How to Build Community with Other Editors

Editing can be a lonely profession. The number of in-house editing positions has declined in recent years, and more and more editors are working as freelancers. This means editors spend a lot of time at home, toiling away in Track Changes with only Merriam-Webster and The Chicago Manual of Style for company. But although editors are a notoriously introverted bunch, we all stand to benefit from a little social connection. What happens when you run into a truly perplexing problem—be it a difficult client or a questionable comma—and you need to turn to other editors for advice? Where can editors go to receive mentoring and to swap war stories? This post outlines some of the ways in which editors can connect with each other—virtually as well as in person—in order to grow as professionals and build a sense of community.

Social Media
Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to connect with other editors is through social media. Joining online editors’ groups will enable you to tap into vast networks of editors from all over the world—many of whom are sitting at home alone, faces illuminated by the bluish glow of their computer screens, just like you! There are various Facebook groups specifically for editors, the most prominent of which is probably the Editors’ Association of Earth. Boasting over ten thousand members, this robust online community includes various forums and subgroups where editors of all stripes come together to share tips and tools, ask each other for advice, vent their professional frustrations, and have a good chuckle over language-related jokes and memes.

It’s also a good idea to maintain an active presence on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, which allow you to follow other editors and publishing professionals and maintain a solid network. (It’s worth noting here that Merriam-Webster has an insightful, entertaining, and often combative Twitter presence—all editors should follow this sassy dictionary.)

Editors’ Associations and Guilds
While communities on social media are fun and free to take part in, editors should also consider joining professional associations. These usually cost money to join, but the benefits are often worth it. One of the major editors’ associations is ACES: The Society for Editing, which hosts an annual conference (although the 2020 conference was sadly canceled due to COVID-19) and offers membership benefits that include a free listing in a freelancer directory, access to the society’s quarterly journal, and discounts on editing-related conferences, publications, and tools. Membership costs $75 a year for regular members and $40 a year for students.

Another organization to consider joining is the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). The cost of membership with the EFA is steeper: $145 a year (or $260 for two years), plus an initial processing fee of $35. However, the EFA does offer some valuable perks, like discounts on editing courses, access to the EFA job list, and—in some regions—discounts on healthcare.

And then there are local editors’ associations, which offer more opportunities to get to know local editors and network face-to-face. For example, editors based in the Pacific Northwest might consider joining the Northwest Editors Guild. Membership costs $65 a year, and benefits include access to an online job board, local networking happy hours, and mentoring sessions with more experienced editors.

Conferences
Another great way to meet editors, writers, and publishing professionals is to attend conferences. In addition to the annual ACES conference, there are a variety of editing- and publishing-related conferences held across the U.S. every year (pandemics notwithstanding). These include large-scale national conferences like AWP, along with smaller local conferences like those hosted by PubWest and Willamette Writers.

In Conclusion
No matter what kind of editor you are, you’re never alone! By reaching out to other editors through social media, professional associations, and conferences, you can grow your professional network and develop a support system of like-minded word nerds.

It Ain’t Just Grammar: Skills for Successful Copyediting

If you’re a writer or an English major who aced every spelling and grammar quiz in school, you might think to yourself, “Hey, I’m pretty good with words. I understand punctuation, possessives, and present participles. I would make a fantastic copyeditor!” And you could very well be right. But before you dive headfirst into this profession, it’s important to know that for a good copyeditor, grammatical know-how is just the tip of the iceberg; successful copyediting requires a number of additional skills that have nothing to do with whipping out that red pen to correct a dangling modifier. This post outlines some essential copyediting skills that are completely unrelated to grammar and spelling.

Technological Skills
It’s no secret that bookish types aren’t always the most tech-savvy people. But to make it as a copyeditor in today’s world, you need to be comfortable editing onscreen and using all the modern tools available to you. Microsoft Word is the software application most commonly used by copyeditors. You may think you’re an expert at Word because you’ve used it for schoolwork and basic word processing for your entire life, but once you dive into the “Track Changes” settings, you’ll find a whole world of editing tools that you might not be so familiar with. There are plenty of useful tutorials out there on how to use Track Changes in Word (this one, for example, provides a very basic introduction), and all copyeditors should spend some time poking around in Word and familiarizing themselves with all the features that might be helpful to them. These include the bookmarking feature, which makes long documents easier to navigate, and macros, which automate certain copyediting tasks to increase efficiency.

Though Word is the most common choice, copyeditors may be required to use other software—for example, they may need to edit PDFs using Adobe Acrobat. Copyeditors also need to know how to open, save, and back up different types of files and convert between file formats.

Organizational Skills
In order to stay on top of all the different files they work with, copyeditors need to be extremely organized. A huge part of the job is version control—a manuscript (or any other document subject to editing) needs to be saved at each stage of the editorial process, and these different versions need to be kept track of. To avoid mistakenly sending an out-of-date version to an author or designer, copyeditors need to develop a foolproof system of folders and file-naming conventions.

In addition to practicing file organization and version control, copyeditors also need to exercise strong organizational skills in other areas. For example, they must keep track of deadlines and production schedules (yes, this will likely involve spreadsheets), be methodical in their use of style sheets, and maintain an organized inbox for professional correspondence.

Communication and People Skills
Though copyediting might seem like a solitary endeavor for introverted bookworms, the truth is that it’s an inherently collaborative and social profession. You’re working on other people’s writing, after all. Being a good editor therefore requires effective communication with authors, whether that’s through queries, editorial notes, emails, or phone calls. Striking the right tone with a client—authoritative enough that they trust your judgment, but also sufficiently respectful and flexible—is practically an art form, and it can take years to develop one’s professional voice as a copyeditor.

In addition to being diplomatic in your interactions with clients, you may also need to navigate relationships with managing editors, other supervisors, and colleagues. Networking is a tremendous part of the work, especially if you’re a freelancer, and all copyeditors will need to have some tricky conversations about pay and other business matters from time to time. For these reasons, a certain amount of social aptitude and professional polish—in addition to technological proficiency and organizational skills—will likely be more helpful to an aspiring copyeditor than even the most impressive sentence-diagramming abilities.

So, word nerds and grammar gurus of the world—do you have what it takes?

An Inventory of Ooligan History

As we are settling into our roles as Ooligan’s newest dynamic duo of Publisher’s Assistants, we are beginning to realize that our responsibilities exist very much like an iceberg. Above the water, there’s the work that is more directly tangible—such as running meetings—and underneath the water, there’s all of the work that we do to keep the press operating smoothly, such as archiving.

One perfect example of this dual existence is Ooligan’s inventory. We inherited responsibility over a beautifully organized bookshelf in Ooligan’s main office. This shelf contains titles that are either more recent or more successful, and most Oolies would recognize them. However, we also inherited the keys to the basement, which holds all of Ooligan’s inventory. This is a room that is typically only used by the PAs; we quietly manage the inventory and report back to the Publisher. Although the task of managing the greater inventory downstairs might not sound as appealing as organizing the most Instagram-worthy shelfie upstairs, our unique responsibility is already providing us with a newfound perspective on the press that we are supporting.

For instance, did you know that Ooligan began its journey with a collection of translated stories centered in Croatia, called Zagreb, Exit South? One of three titles in what was styled “A New Croatia,” this first book (long out of print) lives in the far back corner of the basement shelves.

Several years and shelves of book boxes later, Ooligan’s Pacific Northwest focus becomes more pronounced in Sid Miller’s Dot-to-Dot Oregon, seven series of poems marking seven routes through every part of the state, from Baker City to Coos Bay, The Dalles to Klamath Falls. Miller’s poems paint scenes ranging from the intimate experience of an old-fashioned pharmacy in downtown Grants Pass to the sweeping horizon visible from the top of the Oregon Dunes. It’s the kind of book that transports you from the floor of a fluorescent-lit storage room to the eclectic and awe-inspiring beauty of the place in which we live.

On the opposite side of that same shelf, our press shifts into the current decade with stacks of Oregon Stories, one hundred fifty answers to the question, “What does Oregon mean to you?” collected and edited by Ooligan students in honor of the Oregon sesquicentennial in 2010. Featuring a foreword by celebrated Oregon writer Kim Stafford and an introduction by former Governor Ted Kulongoski, these Oregon stories come from writers, public servants, poets, students, and more. Governor Kulongoski even chimes back in for an amusingly relatable tale of the trials and tribulations of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon’s many weathers. Full of short and sweet anecdotes and ripe with state nostalgia, Oregon Stories is a classic collection of voices connected by place, time, and the landscapes beautifully collaged together on the cover.

From Oregon Stories, our inventory shelves move into territory more familiar to more recent Oolies: Ruth Tenzer Feldman’s Blue Thread, The Ninth Day, and Seven Stitches; Oolie Kait Heacock’s Siblings and Other Disappointments; and recent award-winners A Series of Small Maneuvers by Eliot Treichel and Memories Flow in Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writing from CALYX. Finally, there are the numerous boxes of our most recent titles, the 25th anniversary edition of Robin Cody’s Oregon coming-of-age classic Ricochet River and Brian K. Friesen’s literary fiction debut, At the Waterline. Where will these books be five years from now? Ten? Imagining shelves of Ooligan books expanding into the future is one of the unsung joys of inventory; what might seem a menial task, unseen and unappreciated, is actually one of the threads that weaves Ooligan Press together, past, present, and future.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Being a Publisher’s Assistant

What is a publisher’s assistant? It’s a vague title. Does it involve going on coffee runs and picking up dry cleaning? Do we have designer coats and handbags thrown at us like Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada?

Definitely not. And certainly not with bosses as wonderful as Abbey Gaterud and Per Henningsgaard. The reason that so many people don’t know what publisher’s assistants do is because so much of the work is meant to be invisible. We work behind-the-scenes in order to facilitate the work of others. The goal of being a publisher’s assistant is to keep the press running smoothly and efficiently. Being a publisher’s assistant is being a resource for the press; we help find answers for people when they don’t know who to ask or when a question doesn’t seem to apply to any other department. We also act as the first point of contact for those interested in finding out more about Ooligan. As publisher’s assistants, we try to know as much as we can about all the current book projects, the different departments, and the press at large. Of course we can’t know everything, so knowing who to direct people to is essential.

Need to know how to mail books? We can teach you. Need to register for copyright or buy an ISBN? No problem. Can’t find some files? We can track them down. We publisher’s assistants specialize in all the small, often forgotten tasks. Our list of tasks is constantly changing, but it’s always keeping us busy. There is a constantly shifting array of work that needs to be done depending on where books are in the publishing process. For example, this week we are organizing office supplies, submitting books for awards, creating event checklists, cleaning up internal resource files, coordinating book mailings, and checking email and voice mails. And we are always, always, always taking meeting notes.

Documentation is a very important part of our job as publisher’s assistants—especially since Ooligan is a student-run press, which means half of the staff graduates from the program every year as new students filter in. Because of this continuous turnover, keeping detailed records of the publication process is essential. This is where the Ooligan Press archives project comes in. The archives is an ongoing documentation process that strives to record the best examples of work and the best resources for future students to utilize in their own efforts. Hopefully this will allow Ooligan to continue to grow more efficient and produce even greater work over time.

Sometimes, though, working behind-the-scenes is hard. People don’t recognize all that we do, and they don’t notice all the small things we accomplish. Sometimes it feels like a thankless job. But thanks isn’t why we do the work. We work to help our colleagues succeed and to help students learn. We work to share great books with the world.