2020 in Review

I plan to close up shop tomorrow until 2021. After this particularly exhausting year in a global pandemic, I’ve vowed to rest and recharge in the final days of December 2020 to head into the new year with as much vigor as possible. I hope you are also able to do the same.

Despite massive shifts in how we live in 2020, I am thrilled that my freelance publishing business could keep chugging along this year. I began Silver Scribe Editorial Services in May 2013 after leaving my job as managing editor at a book publishing company to find a better work-life balance with my young children (who are now well into elementary school and learning virtually next to me as I write this post). Thanks to loyal clients and new opportunities, I’ve been able to “have it all” in my eyes — keeping a career going while also balancing the demands of parenthood.

Thank you to everyone who has sought out my services over the last seven-plus years. It’s my hope that I’ll be able to continue working in this capacity for many years to come.

I always like to review my work by the numbers, so here’s the brief summary of 2020:

  • 40-plus articles for Healthline (writing, including articles on some pretty gnarly animal bites, including the blue-ringed octopus, the venomous box jellyfish, ball pythons, chiggers, and carpenter ants, oh my!)
  • 10 academic journal issues (copyediting)
  • 6 books for self-publishing authors through Reedsy or this website (copyediting and proofreading)
  • 5-plus permissions projects for a large textbook publisher

These numbers remind me again how lucky I am to work on a variety of projects. I am truly never bored in this line of work!

A final remark I wanted to make is about changes in editing and publishing in 2020. Changes to grammar, usage, and style evolve over time, and this year had a few seismic shifts, in my opinion. Mainstream style guides embraced the move to a singular “they” and shifted the treatment of racial terms in the wake of our national conversation on race. Where I was once a stickler on using “him or her” or something of that effect when a singular pronoun was ambiguous, I now openly embrace the singular “they” and believe it is a great compromise to our language’s lack of a gender-neutral singular pronoun. Also, I am now in regular conversation with editors and authors about whether to capitalize racial terms. I think this is a positive move forward, as it opens up a dialogue about how to address these issues in our culture and offers an opportunity for authors, editors, and publishers to be more intentional in the conversation surrounding race.

Again, thank you to everyone who supported my work in 2020, and I look forward to a productive and successful 2021!

2019 by the Numbers

Another twelve months have passed, and it’s time to take stock of what this year brought in terms of editing and writing work. This year proved to be my best and busiest freelance year to date, so thank you to my clients for keeping my business afloat for another year. I am very lucky to work with such great people and also balance so many varied projects. Here’s what I turned out in the Silver Scribe Editorial Services factory in 2019:

  • 57 articles for Healthline (writing)
  • 7 marketing case studies for a consulting firm (writing)
  • 11 projects for a health care textbook publisher (project management, editing, proofreading)
  • 11 journal manuscripts (copyediting)
  • 10 books or dissertations (copyediting and proofreading)
  • Numerous other projects that are too difficult to categorize but are nonetheless very important to keeping me in business!

I continue to be humbled by the amazing minds churning out written work to be edited and published. I am honored to be in this profession and feel very fortunate to work in a field that informs and challenges me intellectually.

Here’s to a new decade of content!

 

Treading Lightly

Recently, I read The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller. Saller is a copyeditor at the University of Chicago Press, home of the celebrated stylebook, now in its seventeenth edition. She also manages the question and answer feature on the stylebook’s website, which has been a huge resource to me over the years. I’ve followed happenings at the University of Chicago for quite some time — since the fourteenth edition!

I wholeheartedly agree with Saller’s take on copyediting and the Chicago philosophy in general. One of the sentences in the opening pages of the book sums it up perfectly:

Your first goal isn’t to slash and burn your way through [the manuscript] in an effort to make it conform to a list of style rules. (p. 7)

Unless you want someone to change your work radically (which I would suggest is substantive editing, not copyediting), this lighter and sensible approach to copyediting should put you at ease. When you hand over a manuscript for copyediting, you feel the work is in pretty good shape and that it needs some fact-checking and smoothing (and, in many cases, formatting help for references and bibliographies).

So remember that unless you are submitting an article for a publication with strict guidelines or your work needs a lot of retooling, the copyediting process should be pretty gentle.

2018 by the Numbers

Before the clock strikes midnight tonight, I wanted to reflect on my freelance work this year. Thanks to a lot of great clients, I have worked on many different types of projects for the last 12 months. Without further ado, here is my year by the numbers:

  • 36 articles written for Healthline
  • 13 permissions projects managed (a handful with 100+ permissions needed)
  • 12 journal manuscripts copyedited
  • 6 books copyedited or proofread
  • 5 projects completed in my “other” category, including ghostwriting, copywriting, writing coaching, and more

I’ve used The Chicago Manual of Style, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, and the MLA Handbook this year, as well as many other house style guides.

Thanks to everyone who has made this year successful for Silver Scribe Editorial Services. Truly, I am grateful for the work and your support!

 

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.

Numbers: 2016

I realize that January is halfway over, but I wanted to post a review of 2016. Last year was hugely successful for me as a freelance writer and editor, so I wanted to mark the occasion by running my work by the numbers. Without further ado:

  • Number of clients: 13
  • Number of books copyedited or proofread: 6
  • Number of journals copyedited: 10
  • Number of articles written: 50
  • Number of huge nursing education textbooks or supplemental materials edited: 3
  • Number of dissertations edited: 2
  • Number of individual clients who I collaborated with on resumes, websites, and marketing copy: 7

And here are a few approximate numbers, just for fun’s sake:

  • Number of times I reviewed a style book (including Chicago, APA, and AP): 5,000
  • Number of times I looked up a term in Merriam-Webster: 7,000

Thank you to all of my clients who keep me working so hard year-round. I am lucky to be in this profession, and as a lifelong learner and avid reader, working on a variety of topics couldn’t be more thrilling.

 

An Onslaught of Finished Work

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You know it’s been a busy time when finished journals and books and links to your online work flood your doorstep and email inbox. In fact, I’ve been so focused on current work that I haven’t had a chance to share these finished projects here.

These completed works include two issues of academic journals I regularly copyedit, one book I copyedited under a pretty quick deadline, and two books I proofread back in July.

Additionally, Healthline recently published two new articles I wrote back in August:

This fall continues to fly by with new projects to tackle, but please let me know if any of my publishing services may help you.