Never give up!

That’s something that I have heard an infinite number of times and most people have also heard an infinite number of times.

That’s probably because it’s true.

Those of you who know me well know that I have been applying for some editing jobs here and there, hoping to find something to supplement my freelancing income. I find these jobs on LinkedIn, Indeed, and the websites of the professional editing organizations to which I belong.

This past May (not too long ago) I applied for an Editorial Assistant position to a company that works with scientific journals. I was interviewed not long after I applied, and the interview went pretty well. I thought that I had a good shot of getting the job. One of the interviewers told me that the team would make a decision by the end of the following week.

The end of the following week came and went, and during the week after that, I heard nothing. I followed up that Friday, saying that I was still interested in the position and politely asking about the status of my candidacy.

Another week came and went after that. I sighed heavily and figured that the company had ghosted me. I decided that the company just plain didn’t want me and that I should forget about them.

But guess what?

Three and a half weeks after I had the interview, one of the people who interviewed me sent me an email. It turned out that they had selected another candidate for the position I applied for, but they were interested in having me do freelance work for them.

*insert happy dance here*

On July 5, I will start working on editing a paper that was given to me late Friday afternoon by a person who found out about me from one of the people who interviewed me from this company. Another new client is ALWAYS a good thing!

As I said before…Never give up!

Alphabet soup? No problem.

It’s time to boast about my latest accomplishments.

This past week and the end of the previous week, I copyedited and formatted what was probably the most challenging scientific paper of my editing career so far. The paper was not long at all, but since it centered on immunology and pharmacology, it had a large number of abbreviations. I call these abbreviations “alphabet soup.” As an editor, if I don’t keep a record of these abbreviations, what they stand for, whether they were defined at first use, and whether they appear less than four times in the paper, I’m sunk. (The journal to which the paper was to be submitted has specific rules regarding abbreviations.) The PerfectIt add-on is good for this task, but despite its name, it is not perfect.

Copyediting the paper was actually the fun part of the job. The not-so-fun part was formatting. Let me please ask all scientific authors: If you do not want to pay a significant amount of money to have an editor do your formatting for you, then please pay attention to the format in which your target journal desires your paper, especially your references and in-text citations. If you have written all of your citations in numbered style, for example, be sure that your target journal doesn’t want them in author-date style. If you would rather an editor reformat your paper, no problem; the editor would love to do the job, but you will be paying more money if Edifix doesn’t have the specific format the journal wants. It’s all up to you.

When I turned in the edited, formatted paper, I was complimented on how quickly I did it. This was a surprise compliment to me, since I didn’t think that the time in which I completed the job was astoundingly fast. But then again, I don’t just meet deadlines—I very often beat them!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Next weekend, I will be on vacation with my hubby, so there will be no new blog post from me next week. I’ll see you all again on July 3rd.

Trees and ink are our friends.

Call me a “tree-hugger,” but like many people, I believe in saving trees. While it is necessary to make trees into cardboard, furniture, paper, and the like, we all should recycle whatever we can whenever we can. (My condo complex recycles [yay!] but they did not start doing so until 2014 [boo!].)

We also need to think of trees when we decide to use paper, and I’m thinking particularly of paper in our printers. Before we print, we need to decide whether we really need a printed copy of what we’re thinking of printing.

I have to admit that in the past, I have been guilty of printing items that really didn’t need to be printed. For example, less than six months after launching my editing business, I copyedited—for the first time ever—a document for a client whom I did not know personally. While I enjoyed the work very much, I was terrified that something bad would happen and I would lose all of my work somehow. I’m very embarrassed to admit this, but every evening during the time I was working on this document, I would print what I edited, with the tracked changes in red. My rationale was that if I lost my work, I could go back and put in all of my changes. Very paranoid of me. I can at least say that this was the only time I ever did this, but it certainly did use quite a bit of paper.

Also, in the very distant past, I would often print out my email. I suppose it was the Luddite in me that possessed me to do this. Now I am ashamed of doing so and I very, very rarely do it.

Another thing I believe in conserving is ink cartridges. Yes, they can be recycled and I recycle them, but a lot of people just throw them out. Ink cartridges clog up landfills and that is not a good thing. Following the advice above saves ink and makes a cartridge last longer. And please take your empty ink cartridges with you the next time you need to pick up something at your neighborhood office supply store and drop them off there—and by that, I do not mean making a special trip to the store just to drop off your cartridges, as this wastes gasoline (which, as we know, is outrageously expensive these days).

If you are an editor, what are some of the steps you take in order to save paper and ink?

I’m worth it.

I’m going to blog today about a subject that is quite uncomfortable for most business owners, including freelance editors like me. I’m talking about raising one’s rates.

Gulp!

If you have impostor syndrome, you feel guilty wanting to raise your rates because you (erroneously) believe that you aren’t good enough to command a rate that is competitive. You feel that you are not worth it. So you continue to market your talents at an abysmally low rate.

STOP IT!

Sorry, that was a little harsh. But please hear me out: When you offer your services at a very low rate, you might at first think that people will love you because you cost less than everyone else. But then you become the Walmart of editing (or whatever you do). People will think that the quality of your work is lower than that of others who are more expensive. Walmart is the butt of many jokes for this reason, among others.

When I started editing as a freelancer, I consulted the website of one of the professional organizations I had just joined; the site had a page suggesting rates for copyediting. I decided to set my rates at the bottom of the given range because I was just starting out and had very little experience at the time. Also because I didn’t think I was worth more.

That was three and a half years ago.

During that time I gained more and more experience and established a reputation…and kept my rates the same. I just didn’t think I was worth a higher rate.

This “selling myself short” is ending this summer.

I am raising my rates beginning July 1, and have begun notifying clients of this. I have yet to encounter any griping about it. My rates are definitely still reasonable, and I am doing this to show that my editing has real quality and is worth the money.

And no, I’m not using today’s outrageous inflation as an excuse.

My list of LinkedIn do’s and don’ts

If you are a freelance editor like me, there is no doubt that you are active on the social media platform known as LinkedIn. (And if you are a freelance editor and you are not, then become active right away!) Everybody on LinkedIn seems to have an opinion on what is and isn’t acceptable on LinkedIn, and the following guidelines are garnered from my own personal experience with the platform. I am sure that others have written their own guidelines; my intent is not to copy them but to give advice based on my experience.

DO participate. Post regularly. And it’s a good idea to comment on more than one post every time you are on LinkedIn. By “comment” I don’t mean just “like.” When you comment on a post, your name and your job description appear on your comment, and this may very well pique the interest of a potential connection or client.

DO keep it professional. I know that everyone else says this, but it cannot be said enough. Please don’t repost cute animal or baby videos, for example. Save this for your Facebook page. (I have read some opinions that one actually should post such things on LinkedIn because it gives you “humanity,” but I don’t agree with that point of view.)

DO connect only with people who have to do with your line of work. I personally only connect with writers and editors; they are most likely to become clients or to refer me to potential clients. I recently got a connection request from an acquaintance of a former friend; this person’s field of work was in cosmetics. I turned down the request.

DON’T try to connect with someone by sending them a message that starts with, “I noticed you have lovely eyes.” I had someone do that to me just this week. CR-E-E-E-EPY.

Hmmm…that’s three do’s and only one don’t. I’m so proud of myself for keeping this post positive.

Do you have any advice regarding LinkedIn?

Style manuals and why I love them (no, that isn’t sarcasm)

I recently bought a gently used copy of a common style manual which I will be spending a large part of this week learning. (Aside: If you want to save money on a style manual, buy it used from eBay.) There is a wonderful PDF presentation on the internet (“internet” is lowercased according to The Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition, one of my favorite manuals) called “How to Learn a Style Guide in 10 Days,” which is highly useful for learning the style manual of your choice. It can be found at https://askcopycurmudgeon.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/learn-a-style-guide.pdf

For an editor like me, who specializes in scientific manuscripts, being proficient in more than one style manual is very important. Scientific journal publishers tend to want manuscripts to conform to either the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) or the AMA Manual of Style (AMA). Some publishers even have their own style guide. APA is now on its 7th edition and AMA on its 11th. CMoS is on its 17th edition, as I noted above, and just about every editor should know CMoS because it is considered the “gold standard” of editing, and is defaulted to whenever another style guide has not been specified.

My copy of the new-to-me style manual which I will be learning for the next 10 days is currently sitting on my desk, having arrived less than half a week ago. I cannot wait to crack it open and begin developing proficiency; I will begin tomorrow, since Monday is a good day to start things like this. Personally, I love how the style manuals all have their different nuances and guidelines for things such as the treatment of numbers in text (do we write out one to ten or use the numerals 1 to 10?), capitalization (do we capitalize “Internet” or leave “internet” lowercased?), and closed versus open compounds (is it a “bar stool” or a “barstool”?). If the guidelines in every manual were the same, the world would be a dull place.

If you are an editor or writer, how do you best learn a style manual?

Isn’t technology something?

Earlier this month, I completed a project for a good friend who is writing a book with one of her other friends. No, I did not edit their whole book (although I would love to someday). I did, however, format the book’s references. The co-author (my friend) asked that the references be in APA format, and we agreed that the 7th edition of APA would be the one used.

I formatted and formatted and formatted. The co-author was very satisfied with the work I did. Happy ending, right?

Yes, but it could have had a happier ending for the co-author.

Before she even handed me the project, I told her about Edifix (www.edifix.com), a web-based paid service that will format an author’s references for them.

I have used Edifix once so far, to format 146 references in a scientific review; the journal to which the review was to be submitted required that they be formatted in a specific style. Can you imagine how long it would take an editor to format 146 references by hand?

With Edifix, however, I copied the list of references, pasted them into the indicated space on the web page, selected which format I wanted them in (and there are many choices), clicked a button, and waited for maybe four minutes. Edifix then gave me a document with the references all in the desired format.

Edifix charges for its services monthly and is not cheap. However, for an editor like me who works regularly on scientific research manuscripts, it is worth it.

Back to the story involving the co-author. As I said before, I told her about Edifix before she handed me the project. I wanted her to know that there was a much easier way to format her references than to have me do them by hand. Not that I didn’t want to work on her project, but I felt that it would not be honest to let her know there was an easier (and less expensive) way.

She said to me, “I would feel better having you do them than an automatic service.”

Awww. How sweet.

But she knows for next time.

As for me…of course I enjoy editing, working hard, and making money, but any tool that makes everyone’s life easier should not be kept under wraps.

Testing…one, two, three…

Nobody likes tests. Am I correct? There is pressure involved. Someone is either literally or figuratively looking down at you, judging your performance.

Unfortunately, tests are a large part of life.

Even professional editors have to take tests sometimes in the form of editing tests.

Whoa! you might think. You mean editors have to be tested at something at which they have proved their worth for years?

Well, sometimes, yes.

It is mostly freelance editors such as myself who need to take editing tests. Sometimes a lucrative gig will make itself known to me, but the person(s) offering the gig want to see how well I can edit before they take me on.

If you, dear reader, are a freelance editor, you have either found yourself in this position before or are soon going to find yourself in this position.

So what is the best way to take an editing test?

The first thing to do (after downloading the file and saving it under the same name with your initials added to the end) is turn on the Track Changes feature in MS Word and set it to All Markup. (If you don’t already know how to do this, please either Google how to do it or purchase a copy of Word 2019 for Dummies by Dan Gookin. Don’t worry, I am not calling you a dummy—this is the actual name of the book.)

Next, make a first pass through the written piece. During this pass, fix obvious spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Check for consistency in things like hyphenation and the use of the Oxford comma.

Then, make a second pass through the piece. Rewrite sentences that sound awkward or incorrect and explain why in the margin comments. If you read any sentence or phrase that is confusing and makes you ask what the author means, query the author in the comments.

Run a spellcheck, do a final save, and you are done! (I should add that you should save the document frequently while you are working.)

Finally, try not to imagine a mean-looking professor breathing down your neck as you edit the test. This is completely counterproductive.

After you have uploaded your finished test, sit back and relax and tell yourself that you are a good editor regardless of the outcome.

Whew! Is it any wonder that so many of us editors have impostor syndrome?

When Times Get Tough

Hello again, dear reader. I have to be honest with you when I say that I almost did not write this post, due to the fact that so many things seemingly have gone wrong in the last few weeks that I am absolutely emotionally drained. If one more thing happens in the wrong way, I may have a nervous breakdown.

Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration, but is sure feels that way. Besides my laptop having to be repaired (which I wrote about last week), there have been things which have evoked feelings in me that range from anxious to ashamed to heavy-hearted. I will not list them here out of regards for my privacy and that of the people I know and love.

So what keeps me sane and functioning?

Well, first of all, there is my faith in Jesus Christ, and talking to Him regularly comforts me a lot during hard times in my life.

Second, there are my loved ones, mainly my husband, family, and friends. They are a great source of comfort as well.

Third, there is editing. For me, being absorbed by a written piece which I am editing is the same as escaping into a good book. I can shut out the rest of the world and my own noisy thoughts and concentrate on the writing in front of me. The more I edit and polish the piece, the more at peace I feel.

When one’s life is hard, one has to continue to work, as we all know. When I worked in laboratories, this was often very hard to do, since one’s joy and happiness often depend on experiments working out…and oftentimes, they do not. But since I enjoy editing so much, I derive peace from working.

Do you get peace and comfort from your work? If not, from what do you get peace and comfort during the hard times in life?

Luddites vs. the Jawa

Apologies to my readers for not warning you that I was going to take Easter Sunday off of blogging. This was a long-standing decision, but I neglected to tell you about it in my last post. Mea culpa.

Anyhoo…

This past week, the thing I dreaded the most but knew would eventually happen…took place.

My treasured laptop slowed down immensely on Thursday and I shut it down because I could not use it. I only thank God that I wasn’t in the middle of an editing gig when this happened. In fact, it happened only hours after I had finished my last editing gig. So, praise the Lord again.

The next day, I took the ailing laptop to Staples, specifically to their tech repair desk. The young man who took down my information was extremely polite and helpful. While I used the old desktop in our home to do my work, Staples ran a PC tune-up for free! And I got my laptop back the next night, which was last night.

However…I have yet to hook it up and try it.

I am really scared that something will go wrong and that they didn’t fix it correctly, that I lost significant data, et cetera. Chalk this up to my clinical anxiety, but I’m just plain scared.

I always get scared when I get a new piece of technology or when it gets repaired. This past January, I bought an iPhone 13 Mini to replace my ancient iPhone 6. For the first two and a half weeks that I owned it, I was afraid to touch it. What would happen if I did something wrong? And when I bought my laptop in June 2020, same thing. It took me two days to hook it up and use it.

Luddites (the first syllable rhymes with thud, not with rude) resist technology and avoid it. I do not consider myself a luddite. Some people in the past might have thought I was one, because I did not buy my first smartphone (an iPhone 4) until 2015. By that time, the majority of people my age had smartphones. However, this was for economic/financial reasons.

I consider myself more like the Jawa from Star Wars. They, in fact, love technology…but they are clueless about how to use it. I am not “clueless,” but I’m embarrassed about the number of times I’ve had to go to the Verizon store with my iPhone and say, “Do you know how to do this?”

How about you? Are you more of a Jawa or a luddite? Or neither?