasing. She might research the background for a book by watching YouTube videos on the topic. In addition to copy editing, Angela reads for details, performing content editing. She likes to tidy; it gives her a sense of accomplishment. Citations and references are her least favourite aspect of editing. Stephanie does whatever work a manuscript needs.

For MQUP and UTP, the author does the proofreading first, and then the proofs are sent to the copy editor for review. For University of Alberta Press, the proofreading is also done by the copy editor, but this task is paid separately. At Athabasca University Press, proofreading is done by the author.

In talking about ensuring consistency of spelling, capitalization, etc. in a manuscript, Nancy highly recommended using PerfectIt, commercial proofreading software that is an add-on to a word processing program. She uses it as a last consistency check. Angela uses it for her work with the University of Alberta; she receives a PerfectIt report on a manuscript at the beginning and end of the project. [Note: As a benefit of membership, Editors Canada members receive a 30 percent discount on a single licence.]

Everyone agreed that technology has vastly improved the work process, although it’s added a layer of work because everyone now needs to have computer and Internet skills. When Ellie started with MQUP, she used to get a printed version of the page proofs; now the proofs come in PDF format. In Stephanie’s early years as a copy editor, a manuscript after the first copy-editing pass would be full of sticky notes with queries on them.

Q. Is it difficult to juggle your projects and meet your deadlines?

A. Angela stipulates that authors give her the date on which they’ll be sending her something; this avoids too much “stacking” and enables her to better plan her workload. As the managing editor of three journals, she knows each publication schedule, so she can tell how well everything is on track. There is no problem with the contributors meeting their deadlines. There was a time when she’d work in the middle of the night to meet deadlines for clients in other time zones, but she doesn’t do that anymore.

Q. Does working for different publishers and their different approaches present a challenge?

A. For each project, Ellie reviews the publisher’s style and process; she prints out the guidelines and adds to them as she learns more about the publisher’s preferences. For Stephanie, it’s like changing hats; she has the publisher’s style guidelines in front of her and creates her own list of spellings as she works through a manuscript. For Angela, it’s like studying for a test; it takes half an hour at the start of a project. She prints out style sheets and highlights what she might forget. As a journal managing editor, she often sets the style and preferences herself.

Q. Please talk about your communication with an author.

A. Ellie emails an author early on to establish contact and go over some initial queries. She sometimes sends an author the first copy-edited chapter as a sample; the author can then give her feedback on her approach. She finds that she gets to know her memoir and creative nonfiction authors better than her scholarly authors because that work is more personal; it’s easier to develop a relationship with them. She likes to talk to authors on the phone when possible.

Angela keeps up a constant conversation with an author during the editing process. She has always dealt with authors one on one. She assumes that every author is lovely and respectful and gets that back. She doesn’t worry about communication.

Stephanie contacts the author once she’s done a fair bit of the copy editing. She introduces herself and asks a few queries that have come up, such as inconsistencies in spelling or unclear meanings of terms. She also tries to give an estimate of when she’ll send the manuscript to the author for review. It’s an opportunity to get a feel for the author’s personality and approach to the manuscript.

Q. What do you enjoy about the scholarly editing you do? What are some of the benefits?

A. For Ellie, a benefit of working with university presses is that they have high production values. The books are well designed. UTP applies styles to a manuscript before it’s copy edited, which speeds up the process. She learns a lot by copy editing scholarly books and finds the work intellectually stimulating. For both her and Angela, copy editing enables them to inhabit the author’s mind. They enjoy learning about the world and working with people who are passionate about their work. Angela added that the copy editor needs to, in a way, become the author. A great benefit comes when the author appreciates your work. (This can be the result of good communication.)

Stephanie agreed that the work is intellectually stimulating. She enjoys working on the various elements of a manuscript and cross-checking them to make sure that everything is consistent. A negative aspect is that the client doesn’t always seem to understand how much time it takes to do a thorough job.

About the Panellists

Angela Pietrobon is a scholarly editor who works for University of Alberta Press and Athabasca University Press. She is the Managing Editor of three journals: Encounters in Theory and History of Education (Queen’s University), Global Africana Review (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and the new and forthcoming Africana Public Interest Journal (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Her projects with her freelance clients have resulted in polished manuscripts and indexes for, among others, University of Toronto Press, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, Fordham University Press, University of British Columbia Press, University of Alberta Press, and McGill-Queen’s University Press. Angela also works with PhD students through the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at University of Toronto and Queen’s University. You can find out more about Angela’s work on her LinkedIn page.

Ellie Barton is a freelance editor of memoir, creative nonfiction, and scholarly books. She works for McGill-Queen’s University Press, University of Toronto Press, and individual authors seeking to self-publish or to submit their manuscript to an agent or a publisher. Ellie also worked for a decade as a copy editor and proofreader for two academic journals: Canadian Public Policy and the Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health. Ellie has a Certificate in Publishing from Ryerson University and an MA in Canadian literature from Queen’s University. She’s a member of Editors Canada. Please visit Ellie at https://www.elliebarton.ca/

Stephanie Stone began copy editing in the early 1980s with Copp Clark Pitman, a textbook publisher in Toronto. Her first manuscript was about the Commodore 64, a very early computer. She then moved to Methuen Publications for the chance to work on trade books and worked as a production editor – not just copy editing but also laying out and proofreading the typeset pages, sometimes indexing, and working closely with the editors, authors, designers, typesetters, and printers. She learned many of her skills from taking courses through the Freelance Editors Association of Canada, the forerunner of Editors Canada.

In 1987, Stephanie moved to Kingston to work as a technical writer and trainer with a local software consulting company. She also copy edited the work of the other technical writers and developed in-house style guides. In 2001, she started her own company, Cornerstone Communications, whose major clients are Elections Canada, University of Toronto Press, and the journal Physiotherapy Canada. She is now starting to retire so that she can focus on other aspects of her life.

“Diversity and Inclusion”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Tom Fairley Award

Editors Canada is accepting nominations for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence. It “recognizes an exceptional editor who played an important role on a project published in 2020” and is worth $2,000. Anyone involved in a work can submit a nomination – publisher, editor, author or designer – even oneself. Deadline for nominations: January 15, 2021. Download the nomination form from www.editors.ca.

Editors’ Challenge

Jim asked us to name a dictionary that doesn’t exist but should. He gave the example of Alberto Manguel’s Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Jim’s suggestion: an authoritative and up-to-date dictionary that clearly discriminates synonyms and near-synonyms: a differentiating dictionary.

Diversity and Inclusion

We had a general discussion of some of the issues, shared some of the resources available, and discussed what we can do to promote diversity and inclusion in our work and – in Adrienne Montgomery’s words – to support our colleagues from diverse backgrounds.

In the summer of 2020, there was a spate of killings of Black and Indigenous people in the United States and Canada, instances of police brutality and protests against police violence around the world, and a raised awareness of systemic racism in many of our institutions. It seemed important to talk about how editors are affected and how (much) this awareness is reflected in what we edit and perhaps also in our workplaces or those of our clients.

At the time Stephanie was preparing for this meeting, the association’s newsletter arrived, and it announced the new adviser on equity, diversity and inclusion. Her name is Adebe DeRango-Adem. She’s a member of Toronto Branch and an editor and published author who brings diverse experience into publishing, cultural programming, and anti-racism and human rights/equity education. Adebe kindly sent me an extensive list of inclusivity-related documents and links that Editors Canada had assembled. It will be posted on Editors Canada soon and be available to all.

Q. Have you had the experience of editing a piece of writing by someone from another culture, background, sexual orientation, or ability? If so, what was your response, and how did you work through the experience?

A. Stephanie copy edited a book a few years ago called Queering Urban Justice: Queer of Colour Formations in Toronto (Jin Haritaworn, Ghaida Moussa, and Syrus Marcus Ware, eds., with Río Rodríguez, University of Toronto Press, 2018). She wondered at the time why the copy editing was being given to a non–queer of colour person. Most chapters used “Black” but one used “black.” She asked the editors about the inconsistency, and they decided to retain both capitalizations.

Q. How does one develop sensitivity to material that describes an unfamiliar context? When should we suggest that material be looked at by a sensitivity reader?

A. An editor needs to bring sensitivity to the material they’re editing – in all areas. We’re used to recognizing biased language and making it bias-free. We need to do the same thing with material describing groups of people.

A skill one encounters is sensitivity reader, a person who is hired to help ensure that a manuscript is authentic and to make recommendations about potential issues with cultural veracity and tone (paraphrased from Tajja Isen, “How Not to Write a Book about a Minority Experience,” The Walrus, July/August 2020). That article examines an example of a novel that didn’t use a sensitivity reader and should have (American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins), and it argues that if the workforce in the publishing industry were more diverse, the function of a sensitivity reader would be a regular part of the publishing process.

Q. To what extent do we bring our own implicit biases to our editorial work, and what can we do to break them down?

A. To a large extent, probably. Without even realizing it. First step: develop awareness. Keep on top of current events, learn what’s driving them. Read about the experiences of people from other cultures, backgrounds, sexual orientations, etc. To be a good editor, we have to develop open minds, intellectual curiosity; know what the issues are and where to go to check facts or anything else we think we should verify. Just like editing anything, we need to let the writer’s voice come through but steer it when it needs to be steered. As with other questionable issues, query the author.

Q. Did anyone read something that promoted understanding of the issues or helped you develop a new awareness? Anything you disagreed with?

A. One positive article is “Give Black Employees the Freedom to be Black” (Dori Tunstall, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2020; unfortunately, seems no longer available online). She is the dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD University in Toronto, and she describes how the university is fostering a safe, diverse environment by hiring Black employees at every level, creating a critical mass that encourages them to be their Black selves.

Q: What is the current state of diversity in Canadian fiction?

A. See, under “Other Resources” below, the two surveys, also “Lack of Ethnic Diversity in Canadian Publishing” (Sarah McNeil, 2017), which includes examples of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) writers feeling left out of a white-dominated industry – e.g., in nominations for the Giller Prize.

Is it any more diverse three years later? The 2020 Giller Prize winner comes from a Thai background, but how representative is this? Looking back at the finalists since 1994, at least 11 seem to come from diverse backgrounds. Out of 27 winners, that’s 41 percent, so perhaps reasonably reflective of Canadian society.

Q. What can we as editors do to ensure that the material we edit is respectful, inclusive, and sensitive to everyone and/or a readership from diverse backgrounds? How can we support our colleagues from diverse backgrounds?

A. Editors can have a powerful impact on the written word, and we have a responsibility to ensure that we are as intellectually curious about diversity and inclusivity as we are about the other topics we encounter in our work. Material needs to be factually correct, needs to be respectful, needs to speak to an entire audience.

From Susannah Noel, “5 Steps Freelance Book Editors Can Take to Combat Racism” (blog post, Editorial Arts Academy website, June 2020) – Editors are human, so we must participate. Editors also have a responsibility because we are uniquely suited to recognize the influence words have on readers, populations, and societies. Her five steps:

  1. Read actively – particularly on topics we might feel uncomfortable reading
  2. Edit better – be attuned to words and any inherent biases
  3. Seek out diversity where we live; expand our horizons
  4. Talk about money – transparency about what a BIPOC editor makes vs. a white editor
  5. Volunteer for BIPOC-run organizations – or at least support them

Other Resources

Surveys

Association of Canadian Publishers, “2018 Canadian Book Publishing Diversity Baseline Survey: Summary Report” – respondents 82% white, 74% female, 72% heterosexual

BookNet Canada, “Demand for Diversity: A Survey of Canadian Readers,” 2019 – average reader female, 29 years old, 4-year degree, earns $37,500, lives in Ontario

Background

BookNet Canada, Further Reading: Demand for Diversity (May 2019) – collection of diversity-related content from the Canadian book publishing industry, including videos

Tajja Isen, “How Not to Write a Book about a Minority Experience” (The Walrus, July/August 2020)

Pacinthe Mattar, “Objectivity Is a Privilege Afforded to White Journalists” (The Walrus, Nov/Dec 2020); in print, “Canadian Media’s Racism Problem.”

Sarah McNeil, “Lack of Ethnic Diversity in Canadian Publishing” (prepared for a course at Simon Fraser University, Fall 2017)

Associations

Indigenous Editors Association: https://www.indigenouseditorsassociation.ca/about-us/

Style Guides

Gregory Younging, Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples (Brush Education Inc.)

Don’t overlook “mainstream” style guides like Editing Canadian English, 3rd ed. (from Editors Canada) and the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., which have a chapter/section on inclusivity/bias-free language

Databases

Book Publishing Freelancers from Diverse Communities Database

Firefly Creative Writing – list of sensitivity readers

Editors of Color (US) – search and/or submit your name to their database

Film Editing with Clarke Mackey

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 – Editors Kingston hosted Kingston media maker, writer, teacher, and cultural activist Clarke Mackey to talk about film editing and its comparisons with print editing.

Clarke has worked as a director, cinematographer, editor, producer, or writer on over 50 film, television, and new-media projects. In recent years, he has been producing micro-budget documentaries about community activism in Eastern Ontario, including ’Til the Cows Come Home (2014) and the feature archival documentary Revolution Begins at Home (2016). In 2010, he compiled his research and experiences into a book called Random Acts of Culture: Reclaiming Art and Community in the 21st Century.

About Clarke

Clarke is an emeritus professor in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University, where he taught for 30 years. Before that, he was a faculty member at York University and Sheridan College of Art and Design. We thank Clarke for his notes, which form the basis for this post.

When he was asked to make comparisons between film editing and print editing, his initial reaction was that they were two very different processes, with few similarities. But, as he thought about it further, he decided that there were some important similarities.

Cinematic Language

Clarke began by describing how movies communicate story, information, and emotion to audiences. What do we mean when we talk about “cinematic language”? Perhaps surprisingly, words, either spoken or written, are not that important in movies. Movie writers understand that, unlike in a play or novel, dialogue plays a smaller part in screenplays than you might think. Other elements loom larger, as we’ll see.

He broke down cinematic language into the “five building blocks of cinematic storytelling.”

1. Actions: things happen, people do things, the world changes, etc. (Sometimes that might mean speech or even text, but words are overshadowed by other elements in cinema.) It’s no accident that after the camera is turned on, the director yells, “Action!”

2. Mis-en-scène. What is in front of the camera: setting, props, costumes, lighting, weather, etc. What is emphasized? What is background? What is the mood? This can be quite complex and subtle, and it mostly works unconsciously.

3. Shots: area of view, point of view, other types of shots. We see things through a camera lens, which has certain characteristics. Where is the camera placed? What is in the frame, and what is not? Shots are the bricks that construct the house, like the words and phrases of a written text.

4. Cuts: Editing is the most important, most unique element of cinematic language. This is where we can say a film is being “authored” or composed (the music analogy is a good one to help understand how a movie is made). Everything that happened before – the script, the rehearsals, the sets, the shooting – are the materials the editor-composer needs to gather to do their work. The editor uses the shots to build the house.

Clarke spoke about the three Cs of cinematography: conception, capture, composition. A few basic principles:

– The shot-reverse-shot pattern: The looker, the viewed, the response.

– Parallel structure: The chase, the flashback, etc. Meanwhile, back at the … .

– Rhythm, pace, contrast: From whole notes and eighth notes. A very fast sequence of shots is like eighth notes in a melody.

– Ellipsis: Things that are purposely missing, things we have to figure out or can assume from the context. There is a lot of compression of time in movies, similar to text.

5. Sound. There are four layers: dialogue (tone of voice, accent), ambience, sound effects, music. All work together, also mostly work unconsciously.

Like text, movies are linear. They take place over time, one shot after another, just as one word of text comes after another. This horizontal progression of sounds and images is easy to recognize. What is perhaps less noticeable is the vertical layering of the elements. (To use the music idea again, we’re talking about harmony rather than melody.)

He used three clips to show how these building blocks work together to build suspense and kindle emotions in the viewer.

1. A reproduction of a Van Gogh painting: first the image, then the image with music, finally the image with the music after telling us that “this is believed to be the last canvas Vincent painted before he killed himself in 1890 at the age of 37.” Did that change our response to the image?

2. A clip from the Hollywood classic, High Noon (1952), in which the marshal is waiting for the bad guys, who are arriving by train. Medium and point-of-view shots as well as close-ups are used to build tension. The lighting is harsh, with lots of contrast. Sometimes the background is the brightest part of a scene, while one actor’s shadow falls on another. All this has an unconscious effect on the viewer. Extreme close-ups show people’s reactions or anticipation. Tighter shots quicken the pace, while a sequence of four close-up looks creates the effect that time is extended. Dramatic music signals the beginning of the showdown.

3. A clip from The Matrix (1999), in which Morpheus offers Neo two pills: one red, one blue. Different types of shots, the low lighting, the rain, and thunder and lightning establish the mood and add suspense. The camera focuses on important elements: the glass of water, Morpheus’s sunglasses (mysterious), the two pills. Music and sounds support the visuals: suspenseful music, changes in music, lighting strikes, high-pitched sounds, perhaps a clock ticking and ethereal singing. An important moment is reflected in a big swell in the music.

The Job of a Film Editor

The film editor’s job is somewhere between that of a music composer and collage artist, weaving together a complex of pre-recorded material, usually captured by others, into a unified whole. They have a lot of creative leeway, like the print editor, who is “invisible” if they’ve done their job right.

The actors’ eyes are the most important element, capturing emotion and intention. At the same time, the viewer tends to look at the person not speaking, so part of the art of an editor is to know when to use that to advantage. Going from a wide shot to a close-up builds intensity.

Are there different types of editing, as there are in print? In big films, yes; there is an editing team, with a film’s structure and pacing controlled by the editor at the “top”. There is a separate sound department; different people are responsible for dialog, music, and sound. But it can be a two-way street, with editors putting in certain cuts and sound effects, even music. In a documentary, the work of the editor as author is easier to see, since they are structuring the work from the raw material rather than from a script.

The editor and the director will have a high-level conversation before filming to discuss the scope of the film. They watch all the takes in script order, and the editor will take notes. The editor can request a reshoot; it depends on the budget. A smart producer will allow a week for reshooting six months after shooting ends. In the case of a documentary, the editor and maybe also the director will do a “paper edit” after filming to decide how to structure the film.

Film and Print Editing: Similarities

Both the print editor and the film editor are de facto advocates for the end user. It is their responsibility to think hard about how the reader and the viewer are reacting at each moment. Is the work clear and understandable from sentence to sentence, shot to shot? Is it boring, or does it compel the user to turn the page or stay glued to the couch? Is it well paced? Does it hold the reader and the viewer? Does the work both entertain and also delve deeper, and with greater wisdom, into life’s mysteries?

Both types of editor must understand how viewers view and readers read, but they also need to be aware of how genres and styles continue to evolve in a rapidly changing world. How does an editor navigate these changes and contradictions?

In the end, there is also the important question of elegance and polish. There should be no mistakes, no missteps, no awkwardness, no typos or misspellings. No bad acting or continuity errors, no superfluous dialogue in fiction. In these ways, we are comrades. We want the same thing, and we’re responsible for making it happen.

“Complementary Pairs” and “Back to the Future”

On Wednesday, September 8, 2020, five hardy souls braved the cool, early fall air and gathered in the pavilion at Lake Ontario Park, King Street West, Kingston. We welcomed a new visitor, Barbara Muirhead.

“Complementary Pairs”

Jim Penistan had set us an editors’ challenge: why is one word considered obscure (e.g., dysphemism) when its opposite (euphemism) is in almost everyone’s vocabulary?

Everybody knows ambidextrous (the condition of equal adeptness with both hands) but not the condition of equal clumsiness: ambisinistral or ambilaetrous. Most people understand pejorative (“expressing contempt or disapproval”), yet its opposite – meliorative (“making something better”) is barely known.

Among literary academics, exegesis (“reading from the text”) is often used, but eisegesis (“reading into the text”) is used almost exclusively by biblical scholars. Most people know that periphraxis means “talking (or writing) roundabout” or “using many words for something”; few know that monophrasis means “using one word rather than several.”

Other attendees contributed consociation (“companionship,” “fellowship,” “close or familiar association”) and disunion (“opposition,” “disassociation,” “dissimilarity”), orthodox and heterodox, diagonal and orthogonal, transgender and cisgender.

Talking about these examples led into a lively discussion of etymology (in the first example, dys is Greek for “bad,” while eu is Greek for “good”) and the goals of, and approaches to, editing. Sometimes our use of complementary pairs overlaps: using a euphemism, or periphraxis, rather than monophrasis (e.g., where the word feces or excrement becomes poo in everyday parlance and sometimes shit for extra emphasis). New words come into everyday vocabulary in particular situations (fomite, which means “surfaces,” has become more widely known during the pandemic.

“Back to the Future”

Almost six months into the pandemic, most people’s work hasn’t been affected, and aside from trying to finding more work, things will likely carry on like this. Elizabeth’s online copy editing course was affected because of the situation of some participants: they became too busy to complete the course; they had to share their computer; one’s participation was delayed because she came down with the virus.

Wednesday, October 14

At our next meeting, Clarke Mackey will talk to us about film editing and the parallels he has found with word editing. We hope you can join us on Zoom at 7:00 p.m.

Fun with Hard-Copy Marks

The sound of pencils scratching on paper filled the boardroom of the Ongwanada Centre as the editors of the Kingston twig delved into a task that was once the mainstay of the editorial profession but is rare today: marking up paper manuscript pages. I had brought along an exercise for practising hard-copy marks that I use with students in my Ryerson editing class, and everyone gave it a try. Some younger attendees were new to this task, while some veterans (myself included) found themselves a bit rusty. But everyone seemed to find it satisfying to produce a physical product by their editorial labours for a change.

While almost all editing is done onscreen these days, traditional paper marks for copy editing and proofreading still have a strong association with the editing profession, and are still used in some contexts. Editing students still learn the basics in most programs, and the proofreaders’ symbols especially are finding new life in onscreen PDF markup in the form of custom stamps.

Before breaking out the homework, we looked at various sample lists of marks and discussed the differences (which are either trivially minor or startlingly significant depending on whom you ask), shared stories of the last time we used them, traded tips for making them clear, and theorized about when certain more esoteric examples might be used (hair space, anyone?).

And I, showing off a decades-old example of my own hard-copy markup, was astonished at how neat it was! My skills have sadly deteriorated through disuse.

Announcements from National

Stephanie shared some news from Editors Canada:

  • Editors Canada’s second international conference will be held in Montreal at the end of June
  • Stephanie participated in the most recent meeting of twig and branch
    co-ordinators, which are now being held fairly regularly; there was a good exchange of information and ideas, with the overall lesson being that many other local groups face similar struggles to ours of fewer members or volunteers as they’d like
  • A number of national committee positions and National Executive posts are open; if you’re considering volunteering at the national level, contact past chair Gael Spivak for more information

 

More Great Guest Speakers Coming Soon!

March 11: Shelley Tanaka, award-winning Kingston writer and editor, especially known for children’s and young adult literature

April 8: David Sweet of Books and Company, beloved indie bookstore in Picton

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.

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POSTPONED: Shelley Tanaka Talks Children’s Books

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUPDATE: Shelley Tanaka’s visit has been postponed (poor Shelley has broken her ankle). The March 11 meeting has been cancelled, but we’ll be sure to have Shelley come speak to us when she’s up and around again!

On Wednesday, March 11, Editors Kingston will welcome Shelley Tanaka at the twig gathering.

Shelley Tanaka is the long-time fiction editor at Groundwood Books, an independent Canadian children’s publisher based in Toronto, where she has edited more than a dozen Governor General’s Award–winning books. She also teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts, in the Masters of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

As well as sharing tales from her career in editing, Shelley will talk about how editing for young readers differs from editing books for adults. She’ll also describe how the children’s book business has changed over the years.

More about Shelley

Climate Change - Tanaka, ShelleyShelley is the author of more than 20 non-fiction books for children and young adults, including seven titles in the award-winning I Was There series (examples are On Board the Titanic, Attack on Pearl Harbor, and Climate Change). She has  won numerous other prizes, and her books have been translated into nine languages.

WhiteAsMilk-coverBShelley is also a translator and has twice been nominated for the annual German Children’s Literature Award. A recent translation is White as Milk, Red as Blood, a collection of 19th-century German folk tales. She not only translated these stories but  also developed the proposal to have them published in English.

Shelley lives in Kingston. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and German from Queen’s University and a master’s in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto.

Coming Up April 8

David Sweet of Books and Company, beloved indie bookstore in Picton, will speak at our April gathering.

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.

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Coming Up February 12: Fun with Hard-Copy Marks

The pointy symbol on the Editors Kingston logo is …

  • (a) an upside-down letter V, illustrating how editors put language right when it has gone awry
  • (b) a tent, symbolizing a snug home for every word in the wilderness of text
  • (c) a witch’s hat, because editors work deep magic
  • (d) a caret mark, used in traditional paper copy editing to show exactly where in a line of text a change written above the line applies

While all of these frankly seem plausible to us (good editing surely has something of the magical about it!), we are told that the Editors Canada logo designers had (d) in mind. Clearly, while almost all editing is done onscreen these days, the traditional marks that copy editors used for most of the twentieth century to show changes on a paper manuscript still have a strong association with the profession.

These marks are still used in some contexts, and editing students in most programs are required to at least become familiar with them. The related (but not quite identical) marks used traditionally at the proofreading stage are used perhaps even more often, and are finding new life in onscreen PDF markup in the form of custom stamps.

So we thought it would be fun and instructive to spend the next twig gathering exploring these squiggles together! We’ll have some hands-on paper exercises for everyone to try, an onscreen demonstration of downloading stamps for pdf markup, and plenty of time to share experiences and opinions. If paper editing is new to you, come to learn;  if you are an old hand at it, come to share your knowledge—and perhaps discover some variations on it

If you have a document that you (or someone else, with their permission) has edited on paper with traditional marks, bring it in to share—even better, scan it and email it to Stephanie (sstone4@cogeco.ca) by Tuesday, February 11, and we can compare editing “handwriting.”

More Great Guest Speakers Coming Soon!

March 11: Shelley Tanaka, award-winning Kingston writer and editor

April 8: David Sweet of Books and Company, beloved indie bookstore in Picton

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.

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John Thompson on Editing Nunatsiaq News

by Camille Croteau

On Wednesday, January 8th, the Editors Kingston twig met for its monthly meeting. I’m a new member to this twig, and I was very eager to meet my colleagues and learn about the unique role that John Thompson plays as the web editor for Nunatsiaq News. Not only did we get a chance to hear about the intricacies of publishing for a multicultural and geographically massive region, but John also shared with us his experiences of working remotely.

Nunatsiaq News is the newspaper of record for Nunavut and the Nunavik territory of northern Quebec. It’s published online daily and in print weekly, and it’s been around since 1975. Nunatsiaq News is read by over 70,000 readers each week, many ­­of whom live in the Arctic.

It’s important to recognize that not all Indigenous groups are the same. Inuit, Métis, and First Nations peoples represent the three groups of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and each has a unique culture and history.

Inuit means “the people.” Some say that makes “the Inuit people” redundant. Also to be avoided is “Inuits.” Inuk refers to one person of Inuit descent. There was also some discussion around periods of word transitions and the debates around proper language usage. For example, some argue that Inuktut should be used as an umbrella term for different dialects of the language. The term Inuktitut has historically served this purpose, but it also refers to several specific dialects spoken in Nunavut. Either way, as an editor, it can be difficult to manage these words-in-flux so that readers understand the written content and so that the writer’s story is accurate.

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In addition to these uses, other uses of originally Indigenous words could be negatively received if written in the adapted (or stolen) English spelling. For example, in some circumstances it could be culturally insensitive to spell words such as iglu and qajaq using English spelling. It makes me wonder whether editors who are not writing for the Nunavummiut explicitly are considering these types of cultural concerns during the editorial process.

We also learned some rather humorous mistakes that can occur when working with the Inuit language. The crowd favourite was the word Iqualuit, a misspelling of Iqaluit (the capital of Nunavut) that means “people with unwiped bums.” I’m happy to finally have a word for that! Additionally, I hadn’t known about the historic implementation of syllabics in Inuktitut. Syllabics is a form of abugida, which is writing that is based on consonant–vowel pairs. The language is very intuitive, and, for many, using it is considered a part of the Inuit identity.

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John’s talk opened my eyes to the relationship between language and Inuit identities. This was also mentioned by Jim Penistan, who talked about the book he had recently purchased, Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writers by and about Indigenous People. Language, when speaking about the Indigenous population, is particularly important since language can convey importance, respect, and values. Respecting Indigenous language identity and ownership should be a priority for editors when discussing the Indigenous community.

Coming Up

February 12: Fun with Hard-Copy Marks—Let’s explore these retro editing squiggles together! Come to learn or to share your expertise (or perhaps a bit of both). We’ll have hands-on exercises and a discussion of contexts in which the marks are relevant today.

March 11: Shelley Tanaka, award-winning Kingston writer and editor

April 8: David Sweet of Books and Company, beloved indie bookstore in Picton

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.

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Elizabeth d’Anjou and Stephanie Stone

Editors Kingston coordinators

Coming Up January 8: John Thompson on Editing Nunatsiaq News

What’s the one typo you really need to avoid in Inuktitut?

To find out, join us on January 8 for the first Editors Kingston gathering of 2020, where John Thompson will share his experiences as web editor for Nunatsiaq News and other publications based in the North.

We’ll also learn about the editing process at an online news site, how staff residing thousands of kilometres apart collaborate, and what it was like to live and work in Iqaluit.

About John

John Thompson is a writer and editor who has spent more than a decade working as a journalist in Canada’s North. From his current base in Kingston, he serves as the web editor of Nunatsiaq News, the newspaper of record for Canada’s eastern Arctic.

John started his journalism career working as a reporter and assistant editor for Nunatsiaq News while living in Iqaluit, Nunavut. He then moved to Whitehorse, where he reported for the Yukon News and later served as that newspaper’s editor. Before returning to Nunatsiaq News, he spent a time serving as the managing editor of the online news startup Arctic Deeply.

More Great Guest Speakers Coming Soon!

March 11: Shelley Tanaka, award-winning Kingston writer and editor

April 8: David Sweet of Books and Company, beloved indie bookstore in Picton

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.

Editors_t_Kingston_EN_rgb

Elizabeth d’Anjou and Stephanie Stone

Editors Kingston coordinators

Holiday Social

Old Man Winter tries, but fails, to stamp out editorial fellowship!
(Thanks to Matt for the photo.)

Food, fun, and friendship—and, of course, the highs and lows of editing—were all on display at the Editors Kingston holiday social.

Seven twiggers, both veterans and newcomers, gathered at Milestones on Princess Street in Kingston. More than twice that number had planned to come, but unfortunately, Mother Nature chose that day to snow and blow, keeping many people from making the trip from out of town and even across town.

But, as the song says, though the weather outside was frightful, inside it was warm and delightful.

Coming Up January 8

While the weather was disappointing for its effect on our social, the memory of it will set the mood for our January program!

Former twig member and continuing “friend” John Thompson will share his experiences working for Nunatsiaq News, editing in and about the Canadian Arctic!

Watch this space for more details.

More Great Guest Speakers Coming Soon!

March 11: Shelley Tanaka, award-winning Kingston writer, editor, and translator

April 8: David Sweet of Books and Company, beloved indie bookstore in Picton

Join Us

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue
7 to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Free for Editors Canada members
$5 for visitors

Find Us on Facebook

Whether or not you come to our gatherings, feel free to join our Facebook group and chat with other Kingston-area editors and assorted word nerds.

Editors_t_Kingston_EN_rgb

Elizabeth d’Anjou and Stephanie Stone

Editors Kingston coordinators