Tag Archives: CIEP conference 2020

Consistency is key to building and keeping a ‘fan base’

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Emily Gleeson reviewed Digital marketing primer: making a big splash on your own, presented by Erin Brenner.

Coffee break at the 2019 SfEP Conference.

In a year of firsts for everyone, the CIEP 2020 conference brought many for me – my first online conference, my first CIEP event and, more pressingly, my first time nervously writing something real that people might read. My nerves may have been wasted, though, as the more sessions I attended, the more I felt I’d found a place where I could just … be.

Stage fright is my most loyal companion and extends to everything that’s visible to the public, which certainly affects my weak digital marketing efforts. So, it was with a sliver of excitement and loads of trepidation that I sat down to watch Erin Brenner (Right Touch Editing) speak, hoping to learn even a little something that might help.

For many, digital marketing conjures up frightening images of the conceptually impossible, but Erin soothed us quickly. She began by breaking it down into easy-to-stomach pieces. In doing so, she changed my perspective on successful marketing from an insurmountable mountain scaled only by interpersonal geniuses, into relieved acceptance of the clearly doable step-by-step processes defined by her tidy methods. With a heavy emphasis on building strategy, we were introduced to a clear, goal-driven structure that I’m sure will have even the most introverted and uncertain of us seeing small triumphs, if only we put in the effort. In a defining point about audience, Erin tapped into a reminder I expect all of us need to hear occasionally.

The problem we’re solving for our client is not their lack of clean copy.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the achievement that we find in polishing something to almost perfect, that we can forget that our clients come to us to make their product better, not cleaner or well-written. If they understood our profession – our passion, obsession, sometimes pathological need – enough to know that cleaner even exists, much less as a step towards better, they’d probably not look for us at all.

This comment about problem-solving, which took up only a single line in my hurried notes and is something we’re probably all theoretically aware of, carried us easily into the remainder of the session. Empowering and encouraging in her easy, collegial way of sharing, Erin took us on something akin to a journey of marketing enlightenment. She broke down everything – from defining the real problem we’re solving to how to use a strong marketing message and evocative keywords to get that across. So genuinely generous is Erin with her expertise, we were also treated to resources and suggestions to help us successfully develop a schedule and measure the result of our efforts. All we have to do is stick to the plan.

Erin Brenner’s Digital Marketing Primer rather convincingly conveyed this exciting idea that, with a little bit of patience and the creation of fluid, achievable goals, digital marketing success is not out of reach for any of us. In fact, if we can keep the excuses at bay and follow the guidance we’ve been given, we can pursue it with confidence and clarity and strive to make our businesses work better for us.

Emily Gleeson is a fiction editor based in Australia, who proclaims an eclectic taste and a preference for stirring subtlety, bold truths and vivid imagery, but whose real delight comes from the happiness her clients find in their achievement. Emily can be found at facebook.com/emilygleesoneditorial/, where she patiently awaits news of a CIEP membership upgrade.

 


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

Achieving a clean, polished edit is simply a matter of style

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. John Ingamells reviewed Mastering editorial style sheets, presented by Amy J Schneider.

Conference Aston, where the 2019 SfEP conference was held.

‘Anything you had to look up’ is a great place to start when thinking about what to put in a style sheet. If you have to reach for a reference book, others will too. So, save everyone the trouble and put in your style sheet.

Excellent advice from Amy Schneider in her conference session on style sheets. Anyone who thought a style sheet was just a quick list of whether to use US or UK spellings and whether to hyphenate things beginning with ‘multi-’ will have been impressed by Amy’s exposition of the breadth of things that merit inclusion in a style sheet and the level of detail involved.

Amy walked us through some key questions about style sheets: what they are for; who uses them; how to go about creating one, and what to include. She also touched on some of the differences between fiction and non-fiction (or is that ‘nonfiction’? Where’s my style sheet?).

Most publishers will have a standard sheet, but each project will still need its own to reflect individual requirements. The earlier in the process the style sheet is produced the better, since it can be useful at all stages of production. Copyediting and proofreading, we all understand. But how many of us have stopped to think that indexers and designers will also find a properly compiled style sheet just as useful?

When creating a style sheet and deciding what to include, Amy warned us of the danger of the whole thing becoming an unwieldy wall of text. Sometimes, there may be no getting away from the amount that needs to be included, so it becomes all the more important to focus on clarity of organisation and layout. She challenged us to think imaginatively about how we present the information. ‘Make it skimmable!’ One interesting idea was whether to list things alphabetically or thematically. For example, should Chardonnay and Merlot be listed a long way apart on an alphabetical list or grouped under a single heading of ‘Wine’? The answer will obvious if we follow Amy’s advice and consider the audience: who is using this list and what format will help them find what they are looking for efficiently.

Thinking of the audience will also help us decide how much detail to include. A publisher might be happy with a simple page reference to the relevant bit of the Chicago Manual of Style, while an indie fiction author might appreciate a more detailed explanation for a choice that the copyeditor has made.

In the case of fiction, Amy emphasised that the style sheet was the place for the editor to note down any continuity issues: for example, a character might have three brothers on one page, but four brothers a few chapters later.

Finally, Amy encouraged us to see the style sheet as a core product of the editing process.

Like any good conference session, Amy’s presentation gave us plenty of informative content but also left us with much food for thought on how we can develop and improve our own approach to style sheets.

After 15 years in the diplomatic service and ten years in the City, John Ingamells became a freelance editor in 2015. He lives on the North Norfolk coast with his wife. His work is mostly academic (journals and books), but he has tackled some fiction and business copywriting. When not working, he bakes sourdough bread and plays backgammon.

 


Style sheets work as a complement to style guides. The CIEP guide Your House Style outlines the value of having a house style and how to create such guidance if it isn’t yet in place for an organisation.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

How shared values helped the Quad harness their superpower

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 2 to 4 November. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Debbie Scott reviewed Editorial mastermind groups, presented by Laura Poole, Amy J Schneider, Sarah Grey, Erin Brenner and Lori Paximadis.

Laura Poole speaking at the 2019 SfEP conference.

Editing and proofreading can be lonely activities, but never more so than when the country is in lockdown and we can’t meet clients, friends and family face to face. It was encouraging, therefore, to hear from a group of North American editors who had formed a mastermind group called the Quad.

The Quad comprises seven like-minded women, not four as its name suggests. They are Laura Poole, Amy J Schneider, Erin Brenner, Sarah Grey, Lori Paximadis, Adrienne Montgomerie and Katharine O’Moore-Klopf. They excel in their fields and thrive in the sharing of knowledge and ideas, as well as supporting each other. Indeed, the Quad is based on the principle that the whole is smarter than the sum of its parts.

Many of us are members of online forums and social media groups, but a mastermind group is more tight-knit in that it is generally made up of people who share the same values and feel comfortable enough to form trusted relationships. There are no rules when forming a mastermind group, but when it was created, the Quad’s founding members were all at roughly the same stages in their careers. To start with, they communicated daily through Facebook chat; talk was predominantly professional and focused around dealing with clients, the sharing of technical advice and the all-important ‘tact check’ – as in ‘have I struck the right tone in this email?’

Talk is still largely professional, but the Quad’s members have grown together, and their careers have matured. Some members have been part of the Quad since the beginning, while others have come and gone. Yet the group continues to grow from strength to strength; its members have developed an entrenched respect for one another and hold each other to account. For Sarah, the Quad helps her understand what her work and skills are worth. She described the Quad as being ‘like a larger brain backing hers up’. Sometimes you need others around to make you appreciate yourself, especially when Imposter Syndrome creeps in.

In addition to daily communications, the Quad has monthly check-ins where goals, successes and plans are mooted and ways in which members can support one another are discussed. The group also appreciates the importance of taking time out to evaluate direction. Lori described the sort of ‘retreats’ the Quad has held, taking the form of in-person and virtual events. Some have been skills-based, others business-based, with the project and writing retreats proving particularly successful. Of course, you can go on a solo retreat and use the extra time to take stock of your business.

The session was a great start to conference. It left me wondering why I muddle through alone, especially in a year where COVID-19 has severely impacted my business. I am grateful to the Quad for sharing best practice and insight. Whether I join a mastermind group or not, I now know there are many other people with a wealth of knowledge ready to be shared – we just need to shout about it more and make the effort to collaborate.

Debbie Scott is the co-founder of Scott Communications, a provider of copywriting, copyediting and proofreading services, as well as public affairs and public relations consulting.

 

 


Keep an eye out for more session summaries arriving on the blog over the coming days, and do share your highlights with us in the comments or on social media.


Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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