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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.

You can find us online on Facebook, Twitter and 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: 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.

CIEP social media round-up: June and July 2022

The main theme of the CIEP’s social media postings in these two months was different perspectives. In this social media round-up, we look at:

  • Different publishing perspectives
  • Different individual perspectives
  • Different mediums
  • Different meanings
  • Member benefits
  • News
  • Quiz

Different publishing perspectives

There are varied journeys into publishing, and within it. Our posts covered roles within the industry, different aspects of editing and different routes to landing editorial jobs.

Jen Moore, an editorial manager from publisher Thames & Hudson, discusses working with freelancers from an in-house perspective, and shares the qualities that publishers are looking for from freelance editors.

Editing is a substantial part of the publishing workflow, but it’s important to remember it’s not the end. Our production colleagues do the work of getting those books into existence and onto shelves and e-readers. Rich Cutler gives us a brief introduction to two of the latter stages, typesetting and design, and looks at how copyeditors can prepare text for typesetting.

Being a subject expert is a valuable quality in editing. Nadine Catto’s love for words first led her to become a lawyer. But a desire for a less confrontational job led her to become an editor of legal materials for publishers and other legal content providers. She describes how she got into legal editing, and what her work typically involves.

Many of us write or edit copy that will be published online, so it’s useful to know some SEO basics to make sure that content ranks well on search engines. Co-founder of Tate & Clayburn Rosie Tate explains how editors and proofreaders can add value to copy that’s destined for the web.

 

Different individual perspectives

Our output also covered ‘conscious language’, that is, respecting the different perspectives of readers (in our editing), and also those of colleagues and clients (in our communications). Conscious editing is being aware of lived experience and varieties of English that are different from our own, and being aware of our own potential assumptions and unconscious bias.

The CIEP community is a generous one – freely sharing editing expertise in our forums. In a ‘Forum matters’ post, our contributors point out that an editor’s job could be described as being entirely about the conscious use of language. And not just about correcting grammar, but being aware of meanings, variations, topics, concerns and intention. Our members share some great resources and advice here.

In her latest ‘Flying Solo’ post, Sue Littleford considers the importance to us, as language professionals, of using conscious language in marketing and selling your services as a freelance editor or proofreader. She encourages us to look closely and critically at our public communication: website text, social media, blog posts and profiles, and responses to client approaches.

The CIEP’s training director, Jane Moody, looks at how editors and proofreaders can become more knowledgeable about conscious language, clearly sets out the objectives to work towards this and lists valuable resources on the subject.

It doesn’t exist yet, but maybe one day there will be software that can improve conscious language in a text. In ‘Talking tech’, Andy Coulson delves into the world of natural language processing (NLP) and AI to find out how we might be able to assess conscious language in the future.

Different mediums

For some, audiobooks seem (unfairly) like ‘cheating’ at reading. For others they are a lifeline, for many reasons. For editors struggling to find time to read for pleasure, it can be a great joy to be able to enjoy books in audio form. Audiobooks are an ideal solution for anyone who is unable or struggles to read print books. Clare Black discusses why she is passionate about audiobooks and explains why her love of listening has created an opportunity for CPD.

Different meanings

A popular read in June was Cathy Tingle’s ‘Finer Point’ post on modifiers. What are they and where should they be placed in a sentence? It’s an aspect of language that many of us are unsure about, or even unaware of. Cathy looks at things that can go wrong with modifiers, and how to avoid them.

Member benefits

June and July saw the launch of two new fact sheets, free for CIEP members. In ‘Editing dialogue’, Stephen Cashmore looks at three aspects of editing written speech that can guide what actions editors should (or should not) take: rules, punctuation and style.

Our fact sheet ‘Editing LGBTQ+ language with sensitivity’ was available for free to everyone throughout June, and is still free for CIEP members now. Learn about terminology and usage, and how to make sensitive edits when working with LGBTQ+ material.

News: the EPWG

The CIEP Environmental Policy Working Group (EPWG) has achieved quite a lot since its first online meeting, just 15 months ago. Read about their work on the CIEP website. And look out, #CIEP2022 attendees! Coming soon are the EPWG’s travel and packing tips for our conference in Milton Keynes, 10–12 September.

News: the conference

The last day for booking an in-person place at the CIEP Annual Conference (Kents Hill Park, Milton Keynes, and online, 10–12 September 2022) was Monday 18 July, but online places are still available. Book before 5pm on Friday 2 September. Highlights include:

  • Whitcombe Lecture by Katherine May
  • After-dinner speech by Reverend Richard Coles
  • Closing plenary session by Ian McMillan

Check out the full programme.

Quiz

Finally, dare you try Quiz 15? Test yourself (just for fun!) on aspects of grammar and usage. Bear in mind, though, there’s not always just one right answer. Sometimes … it depends.

Keep up with the latest CIEP content. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and 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: beach huts by Arno Smit 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: April and May 2022

If the past few weeks have been something of a blur, let us assist you by at least reminding you of all the great new editing and publishing content the CIEP shared in April and May. Thanks to all the contributors, and also to everyone who liked, commented, clicked on a link or shared our content. That support is hugely important, and we appreciate you!

References

One of the themes in our new blog content for April and May was the much-dreaded task of editing references.

Checking and styling references is a time-consuming job that requires a great deal of focus. Sue Littleford writes, ‘When I’m copyediting, the references can take longer than the main text.’ In our Flying Solo series, Sue provides us with welcome time-saving solutions in how to edit references more efficiently (and more profitably).

Thankfully, there are tools at our disposal to make editing references less excruciating. In our Talking tech series, Andy Coulson looks at how Find and Replace and using wildcards can speed up editing and styling references.

For editors and proofreaders, the CIEP forums are a great place to share tips, and seek advice, on all aspects of editing. Our forum moderators searched the threads for our members’ experiences and came up with a round-up of invaluable referencing tips.

References may be something that you don’t have to deal with very often in your area of editing; however, a basic understanding of each of the referencing systems is essential for a well-rounded knowledge of the job. The CIEP’s training director, Jane Moody, looks at how editors and proofreaders can become pros at dealing with references.

The CIEP’s comprehensive course on References is ideal for those wanting to improve their knowledge of the subject.

And for those who want a taster of what you should know about References, our fact sheet is available free for CIEP members. (This link will only work if you’re logged in to the CIEP members’ area.)

Subjects and specialisms

If you speak to a dozen editors you’ll probably find that workloads, workflow and tasks will vary from individual to individual. In addition, some of us are subject experts or genre specialists working with publications that benefit from specific background knowledge and/or experience. In April and May, we posted content that showcased specialisms.

In a popular blog post, four CIEP members discuss their particular areas of expertise – cookbooks, school textbooks, RPGs (role-playing games) and construction – to give a flavour of some editorial niches that may be new to you.

Lisa Davis is a children’s editor and points out that children’s books tend to get, mistakenly, lumped together as one genre. She discusses age appropriateness in children’s literature, how to tell whether content is suitable for specific age ranges, and considers the importance of who is reading the book and how it gets into their hands.

A popular post was Harriet Power’s insight into how she became a development editor and what her freelance working week looks like. Development editing is a term that can prove a bit mysterious even among editors!

Catherine Booth’s excellent article on medical editing sparked some debate on whether a medical background is essential for becoming a medical editor. It’s evident that there are many editors editing outside of their subject expertise, using transferable skills in publications where their training maybe comes from experience rather than formal study. Our pathways to work as editors are certainly fascinating!

The CIEP and CPD

Early May was the deadline for CIEP membership renewal. To remind members of what the CIEP has to offer, five editors discuss what they gain from being a member of the CIEP, and why they renewed their membership for another year.

Local group meetings are an enriching aspect of being part of the CIEP. Carla DeSantis discussed the advice presented by Malini Devadas at a recent Toronto CIEP local group meeting on how freelance editors can earn more money.

We heard from a new CIEP member, too. Taylor McConnell, a new freelance editor whose specialist area is social sciences, describes how he got into proofreading and editing, and what his weeks typically look like.

The London Book Fair returned this spring as an in-person event. Two CIEP members, Aimee Hill and Andrew Hodges, attended for the first time and recorded their thoughts and experiences. Should you bother with all the seminars? Is it worth handing out business cards? And isn’t it all a bit overwhelming? They give their tips, advice and first impressions.

Resources we promoted in April and May

Web and digital content

Whether you are a potential client looking for a web editor or an editor looking to diversify. the CIEP has resources.

We have an online course on Web Editing which will give you the skills to help you to work efficiently and harmoniously with website designers.

The CIEP Editing Digital Content course is ideal for editors who want to expand their capabilities and understanding into content that is not published in printed form. The course explains the key differences between print and digital media.

Looking for a professional web-content editor? The CIEP’s Directory of Editorial Services lists members with proven qualifications, substantial experience and good client references.

Medical editing

We promoted two recent additions to our content on medical editing – a fact sheet and a guide to Editing Scientific and Medical Research Articles, which are free for CIEP members.

Why not check these out and consider whether our course on Medical Editing is of interest?

Conference

Don’t miss out! Have you booked yet?!
The 2022 CIEP conference will be held at Kents Hill Park, Milton Keynes, and online, from 10–12 September 2022. Join us this September! There will be plenty of opportunities to network and socialise, in person and online.

The deadline for booking an in-person conference place is 5pm on Friday 8 July; the deadline for an online place is 5pm on Friday 2 September.

Exercise bank

We promoted ways to back up your learning via the Exercise Bank. It’s a collection of individual exercises – based on real pieces of work – covering proofreading, copyediting and English grammar, and providing practice in support of our core training courses. There’s a discount for CIEP members.

 

Quiz 14

Last – but not least – you really should test your language knowledge and pun tolerance with our fun new quiz!


Keep up with the latest CIEP content. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and 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: grass by jplenio on Pixabay.

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: February and March 2022

In February and March we considered the importance of applying editorial judgement, promoted a new guide, and reflected on change: whether it’s small (the daffodils are out!), planned for (switching to editing a new genre) or hugely unsettling (Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), it’s something that’s hard to escape. 

All about editorial judgement

We shared some engaging new blog content from CIEP members in February and March with the theme of making editorial judgements. This coincided with the release of a new fact sheet on this very subject – free for CIEP members.

On any working day, an editor could be making several different types of decisions. At the most basic level, a common editorial judgement is deciding whether to make a correction or not. A more difficult decision can be whether something is good enough, which depends on client expectations, budget, time constraints, the needs of the end user and – as always – the context.

How important is the style sheet? Do we understand what the client wants, or are we second-guessing? What are the red flags to look out for before accepting or rejecting a job? The all-encompassing art of editorial judgement reveals itself in almost every thread on the CIEP’s member forums.

And we also have to guard against making unfounded assumptions, which might happen when a text you’re working on is outside your subject expertise or lived experience. Is the language inclusive, and how should we query it with the writer if it isn’t? Nicholas Taylor shared Alex Kapitan’s seven principles of editing outside our own life experiences.

Sue Littleford considered how the critical skill of editorial judgement could be applied to running your editorial business. Before you take on the work, you’re judging whether the text and the client are a good fit for you. What should you charge? How long will it take and will you be able to fit it around other work? Freelancers also need to make branding and marketing decisions. Sue’s article was a treasure trove of expert advice.

Can we rely on tech to help us in our judgements? We shared Andy Coulson’s considerations on the options available for automating style sheets. Computers are very good at following rules and recognising consistency, but editors have to make decisions based on those results.

In her Finer Point series, Cathy Tingle discussed how to navigate the nuances of title case in headings, and in the process discovered the importance of editorial judgement in these decisions. This was a popular post that really got our members debating and discussing capitalisation!

A new guide for science editing

We promoted a new guide on social media in February: Editing Scientific and Medical Research Articles by Dr Claire Bacon.

This guide tells editors all they need to know to help scientists get their research papers ready for publication, explaining how a research article should be structured and giving a step-by-step guide to editing each section, including tables and figures. The elements of scientific style are also explained, together with common problems editors may encounter and how to solve them.

Change

Change was a recurring theme in the CIEP resources that we shared on our social media channels in February and March. Any freelancer has to be prepared to embrace change and keep progressing in their work. We can hope the change is gradual and positive, but sometimes we’re presented with an opportunity that is less of a learning curve and more of a learning catapult. You at least hope for a soft landing.

A new direction

Advanced Professional Member Gale Winskill likes a challenge, and has changed direction in her own career. In a blog she talks of feeling the fear of fiction and doing it anyway! Gale also has some encouraging words for anyone wanting to switch to editing fiction: ‘If you can articulate your reaction to a piece of narrative prose, you can edit fiction!’ Gale has become a well-respected fiction editor and co-wrote the CIEP’s Introduction to Fiction Editing course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in finding out if fiction editing might be for you, the CIEP also publishes a short guide that may help you to decide: Getting Started in Fiction Editing, written by Kat Trail. Kat herself has changed direction from journalism to fiction editing (and back again!).

Averill Buchanan works primarily as a fiction editor, and in February we shared a blog where she talks about her beginnings in graphic design and her decision to change direction and work as an editor. She explains how both skills have enabled her to help independent authors navigate the sometimes overwhelming process of self-publishing.

We promoted our Exercise Bank in February and March, and there are great resources in this collection to give you a taste of what it is like to proofread and copyedit fiction. One of them – a proofreading exercise by Jane Hammett – provides practice in proofreading a highly illustrated text, checking illustrations, checking layout and using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC commenting/markup tools. It is completely free for members.

Changing your processes for the better

How do you make your work more efficient? In an illuminating blog post, Margaret Hunter describes the process of streamlining workflow for regular and repeated publications such as journals and series. Before beginning she asks herself: ‘I’m going to have to do this again, so what will make it easier or more efficient next time?’ That’s a fantastic question. Before you begin any job it’s worth considering if there are any processes you can employ to speed things up for yourself, reduce drudgery and make the best use of your amazing brain by freeing up more thinking time.

Making sense of changing times

A new blog post from guest writer Rosie Tate of Tate & Clayburn listed five ways the English language has changed in the past two decades. It’s been an eventful 20 years, to put it mildly: words have come and gone, meanings have shifted, technical terms have become everyday, and the pandemic has introduced words and phrases from virology and medicine.

As certain as death and taxes

The most extreme example of change is something we don’t like to think of or talk much about … the subject of death. We shared this epically researched blog by Luke Finley and Laura Ripper which provides a practical and sensitive guide to what you should have in place for your clients and colleagues if you should pass away unexpectedly. Thanks for making us think about this subject.

Another subject we don’t like to think of or talk much about is … HMRC. Melanie Thompson described her experience of being inspected by the UK’s tax authority. The jolt of adrenaline from reading this was more than the effect of any double espresso, and had a lot of members asking for the number of Melanie’s accountant. We recommend you read it; it has a happy ending. You’re a trooper, Melanie.

And finally …

What if the change you are presented with isn’t a choice – and is life altering? How do you cope with that?

We’ve all had two years of getting used to a ‘new normal’, and now the world is experiencing another time of great uncertainty and worry. War is a constant fact of life for many people in our world, a fact that leaves many of us feeling rather helpless. One small way editors can contribute is through our work; to always challenge intolerance and disinformation where we find it.

Our most roundly supported social media post in February and March was the CIEP Council’s statement of solidarity with the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association, and support of a statement made by the Russian Alliance of Independent Publishers and Book Distributors.

Our CIEP social media output is the work of many hands. Thank you to the information team, the social media team, the writers, editors, proofreaders and everyone who takes time to engage with our posts.


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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 credits: blossom by Mitrey on Pixabay.

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: December 2021 and January 2022

In our review of December 2021 and January 2022 we’re focusing on our friends and followers, as their feedback and chat was particularly entertaining during these two months. We gave something back to them, too, with a festive offer of a stonking 30% discount on CIEP courses.

In this follower-focused round-up:

  • Cantankerous creatures, plus coffee and cheese
  • Negotiating new words
  • Course enrolment stampede
  • Newsletters and new blogs
  • Gems from the archive
  • New year, new theories
  • Chatting among yourselves
  • Laughing at words
  • Signs of the times

Cantankerous creatures, plus coffee and cheese

There was a wide range of fun content to share in early December, from words to describe being irritable (illustrated with excellent photos of domestic creatures, wildlife and small children looking annoyed) to the question of whether the way you write runs in your family. ‘I think there is something to this’, replied an author on Twitter, whose son ‘writes in a very similar style but on completely different subject matter’. It was great to hear this view from a real-life writer in the absence of the Brontës, the Amises, and AS Byatt and Margaret Drabble to tell us what was what.

On 8 December we got our friends and followers to imagine what would happen if they knocked over their morning coffee as they leant over to consult their copy of Butcher’s Copy-Editing. With the spillage could they, like artist Giulia Bernardelli, create a picture of Botticelli’s Venus or the Eiffel Tower? One follower responded that they would more likely rescue their copy of the book (it’s not cheap), and another added: ‘Stuff the coffee – save Butcher’s and the computer!’ Over on Facebook, another editorial professional looked at a coffee-stained image of Madrid and commented ruefully, ‘Actually, my copy of Butcher’s is starting to look a bit like that …’

By 10 December we were turning our attention to the upcoming holiday season. We posted a @twisteddoodles cartoon entitled ‘Christmas food shopping’, with two excited-looking people in a supermarket having a conversation: ‘Instead of cheese let’s buy the “fancy cheese”.’ ‘Let’s buy a lot of cheese for no good reason.’ This certainly brought a lot of cheese lovers out of the, er, cupboard? Fridge? One follower confessed, ‘I have been told not to buy “too much cheese” on Christmases past. But can there be too much cheese?’ The responses came: ‘never!’ and ‘no, there can never be too much’. That’s that settled, then.

Negotiating new words

Sometimes our postings on new words and new definitions of existing words don’t cause too much of a stir, as with ‘A little birdie told us that it’s time for the OED December 2021 update’. This quarterly update included 750 new entries, ‘and almost as many fully revised entries’, with an emphasis on the bird kingdom. As ever, hats off to the OED team who try to cram in as many references to their new entries as possible in these updates.

However, not a week later, Cambridge Dictionary’s new words for 20 December 2021 were released. They included ‘resimercial’: ‘A resimercial office combines elements of “residential” and “commercial”, with comfortable furniture and design that makes it look more like a room in a home.’ We canvassed opinions: ‘We’re not sure we have the stomach for “resimercial”. What do you think?’ One response came in, short, sharp and unequivocal: ‘“Resimercial”? No.’ Oh. Well, luckily it’s not in the dictionary. Yet.

A month later, Cambridge’s new words prompted a similarly decided response. Encountering ‘clean inboxer’, ‘someone who reads and takes action on every email they receive when they receive it, so that there are never any unread emails in their inbox’, we wondered who these people could possibly be, and tentatively asked, ‘Are there any clean inboxers out there?’ Our call was answered by a single person, on Twitter, who offered a brief ‘Yes, big time.’ There’s someone who gets to the point, which probably explains the excellent standard of their email hygiene.

Course enrolment stampede

During December we launched a festive offer. We thought 30% off CIEP courses would rouse some interest, but even we hadn’t anticipated the massive response. During the week of the campaign in December we sold 470 courses, with many people buying more than one to set up their CPD for the year ahead. Enjoy all that learning, you editing and proofreading boffins!

In January we launched the CIEP Exercise Bank, to give editors and proofreaders real-life practice and confidence. Annie Deakins, who tested and proofread the bank, blogged about it for us.

Newsletters and new blogs

Did you know that all of our social media accounts have the sign-up details for Editorial Excellence, our external newsletter, pinned to the top of the page? When you join you get a welcome email pointing you to the newsletter archive so you don’t have to wait for the next edition.

Editorial Excellence, and our member newsletter The Edit, are full of the latest blogs by our members and friends, and some classics from the archive. There was an abundance of new blog posts in December and January, including: ‘Good communication is accessible’ by Sue Littleford; ‘What’s your favourite phrase or saying?’ by the CIEP wise owls; ‘The CPD in the work we do’ by Abi Saffrey; ‘Curiosity or destiny? The different routes to the CIEP’ by Alex Mackenzie; ‘Context is everything: How learning a new language shed light on my editing practice’ by Julia Sandford-Cooke; and a blog by Katherine Kirk about Jennifer Glossop’s top-ten etiquette tips for editors, shared recently with the Toronto CIEP group.

 

Gems from the archive

We reposted some great classic content in December and January. Blogs included pieces from Robin Black on why a professional editorial website encourages clients to pay professional fees; Luke Finley and Laura Ripper on plain English; and Kia Thomas on scammy and cautious editors. On which note, we reminded members of our fact sheet ‘Negotiating business contracts’, which helps you understand contract provisions and ways to negotiate the best possible outcome. CIEP members shared on video why CPD is important, and we reminded people about the CIEP Directory where top-notch editorial professionals in all specialisms can be found. We also promoted our popular course Word for Practical Editing, plus old quizzes and new. If you’ve missed any of the fun CIEP quizzes, you can find them on our website.

New year, new theories

In January our followers were back from their break refreshed and in the mood to respond to the latest scientific ideas on language. In ‘Our emotions and identity can affect how we use grammar’, Professor Veena D. Dwivedi explained how ‘emotional context affects how we understand and use language at the neural level’. Our LinkedIn followers were completely there for it: ‘I agree. Language usage, including grammar, has everything to do with social identity. Fantastic article!’ ‘Totally connect with this idea!’

A couple of weeks later we posted an article suggesting that dogs can detect differences between languages, which again drew interest and comments. ‘Fascinating!’ declared our followers, and one remarked: ‘This is true of cats too. Our cat responds to commands from me in English and my partner in Spanish. (Though being a cat, only when she feels like it!)’

Chatting among yourselves

Burns Night on 25 January was an occasion for a good old chit-chat. Immediately we posted an article from The Scotsman, Facebook responses went wild: ‘Lang may yer lum reek!’ (translation: ‘Long may your chimney smoke’); ‘It was always a big deal in my family!’; and, in response to a direct tag and question, ‘are you celebrating tonight?’, one follower responded: ‘OMG! I forgot! I usually have a gathering to read Burns’s poetry with haggis, neeps and tatties, sausages for the faint of heart. Thank you for the reminder. Must get shopping.’ We hope you got the Burns Night you’d planned. Or hadn’t planned, in fact.

Laughing at words

In the social media team we like to make people laugh, and often the content just goes ahead and does our job for us. This was the case with an article by Susie Dent, ‘From respair to cacklefart – the joy of reclaiming long-lost positive words’. A follower on LinkedIn testified, admirably using many of the words from the piece, ‘This article made me LAUGH OUT LOUD … I had to wipe the tears from my eyes with my snottinger, decided to stop being so crumpsy, and am making plans to visit my grandkids to feel some gigil. Words are so much fun.’

We got a great response with other long-lost words in Merriam-Webster’s list of polite words for impolite people, as followers and friends recalled their mums or grandmas calling them ‘flibbertigibbets’. Finally, apt for January, we posted Dictionary.com’s list of contronyms – words that have two opposite meanings – like cleave (to separate and also to adhere closely) and overlook (to not notice and also to supervise). LinkedIn followers responded: ‘I had a good laugh this morning over some of these’ and ‘Love this. I now know things that I didn’t realise I knew before.’

Signs of the times

This time last year most of us had never uttered the word ‘omicron’, which might explain the trickiness of the word the first few times we did say it in November and December 2021. We posted a couple of articles exploring how to pronounce it and why it was so difficult. In terms of the latter, it was partly because we are so used to words that start with ‘omni’.

And then, charmingly, the wordle, sorry, the world divided into those who know and love the word game Wordle, and those who don’t. An 11 January article giving some linguistics-based Wordle tips from David Shariatmadari provided some of our followers with the opportunity to express their love for the game, from ‘I am hooked’ to ‘I LOVE Wordle … I love the way it makes you think about how words are built’. But then in response to another Wordle article later in the month, another follower confessed, ‘I still have no idea what a wordle is …’ and got a ‘me neither’ in response.

On 14 January, content creator and marketer Emily Coleman (@editoremilye) commented on Twitter, ‘Wordle is the sourdough starter of Omicron.’ At the time of writing, that tweet has attracted 90K likes, 8,213 retweets and 983 quote tweets, most of which, it seems, said something like ‘What would your 2019/2020/summer 2021 self have made of this sentence?’ And that’s the inexorable march of language, friends. Who knows what new, old-but-obscure or just obscure words we’ll all be casually using by the end of 2022? In the meantime, keep your words coming, by commenting and chatting on our social media platforms. We love to hear from you.


Don’t miss a thing in editing and proofreading. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and 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 credit: coffee by Jason Villanueva from Pexels.

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: October and November 2021

In October and November 2021 we continued to use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to raise awareness of the CIEP, promote our values and highlight our incredible and growing list of resources for members and non-members. Looking to the wider world, we posted articles that celebrated major events and explored the business of editing, the details of text, beautiful books, and weird and wonderful words.

Supporting self-publishing

In October we were a session sponsor at the Alliance of Independent Authors’ online conference, #SelfPubCon21, where we sponsored CIEP member Sophie Playle’s session on crafting beautiful prose. We created a lovely bundle of free resources for delegates: three guides, two focus papers and four fact sheets.

Boosting specialist knowledge

We promoted a new guide, Editing Fiction Containing Gender-Neutral Pronouns, by Louise Harnby, which helps fiction editors consider the implications for narrative viewpoint when an author uses gender-neutral pronouns.

And we continue to raise awareness about the CIEP’s Directory of Editorial Services on a weekly basis. In October we promoted music and language editors and novel critiques. The aim is to demonstrate that the Directory is a source of professionals in whom clients can have confidence.

We also want to share our knowledge more widely, and we decided that not enough people know about Editorial Excellence and what incredible value there is inside this bi-monthly newsletter.

So all of our social media accounts now have sign-up details pinned to the top of the page, and when people join they get a welcome email pointing them to the newsletter archive so they don’t have to wait for the next edition.

Blog bonanza

Our blog posts went into overdrive in the wake of the CIEP conference, with 19 posts reviewing conference sessions, finishing with a first-time conference-goer’s experience in which Dayita Nereyeth summed up her journey through #CIEP2021 beautifully.

We also promoted blog posts on a variety of topics: eco-anxiety, sentence case in titles, grammatical rules and personal communications, business-boosting tools, 21 tech tips and commissioning, editing and proofreading figures.

Questions and more questions

November saw a new CIEP language quiz, number 11, for the competitive grammarians among us.

And we promoted the launch of our new course, The Art of Querying, across all of our platforms.

Marking world events

As usual, we marked events in the wider world with our curated content. We posted Oxford University Press’s celebration of ten people who made British history for Black History Month; on 1 October it was also International Coffee Day and we linked to a list of coffee quotes, courtesy of Goodreads; at October’s end it was of course Halloween, which we anticipated on 12 October with Merriam-Webster’s list of monsters with excellent names including Snallygaster and Hodag. Nearer the date we shared a spooky Halloween tale for writers by cartoonist Tom Gauld in which, after curses and death, the worst event was, in the words of the storyteller: ‘The book had a typo and the entire print run had to be pulped!’ One of our Facebook followers commented: ‘Pulped for one typo??? Those were the days.’ Quite right. Remember, folks, most books have the odd typo.

In November, COP26 in Glasgow was the main event, and we made sure we gave our followers enough environment-related reading material to accompany them through, from new words such as wish-cycling to the etymology of the word ‘world’. Brian Bilston published an ingenious poem, ‘Every day the planet burns a little more’, to be read downwards and then, for a more hopeful vision, back up again.

The business of editing

As ever we posted a good deal of content about being an editor or proofreader, starting with The Ethics of Online Portfolios: How should editors showcase their skills and experience?. In early November we looked at how to build a waiting list, and later in the month CIEP’s own business columnist, Sue Littleford, published a well-received blog on the ACES website about author querying, which included seven golden rules and a description of Sue’s own querying process. The article got a lot of love online, and for good reason.

Something else that got a lot of love was the term ‘polywork’, which describes a new working lifestyle of ‘pursuing multiple jobs to fulfill multiple interests’ as defined by fierceelectronics.com and recorded by Cambridge Dictionaries. One LinkedIn follower commented: ‘I’m definitely a polyworker: genealogy, editing, writing and a bit of designing brand books. I love it all so why choose only one?’

Textual healing

From the subjunctive to pronouns, capital letters to commas, as well as what happens when friends discover grammatical ‘errors’ in your novel, we also considered the details of text. One very popular article, Writing by Seeing Only the Punctuation, allowed its readers to paste into a web tool any piece of writing in order to view only its punctuation. Our followers called it ‘fascinating’ and ‘awesome’, and one commented: ‘These are works of art! I’d love one as a poster.’ That’s someone’s Christmas present sorted, right there.

Beautiful books

On 28 October it was a day for the enjoyment of books as we posted an article about the 15 most beautiful bookstores in the world as well as a scientific explanation for your urge to sniff old books. The author herself (@joodstew) thanked us on Twitter for the shout-out. Most welcome.

And then for those who have all the books but don’t have the time to read them, a new concept: an antilibrary, a research tool that ‘creates a humble relationship with knowledge’ because it reminds us of all the things we don’t yet know.

Weird and wonderful words

Something else we’ll bet you don’t yet know is the meaning of most of the words in Merriam-Webster’s Great Big List of Beautiful and Useless Words, Vol. 2 (yes, there has already been a first volume). With a subtitle of ‘They’re wonderful. They’re obscure. They’re often quite pointless’, this list includes ultracrepidarian, ‘giving opinions on matters beyond one’s knowledge’ (perhaps they need a humbling antilibrary), and spanghew, ‘to throw violently into the air; especially to throw (a frog) into the air from the end of a stick’. We hope to never have to use that particular word, ever. Poor frog.

And finally, as we’re getting into words-of-the-year season, a nod to The Cambridge Dictionary Word of the Year – wait for it … keep going … almost there – perseverance. We’ll allow Cambridge Dictionary to elaborate:

In 2021, people all over the world have had to show perseverance in the face of challenges and disruption to our lives from COVID-19 and other problems. Perseverance is almost always a positive word that expresses our admiration for people who keep going in difficult situations … You might find it encouraging to learn that we usually use perseverance to talk about an effort that is eventually successful.

We can only hope. From CIEP’s social media elves, wishing you a very happy festive season and a wonderful start to 2022.


Don’t miss a thing in editing and proofreading.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and 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 credit: rainbow book shelves by Jason Leung on Unsplash.

Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

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

Editors and social media: Facebook

In the fourth instalment of our series about how editors use social media for their businesses, Sarah Dronfield talks about what Facebook has brought to her editorial life.

Facebook logo

Why and when did you start?

When I started my editing and proofreading business in 2016, I already had a personal Facebook profile so, because it was easy (and free) to do, one of the first things I did was to set up a business page linked to that account. I didn’t know whether I would find clients via the page, and to be honest I’m not sure I ever have, but I do know that it drives traffic to my website.

I soon discovered, however, that Facebook could benefit my business in lots of other ways. Early on, I found out about a group called Editors’ Association of Earth (EAE): a place for ‘editors from anywhere to meet, have fun together, and talk about the issues and challenges that all editors share’. There and in similar groups, I learned a lot about editing in ways that aren’t possible from a book or a course. This was mostly from reading advice from or having conversations with people who have been editing for decades, but also from reading the many blog posts that were shared. In fact, there were so many great blog posts around, I thought it would be useful to have somewhere they could be ‘stored’ and easily found, so early in 2017 I suggested to the EAE admins that I start a weekly thread in the group, where the latest blog posts could be shared, with hashtags so that older threads could be found again quickly.

The idea for the weekly thread was partly inspired by an accountability thread in a closed EAE group – a place for editors to share what they’ve done that week to market their business or advance their professional development. When the person who was managing this thread said they wanted to step down in late 2017, I volunteered to take it on too.

I also set up a Facebook page (and Twitter account) for our SfEP local group back in 2016; I volunteered to do this at my very first local group meeting, and I’ve been managing the page ever since.

What do you share?

On my business page, I mostly share articles and blog posts I think will be of interest to potential and existing clients; I work mainly with Welsh authors of thrillers, historical fiction and children’s books. My pinned post is a glowing testimonial from happy co-author clients, and it’s the first thing new visitors to the page will see. And of course, when I write a blog post of my own (which isn’t often these days) then I share that too. I also share news of upgrades to my SfEP membership or about training courses I’ve taken, for example.

Facebook post on the Sarah Dronfield Proofreader page about booking tickets for the SfEP 2019 conference

On our local group page I share information about group meetings and things that may be of interest to potential clients (about writing and editing generally because between us we provide a wide range of services).

When do you share?

I try to share something to my business page at least once a month so visitors can see the page is active. I avoid posting too often because I don’t want to flood my followers’ news feeds, although I’m sure I could post more often than I do without annoying people.

Our local group page is really just there to send people to the South Wales Editors website, so I only post there very occasionally.

In the EAE groups, I share the blog post round-up every Monday and the accountability thread every Friday.

Why do you do it?

I came for the marketing, but I stayed for the advice, support and camaraderie. I may or may not have gained clients from my business page, but I have had work as a result of networking and making friends with other editors on Facebook.

What about other social media platforms?

In 2016, at the same time as I set up my Facebook business page, I also set up accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn. I rarely visit LinkedIn because I don’t like the platform and I don’t think it’s where my ideal clients are. I do like Twitter though, and I actually post there more often than I do on my Facebook page. But Facebook is definitely my favourite platform because I get so much more out of it. My business simply wouldn’t be where it is today without the huge amount of information, advice and support I have received from colleagues there over the last three years.

Any advice?

Explore the many Facebook groups for editors, spend time in them and find out which ones are most useful to you. There are all kinds of groups: for all things related to editing, groups specifically for academic or fiction editors, groups that focus on business or training, and many more. You can even start your own accountability group – find a few like-minded colleagues who are at a similar stage in their career and set up a secret Facebook group where you can share your problems and successes and help one another keep on top of your weekly tasks.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, never say anything on Facebook – or any social media platform – that you wouldn’t want a client to read, even in a closed group: remain professional at all times. I’m not saying you shouldn’t relax and have a laugh with your colleagues or ask advice on how to deal with a difficult client, but you should avoid criticising clients (or fellow editors) and try not to get into arguments – it’s not a good look. Even if your clients can’t see it (and sometimes they can), don’t forget that colleagues can send work your way too, and they will only do that if they feel you are someone who can be trusted to behave professionally.

Sarah DronfieldSarah Dronfield is an editor specialising in fiction and is based in South Wales. She is a Professional Member of the SfEP. She did many things before finally becoming an editor: office admin, archaeology, travelling. These days, when not editing, she can usually be found reading.

 


If you’re on Facebook, visit the SfEP’s page to keep informed about upcoming events, to discover interesting articles and for the occasional giggle-worthy cartoon.


Proofread by Joanne Heath, Entry-Level Member.
Posted by Abi Saffrey, SfEP blog coordinator.

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