Seminar Overview for Fall 2016 by Elaine Vininsky

The goal for the 2016-2017 seminar season is to look at all the levels of the editing process, from the big picture down to the proof stage: Substantive Editing, Stylistic Editing, Copy Editing and Proofreading. Substantive editing, (also referred to as Structural Editing), involves big-picture changes such as cutting chapters or sections, adding in chunks of new material, moving things around and perhaps inserting facts of cross-reference.  The stylistic editor makes the tone of the document appropriate to the audience and applies syntax for maximum effect. Copy editing is concerned with spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, house style and facts. The proofreader checks the designer’s work, to make sure that the manuscript content appears correctly in the final version, and also aims to catch all the errors that slipped through the previous stages of editing.

This fall, Frances Peck is again leaving her home in British Columbia and teaching Grammar Boot Camp and Punctuation and Mechanics on September 28 and 29, respectively. Grammar Boot Camp focuses on high-level grammar errors, the ones that make it past editors and proofreaders and into print.  Frances always invites participants to bring along any difficult examples they’ve encountered in their work.

Jennifer Latham returns after a two-year-break to teach Substantive Editing on October 14, 2016. Ten days later on October 24, Moira White will offer Copy Editing I. Elizabeth Macfie, whose notes described the above-mentioned levels of the editing process, will offer Practical Proofreading on November 9, 2016. To conclude the fall session, Moira White will return on November 24 to teach Writing and Editing for the Web.

Also note that the Editors Canada Structural Editing and Proofreading certification exams are taking place in Ottawa on November 19, 2016. Although the Structural Editing and Proofreading seminars are not directly related to the more challenging exams, they could serve as a review or perhaps an introduction to those looking at future certification exams.

You can register for any of these full-day seminars at the following website: http://www.editors.ca/branches/ottawa-gatineau/seminars

Now, get to it!

September Speaker Night – Speed Networking by Peter Perryman

Wednesday September 21 sees the new season of Ottawa-Gatineau Editors Canada monthly meetings after the summer hiatus. These are your opportunities to socialize, network, hear from invited speakers, and contribute to your local association.

For our first meeting we are holding a speed networking event. These are commonly-used formats for people to meet each other in a friendly group environment that allows everyone to contribute and benefit from each other’s experience.

Elizabeth Macfie, who hosted a very popular speed-networking event at last year’s conference, will introduce the session and explain the format. In short summary, participants meet one-on-one at a table and spend just a few minutes introducing themselves and highlighting aspects of their professional lives, before moving on at the sound of a given signal to meet someone else.

It may be helpful to think in advance what information you would like to share in the two or three minutes you have with those you meet. For example,

  • Your name;
  • How long a member of Editors Canada and the local branch;
  • Any past, present or future roles within the association;
  • Any previous career or job experience;
  • Do you work in-house, freelance, or some other related career;
  • Do you have a preferred genre (fiction, scientific, legal, etc);
  • What’s the biggest challenge for you in editing (or aspect of your job);
  • What’s the favourite part of editing (or aspect of your job);
  • What would you like to get out of the branch meetings;
  • What questions you want to ask of your colleague;
  • Share an interest outside of your professional life;

These are only suggestions of course, but if you have business cards don’t forget to bring them, or other contact details you want to share.

The evening begins at 6.30 with coffee and cookies, and the speed networking begins at 6.45 for approximately 1 hour.

When: Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, 670 Albert Street (at Empress)

Free for members, $10 for non-members

Parking: Just behind the building, off Empress Avenue.

Hope to see you there!

Volunteers Wanted! by Suzanne Purkis

As our members know, Ottawa-Gatineau Branch of Editors Canada is hosting the 2017 conference. Plans for the conference are being drawn up right now, and it promises to be an exciting event. Such a large-scale affair depends heavily on the efforts of dedicated volunteers for its success, and we are looking for help. Specific positions and their responsibilities are given below:

All volunteers will participate in weekly teleconferences with conference committee and national office staff; meetings take about an hour.

 Volunteer Coordinator

  • Recruit and coordinate conference volunteers, including on-site volunteers at the conference (e.g., to set-up/tear-down registration area, staff registration desk, run errands, etc.).
  • Compile contact lists of volunteers; we need this info for thanking and recognizing them, such as the annual report, website (with links to their websites and/or ODE listings), list on program, etc.
  • Prepare schedules for on-site volunteers and coordinate their requirements.
  • Ongoing communication with volunteers via email and phone.
  • On-site training or instruction for volunteers at the conference.

 Speaker Coordinator

  • Research and compile contact information for potential speakers for discussion and selection.
  • Coordinate outside speakers.
    • Approach selected speakers as directed by conference co-chairs.
    • When speakers accept, follow up with standard info request (e.g., bio, photo, technical requirements, handouts, presenter agreement); if speakers decline, thank them.
  • Coordinate Editors Canada member speakers.
    • Prepare call for conference proposals (modified from previous conferences).
    • Organize and compile proposals into spreadsheet to facilitate evaluating, selecting and tracking speakers (conference committee and advisory committee selects speakers).
    • Inform speakers if they’ve been selected or not selected.
  • Handle all communication with speakers: changes to session, follow up for missing elements, requirements for materials or equipment.
  • Edit session information provided by speakers as needed: summaries, titles and bios; this information will be used on website, printed program, promotion, etc.
  • Assign sessions to rooms in time for final program design.

 Social Media Coordinator

  • Initiate and coordinate conference communication and promotion on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr (on Editors Canada’s account), Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, etc.

We will also be looking to fill the following positions: Billeting Coordinator, Conference Buddies Coordinator, Local Experience Coordinator, Program Coordinator, Session Host Coordinator, Speed Mentoring Coordinator, Speed Networking Coordinator, and Vendor Fair Coordinator.

If you are interested, please let us know at conference2017_chair@editors.ca. We hope to hear from you soon!

May Speaker Night – Jodi Di Menna on Big Picture Editing

Our Speaker Night in May will have Jodi Di Menna presenting on Big Picture Editing: Content planning with a purpose, from the editor-in-chief’s perspective.

Whether it’s to serve a readership, drive traffic, support a strategic message or simply to impart important information, there’s always a big-picture objective behind the written content we edit. From content planning for a website or hardcopy launch or re-launch, through to lineup selection, right down to story structure and word choice, the thought processes that precede the final stages of editing are as crucial to hitting the mark as getting the language just right. This session will draw on the speaker’s experience as founding editor and editor-in-chief of small magazines, as well as her role as senior editor for an organization whose key audience is the chief decision makers on Parliament Hill, to provide examples of how the big picture filters down to the subtleties of how we write and edit the content that supports it. It will also incorporate the viewpoints of several editors-in-chief and communications executives to provide a broad perspective of how editors and content producers can work together to achieve a goal, from concept to completion.

Jodi Di Menna spent ten years working for magazines, and led the launch of one small magazine, the re-inventing of another, and the re-launch of a couple of corporate websites. She is now Senior Writer/Editor for the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

When: Wednesday, May 18, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Good Companions Seniors Centre, 670 Albert Street (at Empress)

Free for members, $10 for non-members

Parking: Just behind the building, off Empress Avenue.

Money Matters for Editors — Project-Based Pricing Versus Hourly Rates By Kaarina Stiff

 

Money is often a difficult thing to talk about, even when it shouldn’t be. One of the hardest questions for me to answer as a freelancer is, “How much do you charge?” It’s a perfectly reasonable question, but one that always leaves me speechless, at least for a few awkward seconds.

Keeping perspective

“Well, it depends,” is usually how I start. Then I spend a few more seconds reminding myself that it’s actually okay to charge people money for what I do, and I continue with a long-winded explanation that no doubt leaves the impression that I’m afraid to answer the question.

Reality might not be quite that bad, but it is fair to say that money conversations can be challenging, and there is no single right answer to a question about money. However, in most cases, the best response really is, “It depends,” because every job is different.

Breaking it into pieces

The first question I wrestle with is whether to charge on an hourly basis, or to establish a fixed fee per project. Last week, I had a chance to explore the issue with fellow freelancer, Dawn Oosterhoff, by looking at how the concept of project-based pricing can be applied to editors, as an alternative to charging an hourly rate. Here is a snapshot of what we considered:

The project-based approach

Project-based pricing has a number of advantages. It sets a cost ceiling for the client, which many clients appreciate because it’s predictable. It also doesn’t penalize experienced freelancers for being quick at what they do, in the way that an hourly rate does. (Of course, experienced freelancers can command a higher hourly rate, which is explored below.) Project-based pricing is also an excellent way to represent the full spectrum of experience that you, the freelancer, bring to a given project.

However, project-based pricing also has disadvantages. For editing work, it can be hard to accurately assess the level of effort needed for a job based on a preliminary review. And while the same holds true for hourly-rate services, it’s easier to mitigate the risk by providing clients with a range, and communicating with them promptly if you encounter problems. With project-based pricing, the freelancer is at risk of taking a financial hit if the estimate is too far off. On the flip side, if you are too generous to yourself in a project-based estimate, clients might balk at the cost.

Taking it hour-by-hour

Hourly rates, which feel more like the norm in freelance editing circles, also have distinct advantages. For the freelancer, charging on an hourly basis means you get paid for every hour worked, even if you uncover issues that weren’t apparent at the beginning. Hourly rates are also easy for clients to understand, because it’s evident to them exactly what they’re paying for.

On the other hand, hourly rate jobs can also come with pressure to “just work faster” to reduce costs for budget-conscious clients. It also exposes the difficult question about how to set an hourly rate. Less experienced freelancers will take longer to do a high-quality edit than veteran editors. Newer editors can compensate for this by charging a lower hourly rate, but this can present its own challenges by lowering expectations among the client pool, in an industry where we all want to see professional editors fairly compensated. It can also create challenges down the road for the budding freelancer who eventually wants (and deserves) to raise their rates.

Weighing the risks

So what is a freelancer to do? Even after weighing the pros and cons, we agreed on a couple of key points. No matter what the job is, page two deserves as much effort as page 222. An hourly fee felt like the best way to make sure that happens, because it eliminates any temptation, however subliminal it might be, to hurry through the later stages of a job that’s taking longer you bargained for. Of course, most of us would never do that, but it still prevents us from beating ourselves up for underestimating a job.

Project-based pricing seems most advantageous for less mechanical and more creative endeavours, such as in the freelance writing universe or maybe even in the world of substantive or developmental editing. But for folks whose editing work gravitates more towards copyediting, we closed our discussion feeling safer in the hourly rate universe.

Did we miss any big considerations? What do you think? Share your experience in the comments below.

Meet the Instructor: Fact Checking by Laura Byrne Paquet

 

laura byrne-paquet

Laura Byrne Paquet has an extensive portfolio. She edits both fiction and non-fiction and has written for more than 80 magazines and newspapers in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, including National Geographic Traveler, Islands, enRoute, Chatelaine and The Ottawa Citizen. She recently co-authored an article on rural life for the spring 2016 issue of Ottawa Magazine. Laura has written or co-authored 12 books and novellas, including Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel (Goose Lane Editions). She is past president of the Travel Media Association of Canada.

“Finding out what makes people, places and processes tick is my specialty,” says Laura, “whether that involves delving into the history of Avon ladies, writing about Canada’s largest coffee pot or flinging myself off a B.C. mountaintop (the latter because a friend dared me to try paragliding”). Visit Laura’s website at http://www.laurabyrnepaquet.com for more information on her professional activities and personal interests.

Fact Checking, or checking the accuracy of names, dates, dollar figures, and other facts, is a half-day seminar offered on Friday, April 29, 2016. Laura will help participants develop this important editing skill that prevents mistakes, avoids loss of money and lawsuits, and establishes client/author credibility. She will share her wealth of knowledge and equip participants with the skills to perform the job effectively. Registration for this morning workshop will close one week before the seminar. Click here to register: https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352

 

 

Report on March 16 Speaker Night by Bhavana Gopinath

Our branch’s listening event on March 16 turned out to be an interesting evening, with a spirited exchange of ideas between our members. In his address, Tom Vradenburg stated that for a volunteer-run organization such as Editors Canada, it is important that we all find ways to help in a way that benefits both the organization and the volunteering member.  As he put it, volunteering with your local branch is not just about padding up your resume, but also about “building relationships, one taskforce at a time”.  As an example: if a member has an idea for a program, the Branch will support and organize help to aid the member run with the idea to bring it to fruition. The Branch is able to provide more focused programming for its members, and the member hones their organizational skills and get to share in-depth ideas with the speaker. This becomes a win-win situation for both parties.

Our members provided several inputs, particularly in the area of mentoring:

Mentoring programs were always welcome; the recent “Speed mentoring” event was quite successful. Some of our members pointed out that while Mentoring (with a capital M) might not always be possible due to time constraints, they would be open to offering speed mentoring for newer members, or a more informal mentoring, a kind of “buddy system”.

Mentoring is also a great way of retaining and even bringing back people who may have left the organization. It would be great to hear their perspectives, not just from an editing point of view, but in a more comprehensive manner.  These “elders” have vast editing and life experience that others could learn from.

In a similar vein, it would also be great to have talks by experts in related areas of our lives, and not confine ourselves to the discipline of editing. Some suggested topics were: managing a freelance business, financial planning, mental health, ageing, and what employers look for in editor while hiring.

Mentoring could also be two-way, given that many of our new members seem to be younger. Perhaps there is an opportunity here for more experienced editors to learn more about issues that engage newer editors.

While formal mentoring plans are being discussed at the National level of Editors Canada, there are things that can be done at our branch level. Perhaps when new members join us, their welcome email could ask if they needed a mentor, and the branch might be able to do some match-making.

If you missed our meeting, and would like to share your thoughts on volunteering and mentoring, please let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.

 

 

How editing contributes to a stronger democracy by Gael Spivak

You may think that being an editor for the federal government is boring. So staid: all those rules, all those bureaucrats.

It’s actually a lot of fun. The topics are interesting and I get to help a lot of people.

What kind of topics?

I’ve worked as a writer, editor, coordinator and communications advisor, in three government departments.

Topics I’ve worked in include food safety, food labelling, organic food, animal health, plant health, biotechnology, ethics and government, road salts, and flu. Lots of flu: seasonal flu, pandemic flu, avian flu and swine flu.

All that government-speak

Bureaucratic language is a problem in government. It’s not that it is technical or scientific language. It’s the government style and tone.

People pick this up when they first start working in government. Because they are smart and adaptable, they quickly start writing to match what they see around them.

But this kind of writing is unclear. The sentences have too many thoughts and the verbs are usually way at the end of the sentences.

The writing is also dense. Because many of the writers are policy people who’ve been examining issues for many years, they are experts. So they want to give a solid background when they write, not realizing that it’s too much information for a non-expert.

How does editing help?

As an editor, I build a bridge between the experts and their audience (often the public). I help the experts write more clear text, so that Canadians can understand what to do to be safe, to comply with legislation and to keep dangerous pests out of the country.

I also help people participate in their government, by making legislation, policies and decisions more understandable. Editing helps build a stronger democracy.

 

Gael Spivak works in communications for the federal government. She specializes in plain language writing and editing. Her Editors Canada work includes

  • membership chair for Editors Ottawa–Gatineau
  • co-chair of conference 2012
  • co-chair of conference 2015 (Editing Goes Global)
  • director of volunteer relations
  • director of training development
  • vice-president

Meet the Instructor: Eight-Step Editing by Moira White

 

Moira White

 

Moira White entered the work world as a social worker and later moved into social policy. In both professions, she found that her organizational skills, attention to detail, and love of words were pointing her in a new direction—the world of editing. Currently a freelance editor, writer, and trainer with both public and private sector clients, she has decades of experience editing print and electronic publications. Moira is a director of professional standards for, and a past president of, Editors Canada.

Eight-Step Editing is one of the most practical workshops in our canon. It takes the skills that are second nature to many professional editors and breaks them into a sequence of tasks that will improve the readability of the final product. If you’re an editor, whatever your experience level, this seminar will help you develop a systematic approach to editing and identify functions you may have been performing only intuitively. If you’re a writer, the Eight-Step process will give you techniques for improving your manuscript before it goes to an editor. This full-day seminar is offered on Thursday, April 14, 2016 and registration closes one week prior to the event.  To register, go to https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352.

Go ahead—ask what your branch can do for you by Tom Vradenburg, Editors Ottawa–Gatineau Past Chair

We’ve made a few changes this year as a result of town hall discussions: an earlier start time, a different venue. It’s time again to check in with our editing community to see how we can help one another.

We’d like to hear your suggestions on what you would like to see from Ottawa–Gatineau speaker nights or seminars, or if you would like entirely new kind of programming. Aside from an (optional) glass of wine, you’ll get bonus marks if you are willing to volunteer some time for it.

Our upcoming speaker night on March 16 is about you speaking and us listening. If it will help the free flow of ideas, there will be wine and cheese. Come and talk to us!

Last year’s meeting yielded some useful changes that we’ve implemented: a different meeting venue, an earlier start time to our meetings, some opportunities to socialize.

Wednesday, March 16, 6:30 p.m.

Good Companions Seniors Centre, 670 Albert Street (at Empress)

Parking: Just behind the building, off Empress Avenue

Free for EAC members, $10 for non-members