What did you do in 2022?

I could go on for a long time about the best (and worst) parts of 2022. It was a pretty good year for me; it was better than 2021, which itself was much better than 2020.

But I am talking about things on a personal level. What I really want to blog about today is how this year was for me professionally. So…let’s take a deep breath and begin.

I learned how to restore my internet connection when it goes out in the middle of an important Zoom call. By “important Zoom call,” I mean one during which someone is interviewing me for a job. When my connection suddenly went out during my interview, I initially thought that all was hopelessly lost, that I would never get the job, and that my employment at this establishment was probably not meant to be. All of this went through my mind within seconds. Then I suddenly remembered that the first thing one must do when losing an internet connection is to unplug one’s router for 30 seconds and then plug it back in. This is exactly what I did, and within a minute, my connection was revived and the interview continued. I should add that the interviewers were extremely forgiving and sympathetic, which was much appreciated.

I gained a couple of new clients through the major research university with which I have a contract, and one through a job announcement on the ACES website. That’s always a great thing.

I learned Word macros and how to use them through a class offered by the EFA. Macros are wonderful tools, but they are very much like a chainsaw; very useful, but you had better know what you are doing. That’s an exaggeration. Macros can be intimidating for someone who has never downloaded or used them, but once their keyboard shortcuts are memorized and they are practiced, editing is much more efficient—and who isn’t a fan of efficiency?

I’m looking forward to what I will accomplish in 2023. I’m planning on blogging about my goals for the coming year on or around New Year’s Day. As for Christmas, for me, it is a holiday which means an incredible amount to my faith and one during which I love to spend with family, so I am taking a break from blogging next weekend.

I hope you have a very happy, healthy holiday season.

What’s the magic word?

I’ll put this simply: If you want to succeed as an editor, you have to be nice.

You might be surprised by that statement. Perhaps you have the idea that an editor corrects grammar and punctuation mistakes and rewrites sentences with angry slashes of a red pen—like your high school English teacher. Not to criticize teachers, but editors do not work the same way.

First and foremost, an editor should use the word “please” when correcting an author. Consider the following two editorial comments:

Avoid hyphenating compounds with an adverb ending in “-ly.”

Please avoid hyphenating compounds with an adverb ending in “-ly.”

Doesn’t the second comment sound much less critical? Make no mistake, the comment with “Please” is still to be taken seriously. But it “stings” the author less and makes the author more likely to say, “Oh…I learn something new every day,” rather than, “How dare this editor tell me that my writing is bad!”

Another thing an editor should do is to use more positives than negatives in comments. By negatives I mean the phrase “Do not…” or its contraction, “Don’t.” Which one of the following editorial comments would you rather read on your beloved first draft?

Please don’t hyphenate compounds with an adverb ending in “-ly.”

Please avoid hyphenating compounds with an adverb ending in “-ly.”

The first comment smacks of “You did something wrong!” while the second sounds more like a gentle correction.

Sometimes an editor has to tame his or her thoughts about an author’s glaring error. When you run across a date that is written incorrectly (much of the time it is January and the author wrote the “old” year by mistake), the first things that might come to your mind are, “OOPSY-DAISY!” or “Ouch!” Please control yourself and avoid writing such things in a comment to the author, unless the author is a very close friend (and use caution even then). Comments like these are a slap in the face and sound highly unprofessional.

Above all, remember that an author’s piece represents countless hours of hard work, and when you, as an editor, critique it, you are telling the author that their baby is ugly. At least, that is often how the author hears it. Sensitivity, along with good editing, is key.

Divide and conquer

I always check out the posts on the discussion list of the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), an organization to which I have belonged for just over four years. More than once, I have come across posts from editors who have just started their freelance business. Some of these new business owners want to know if they should have a separate banking account for their business—one that is free of their personal bank account.

I always reply to these posts with a resounding YES, YES, and YES—as do the EFA members who have been in business at least as long as I have.

I cannot imagine doing my taxes for my business using only a single personal account for everything. (I’m talking about those wonderful forms—Schedule SE, Schedule 1, and Schedule C, to name three.)

Having a separate account also allows me to see exactly how much my business is making and makes it easier to create spreadsheets which tell me my earnings, expenses, profits, and (gulp) losses, if any.

If your business is an LLC, you had best be keeping your personal and business finances separate. In the unfortunate event that a client sues you, they may go after your business assets, but not your personal assets. If they are lumped together in one account, it will give you a big headache untangling them.

There is also the psychological effect. Back when I opened my business bank account, the bank graciously gave me a ledger, a stamp, a binder of checks, and a book of preprinted deposit slips. Wow! I thought. I feel so official. I’m a real business owner now.

When I first started my business, I asked a friend who was instrumental in helping me do so whether I should have a separate business account. I was green and naïve; what did I know? She gave me the aforementioned resounding YES and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude.