Resources round-up: Copyright

Welcome to this round-up of resources from the CIEP. This time, our subject is copyright.

How much you need to know about copyright as a publishing professional will vary according to the role you have within the publishing process. The resources in this round-up should get you started in understanding the basics, and at the end we’ll point you towards three courses that will teach you the principles of copyright in more detail.

An overview of copyright

Before launching into the details of copyright, it’s worth taking some time to understand what it is and does. The CIEP’s new fact sheet ‘Copyright’, by Pippa Smart, is a great start here. It covers what copyright is and who owns it, how copyright works can be used, moral rights, and instances where you don’t need permission, plus details like copyright layers and the Berne three-step test, all from a UK perspective. Soon this fact sheet will be available to members only, but it’s currently available for a limited time to non-members too.

Detailed guidance

Once you’re ready to look at copyright in more detail you can find information on the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) website, with links to the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office and other official guidance. The UK government is a good source of detailed information on copyright, including a list of exceptions to copyright.

Check out these fact sheets from the UK Copyright Service, too: UK copyright law, using the work of others, understanding fair use and obtaining permission to use copyright material.

Resources by publishers and authors

It can be especially useful to look at copyright from the point of view of publishers and authors. The Publishers Association has produced guidance, as has the Society of Authors. As far as self-publishing goes, Pippa Smart recommends this blog post from the ALLi website about one independent author’s use of song lyrics. Resources by US-based Helen Sedwick on lyrics and images are also useful for self-published authors.

Bookshop sign

Copyright by the book

A book that many editors will already own is Butcher’s Copy-editing, and Section 3.7 is devoted to copyright permissions and acknowledgements. There are also chapters about copyright within other books about the wider publishing process:

  • Inside Book Publishing by Giles Clark and Angus Phillips (Routledge, 2019) – Chapter 12 is on rights sales.
  • The Professionals’ Guide to Publishing by Gill Davies and Richard Balkwill (Kogan Page, 2011) – Chapter 8 is about understanding how rights and permissions work.

If you want to delve deeper, try:

  • Copyright Law for Writers, Editors and Publishers by Gillian Davies in association with Ian Bloom (A & C Black, 2011), reviewed on the CIEP website.
  • Publishing Law by Hugh Jones and Christopher Benson (Routledge, 2016).

Courses on copyright

If you’d like more confidence in understanding and working with copyright, a training course may be a good option. The CIEP offers Copyright for Editorial Professionals, an online self-study course of around 30 hours, and the PTC offers Copyright – the basics, an online, half-day course, and Essential copyright for publishers, an e-learning module.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: Laptop and notebook by Maya Maceka, bookshop sign by César Viteri, both on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

CIEP social media round-up: August and September 2022

Our social media team takes you through the CIEP content we’ve shared on our social media platforms during August and September 2022. This time, the emphasis falls on fiction.

Editing fiction

Several blog posts from August and September had the theme of fiction editing. There’s a common misconception out there that fiction editing is just a form of rather intense reading that you could carry out while sitting in a soft armchair drinking a mug of cocoa.

The first article listed here, which forms part of our curriculum for professional development, is by Jane Moody, our Training Director. She gives a detailed table of the competencies, skills and attitudes that we should be able to evidence as a professional fiction editor. Cocoa is optional.

One of the best sources of advice for CIEP members about how to become a fiction editor – or any type of editor – are the CIEP forums. This ‘Forum matters’ article points you in the direction of some of the best places to access information about fiction editing.

Rachel Lapidow edits role-playing games. The style sheets for such complex projects are detailed – the style sheet of her current work-in-progress is 60 pages long! She shares the structure of her style sheets and the process of creating them, and shows us how they can be useful for fiction editing too.

While you might think the main focus of fiction editing is dealing with fantasy, Sue Littleford reminds us that we also need to think about facts. Keeping records about your current work in order to optimise your future work is essential for editors of any subject matter, and fiction is no different. She describes three ways to keep records and introduces the CIEP’s free spreadsheet designed for record keeping.

‘Definite articles’ is our pick of recent editing-related content from all around the internet – and, in this edition, themes included the language of fiction, dialogue and character, plot, story and scenes, and the business side of fiction publishing.

The writing software Scrivener has some enthusiastic fans among the writing community. Scrivener allows you to restructure a piece of writing much more easily than is possible in Microsoft Word. In his ‘Talking tech’ column, Andy Coulson investigates whether Scrivener might also be a useful tool for developmental editors of fiction.

And in the editorial department …

Agile planning

An ‘Agile’ approach to planning – and the changes that occur in that planning – is a style of teamworking. It’s a project management model more familiar in the world of technology. Its principles make a priority of individuals, deliverables, collaboration and response to change. Steven Martin considers whether the Agile approach might work in publishing.

Project management

What does editorial project management actually involve and where do copyeditors and proofreaders fit into the process? In this post, editorial project manager Julia Sandford-Cooke describes her typical week and some of the tasks she often undertakes. Check out the CIEP’s Editorial Project Management course if you want to learn more.

Translation editing or copyediting?

Gwenydd Jones is an experienced translator. Early in her career she noticed clients were asking for ‘translation editing’ – with the term ‘editing’ being used very loosely. She explains what’s involved in the field of translation editing and considers how it shares similarities with copyediting.

Apostrophes

George Bernard Shaw hated them, but could we do without them? Is it time to ‘kill apostrophes’ or would that be ‘just plain wrong’? In her regular column ‘A Finer Point’, Cathy Tingle goes in search of the genuinely useful apostrophe and makes some interesting findings.

Working through the menopause

It is encouraging to see increasing numbers of conversations about menopause and perimenopause. Members of the CIEP forums shared their varied experiences of working through the menopause, which Liz Dalby has gathered here. This post also includes some links to helpful resources.

Networking and conferencing

September is usually the month of our annual CIEP Conference, so networking is on our minds. The word strikes fear into those of us of a more introvert nature. In this article, BookMachine’s Laura Summers puts paid to the image that networking has to be awkward or scary. And while networking is about making new connections and building on existing relationships, it’s also about learning and confidence-building. All things that you’ll experience at our annual conference, which you’ll be hearing about in various blog posts in the weeks to come!

The CIEP Annual Conference took place on 10–12 September 2022. Our theme was editing in a diverse world. It was our first hybrid conference (with sessions available online as well as in person); and it was our first in-person conference since 2019. Look out for blog posts in the near future on the sessions and some conference experiences from our delegates.

Our speakers did not disappoint, and special thanks go to Katherine May, Reverend Richard Coles and Ian McMillan.

CIEP Language Quiz 16

Finally, dare you try Quiz 16? It’s all about aspects of punctuation, grammar and usage when editing fiction.

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About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credit: wheat field by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Ten signs of possible plagiarism

Plagiarism in textbooks and other non-fiction resources is easily overlooked during production – but picking it up after publication is too late. Julia Sandford-Cooke raises some red flags that might suggest an author has copied their content from the web, and suggests some next steps if you think text is being reused without permission.

Plagiarism is a common problem in non-fiction texts – and probably in fiction texts as well but, as that’s not my specialism, this post focuses on non-fiction content, specifically text copied from websites.

If authors have been commissioned by a publisher, they will have been briefed about the importance of avoiding plagiarism. However, publishers often don’t have processes in place, or the budget to buy software, to check whether content is original. It may not be part of the development editor’s, copyeditor’s or proofreader’s brief to check for plagiarism (exactly who has this responsibility is beyond the scope of this post) but, ethically, you should be aware of signs of copying – and your client will be very grateful if you pick up plagiarism before the resource is too far down the line.

Why might authors plagiarise?

You may have seen headlines about plagiarised text in cookery books and even memoirs, but I think it’s rare for an author to deliberately plagiarise content. Text is more likely to be inadvertently copied.

It’s very easy to simply copy and paste text from a website into a Word or Google document. Authors may do so while carrying out research, and then forget to change the wording when they use it in their book or article.

Some authors believe that text copied from the internet is not covered by copyright laws – but it certainly is! Experienced authors sometimes reuse their own text that has been published elsewhere but normally (at least in educational publishing) the original publisher retains the rights to this text, so a different publisher cannot reuse the same text without permission, even if the author is the same.

Other authors may think that copied text comes under the ‘fair use’ rule of thumb, in which short excerpts don’t need permissions clearance, but this only covers content that is clearly presented as a quotation or excerpt, with a proper citation – not unattributed text taken from elsewhere without acknowledgement.

Ten possible plagiarism red flags

If you are working in Word, turn on Invisibles (click ¶ on your Word Home toolbar).

Content may have been copied from the internet if you spot some of the following:

  1. Non-breaking spaces (°) where you wouldn’t expect them. Authors rarely consciously use these in original content; however, it’s not always a sign of copying. For example, if the document has already been edited, you may see non-breaking spaces legitimately used between numbers and units (eg 2°km) to stop them being separated by breaking over a line. Otherwise, regard them as a warning sign.
  2. Soft returns ( ) instead of hard returns or paragraph marks (¶). Again, it’s unlikely that authors would deliberately use these, unless they are confident in working with highly formatted content. Web tools, however, often convert hard returns into soft returns when formatting in HTML.
  3. Random and irrelevant hyperlinks that may be hidden by reformatting – hover your mouse over the text to reveal them. You could right-click to reformat the link in the usual blue, underlined style, to draw attention to it.
  4. A sudden switch from UK- to US-style punctuation or vice versa (for example, from using spaced en rules to using unspaced em rules – see Example 1 below).
  5. Sudden, inconsistent use of -ize spellings if the prevailing style is -ise spellings. It can be an indication that content has been copied from an American website. Of course -ize spellings are acceptable in UK style but most British authors would choose -ise spellings, unless their specialism is, for example, business or economics. In any case, it is the inconsistency that raises the red flag here.
  6. Sudden, inconsistent use of capitalisation that differs from the author’s previous style (eg Principles of Management, the Client).
  7. Content that isn’t quite relevant or is too vague. In Example 1, the key term should have been ‘demographic movement’, as specified in the syllabus.
  8. A sudden change in style or tone, for example using more complex grammar or technical words that have not been used before, or a colourful turn of phrase that seems out of character.
  9. Marketing-speak in what should be objective content (see Example 2).
  10. Specific facts, figures and statistics – if they seem odd or out of date, check them online (for example, when text that was supposedly written recently mentions a scheme launched four years ago as if it were new).

Example 1

Supplied text: Key term: Demography is the study of the growth, structure, and movement of human populations. It focuses on enumerations (censuses), which take stock of a population at a moment in time, and also flows of vital events—births, deaths, marriages, and migratory movements.’

Giveaways: Change in tone; author hasn’t previously used the Oxford comma; sudden inclusion of an unspaced em rule; content not quite relevant to surrounding text; key term should be ‘demographic movement’, not ‘demography’. Pasting the text into Google reveals an exact match to Encyclopedia.com, including the punctuation. Although it could be argued that this short extract is ‘fair use’, a word-for-word mapping to a definition is not ideal.

Comment to the author: This text is copied from Encyclopedia.com. Please can you rewrite it in your own words, and also consider relating more directly to demographic movement, to clarify the concept for learners?

 

Example 2

Supplied text: Government funding for new business start-ups has no age limits. Any creative entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas, determination and solid business plans can apply for loans to help them get started. Remember you have to repay the money, with interest, over terms of up to five years. Over 10,000 businesses have taken advantage of these start-up loans since the scheme was launched in May 2012. Will you be next?’

Giveaways: Sudden change from a formal tone to a chatty marketing tone, which addresses the reader directly; reference to launch year implies it was recent when the text was written; figure of 10,000 possibly low for a ten-year period.

Comment to the author: This text is very marketing-orientated and seems to have been taken from [website]. Please amend it to take it further from the source material, and include some more recent figures.

Next steps if you suspect plagiarism

What should you do if you spot enough of these warning signs to make you suspect that some of the content is plagiarised from the web?

First, check for yourself: copy and paste suspect text into Google then, if it matches or nearly matches a source, note the link.

Reword the text if that’s the most efficient solution, or if you think the author won’t be able to do so within the time available, but do let them know.

Be polite but direct when telling authors they have plagiarised content – they will probably know it’s wrong and that they are guilty, especially if you can provide the exact URL they’ve used. I’ve had responses ranging from mortification to ‘It’s a fair cop! I’m impressed you noticed!’ but no author has refused to reword their text under these circumstances.

If you are working for a publisher, inform your in-house contact. Keep your report objective – state that you have identified some possible instances of plagiarism that you’ve marked up (or amended) and discussed with the author. Of course, if huge chunks of text have been copied, inform the publisher immediately so they can take steps to rectify it, minimising the impact on the budget and schedule.

Whatever the case, don’t ignore the problem. Section 3.1.3 of the CIEP Code of Practice states: ‘Members should be familiar with the main provisions of the current relevant legislation … in particular relating to … the reproduction of copyright material belonging to third parties. They should endeavour to ensure that these provisions are adhered to and bring any suspected infringement to the attention of the client.’

Even if it’s not technically your job to spot plagiarism, you have a duty to draw attention to it.

About Julia-Sandford Cooke

Julia Sandford-CookeAdvanced Professional Member and CIEP Information Team member Julia Sandford-Cooke of WordFire Communications has clocked up nearly 25 years in publishing. When not editing textbooks, she posts short, grumpy book reviews on her blog, Ju’s Reviews, and would like to get on with writing her novel if only work didn’t keep getting in the way.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: peacock feather by Magda Ehlers and mountain by Chris Czermak, both on Pexels.

Posted by Julia Sandford-Cooke, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

An author’s experience of being edited

Aaron Wilkes is a prolific school textbook author. In this blog post, he talks about his experiences of being edited and shares the things that have made the editing process easier for him.

I’ve been in the ‘writing game’ for quite some time now, perhaps nearly 20 years, and I’ve been either the sole author, co-author or ‘series editor’ for over 80 student textbooks, revision guides and online resources, from Key Stages 1 to 4. I’m a history teacher by trade – it was my full-time job up to a few years ago – but, in my spare time, I’ve written for Stanley Thornes (that then became Nelson Thornes), Folens and, most recently (for the last ten years), Oxford University Press. Over the years, I’ve worked with lots of editors, both in-house and freelance, and thought I’d share my experiences of being edited and how some editors have really helped make the whole editing process easier (or in some cases, harder).

Friendly introductions

Firstly, it’s just really nice to get a friendly introductory email. I don’t expect War and Peace, but a simple ‘Hi, I’m … and I’ll be working on … etc, etc’ with a phone number is always appreciated. A quick chat over the phone can be lovely too. In fact, a quick chat is often worth its weight in gold because it gives me a chance to put a ‘voice’ to the comments and feedback I’ll get.

Now I completely understand that both writers and editors are really busy, but sometimes it can be helpful to just have a 10–15-minute conversation about things. I’m sure we’ve all received text messages that we’ve looked at and thought ‘I’m not sure how to take that’. It can be the same with feedback on manuscripts. Depending on the day I’m having, the feedback can sometimes be taken ‘wrongly’. This is where an initial chat on the phone can help, just so I feel more familiar with the editor and ‘get them’ a bit more. Writing is quite a lonely profession – you tend to sit on your own, in the quiet, for long periods of time – and when it comes to making revisions, the offer of a chat is sometimes really nice.

I’ve been working with an editor who is new to the team at OUP and she always signs off her emails by saying if you don’t want to spend lots of time answering via email, just give me a call and we’ll chat things through. Most of the time I respond by email, but sometimes it’s really nice to talk. Open lines of communication are a really important part of the process.

Woman talking on a mobile phone at her office desk

Solution-focused feedback

Another part of the process that I really value is the way I get my feedback. Personally, I don’t mind at all if an editor makes minor changes (though I still want Track Changes to show me what they are!). I write lots of words that make up lots of sentences, so will sometimes mess up the way I structure a sentence, or simply ‘overwrite’ something that can be expressed more succinctly. The editors I find easiest to work with simply fix these problems with minimal fuss. I like it when that happens – I trust the editor to get that right. And when I’ve had a conversation with the editor already, when I’ve chatted on the phone, it makes me value their changes more because I think that they understand me a little.

With slightly larger changes, in my opinion, the best editors are the ones that help you out! They throw me a bone when something reads a little ‘off’. I might have pored over the paragraph for over an hour, and in my eyes I’ve made it as good as it can be. If an editor thinks there should be a change to the ‘thrust’ or shape of the paragraph (or perhaps the whole spread itself), it is so incredibly helpful if they help out a little and shape it how they want to. It’s so nice when I read in the comments at the side of a Word document, ‘I think this might read a little better like this: [and then they construct, or part-construct the text] – have a look and let me know what you think.’ Most times I will just accept these changes.

Feedback that doesn’t overwhelm

When I get an edited manuscript back it’s usually accompanied by a load of mark-ups and comments via Track Changes. If there are loads of comments and changes – and the manuscript is awash with different coloured text where revisions have been made – it can be a little daunting (and demoralising). In recent years, I have asked my editors to clean it up a little before I get it back. Especially if the manuscript has gone to two or more people, and they’ve all made comments – do I really need to see the whole discussion? As I mentioned before, I’m happy for the changes to be made and sent back to me for a final ‘yes’ (it’s nearly always ‘yes’).

In a similar vein, feedback from OUP arrives in two forms – and I like it. The manuscript is edited and I get feedback via comments and Track Changes. All good. Then, at the next stage (when the first proof is ready), I get a ‘queries grid’, which is a Word document that acts as a conversation between reviewer, editor(s) and me. This is the part of the process that is sometimes done over the phone, and is where the quality of the relationship between editor and author is important. These grids are used to track decisions made together about queries.

Typewriter typing the text "rewrite... edit... rewrite... edit... rewrite"

Concrete examples

Another particularly powerful idea is to actually show an author the direction you want them to go in. I’ve just undertaken a new project in which the style of writing is a little different to what I’m used to. The editor simply exemplified what was required – she gave a WAGOLL. This is something that most teachers are familiar with – What A Good One Looks Like. I think this is key for getting the best out of an author – model what you want them to do.

I think this is especially important with new authors. I regard myself as a bit of an ‘old lag’ now. It’s never my first rodeo when I get a new book contract, but I know (because they’ve told me) that new authors find it really helpful to be shown what needs to be done. I’m not entirely sure that sending them a ten-page document covering what needs to be included is particularly helpful – it’s just a ‘wall of words’ – so in my experience the most productive new author meetings are the ones where you sit round a table (or on Teams) and have an experienced author come up with five, eight or ten top tips or ‘golden rules’ for writing spreads. I’ve done this several times with new author teams where I’ve sat with them and explained how a spread is formed and how the process works for me.


I enjoy and value working with editors, and have always embraced the process. I’ve become really friendly with several editors, and have even phoned them to pick their brains on little issues that have cropped up when working on other projects. To their credit, they have always been most helpful, and I have returned the favour several times when I’ve been contacted by editors who wanted a chat about something that they were struggling to get their head around. I realise that every editor–author relationship will be different, but I hope the things that have helped the editing process to go more smoothly for me might help other editors and writers out there too.

About Aaron Wilkes

Headshot of Aaron WilkesAaron Wilkes has over 20 years’ experience in teaching history and writing school textbooks. During this time he’s written or contributed to over 80 textbooks, revision guides and online resources. He leads the PGCE Secondary History course at the University of Warwick and is the co-creator and owner of the online history journal practicalhistories.com.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: pencils by Agence Olloweb on Unsplash, woman on phone by Vlada Karpovich, typewriter by Suzy Hazelwood, both on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

How to network better

Laura Summers of BookMachine explores networking benefits, tips and more.

From small beginnings in 2010, starting as a group of colleagues coming together to talk about the book publishing industry, the BookMachine community has grown to become a global organisation. During this time I’ve met hundreds of editors and proofreaders. I remember some of them really well because they’ve stood out against the crowd by their ability to network.

Instead of simply telling me or anyone they’re networking with about themselves and leaving it at that, these professionals show their ‘interest’. They do this by asking insightful questions and aim to be the ‘interested’ person in each discussion or conversation they’re in.

Even if you’re not a networking fan, it’s one of the easiest ways to form connections that might lead to new opportunities. Thankfully, living in today’s digital world means we have online communities that make networking easier for all of us (introverts, extroverts and ambiverts!) to connect.

Not convinced that networking is for you? Here are three reasons to get started.

1.  Spread the word

If you’re a freelance editor or proofreader, networking is an essential way to let people know what you do. Having an up-to-date website is a great start, but to ensure that the right opportunities come your way, you need to connect with others and tell them specifically about what you can do for them.

Networking isn’t limited to talking with potential clients. When you network with other freelancers, along with gaining advice and friendships, you can create partnerships and offer your clients a better service. For example, if you are an editor you can partner with a copywriter to offer your clients more skills.

2.  Understand industry trends better

I read The Bookseller online daily, but there is still so much more to know about the industry. The more people you speak to and connect with, the more you understand current trends in the industry. This, in turn, gives you a deeper understanding of what’s important to your clients and their businesses.

Having more industry knowledge also gives you the added bonus of having more professional topics to talk about during meetings – whether you’re a freelancer or an in-house professional.

3.  Gain more confidence

This one is simple. The more you meet and talk to people, the easier it gets.

Convinced about networking but unsure where to begin?

Explore membership organisations

As well as using CIEP membership to connect with editors and proofreaders through virtual and in-person events and the CIEP forums, consider joining BookMachine’s vibrant community to interact and learn during mixers, virtual hangouts and in-person events. If you want to mix a bit of exercise with networking and check two things off your list at one go, you could even come for our ‘Walk & Talk’ events!

If you’re a publishing hopeful, perhaps in the early stages of your career, think about the Society of Young Publishers (SYP). Attending SYP events and conferences, signing up to be a member and applying for their mentorship programme can help you get your foot in the door and teach you how to network better. Since it’s a volunteer-run organisation, you can even get involved with their online and in-person events if you have something to offer.

Leverage social media

Whether it’s BookTok, Bookstagram or #BookTwitter, there are plenty of ways for you to find fellow publishing professionals and connect with them on social media. Following some of the most valuable and popular accounts within publishing can help keep you in the loop and give you the opportunity to join discussions, conversations and events.

When it comes to social media, don’t underestimate the power of hashtags and the ability to squeeze yourself into a conversation when possible. Try keeping an eye on (or follow) hashtags like #workinpublishing, #publishing and #joinbooks.

Five valuable publishing-related accounts to follow on Twitter: The CIEP; BookMachine; Publishers Association; The Publishing Post; BookBrunch.

Use LinkedIn wisely

When you connect with someone, send a note. Introduce yourself and include a few words about what you do and why you’re interested in connecting with them.

Twitter will cap your tweets at 280 characters, but on LinkedIn, there’s no such limit when you post. But the key is to keep your interactions short and sweet – people have limited attention spans and time when networking. The goal is to make yourself memorable and interesting within that short interaction.

Be helpful

Another useful way to stand out is to answer questions using advanced search. Both Twitter and LinkedIn have great search capabilities. Think about the questions you had when you started out. Or even questions you had two months ago. Search those questions and variations of them on these sites.

What you want is to be helpful to those in your industry and around you. Offer answers, insights, or even follow-up questions to make the discussion more interesting. Don’t worry about sharing your tips and secrets – collaborating and boosting others in your industry is an ideal way to start networking.

Step forward as a speaker

Another idea to network and simultaneously showcase your skills is to pitch yourself as a speaker or as part of a panel at any relevant event. Pitch ideas to event organisers and highlight your areas of expertise so they can introduce you and your work to a wide audience. You can find plenty of these events when you start following and interacting with publishing professionals and publishers on social media.

Have a positive attitude

Finally, networking may seem challenging but try to think about it in terms of building relationships, friendships and long-lasting connections. The more people you know and speak with, the better and easier it will be for you to find the right opportunities to help your career thrive. On a personal level, it’ll also boost confidence in your intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships.

Also, it’s easier once you get started – I promise!

About Laura Summers

Laura Summers is the Director of BookMachine, the fast-growing global Community and Creative Agency specialising in book publishing. Her mission is to provide every publishing professional with the knowledge, ideas and connections to help them to progress in their careers. Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraSummersNow. Connect with Laura on LinkedIn.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: maze by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash, networking meeting by Redmind Studio on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Talking tech: Scrivener

In this Talking tech column, Andy Coulson takes a closer look at the writing software Scrivener, and investigates how it might also be useful for development editors, especially in fiction.

Header image of pen and notepaperWith any writing, if you ask most people what tools they use, Microsoft Word is likely to be the first thing that comes to mind. However, Scrivener is a tool for writers that its developers describe as a tool that ‘combines all the tools you need to create a first draft’. I’m going to take a look at Scrivener and see what it does and whether it might be a useful tool for us as editors and proofreaders to consider.

Scrivener has been around since 2006 and the current version (3.0) is available for Windows, Mac and iOS. It combines a word processor, outliner and tools to manage research. While this might sound like your familiar Word environment it offers a different, more flexible and freeform way to organise your work. The ‘Getting Started’ document in Scrivener describes a number of scenarios, but one in particular that felt familiar to me was where you might produce some parts of a written piece quickly and easily, but struggle with others. The process of producing a draft then involves linking those bits that are clear and filling in the gaps and the more unclear bits. Scrivener allows you to develop a process that lets you capture and reorganise those bits in a way that would be far more difficult in Word.

Features

Screenshot from Scrivener showing the sidebar on the left and document in the middle

Scrivener projects are not just a text file like Word (although Word files are a bit more complex than that): they are a collection of files that Scrivener refers to as a project. You can decide on your own organising principle, but for this article I will use the model the ‘Getting Started’ document in Scrivener uses. The key element is the binder, the sidebar in the interface that has a stacked list of all the elements of the project, which you can see on the left of the screenshot above. The content you are writing all sits within a ‘Draft’ folder. Under this there are top-level folders for chapters, second-level folders for parts and then documents, some of which have subdocuments containing the text.

Breaking up a large writing task in this way also helps to support the writing process (or any long project) by giving you a smaller task to aim at. Scrivener includes further tools that build on this, like writing targets. These allow you to set a target word count for the whole draft and for each writing session, which can help with motivation. The model of breaking, say, a chapter into smaller files can also help as it allows you to see your progress more clearly. There is also a ‘Composition Mode’ that is very clean and sparse if you find the distraction-free approach helps with writing.

One of the big differences from Word is that you can associate synopses and notes with each document. The synopsis is always linked to the document, and this can be viewed in the Outline and Corkboard tools to allow you to get different overviews of your whole project. Notes can then be used to keep any ideas that don’t need to be in the text, such as problems you can’t fix or ideas you can’t immediately work on, or what one review described as ‘a random epiphany’.

Another feature is that you can add labels and statuses to documents. You can assign labels for a whole project and give them different colours. You can use virtually anything as a label, but ‘Getting Started’ gives the example of using this to record the character whose point of view a document is written from, to help with reviewing the structure of a story. A status is a simple text label, intended to keep track of the state of the text – ‘done’, ‘in progress’, ‘first draft’, etc.

Another potentially useful feature is Snapshots. This allows you to take a snapshot of a document at a particular moment in time. You can then compare the text (but not format) changes in this to the current version and see the differences. In Scrivener you will tend to work on smaller chunks of text than in Word, as you split the project into multiple documents, which means the compare function is much easier to use than the one in Word.

Person researching their writing project

Scrivener also allows you to keep all of your research material within the project for easy reference. This can be material created in Scrivener (the ‘Getting Started’ document has examples of character and location sheets as the references for those things in a story), Word documents, PDFs, images, and video or audio files. These are all organised within a research folder in the binder. There is also a handy scratchpad feature for making quick notes about, say, a website that you can then save within your project.

You may remember that at the start of this section I said all of your writing is stored in a ‘Draft’ folder. This is so that you can export (or ‘compile’, in Scrivener terminology) the finished draft into another format. Scrivener supports a range of output formats, including docx and pdf. You can mark different levels of file or folder as different section types, so clearly identify where chapters and parts break. When you compile you can add further options, like using a specific font, or sectional numbering, giving you a lot of control over the finished output. The Word docx output looks very accurate and retains styles accurately, both by name and in the style features.

All in all, this is a well-written program with a clean and reasonably easy-to-use interface, given the number of features it has. Looking at it with my writing hat on I can really see the advantages of it. In many ways it is a much nicer writing environment than the standard Word interface, offering a less cluttered feel. With a 30 days actual usage trial (in other words you can use it in full for 30 days, even if it takes six months to do that) and for $45 this offers writers a really good alternative tool.

Scrivener for editors?

From an editing point of view, Scrivener lacks a lot of Word’s tools. There is no Track Changes function (although Snapshots could be used in an ad-hoc way), no support for macros and no support for PerfectIt. There is a comments function that is similar to Word’s Modern Comments feature but is slightly quicker to use. Comments are tagged with the name of their author along with the time and date. However, you can’t reply to comments like you can in Word.

For most copyeditors and proofreaders, Scrivener probably isn’t going to be much help. However, you can at least be certain that if your author uses Scrivener, the Word file you get will be an accurate representation of what they have. It may also mean that the author has notes and research to hand that will make dealing with queries simpler.

For development editors Scrivener could be a different proposition. It could certainly cut down on some of the back and forth of clarifying issues within a manuscript if the research, notes and comments are all available to the development editor. I think you could also manage quite a bit of the communication about the manuscript within the Scrivener file, again helping you to organise and follow how it develops.

About Andy Coulson

Andy CoulsonAndy Coulson is a reformed engineer and primary teacher, and a Professional Member of CIEP. He is a copyeditor and proofreader specialising In STEM subjects and odd formats like LaTeX.

 

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: desktop by Tobias Herrmann on Pixabay; researcher by StockSnap on Pixabay.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Flying Solo: Facts for fiction editors

In this Flying Solo column, Sue Littleford looks at how the Going Solo toolkit’s work record spreadsheet can be modified for use by fiction editors, and finds out how three fiction editors keep records about their work.

Fiction editors can’t avoid diving into non-fiction when they’re running their businesses rather than editing. The Going Solo toolkit’s work record spreadsheet (available as a member benefit – you’ll need to be logged in to the CIEP website to download it) is heavily geared towards the kind of breakdown of jobs that a non-fiction editor will find useful. Those categories don’t really work for fiction editing, beyond word count, time taken and fee charged, so I’ve been talking to three fiction editors about their own record-keeping.

Why keep records about completed work?

Editors and proofreaders in all niches need to keep track of their work and the time it takes them if they’re to have a solid basis from which to calculate quotes of cost and time. In June 2021, I looked at how to use the filter with a spreadsheet of data about the work you’ve done to get the best use of it when it comes to preparing a new quote or estimate.

Another benefit of compiling records of your work (for CIEP members and prospective members) is that you can send in a spreadsheet of the relevant details with an upgrade application instead of having to type out everything again on the application form, and it’s easy to see when you’ve achieved the necessary hours of experience.

But the main and ongoing benefit is not having to snatch figures out of the air when it comes to your pricing, and knowing the answer to the eternal question ‘How long will it take?’ You can also see if you’re getting faster or slower overall, see the impact using a new tool makes on your speeds (or a change in the material you’re working with) and, especially with repeat clients, ensure consistency in your pricing approach, and see how jobs from a particular source compare.

If you provide several services – manuscript assessment, development editing, structural editing, line editing, copyediting, proofreading – you can also see which is the most rewarding in a financial sense, which gives you best return for your time, and it helps you to tailor bundles of services at a sensible price for your business.

And now, a warning! You may be tempted to keep minimal records, perhaps just your invoices, but you really should be keeping full records: anyone planning on upgrading (and all members will need to achieve PM status to remain in the Institute, which means applying for at least one upgrade: see p4 of the Member Handbook for time limits) will need a record of the work they’ve done to show that they have the requisite hours of the right type.

In addition, in the UK, you will need to be able to show HMRC evidence of the hours you work, in order to support your calculations for tax relief on the costs of working at home. If you live (or at least pay tax) elsewhere, be sure to check your own country’s requirements – but if you still have CIEP upgrades to do, you’ll need your breakdown of hours worked available and categorised.

Facts for fiction editors is definitely A Thing!

Three editors, three approaches to record-keeping

Here’s how three editors handle their records.

1. Going Solo toolkit with modifications

Now an editor of fiction and creative non-fiction, APM Jill French started her business mainly focused on non-fiction, and finds the Going Solo toolkit’s work record spreadsheet works well for her way of thinking, with the addition of ‘manuscript assessment’ as a category of work. Each round of editing the same book is logged as a separate job, which gives her enough data to analyse when it comes to pricing another job of the same stage.

2. Combining two off-the-shelf systems

IM Katherine Kirk uses both the work record from the Going Solo toolkit and Maya Berger’s TEA system (CIEP member discount available). Katherine is working towards PM status and finds the analysis and tracking offered in the jobs spreadsheet helps her to maintain a good record to support her application in due course. But she finds that TEA works better for her for financial records, and so she maintains both, having simply hidden the columns that are irrelevant to her business (columns N–S from the Going Solo spreadsheet).

Katherine uses the average words per hour for that particular kind of work to inform her estimates, but, depending on the client, may also do a sample edit to check. She records these sample edits in TEA in order to be prepared if that client comes back. If the client doesn’t return, Katherine has data ready to hand on the price she quoted, and can see what impact changing the price has on landing the client.

3. Tailored record-keeping

Nicky Taylor, an APM, has developed her own record-keeping system over the years. Like Jill, she records each type of work for the same book as separate jobs, so a development edit and a copyedit get their own rows in her spreadsheet.

Nicky said to me, ‘Looking at all my data made me realise that manuscript critiques on their own were simply not financially viable, so I stopped offering that service; if I hadn’t recorded everything, I doubt I would have known.’ Music to my ears about the real-world value of keeping business data.

For a development edit, Nicky records the onboarding time, reading time, report-writing time; for a copy- or line edit, she will record the time spent on each pass – she always does a full read-through and two passes, and has a column in her spreadsheet for each of these.

Included in her records are columns for pre-returning the job, which covers time for checking comments, checking over the style sheet and completing the handover tasks. Another column captures the time spent on post-edit revisions, post-edit discussions with the author, and emails. If a PDF conversion or layout work is required, this time also goes into that post-edit column.

Most of the time, the production of the style sheet is absorbed into the two passes, but may be recorded separately if the occasion demands. Production of a bible, perhaps for a planned series, will be logged separately.

Nicky includes an ‘Other’ column in her spreadsheet for different kinds of jobs, such as consultancy and other requests, recording the exact nature in the job description column. Like Katherine, Nicky also uses TEA for her financials.

The Going Solo toolkit: Work record spreadsheet

The CIEP has decided to follow Jill’s recommendation, and has added manuscript assessment to the dropdown list of types of work, which would include the kinds of tasks covered by Nicky’s ‘Other’ column. If you’re already using the spreadsheet and would like to add this to your own records, you can either download the new version (be sure to be logged in to the CIEP website first) and copy your records across, or extend that dropdown list yourself. It’s easy!

NB: All screenshots show Excel 365 on a PC. The instructions apply to PCs but Microsoft tells me they also work for Macs.

1. Select column ‘Type of work’ by clicking on the column header (D), which turns the column grey. A black down-arrow shows when your cursor is in the right position to select.

2. On the Data tab …

… open Data Validation in the Data Tools group by clicking the little down-arrow:

3. Select Data Validation from the dropdown menu:

4. You’ll see this:

Click Yes.

5. You’ll see this:

Now you can type a comma, a space and MA into the end of the Source box.

Check the ‘Apply these changes to all other cells with the same settings’ box if you’ve added other tabs that have this same list, otherwise you can leave it blank.

It will look like this:

Click on OK.

You’re done! You can now use the new code, and you can, if you like, add others that suit the work you do. You might want to add consultancy as a category, for instance, if that makes sense for the work you do. You don’t have to use codes – you could spell out the entire word, or use a fuller abbreviation. Once you’ve got the hang of this, you can personalise your spreadsheet exactly as you like. That said …

Four reminders

Reminder #1

The Admissions Panel explained to me, when I was developing the Going Solo toolkit, that they want to see your copyediting and proofreading hours on your upgrade application, so remember to keep recording these clearly and separately, no matter what else you decide to record.

Reminder #2

If you’re not sure how to get the best use of the data you’ve gone to the trouble of collecting, see my earlier ‘Flying solo’ post on using the filter functions.

Reminder #3

The sooner you start keeping detailed records, the sooner you’ll have compiled a useful bank of data to help with price and time estimation for new jobs.

Reminder #4

If you’re inspired by Nicky’s level of detail, don’t forget that you can continue to personalise your own copy of the Going Solo toolkit work record. Inserting additional columns is easy!

1. Click on the column letter immediately to the right of where you want to insert a new column.

Here, I’ve highlighted column I – see the colour change where the column’s label is, and the column itself has turned grey.

2. Right-click, then select Insert and a column will arrive between, in this example, Author name(s) and Total time taken (hours).

3. … and you will get this:

4. The Author name(s) column is still H, but Total time taken (hours) is now column J and we have a new, blank column I. Type in the name you want for the heading. Repeat as often as you need to add new columns, always clicking at the head of the column to the right of where you want to add a new one.

5. Columns in the wrong order? Move them with cut and paste. The column will always paste in to the left of where you click, as creating the new column did.

6. Unneeded columns? Instead of clicking on Insert, click on Delete if you’re sure you don’t want that column, or Hide, if you think you may need it at some point. (To unhide, select the columns on either side of the hidden column(s) and right-click; click on Unhide.)


Buy a print copy or download the second edition of Going Solo: Creating your freelance editorial business from here.

About Sue Littleford

Sue Littleford is the author of the CIEP guide Going Solo, now in its second edition. She went solo with her own freelance copyediting business, Apt Words, in March 2007 and specialises in scholarly humanities and social sciences.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: office desk by Jessica Lewis Creative, laptop by Karolina Grabowska, both on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

A Finer Point: Disappearing apostrophes

Could we do without apostrophes? Cathy Tingle tries to define what’s genuinely useful about them in this updated article from the archives.

Magnifying glass against blue background

The Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) announced it was to shut down in 2019. According to its founder, the late John Richards, it had been defeated by ‘the ignorance and laziness present in modern times’. Even post-APS, though, should the apostrophe be protected, or should we let it slip away into oblivion? Linguist Rob Drummond proposed that the APS’s demise was in fact ‘a victory for common sense and freedom’. After all, we constantly use possessives and contractions when speaking: ‘If something is ambiguous in speech, we rephrase so that it isn’t. We can easily do (and routinely already do) the same in writing. If we all took this view, we would be left with just a handful of genuinely useful apostrophes.’

Aha. So a ‘genuinely useful’ apostrophe is possible. Where could we find such a thing, so as to protect it?

Contractions

The writer George Bernard Shaw famously eschewed apostrophes. David Crystal, in one of two chapters devoted to apostrophes in Making a Point, quotes him:

I have written aint, dont, havnt [sic], shant, shouldnt, and wont for twenty years with perfect impunity, using the apostrophe only when its omission would suggest another word: for example, hell for he’ll.

It’s telling that GBS makes an exception for words that could confuse if their apostrophes are missing. Others that fall into this category might be Ill for I’ll; shell for she’ll; well for we’ll; cant for can’t; wont for won’t. Those last two are particularly unlikely to be mistaken in text; actually, you’d be hard-pressed to find a sentence where you genuinely can’t tell whether ‘she’ll’ or ‘shell’ is meant, either. But even if ‘Shell be coming round the mountain when she comes’ is understandable once you get a few words in, as editors we need to remember that we’re aiming to avoid even the slightest readerly confusion.

Possessives

In August 2019 there was a story on the BBC website about the importance of apostrophe placement. Elizabeth Ohene reported: ‘The government has formally declared 4 August a public holiday to commemorate Founders’ Day – a celebration of those who founded the state of Ghana.’ What’s the big issue? Well, there had previously been a ‘Founder’s Day’, 21 September, instated by President Atta Mills to celebrate Kwame Nkrumah as the founder of Ghana. After Atta Mills lost the 2016 election, the new president decided that the group of people who started and led the fight for independence would instead be celebrated. Hence ‘Founders’ Day’. Not every placement of an apostrophe holds this political significance, but it is useful, and significant for those concerned, to know whether the presents under the tree are the girl’s gifts or the girls’ gifts.

James Harbeck, in an article urging us to ‘Kill the apostrophe!’, mentions another way a possessive apostrophe can be useful: ‘An apostrophe tells you that the whiskey maker is Jack Daniel, not Jack Daniels’, adding, ‘but most people get that wrong anyway.’ If Jack Daniel were still alive, though, it might matter to him that his name was rendered correctly on the bottle.

Plurals

‘Apostrophes with a plural s? Never!’ you say (no doubt envisioning ‘carrot’s’ hastily written on a shop sign). Well – almost never. The only exception to this general rule is, in the words of Larry Trask, ‘the rare case in which you would need to pluralize a letter of the alphabet or some other unusual form which would become unrecognizable with a plural ending stuck on it’. Trask gives the examples of ‘Mind your p’s and q’s’ and ‘How many s’s are there in Mississippi?’, which reminds me of another example of this type, in a small book by Simon Griffin called Fucking Apostrophes: ‘How many i’s are there in Milli Vanilli?’

Anyway, back to the safety of Trask. He continues, ‘Note that I have italicized these odd forms; this is a very good practice if you can produce italics.’ New Hart’s Rules, in fact, gives an option of dropping the apostrophe in favour of the italics in such instances, which is rather clever, isn’t it, although it wouldn’t work with handwriting. Hart’s also gives an alternative suggestion: of using quotation marks rather than an apostrophe to separate the letter from the s:

subtract all the ‘x’s from the ‘y’s.

Back to reality

So that’s an area where apostrophes could be dropped. However, here we’re dealing with maybes. As Trask writes, although it’s ‘the most troublesome punctuation mark in English, and perhaps also the least useful … unfortunately the apostrophe has not been abolished yet … I’m afraid, therefore, that, if you find apostrophes difficult, you will just have to grit your teeth and get down to work.’

As ever, after having a bit of a grouch Trask goes on to offer some good, solid advice, particularly about the basics of apostrophe use. But it’s in Hart’s (from p. 70) that we find the real treasure trove, covering how to use apostrophes in all sorts of odd cases – including double possessives (‘a photo of Mary’s’), linked nouns, residences and places of businesses (‘going to the doctor’s’), and names ending in s (although note that the Chicago Manual of Style 17 [7.17–7.19] is different here, recommending s after every name – yes, even in Euripides’s: ‘though when these forms are spoken, the additional s is generally not pronounced’).

Knowing our limits

There is one area where Hart’s throws up its hands: ‘It is impossible to predict with any certainty whether a place or organizational name ending in s requires an apostrophe.’ No kidding. In St Albans (no apostrophe) is the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, which, being ‘of St Alban’, is … St Albans Cathedral (also no apostrophe – eh?).

St Albans Cathedral

Waterstone’s rebranded in 2012, and in the process dropped its apostrophe. The APS called this ‘just plain wrong’ and ‘grammatically incorrect’. However, sometimes these decisions simply aren’t ours to make, and raging about them in public can give a bad name to the rest of us who work with words. One of the reasons Rob Drummond gives for ‘removing apostrophes altogether’ from our language is to vastly reduce ‘the pedantry arsenal’. But I’m not sure that’s the best reason. As Drummond describes, the pedants will just move on: ‘your average pedant will be forced to make do with old favourites such as split infinitives and insisting on the “correct” meaning of “decimate”.’ Or new favourites, perhaps, such as how people these days use ‘literally’ or ‘like’.

Language will evolve and apostrophes will change. They may even disappear in time. So, will we be seeing Harts, Fowlers and Butchers? Thatll be the day.

Resources

Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (2017). University of Chicago Press, sections 7.17–7.19.

Crystal, D (2016). Making a Point. Profile, chapters 28 and 29.

Drummond, R. Apostrophes: Linguistics expert imagines a happier world without them. The Conversation, 5 December 2019. theconversation.com/apostrophes-linguistics-expert-imagines-a-happier-world-without-them-128363.

Griffin, S (2015). Fucking Apostrophes. Icon.

Harbeck, J. Kill the apostrophe! The Week, 11 January 2015. theweek.com/articles/459948/kill-apostrophe.

New Hart’s Rules (2014). Oxford University Press, chapter 4.

Trask, RL. The apostrophe. sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/apostrophe.

Trask, RL. Unusual plurals. sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/apostrophe/plurals.

About Cathy Tingle

Cathy Tingle, an Advanced Professional Member of the CIEP, is a copyeditor, proofreader, tutor and CIEP information team member.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: magnifying glass by Markus Winkler on Unsplash, St Albans Cathedral by Beth Montague on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Forum matters: Fiction and other specialisms

This feature comes from the band of CIEP members who volunteer as forum moderators. You will only be able to access links to the posts if you’re a forum user and logged in. Find out how to register.

Headline graphic saying 'Forum matters: Fiction and other specialisms' with books laid out on a white surface

Supporting members’ specialisms

One of the best things about the CIEP community is the sheer breadth of knowledge held and shared freely by its members. From FRedit to flamingos, there’s bound to be a tasty morsel that will make your life easier, or at least a little more interesting, especially if you dig a little deeper into the specialist groups, which were created to avoid overwhelming the core forums. Find out more about joining one or more of these forums.

Since this issue of The Edit is all about fiction, it’s an opportunity to draw your attention to the Fiction forum, which has over 500 members. Of course, fiction editors will gain a lot from the main forums in the first place, and recent useful threads have covered checking facts, how deep down the rabbit hole you need to go (and whether you should charge extra for spelunking), flamingo migration and the etymology of riverbank architecture. Might these reappear in this year’s CIEP conference quiz? Best take notes.

An exploration on SfEPLine of which tools are available to editors with vision loss or impairment (reassuring to know that loss of vision might not necessarily mean an end to an editing career) connects quite nicely with a thread in the Newbie forum (an underrated goldmine of good advice, if you ask us) about screen readers and Latin abbreviations. Meanwhile, a Marketplace offer spurred a sensitive discussion on SfEPLine about the ethics, legalities and practicalities of working with an author who is not yet an adult, in order to safeguard all stakeholders.

The Macros forum also has useful information for fiction editors, and if you’re looking to add more macros to your toolbox but don’t know where to start, try one of the ones recommended in this thread. A handy macro for fiction editors might be Paul Beverley’s ChapterChopper, which shows the number of words per chapter. This could help editors to pinpoint developmental issues like pace slumps or info-dumping.

If you work with science fiction, you might be interested in Reedsy Sci-Fi week (August–September 2022), or catch up with recordings afterwards. This information appeared on the Events forum, full of links to happenings of interest to editors that you might regret missing.

If your special interest is fiction, this is just the tip of it. Come along as we open the curtain and show you what the Fiction group has been up to.

Digging deeper

This section is link-free because not all of our forum users are members of the Fiction forum. If you’d like to access it, find out how in ‘Joining a specialist forum’, below.

The Fiction Special Interest Group (Fic SIG) invites any member to give a talk on a relevant topic of their choice. Kath Kirk gave a webinar on the special considerations copyeditors need for editing science fiction and fantasy novels. She discussed how to keep track of wibbly-wobbly timelines, and this spurred further discussion in the Fiction forum about which software can help editors to visualise it.

Clare Law’s talk on using data-driven editing to become more efficient, get paid more, reduce anxiety and beat imposter syndrome led to robust discussions in the Fiction forum about which silent changes fiction editors usually make, and which queries they’ve stored in their TextExpander arsenals.

Members of the Fiction forum also shared resources for working on children’s fiction, and how to format a fiction manuscript for submission to a literary agent, as well as recommendations of courses for editors who are looking to build their fiction-editing skills.

If you missed these fabulous discussions, don’t worry! Notes from the talks are shared on the Fiction forum afterwards.

Joining a specialist forum

There’s no barrier to CIEP members’ entry into the specialist groups. Everybody should join their local group forum. Even international members can be local through the Cloud Clubs. Apart from Fiction, other topic-based groups are Music, English Language Teaching, Education, MedSTEM, Languages (translation), Legal and more – and sometimes they’re where the real action is!

If you’re interested in a deeper exploration of a niche or subject related to editing, follow the step-by-step instructions on this page or get in touch with one of the forum moderators.

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

Find out more about:

 

Photo credits: books by ready made and woman in a hat by Olivia cox, both on Pexels.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

Definite articles: Fiction

Welcome to ‘Definite articles’, our pick of recent editing-related internet content, most of which are definitely articles. This time, our theme is fiction. If you want to view the CIEP’s own recent content, head straight for CIEP social media round-up: June and July 2022.

Header image with text Definite articles: fiction. Photo of cat sniffing a flower on a book.

In this blog post:

  • The language of fiction
  • Dialogue and character
  • Plot, story and scenes
  • The business of fiction
  • Fiction past
  • And the prize goes to …

The language of fiction

Words: they’re what books are made of. If you’re stuck for one, the internet’s a good place to start in finding what you need. During May, June and July, Cambridge Dictionaries published a number of useful articles for any fiction writer or editor groping towards the right words, including how to describe textures, breathing, people you like and admire, looking for information and then finding it, enjoying yourself, and animal noises such as howling, mewing and snorting, and grunting, lowing and bleating.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary posted its ‘Great big list of beautiful and useless words, part 1’, with links to Parts 2 and 3. Each list contained 50 words that were obscure and attractive in equal measure. Our favourite was peristeronic: suggestive of pigeons. (So useful.)

Dialogue and character

A major element of fiction is dialogue. In July, Carol Saller for The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) explored interjections, because:

Not all fictional characters are meant to be smooth-tongued and lyrical in their speech. Rather, just like us, they sometimes mumble or stumble. Giving a character flawed speech is a way to make dialogue more realistic. And this very human kind of talking often involves the use of interjections.

Continuing the theme of writing authentic dialogue, Edwin L Battistella described how we’re likely to deal with pronouns and joint possession in normal speech – for example ‘Paul and my home’ or ‘Kace and I’s text’. Battistella set out the grammar rules but explained why we often break them when chatting. This practical approach may explain why the article attracted so many likes on the CIEP’s social media platforms.

When we write beyond our own experience it’s crucial to conduct research – for example to interview people with different lives to ours, and to learn about variations and dialects in Englishes and other languages. The internet can offer some pointers on the latter, although this should only be the first step. In June, The Guardian focused on Multicultural London English (MLE), which is rapidly growing in the UK.

In ‘How (and how not!) to write queer characters: a primer‘ on Jane Friedman’s website, Susan DeFreitas gave advice about how to avoid writing stereotyped characters (for example the ‘Magic Gay Bestie’) and biased plot devices (for example when a gay character is killed off early), and suggested best practices for writing queer characters (for example, ‘Don’t make them the sole representative’).

ALLi (the Alliance of Independent Authors) shared Sacha Black’s podcast on levelling up your side characters, a Self-Publishing Conference Highlight, in audio and transcript. Black’s talk featured Mr Wheezy, the penguin from Toy Story (remember him?), alongside many minor characters you might have temporarily forgotten who are important for plot and theme.

Another useful article about characterisation on Jane Friedman’s site was Heather Davis’s ‘7 questions to design a better arc of change for your protagonist’. We posted this across our social media platforms in mid-July to wide approval. One follower commented, ‘this is a great article!’

Plot, story and scenes

In fact, there was a run of great articles from Jane Friedman’s site this summer. Many of them considered plot, story and scenes, from ‘The vital difference between plot and story – and why you need both‘ by Heather Davis to ‘The building blocks of scene’, ‘Moving between scenes with summary and spacers’ and ‘Good scenes require specifics’ by Sharon Oard Warner.

Back on the CMOS Shop Talk blog, Carol Saller considered ‘What makes a chapter of a novel?’ including purpose, length and endings.

The business of fiction

The profile of self-publishing was high this summer. Radio 4’s Money Box devoted a programme to self-publishing, and at the beginning of August The Guardian published a step-by-step guide to getting your book published, which mentioned the CIEP’s suggested minimum rates for editors and proofreaders to help with budgeting.

Talking about the CIEP, the AFEPI published a version of Averill Buchanan’s CIEP blog on fiction book production. Alongside this, you could read ALLi’s ‘Ultimate guide to formatting your print book’, posted in May.

In addition, there were articles on book blurbs, creating a copyright page and how to make a great author website, as well as ALLi Twitter chat on common book marketing failures. All useful stuff.

Fiction past

Reading fiction is an important part of writing and editing it. Recent online content on past fictional works included ‘A literary history of modernism’, which starts with psychologist and philosopher William James’s ‘stream of consciousness’, a quiz on Mary Shelley, five little-known facts about Dracula, fictional worlds you might belong in (one follower commented: ‘I ended up in Mrs Dalloway’s world. Need to dig out the cloche hat’) and, after we’ve finished reading, ‘How to survive the post-book blues’.

As the summer got hotter, the OUP created a playlist inspired by Oxford World’s Classics, so you didn’t even have to go to the bother of reading to be inspired. It’s on Spotify, if you want to hunt it out.

Small gold trophy on black stand

And the prize goes to …

In June, writers and others in the publishing industry expressed dismay that the Costa (formerly Whitbread) book awards were being scrapped after 50 years.

In July, a writer responded in the most positive way to the ending of another award. When it was announced that the Blue Peter Book Award had finished, Elle McNicoll, a former winner, started her own prize for UK books with a disability focus. She specified that winning books had to be ‘about JOY more than MISERY’.

Another book award led to an unexpected result this summer: it shone a spotlight on plagiarism in fiction. An examination of John Hughes’s novel The Dogs, longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, revealed that parts of the book displayed similarities to parts of major works by Svetlana Alexievich, Leo Tolstoy, Erich Maria Remarque, F Scott Fitzgerald and others. Author John Purcell wrote an account of the saga, ending with, ‘Needless to say, all of Hughes’ other work is now being placed under the microscope. This is far from over. Oh goodie.’

Fortunately, other prizes continued unbothered. At the end of July, along with others, Lit Hub announced the 2022 Booker Prize longlist.

Another prize that has survived the summer is the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest. Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton was the nineteenth-century author of the famous opening line ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, and entrants to the contest are tasked with writing ‘an atrocious opening sentence to the worst novel never written’. The 2021 Grand Prize Winner was Stu Duval of Auckland, whose opening started: ‘A lecherous sunrise flaunted itself over a flatulent sea, ripping the obsidian bodice of night asunder with its rapacious fingers of gold’ … you get the general idea. Keep checking www.bulwer-lytton.com for the news on this year’s winner, which will be widely proclaimed anon. While we wait with breath baited, enjoy Amber Sparks on Twitter (@ambernoelle), who got right into the Victorian vibe:

Normal people: I met this guy, he was average

Victorian writers: He was, in the way of most men, possessed of a rudimentary intelligence, his countenance ordinary, his bearing mild, with some weakness about the shoulders, his hair the color of ash; he spoke of the weather

What more is there to be said? Hand Amber the Bulwer Lytton crown, someone.

Online fiction resources

We hope you enjoyed this edition of ‘Definite articles’. Here are the resources we featured for reading, writing, editing and publishing fiction.

Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi): selfpublishingadvice.org

Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders & Indexers of Ireland (AFEPI) blog: afepi-ireland.com/blog

Cambridge Dictionaries blog: dictionaryblog.cambridge.org

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) Shop Talk: cmosshoptalk.com

Jane Friedman: janefriedman.com

Literary Hub (Lit Hub): lithub.com

Merriam-Webster Words at Play: merriam-webster.com/words-at-play

Oxford University Press blog: blog.oup.com

Penguin: penguin.co.uk

From the CIEP

We recently shared these CIEP fiction resources on our social media platforms.

Cashmore, Stephen. ‘Editing dialogue’. Members-only fact sheet. ciep.uk/resources/factsheets/#ED.

Donaldson, Sara. ‘Common problems encountered in fiction editing’. Blog article. blog.ciep.uk/fiction-editing-common-problems.

Introduction to Fiction Editing. Course. ciep.uk/training/choose-a-course/introduction-to-fiction-editing.

O’Grady, Carrie. ‘Sharing is caring: collaboration among freelance fiction editors’. Blog article. blog.ciep.uk/collaboration-among-freelance-fiction-editors.

Taylor, Nick. ‘Editing LGBTQ+ language with sensitivity’. Members-only fact sheet. ciep.uk/resources/factsheets/#ELL.

Trail, Katherine. ‘A look at editing romance novels’. Blog article. ciep.uk/romance-novels-editing.

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About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

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Photo credits: cat and books by Klaudia Ekert on Pexels, trophy by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash.

Posted by Harriet Power, CIEP information commissioning editor.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.