Life’s better with a buddy

Laptop and paperI’m an introvert. I did an online test once and it said I am 3% extroverted and 97% introverted. That seems fair. (It was this test, if you are interested.) However, I still understand the isolation that can come with working from home or alone in an office. It can sap your confidence and make it hard to maintain your motivation.

In a quest to make sure that I still had some social skills, I joined the nearest Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) local group for a lunch meeting. I came away from that lunch with the feeling that I had finally found my people. It was great to be able to speak to people with a lot of the same concerns as me, and who had been through a lot of the same experiences on the journey to becoming a fully fledged editorial professional. Not only that but they were friendly and kind and welcoming.

I had colleagues to speak to now, but that was every other month. I still spent much of my working time with a feeling of having no connection to other people in my field. The SfEP forums are great, and Twitter fills some of the social void, but it was still easy to get caught up inside my own head.

There had been a discussion at one of the local SfEP meetings about accountability groups: a group of individuals who share their goals, report back to each other and keep each other on track. That felt a bit too big for me, so instead I sought out a buddy. I knew if I told someone I was going to do something, instead of keeping it to myself, I’d be much more likely to do it. Luckily, my new buddy felt the same way.

We send an email every morning with our goals for the day and then send another email in the evening to report on what we achieved. We’ve been doing that since March. In that time I have:

  • Passed the SfEP basic editorial test
  • Upgraded to professional membership of the SfEP
  • Become one of the coordinators for the West Surrey and North Hampshire local group
  • Worked on 16 projects – 12 of those books
  • Gained a new publisher client.

I wouldn’t have done all that if I didn’t have my buddy keeping me accountable, telling me I could do it (particularly in the case of the editorial test!), and sharing her knowledge. We were at the same level of training and experience when we started, and we have progressed together. We both have someone to support us and tell us when we are worrying for no reason. We both have someone we can ask questions we think might be silly. We both have someone to talk to who understands our work and our processes. We’ve become more than buddies; we are friends. Our emails are now just as much about our cats and what we are having for dinner as they are about work.

Our buddy arrangement has been one of the best decisions I have made since becoming a freelance proofreader. If you would like to give it a try, find someone and ask them. There’s a good chance they feel as isolated as you do.

(This blog post only exists because I told my buddy I would write a blog post today.)

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Membership upgrade, part 2

In February 2016 I became an intermediate member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). Since then, I’ve done more training and gained more experience. I’ve worked with some lovely people and my confidence as an editorial professional has maintained its upward trajectory.

I’m delighted that this means I have been able to make another small amendment to my About page: I have achieved an upgrade to professional member of the SfEP. You can read more about the SfEP here.

In order for the admissions panel to grant professional status, I had to provide them with evidence of my training, details of my experience, and a reference from a satisfied client. I also took and passed the basic editorial test; this was necessary because many of my clients are non-publishers. The panel determined that I fulfilled their criteria – and that I am, in the SfEP’s words, a “professionally competent individual”. I now have voting rights within the organisation, and I am featured in the Directory of Editorial Services. I also get to use this membership logo:

SfEP-badge-[Professional-Member]-Retina

It has been a hard but wonderful journey since my first tentative steps into the world of freelance proofreading. Thank you to my wonderful clients, my supportive editorial colleagues, and the delightful blogging community I try not to neglect.

‘Carat’ and ‘carrot’

Carat and carrot are, of course, homophones. And this means that phrases such as ’24-carrot gold’ are commonplace. It’s an amusing mistake, but not when someone else finds it in your writing.

CarrotsCarat

  • (or karat) a measure of the purity of gold
  • a unit of weight of precious stones

Carrot

  • tapering root vegetable (often orange in colour)
  • the plant that produces carrots
  • something offered as an incentive or a means of persuasion

My tip: carrots are root vegetables (and they will rot).


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

 

Notes from a proofreader: check for these words

WARNING: This post contains language some readers may find offensive. But we’re all adults, right?

You learn a lot when you work in the editorial profession. I’ve proofread texts on subjects from self-hypnosis to the Industrial Revolution, and they’ve all taught me something new. Some of the things I have learnt are very specific in nature, but some are more general and it is those I am planning to share on my blog.

big-ben-909829_1920

A big clock. Image: Pixabay

This post is about words you should probably do a global search for before you declare your editing and proofreading process complete. I knew about some of these from my training, but they pop up in real life with alarming regularity. “What are you on about, Hannah?” I hear you say. Well, I’m talking about misspelling words such as public, count and shirt. Leave a letter out of one of those and the result is a tad embarrassing. And it happens. I’ve seen it in real proofs for real books.

This isn’t an exhaustive list,  but I’ll add to it as I discover more. I suggest adding a global search for these words to your list of editing and proofreading tasks:

  • Cock (when you meant clock)
  • Cunt (when you really, really meant count)
  • Fag (instead of flag)
  • Poof (when it should have been proof – particularly a danger if you write proofreader a lot)
  • Pubic (when you meant public)
  • Shit (instead of shirt)

Obviously, you will sometimes deliberately use those words, but coming across an unintended use of pubic is never ideal. They are hard to spot because they are so similar to the intended word and we often read what we expect to be there, not what is actually there. Our brains will just fill in the missing letter. Spellcheck is not going to flag these errors for your attention, so checking for them is something you need to do manually (unless you have specialist software to do it for you). And if you only check one (although I’m not sure why you would only do one) it should be pubic. That one likes to pop up quite often.

Are there any words with missing letters that have left you red-faced? Let me know in the comments!

I’m still here

“I’m so busy” is something I have been saying a lot over the last few months. It started out as a joke with my mum, because she knows I have had some months of little or no work. So when I say “I’m so busy”, it’s not a complaint – I am delighted that I seem, finally, to be attracting a decent amount work. But it is my excuse for the lack of recent blog posts. I am still here, although I am usually to be found on Twitter. I’ve been taking part in #HampshireHour every Tuesday (apart from the one evening I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2), which is fabulous for local networking. I’ve met some lovely people. I also attend my local SfEP meetings and they have been a brilliant source of motivation and encouragement.

OscarMost of my recent work has been on books for publishers, but I’ve also worked with an independent author and on online content for a local business. I love the variety. The books have included memoirs, children’s fiction and a short story collection. I started out by specialising in non-fiction, but my fiction titles are adding up now (five at the time of writing). I didn’t expect to branch into fiction so quickly, but I’m enjoying it.

I was joined by a new editorial assistant in February. He isn’t very helpful: he tries to chew my pens, he likes to sit on my laptop, and he knocks everything off my desk. But he’s a sweetheart and his paws are usually clean before he sits on the proofs. (Don’t worry – he only sits on my printouts and not the publisher’s copies.)

I hope, now I am adjusting to being “busy”, to be able to blog regularly again and to catch up on some of the wonderful blogs I follow.

All the best, and please feel free to say hi!

‘Foreword’ and ‘forward’

Foreword and forward are often listed as homophones, but whether this is true for your own speech probably depends on regional variations. I pronounce them differently, but I believe that when spoken in some other (particularly American) accents they sound the same.

Foreword

  • an introductory statement to a book

Forward

  • directed, travelling or moving aheadforward-arrow
  • at, in, near or towards the front
  • onward in order to make progress
  • bold, disrespectful or overfamiliar
  • well developed or advanced
  • of or relating to the future or favouring change
  • an attacking player in various sports
  • towards or at a place ahead or in advance
  • to send on to a destination
  • to advance or promote

My tip: a foreword is composed using words.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

Royal Holloway update

There have been some changes to Royal Holloway’s proofreading scheme since I became an approved proofreader in 2015.

RHUL

Founder’s Building in spring

Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) is one of the UK’s leading universities and my alma mater. It is located in Egham, Surrey and is famous for the beautiful Founder’s Building. You might recognise Founder’s from its fleeting appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron (it was really weird to see Thor outside somewhere I know so well).

The proofreading scheme is open to postgraduates and only allows the identification of errors. Undergraduates looking to improve their writing are encouraged to attend workshops and meetings organised by the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS) and are not currently allowed to use the proofreading scheme.

The identification code and proofreading policy remain the same, but the method of arranging the proofreading work has changed. This is what happens:

  1. The student’s supervisor completes a proofreading consent form and the supervisor sends the completed form to CeDAS.
  2. The student uses CeDAS’s online booking form to request the service of a proofreader from the approved list.
  3. CeDAS send the booking request to the proofreader. The proofreader contacts the student with a quote and timeframe for the work.
  4. The student sends the proofreader the final draft and the style guide.
  5. The proofreader returns the work and receives payment. The student makes corrections and then submits the work, making sure to acknowledge the use of a proofreader.

I’m happy to discuss my availability with RHUL students before they complete the booking request, but I can’t make any guarantees until I receive the official form from CeDAS. It is also important that students familiarise themselves with the level of intervention they can expect. You can read more about the scheme here.

‘Marten’ and ‘martin’

martenYou might be most familiar with these homophones as a brand of footwear (Dr. Martens) and a common male name (Martin). But if you find yourself writing or reading about wildlife, it is important to know the difference in that context.

Marten

  • a small, weasel-like, omnivorous mammal

Martin

  • a songbird of the swallow family

My tip: a marten looks like a weasel; a martin is a bird.


Sources:

 

Could BSI marks help you?

A great deal of editing and proofreading is done onscreen, but that doesn’t mean that professional editors and proofreaders have stopped using proof-correction marks. The UK has one set of industry-recognised symbols: British Standards Institution (BSI) marks for copy preparation and proof correction. Other regions have their own industry standard symbols or may also use the BSI marks. In case you haven’t seen BSI marks, here are a few in use:

proof-correction-marks

They are basically a type of code used to save time, save space and improve clarity. There is often very little space to mark corrections on proofs, and the corrections have to be understandable to everyone in the publishing process (particularly the typesetter). I find they save a lot of time compared to writing instructions out in full, and this led me to think that they are a resource that some authors might find useful.

BSI marks aren’t any use if you are editing your work in Word or a similar program, but if you like to edit and proofread on hard copy, I think they might be worth dabbling with. Instead of wordy scribbles, you could have concise marks. Proof-correction marks are designed to convey exactly what needs to be done in a simple and clear manner. They don’t take up much space and can comfortably accommodate several changes in close proximity to each other. Pages look much cleaner and less cluttered.

The principal symbols are simple to understand and even easier to put on paper. Marking an insertion or deletion is quick and effortless. It doesn’t take long for it to become second nature. And if you are working on the final layout, there are efficient symbols for moving and adjusting matter. You should no longer forget what it was you were trying to tell yourself to change because the symbols will make it obvious.

For professional editors and proofreaders, it is important to learn how to use the marks to the correct industry standards. For writers marking up their own work, it just matters that you are consistent. If you would like to give BSI marks a go, you can buy a summary sheet from the British Standards Institution or from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (it’s cheaper from the SfEP). You may also find it handy to be familiar with proof-correction marks when working with editors, proofreaders and other publishing professionals.

Do you use proof-correction symbols? Or have you developed your own mark-up system?


Further information:

 

‘Moose’ and ‘mousse’

The misuse of moose and mousse is another one of those mix-ups that can be slightly amusing. If I read something like “I ordered a moose for dessert” or  “we photographed a mousse in the wild” I can’t help but play those little scenarios out in my mind (but then I am easily amused).

mooseMoose

  • a large deer with big, flattened antlers (also referred to as an elk)

Mousse

  • a smooth, light dish usually made with cream and egg whites
  • the mass of tiny bubbles on top of a sparkling wine
  • a foamy substance used to style hair or as a cosmetic or skin care product; to style using mousse
  • the emulsion of oil and water after an oil spill

My tip: a mousse is often a dessert.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online