Red Pencil 6: A Day of Learning, Networking, and CMOS 17

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first professional editing conference, Red Pencil 6: Tracking Changes in Editing. This biennial conference is put on by the Northwest Independent Editors Guild and, according to the organization’s website, welcomes more than two hundred editors from the Pacific Northwest and beyond for a day of learning, networking, and camaraderie. This year’s conference took place on September 23 at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. I was thrilled to be able to attend the event with seven other Ooligan editors.

Before entering Ooligan Press, I hadn’t met many editors in person, and I’d never seen any gather in a large group. This profession doesn’t allow for much peer-to-peer interaction; it generally requires hours of solitary work, much of which is done remotely. Red Pencil provided me the opportunity to meet and learn from other professional editors—most of whom have been in the industry for years and have a wealth of experience and insight to offer. The events I attended included a keynote address from Karen Yin of Conscious Style Guide and educational sessions such as Editing Graphic Novels as a Medium, Publishing Project Management, and Copyediting Fiction for Traditional Publishers.

The culminating event (and one of the reasons I was driven to attend Red Pencil in the first place) was a session led by Carol Fisher Saller, author of The Subversive Copy Editor and editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Online‘s Q&A. Saller spoke at length about the updates made to the seventeenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), which was published only weeks before the conference was held. We base most of our style choices off of CMOS at Ooligan Press. It’s a giant (and sometimes intimidating) style guide, so it was helpful to have some of the changes and improvements in this edition pointed out by an expert. I was, for example, happy to learn that no chapter numbers had changed from the sixteenth edition and that many “fuzzy” sections had been clarified and included more examples. Here are a some more specific updates to CMOS 17 that Saller mentioned:

  • CMOS 5.48 and 5.256: Guidance surrounding the use of “they” has relaxed to reflect the rising use of this word as a singular pronoun. While CMOS still doesn’t fully recommend the use of singular “they” in formal writing (and provides a few other ways to achieve bias-free language), it recognizes the word’s evolving role as a generic pronoun when referring to a person of unspecified gender. The guide also mentions that “they” and its forms are often preferred when referring to a specific, known person who does not identify with a gender-specific pronoun.
  • CMOS 7.80 and 7.89: The recommended treatment for many technological terms has been updated. For example, “email” is no longer hyphenated and “internet” is lowercased.
  • CMOS 14.34: The use of the abbreviation ibid. is now discouraged in favor of shortened citations. According to the guide, “Shortened citations generally take up less than a line, meaning that ibid. saves no space, and in electronic formats that link to one note at a time, ibid. risks confusing the reader.”

I could go on at length about the changes in CMOS 17 (and also include the many pages of notes I took from other sessions), but the takeaway here is this: if you are pursuing a career as a professional editor, conferences like Red Pencil are an incredible educational experience. In my case, managing the editorial department at Ooligan can often be a daunting task, but beginning this academic term fresh from Red Pencil has provided me with valuable industry knowledge as well as a renewed focus and drive to ensure the editorial process at our press is a success.

Self-Publishing in the Digital Age

Some big names in publishing are coming to Portland, and they’re going to be talking about self-publishing in the digital age. Portland is known for its small press scene and zine culture, so when the founder of Smashwords and a representative from Bloomsbury Publishing roll into town, you know they’re going to shake things up.

Smashwords and Bloomsbury Publishing are teaming up with Portland State University’s graduate program in Book Publishing, Kingston University in England, and Northwest Independent Editors Guild in order to present a one-day conference on self-publishing. The conference is scheduled for Tuesday, February 25, from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on the Portland State University campus. Speakers include Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords; Eela Devani, digital business development director of Bloomsbury Publishing; Dr. Alison Baverstock, author and course leader for Publishing at Kingston University; and Jill Kelly, member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild.

By far the most recognizable name on the bill, Coker will be speaking about why self-publishing is the most exciting thing happening in publishing today. It’s not hard to see why Coker might believe this, since the company he founded in 2008, Smashwords, has become a leading distributor for self-published books. Smashwords is known for its ease of use; authors simply upload their manuscripts as Microsoft Word files, and Smashwords converts these files into multiple e-book formats.

Drawing from research she conducted on the subject of self-publishing, Baverstock will provide a firm grounding for the hyperbole one so often hears about self-publishing. She will be discussing the publishing industry, self-publishing’s place within it, and likely future developments. Baverstock brings key insights into how self-published authors can replicate the critical elements traditionally supplied by publishers in order to create successful e-books. Her most recent book, The Naked Author: A Guide to Self-Publishing, is (ironically!) published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Baverstock will also team up with Devani to discuss how self-published authors can use social media to get their work better known. With more than 13 years on the digital side of publishing, Devani is the perfect person to lead this discussion.

But this conference isn’t all experts flown in from overseas or out of state; Kelly will provide a valuable local perspective. Among other things, she will speak to the issue of how to find local freelance editors, designers, and so forth. These local freelancers can be a tremendous boon to one’s self-publishing project.

The conference is being held at Smith Memorial Student Union (1825 SW Broadway), room 238, on the Portland State University campus. The cost is $90 and includes coffee, tea, and light refreshments; lunch is available from a variety of local establishments or bring your own. For more information and to register, visit Writers & Artists website.