Thoughts on Copyediting from a Pro

I just finished reading Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris, a longtime copyeditor at The New Yorker. Her book is a memoir/reference hybrid, combining lovely anecdotes about her life as well as grammar lessons. Some passages in the book resonated with me, especially those about the role of a copyeditor:

On the purpose of copyediting:

The whole point of having things read before publication is to test their effect on a general reader. You want to make sure when you go out there that the tag on the back of your collar isn’t poking up–unless, of course, you are deliberately wearing your clothes inside out. (p. 36)

On what writers think of copyeditors:

Writers might think we’re applying rules and sticking it to their prose in order to make it fit some standard, but just as often we’re backing off, making exceptions, and at least trying to find a balance between doing too much and doing too little. (p. 38)

And on why copyeditors will always be important, despite technology improving:

Because English has so many words of foreign origin, and words that look the same but mean something different depending on their context, and words that are in flux, opening and closing like flowers in time-lapse photography, the human element is especially important if we are to stay on top of the computers, which, in their determination to do our  job for us, make decisions so subversive that even professional wordsmiths are taken by surprise. (p. 113)

Finally, Mary’s enthusiasm of pencils (especially soft-leaded no. 1 pencils!) is particularly endearing in the chapter “Ballad of a Pencil Junkie.” In this penultimate chapter, she also remarks on her lacking handwriting (“I’d had complaints about it since third grade,” p. 171) and shares an interesting observation about those with neat handwriting: “Later, as a graduate student, teaching comprehension, I noted that the student with the neatest handwriting often wrote the dullest prose” (p. 172). The quote reminds me to be gentler on my own children with their sometimes-sloppy (often-sloppy?) handwriting.

This delightful book about the editing life is the twenty-sixth book I’ve read this year for pleasure (only four more to go to meet my goal for the year!). It does not count the hundreds (probably thousands) of pages I have read for work. Nothing makes me happier than sinking my teeth into a new subject or work. I am thankful that I’ve been able to make reading a hobby and a career.

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Looking Back and Planning for What’s to Come

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My morning coffee and a current copyediting project. Rival styles though–Chicago vs. APA.

Five years ago, I started this freelance business to accommodate the needs of my family better. I had been a managing editor at a book publisher for eight years, which was a dream job. But I longed to have more flexibility in my life and spend more time at home with my little kids. I took a bold leap in May 2013 and left my amazing job to become a freelance editor and writer. It’s been a great decision.

Next week, both of my kids head to full-time school for the first time. This is, of course, an emotional milestone, but I am excited to keep editing and writing and have even more time to build this business. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and given me work over the years. And please keep the work coming!

Mid-Summer Review

My 2018 family vacation is just wrapping up, and I am excited to return to the world of editing and writing after a few weeks away from the computer screen. I have been lucky to have a lot of interesting projects in 2018 so far, and I am looking forward to what will come my way as the year advances.

The projects I’ve completed in this calendar year include the typical copyediting, proofreading, and writing tasks, but I’ve also been securing permissions for several large textbooks as well. I love having variety in my weekly and monthly calendar, so keep me in mind for whatever publishing services you need.

I continue to work with several publishing clients, including independent, academic, and trade publishers as well as individuals who need writing, editing, and communications services. I appreciate your referrals to others who are facing the daunting task of editing a dissertation, blogging regularly, retooling a website, or trying to write a book. It’s a pleasure to help people achieve their publishing aspirations.

Enjoy the rest of your summer. I hope you are in the middle of a good book and relishing these more leisurely days of the year as I just did. When you are ready to get back to work, I’ll be here!

Happy New Year! Let’s Start Working

Welcome to 2018! After a week off with family and friends, I am ready to get to work. There are lots of file folders on my desk waiting for me to crack open. January will be a busy month for editing, writing, and requesting permissions for several different clients. I am fully revved up and ready to go!

I want to thank all of my clients who made 2017 an incredible success for Silver Scribe Editorial Services. I had the pleasure of working with many different clients on a host of different projects. Some included:

  • Writing articles
  • Drafting copy for websites
  • Ghostwriting
  • Copyediting
  • Proofreading
  • Requesting permissions

Two weeks ago, Healthline, one of my clients, sent me a email summarizing the work I did in 2017, and it is a great motivator for my year ahead. In total, I wrote 56 articles for the health website and attracted more than 2 million sessions to the site! My number-one article was “15 Ways to Get Rid of Hives” (https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders/how-to-get-rid-of-hives).

I hope you had a great 2017 and are looking at 2018 with a fresh and promising view. Let me know if you need any help with publishing projects, including writing, editing, proofreading, or other edidtorial work.

 

Current Projects: 2017

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I realize I have not come up for air to share my recent work on this blog for some time. Despite the silence, I am living and breathing and in the midst of many different writing and editing projects. I am lucky to have a lot of variety in my schedule, so I have been copyediting several academic journals and a trade book, writing articles for Healthline, and helping a businesswoman write her memoir.

Even with plenty of work, I have not let the summer pass by without some time in nature and on the road. My family and I have enjoyed spending time on both coasts this year. We spent a week in the Pacific Northwest in July (the picture above is from the Oregon Coast) and have dipped our toes in the Atlantic Ocean as well.

As summer comes to a close and you begin to think about writing and editing work ahead, please keep me in mind for editorial services.

First Quarter 2017

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The Japanese maples outside of my office’s picture window finally leafed out. It must really be spring now!

Before I get swept away in milder weather and late April deadlines, I wanted to reflect on my winter projects. These kept me busy and challenged from January through March this year:

  • Writing articles on health and lifestyle for Healthline
  • Copyediting several journal issues for University of Illinois Press
  • Copyediting a book on race in America
  • Editing and formatting chapters for a nursing textbook
  • Editing a dissertation for a doctoral candidate in social work at Temple University
  • Proofreading a book on religion
  • Editing a resume and cover letter for a teacher searching for jobs abroad
  • Writing biographies for two professionals to use in their marketing materials
  • Collaborating with Nicole Pica of Reinvent U with resumes and LinkedIn profiles

I am lucky to have a job that allows me to work in so many subject areas. There is so much to learn out in the world.

If I can help you with a writing or editing project, let me know. natalielsilver(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 

Recent Articles Written for Healthline

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I wanted to share some articles I wrote recently for Healthline:

I have been writing for Healthline for nearly two years, and the content I create ranges from lifestyle-driven articles to ones more focused on the details a specific medical condition. And Healthline is doing quite well these days: in late 2016 it was named the number-two health website. It’s wonderful to be a part of the company’s success.