ACES 2015: Pittsburgh: Day 2: Friday 27 MarchMarch 28, 2015
These are my notes from the sessions I attended at the American Copy Editors’ Society (ACES) annual conference (2015: Pittsburgh). They are MY opinion and reflect no-one else’s opinion.
Level up: how to get more out of your freelance business (Panel: Erin Brenner; Laura Poole; Samantha Enslen; Adrienne Montgomerie)
- Set aside time to work on your business (10%)
- Be yourself
- Getting to where you choose to want to be /how you want to work
- Teach what you know – blogging, podcasts, mentoring, training, speaking at conferences etc.
- Break down your income – direct services versus training, speaker fees,
- Go beyond editing – offer more than one service (examples: say ‘yes’ – offer complementary services; offer packaging services [value add] such as complete package to completed book; ask for and pay referral bonus (10% on first job only); teaching other editors to use software – not selling your hours, but selling your training (teach online, webinars, books etc.; know what you WON’T do too; copy editing.com pays their presenters; hire subcontractors;)
- Create products and on-demand services that can be sold continually. Examples: training, core workshop with ancillary webinars, EFA may take on courses and pay well, ebooks, automated products on website, free reports, sell individual chapters (e.g from blog posts)
- Offer value-added services (could be for free or paid) to existing clients to increase client loyalty and spread your brand. Examples: upsell ‘do you also need help with… ‘; write blog posts for clients; look at franchise models; ask people what more they want; offer middle of the line and premium services – premium (platinum package) makes middle of the line look reasonable!; ‘how can I make your life easier?’; strategically doing free work can get you lots more paid work; offer the style sheet you’ve created for the client back to them for free.
- Work with subcontractors – you only have so many hours to sell, but you can sell other people’s hours. Examples: there’s a big difference between 2 or 3 and 25; google docs for collaborative style sheets; complexity of managing subcontractors increases while your billable hours decrease – cash flow; ‘Teamwork PM’ project management system; virtual assistant well worth the money; hire out things you don’t want to do; use subcontractors to expand, fill in, cover extra work, vacation etc.; have systems and checklists that others can follow; markup can be $, %, or ‘admin fee’
- ‘let me send you a simple letter of agreement’ – non-threatening, not a lot of effort, but documents what each side will do.
- Communications Central – also pays (Ruth Thaler-Carter)
(Some good tips and info from those involved in various editorial services businesses)
Critical editing (Gerri Berendzen)
- Use your bullshit detector
- Always ask questions
- Be skeptical about everything
- Check anything that raises a red flag – even the small things
- Check names are spelt correctly, URLs, phone #s, email addresses
- If a question pops into your mind, don’t ignore it
- If it seems to good to be true, question it, especially superlatives
- Coincidences are rare, so check them out
- Question anything (including images) that doesn’t ring true
- Numbers, dollar amounts, data and polls (e.g size of crowds)
- Inconsistency and repetition
- Out of context examples and references
- Visuals that are meant to distract or misrepresent
- Biased sources
- Absolutes (all, always, never, the oldest, the best, the worst – demand the source!)
- Direct quotes, partial quotes
- Image and caption supports rest of story
- Unnamed sources
- If the words that raise red flags aren’t important, consider taking them out or reword
- Use common sense
- Accuracy checks (but don’t rely on it as the person who supposedly checked it may not have); working from checklists
(Good speaker, great examples. Excellent info.)
Bulletproofing data-driven stories (Mark Rochester)
(It seemed that the speaker wasn’t familiar with the computer he was using – I suspect it was not his own, and no-one was there to help him. He wasted a lot of time trying to get programs to run, and never did get his PowerPoint to work. He was hard to understand too — perhaps nervousness, stress related to the computer issues. I left after 15 minutes, as did many others. I felt for him under those circumstances — it’s not pretty as an audience member, and even worse if you are the presenter.)
Beyond the red pen: new directions in editing (Sarah Black)
What makes a good copy editor?:
- Attention to detail
- Problem solving
- Time and project management skills
- Excellent communicators
All these skills are transferable!
- Skills in field of editing
- Skills not necessarily traditionally associated with editing (content strategy, Web editing….)
- To internal clients. Many materials in a company involving words that might need to be managed (employee newsletter, marketing materials, policies and procedures, press releases….)
- To external clients. Examples: Dragonfly Editorial, true north, penultimate editorial services, Wainscot Media – check URLs
- Different areas of focus, clients, markets
What services will you provide, what makes you unique, why are your services valuable?
Example services: see her slides for the tree /leaf examples and others
Pitching ideas to leadership (see slides):
- Identify the problem/opportunity
- Start with your boss
- Get solid numbers
- Be willing to be the one to make it happen
- Also be willing to let it go if it’s not going to happen
- Start small and keep at it
(Great speaker, lots of ideas and examples, not the session I was meant to be in [my error!] but ended up being interesting and useful nonetheless)
Between you and me (Mary Norris)
Copy editor job is somewhat invisible unless you make a mistake.
Mary told anecdotes from her life at The New Yorker. And read from her new book Between you and me.
It was interesting and funny but not what I expected based on the summary provided to delegates.