March 19, 2020 at 6:09 pm #86519
Hi everyone. How are you all doing?
I got a terrific editing job this week. I studied photojournalism a couple years back and went to Prague with one professor. He is a well-known, well-respected photographer/writer. He has been interviewing and photographing Holocaust survivors for many years. He is working on his book to be published this year, if things stay on track. It’s really a phenomenal project and he has traveled the world preparing for it. He called me up and said he lost his editor and would I take over. I said yes, of course. I asked him to send me the profiles that his previous editor had done, as well as the next group that is ready to be edited. I come to find out that the previous editor is a former professor of mine and a world-famous investigative journalist who has also edited for major newspapers/magazines, etc. So I expected the already edited ones to be flawless; and I wanted to stay consistent with what has already been done. I just read through one of them and found many glaring problems. I have no choice but to take this back to the author because it presents a problem for how I will edit. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the former editor (my former professor) and the countless articles and books he has written over a very successful career. But I will be pointing out some mistakes of his and also requesting permission to re-edit everything he already did.
It’s a sticky situation that I never imagined myself in. The author and former editor are good friends and I’m sure no money passed between them for this. The author is a friend of mine and I even offered to do all of this for a signed first edition and a testimonial. He’s offered some money too, though we are keeping it loose and I’m fine with that because of who he is.
If any of you do have a brilliant approach that jumps to mind, I’d be glad to hear it. This demands delicate kindness, which I have plenty of, but I’d also appreciate anyone’s input.
March 20, 2020 at 8:58 am #86808Jennifer LawlerKeymaster
It is very difficult situation! Would you be willing to share:
1. Why the former editor dropped out?
2. What is the nature of the glaring problems?
Certainly I would be diplomatic in how you address the need for re-editing but I wouldn’t get too caught up in their friendship and how much respect you have for everyone. What does the ms need? Focus on that.
And if I may: I would re-think doing enormous projects like this for free. It may be his labor of love but that doesn’t make it yours, no matter how worthy the project. At the end of the day you’re likely to be better off pursuing paying projects.
March 20, 2020 at 9:16 am #86809
I agree, Jennifer. And I plan to take him up on getting paid. It’s a much bigger project than I originally thought, especially now. But, all that said, I still don’t have a profitable business, nor years of experience doing this full-time, so I need the experience and the testimonial too. Therefore, not charging what a super experienced editor would is in order.
I just found out the former editor is having serious eye problems, which now explains a lot. He voluntarily stepped away because he realized he was not able to do it.
There is quite a bit of inconsistency – as well as major problems – in punctuation/italics, some word choices, numerals, tenses, names. There is very little in the way of developmental editing needed. The ones already completed by the former editor have already gone to the designer. I’ve seen the layout which is quite nice, but it will all have to be redone if I am permitted to re-edit those. I’m not a layout/design expert so maybe that is not a big deal to just delete and re-insert text. I don’t know.
If I am not permitted to re-edit, there will be significant differences in those and the ones I edit. However, the author is a very laid back, easy going guy who listens well and I don’t see him having a problem with my re-editing. The only problem is the required time and inconvenience of it.
Last night, I sent him my first edited profile and asked if this is what he is looking for. If not, let’s talk about it and readjust my approach. I also said I would send him a separate email on some observations about the previously edited ones. I’ve not sent that yet. I am thinking to send him a couple of them, with no editing but with highlighted areas that need editing (and with explanations as to why). All of it is defensible and it will no doubt bum him out, but I doubt he will question it. Does that seem okay – to send a copy with highlighted areas and explanations about why they need to be addressed?
March 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm #86908Jennifer LawlerKeymaster
It sounds like mostly problems in consistently applying copyediting standards, which is not uncommon for people who are basically writers and not trained editors. It is also likely that the first editor was using AP rather than CMOS, but CMOS is appropriate for books and AP is not.
Yes, I think it’s fair just to say that you think consistently applying CE throughout would help, but whether the author is self-publishing or going through a traditional publisher, it is very expensive to make significant changes once the designer is already involved and parts of the book have been laid out.
I would recommend identifying the most crucial inconsistencies to address in the already edited items–things that readers (not specifically editors) are likely to notice–and let other issues go (though of course you will want to be consistent in your editing of the material that hasn’t been edited yet).
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by Jennifer Lawler.
March 20, 2020 at 3:22 pm #86937
Thank you, Jennifer!
March 21, 2020 at 2:20 pm #87418
All went well and another former student (now layout designer) of his is doing the layout and changes are all easily made before being sent to the printer.
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