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Improving your editing skills

Editorial Bootcamp: Copyediting Intensive

For beginning editors and those wanting to brush up on skills

For both new editors and those who have been editing for years, an intense, one-day training session on editing non-fiction will be held after the Communication Central conference in Rochester, NY, on Sunday, September 28, from 9 am to 3 pm.

The Copyediting Intensive is led by Laura Poole, senior editor at Archer Editorial Services and co-founder of Editorial Bootcamp. The Bootcamp is associated with but separate from Communication Central, and registrants for both events are offered discounts. Registration is on the last page of the Communication Central registration form.

This is the third year Editorial Bootcamp has been offered after this conference, Poole says, although she started offering her training sessions in October 2009.

“There was (and still is) almost no training available for editors when I first got into the field in the mid-1990s,” says Poole.After 12 years in business and mentoring a lot of beginning editors throughout my career, I thought it was time to take my knowledge to a class format. My co-founder, Carolyn Hassett, and I had similar experience and complimentary backgrounds, so we felt like a good team to develop the course. We decided to focus on skills and a breakdown of what you would see in real life when editing and proofreading.”

What will be taught

The class will include topics such as maintaining the author’s voice, how to query, software, style sheets, notes and references, and using tables and figures.

Poole says she feels it is very important for new editors to learn how to query. “Querying can be a fine line to walk,” she says. “When do you just handle the issue, or fix it, or look it up yourself, and when do you query it? How do you query effectively? How much is too much querying? This is more of an art than a science, and I feel like I offer some useful guidelines in this area.”

Knowing how to use and create a style sheet is just as vital. Any decent copyeditor needs to have this knowledge, she says.

Skill levels among freelance editors are inconsistent, Poole says. “Many people considering the field don’t really know what a copyeditor does … it’s so much more than catching typos and correcting grammar, but it looks like we just read all day. It seems easy.”

On the other hand, anybody can become a better editor if they pay attention, research the market, figure out what exactly they want to do—and for whom—and start working, Poole says. The editors who get better are those who are willing to learn from doing, learn from feedback, and learn from others, she says.

Getting started as a freelance editor

Poole suggests beginning editors post flyers or classified ads at a local college or university for editing dissertations, theses, and academic papers for students. “You can get quite a bit of work this way, and it’s great experience when you’re just starting out.

“Also, tell everyone you know that you will edit blog posts, articles, resumes, whatever. Your freelance business is only open when your mouth is open; people need to be told what you’re doing!”

Bootcamp is not just for new editors, Poole points out. “I consistently have a wonderful mix—people just starting out and those who have been editing for a long time, who attend because they want to brush up on their skills,” she says.

“I always learn interesting things from my more experienced students, and I appreciate how those just starting out challenge me to articulate all those things I ‘just know are right!’”

Other classes

During the Communication Central conference that precedes Bootcamp, Poole will be teaching two other classes: “Crafting a Workable Work/Life Balance,” co-presented with Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, about working from home while balancing family needs and life; and “Power Up Your Promotions,” a presentation with Communication Central founder Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, about how to get the word out about your business: from websites to cards, promotional giveaways, events, and word of mouth.

She’s also getting ready to arrange Editorial Bootcamps in three cities next spring: Austin, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“I love doing the training—my students keep me sharp by asking terrific questions, and I am constantly updating the materials with changes in the industry.”


More info:

Communication Central Conference

Editorial Bootcamp

My interview with Ruth Thaler-Carter about the Communication Central conference