As I said in my last blog, earlier in the year I attended the 2017 Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) biannual conference to learn more about some of the topics currently affecting editing professionals as well as concerns for the future of the industry.
While my last blog discussed how technological advances are affecting the editing profession, the conference presenters also discussed a number of other topics relevant to the editing industry. These topics weren’t necessarily the main focus of their presentations, but were some of the key messages I took away from the day because of their relevance to my own work.
These are 4 things you need to know about the editing industry
1. Effective editorial work can’t occur in a silo
In her keynote speech, Sophie Cunningham, who instantly won me over with the words “I think of myself as the Forrest Gump of the editing world”, revealed it took her a while to realise that being an editor isn’t just about editing a book. Throughout her speech, Sophie emphasised the importance of working with other teams in order to become very aware of the context in which the book is being produced.
Unless you’re on the ground, she pointed out, you’re unlikely to know how a book will go in market, so you need to listen to your sales team’s advice, because they’re the experts in that area. She also explained that she didn’t get the importance of marketing to the success of a publication until she worked in a bookstore and realised all the concepts she had for a book cover would have meant the book would have blended in to all the other books for sale at the same time.
So, the takeaway I took from Sophie’s presentation was that it’s important to have a level of humility (you can’t know it all) and to seek professional advice as relevant to your work, because good editorial work can’t occur if completed in a silo.
2. But I want them to like me!
Of particular interest to me was Sophie Cunningham’s admission that she used to worry about wanting the authors she worked with to like her. Despite being trained in the technical skill of editing, it can be challenging for some editors to provide their clients with feedback. But as Sophie acknowledged, if you don’t let them know there’s a problem with their work, the public will.
3. The issue of payment
The topic of payment for editors is discussed at every editing conference I’ve ever been to, because it continues to be a problem for those working in the industry, freelancers in particular. In addition to the concern that editors aren’t being paid the rate they deserve for the training they’ve been through and the skills and advice they provide to clients, there’s the fact that freelance editors often provide a lot of emotional support to writers, which they don’t bill for.
This particular topic was one I hadn’t ever really considered before. It raises the question, should editors claim payment for this type of work? Would clients be willing to pay editors for this work, when it is already often a struggle for editors to be paid what they deserve for the technical aspect of their work?
With the mission statement of ‘advancing our profession’, issues of payment continue to be a priority for the IPEd.
4. The English language is evolving
In his keynote speech, Roly Sussex spoke about the fact that English is a multilithic language (a language that has many variations (geography, dialect) and no fixed Academy to prescribe the ‘correct’ form). The English language is constantly evolving as it is adapted in countries who speak English as a second language. As a result of the globalisation of the English language, Roly says ‘we are in a soup of English of different sorts’.
As a result, it’s important for editors to be aware of cultural differences that can affect the way the English language is understood and used in countries that speak other languages. used with people from other cultures. If you don’t understand the relevant norms and how they translate to English (or don’t), you can cause offense to someone from another culture. As publications become more global, it is an editor’s job to be explain how things may be perceived by a global audience in order to avoid issues.
Another gem of wisdom bestowed on the conference audience by the esteemed Roly Sussex was: as the English language continues to evolve, editors need to know where the boundary of editorial intervention and ‘correct’ usage is (and was) and how flexible it can be. We have to understand that there will be grey areas and that’s ok for a language that is constantly evolving.
I think this is important for editors not only when working with the English language in different cultural contexts, but when working on new digital frontiers as well.
If you’re interested in how technological advances are affecting the editing industry, make sure you read my last blog. Otherwise, CyberText Consulting have posted several insightful blog posts recapping the conference, or you can check out the IPEd conference website to find out more about the presenters and presentations for yourself.