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editing

Unearth Your Inner Editor at London Book Fair 2017

March 27th, 2017 by Amalie Andersen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Unearth Your Inner Editor at London Book Fair 2017
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Having been up since 3 in the morning and realising upon arrival in Glasgow Airport at 5 am that our flight wasn’t as early as we had thought, I was exhausted when I eventually landed in London and went straight to the Book Fair. With its glass roof and the energy from the thousands of people gathered there, Hammersmith Olympia was an overwhelming greenhouse full of tiny networking and rights selling ants.  However, after a well-deserved coffee break and a Dairy Milk bar sponsored by Harper Collins, it was with renewed energy that I attended my first seminar of the Fair; Unearth Your Inner Editor by Cornerstones founder Helen Corner-Bryant.

Cornerstones is a literary consultancy which offers editorial services to authors hoping to get published. Authors send them their manuscript and Cornerstones edits and improves these manuscripts to the point where they will (hopefully) get picked up by a publisher or a literary agent. On a very practical level this means looking at:

  • The structure and plot of a story – if this doesn’t work, Cornerstones and the author will go back to the drawing board together.
  • Characters and their development – are all characters unique and relevant or could some be cut or merged?
  • Dialogue vs description – dialogue brings the story to life in a way that description doesn’t. Helen Corner-Bryant was adamant that a good story puts the reader in the centre of events by using dialogue and an active voice rather than describing previous conversations and events.
  • The three (or five) act graph – how are suspense and obstacles distributed throughout the story?
  • Finally, and perhaps most important, is a story’s pace. To keep the reader reading, superfluous words, chapters or characters must be cut to make every word count. Secrets must be revealed slowly and not all at once to create and keep tension.

These all make up an editor’s tool kit.

Helen Corner-Bryant emphasised that, as editors, we should be directional but honour the author’s vision. If an author insists on keeping a character that you don’t see the point of, you must, in cooperation with the author, make this character work.  She also made the point that if she skims over a paragraph she knows that something isn’t working. However, this can be difficult to communicate to the author as “I just got bored” isn’t very constructive. An editor must therefore rely on their instinct but always back up their argument with their editing tool kit. So, instead of communicating to the author that their paragraph just couldn’t keep your attention, back this up by saying that the pace was too slow or that there was too much passive description rather than active dialogue. This is constructive criticism and suggests ways to improve the paragraph.

Finally, Helen Corner-Bryant reminded us that if you read back over a draft and nothing is missing, you’ve made a good cut in the first draft. Every word should count.

by Amalie Andersen

SYP Scotland: Editorial: First Draft to Finished Book #SYPedit

November 1st, 2016 by evangelia_kyriazi-perri | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on SYP Scotland: Editorial: First Draft to Finished Book #SYPedit
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On Thursday 27th October, the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland organised the first editorial event of the year, which took place in Edinburgh at the David Hume Tower. If you are considering a career in the publishing industry, editorial is one of the top choices on the list, functioning as the fundamental department of a publishing company.

The panel of the event, chaired by Rosie Howie, Publishing Manager of Bright Red, consisted of three highly experienced people in editorial departments: Jo Dingley of Canongate Books, the freelancer editor Camilla Rockwood and Robbie Guillory of Freight Books. All speakers shared their experiences on publishing and the reasons why they chose editorial in particular.

Most of the speakers started as editorial assistants, making their way up as editors. All of them emphasized the fact that editorial is a matter of choice and discovery, with Jo and Camilla highlighting the special moment when they get the finished book on their hands, as a reward of working in editorial and one of the top reasons they chose it as a career path.

Communicating with the author and establishing a close relationship with him is an essential part of working in editorial. Apart from the strong engagement with the author, commissioning editors tend to work directly with the author’s agent as well. One of the key parts of editorial, after author care, is to read carefully the manuscripts and share your opinion with the editorials colleagues at weekly meetings, as Jo points out.

People who work in editorial spend a large amount of time considering submissions and familiarising with the house style. Editors and proofreaders should be careful “not to get involved with the content of the manuscript when editing one”, Camilla warns. A useful advice was the fact that editors should be careful with judgement and suggestions as some authors get quite sensitive and over-protective of their manuscripts. This is the reason why editors should approach authors carefully when answering to queries, encouraging face to face meetings with them.

Robbie emphasized that editorial is not “exam marking”, it is a service: “editing is not about eliminating errors; you’ve got to be really curious about things and ideas”. This is one of the hard parts of the job, along with the fact that editors have to manage authors’ expectations, as the target is to keep the cost as low as possible. Jo advised that it is important for editors to be friendly and give reasons to potential rejections of manuscripts: “You should give feedback to rejections and explain what you are looking for at the moment, by giving more information”.

For students who are particularly interested in editorial, all the speakers advised to “put yourself out there” and find internships and work placements for experience. Furthermore, as Camilla suggested, even working in retailing as a bookseller, offers you experience and shows that you are interested in the publishing industry. Familiarising yourself with software such as InDesign, Photoshop and Microsoft Excel, in addition of being aware of new technology and tools is essential. One of the most important advice was also being active on social media and knowing what’s current in the industry. Although it’s a highly competitive industry, all the panel encouraged people who pursue a career in editorial “not to give up”, as trying other areas of publishing is a great way to end up in the department they desire.

By Elina Kyriazi-Perri

Qinyu Sun, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013

January 22nd, 2013 by Qinyu Sun | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Qinyu Sun, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-2013
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Hello, you can call me Safina, and  now I am studying on the MLitt in Publishing Studies course in the University of the Stirling.  I am from Shanghai which is located in the east of China. When I was an university student, I always invited my friends to visit the bookshops together and had a cup of tea. Now I have missed that style of life. Anyone who wants to do it with me will make me feel so excited

“Knowledge is the power.” It’s the familiar sentence for us to know during my life of studies in China. So that is one of the reason for me to further my studies here.

My undergraduate degree in Exhibition management and planning was completed in my hometown.  During that time, I took a lot of courses, such as marketing, public relation, economic, accounting, design and so on. I have to do some part time jobs with advertisement companies and some exhibitions. I like creation and design. Fashion is what I purchase now. So you can image that I want to be an editor in the fashion magazine. Design, planning and writing can make me become an editor in a fashion magazine’s company. I wish my dream will come true.

Now I have been here for several months, I have learnt a lot in the publishing major. If you want to more about my daily life, you can come to my facebook or Sina Weibo

It’s a tough job…

July 29th, 2012 by Helen Lewis McPhee | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on It’s a tough job…
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This week finds me editing submissions in the shade of the wisteria that runs wild across the terrasse of my grandparents’ house in the Ardeche region of France. Behind me, Ben, the black Labrador, is my sleepy supervisor, snuffling along the hedgeline and reminding me to keep at it. Despite his insistence, I occasionally allow myself respite from the eradication of comma splices and erroneous apostrophes with a refreshing dip in the 26 degree pool, or a literary dip into 18th century Paris.

There are worse jobs in the world. To fund my undergraduate degree I spent my summers, amongst other things, cleaning at a chicken farm. Such is the true price of higher education. That delicate scent of chicken poop and disinfectant may be the one presiding memory that has stuck with me since my student days.

In the few short years between undergraduate and postgraduate study, I turned my hand to wedding planning, fine wines, facilitation and fostering. Through every one of these roles, I found myself drawn back to working with writers and writing, and finally summoned up the courage (and the several thousand pounds), to take the publishing plunge: initially interning at a literary agency, and then completing my Masters.

The journey over the last two years from wannabe publisher to fully-fledged editor has been a bumpy one, and I still struggle to believe that I’m finally here. To have the privilege of working with such talented writers and esteemed academics is the realisation of a long-standing dream. To play such a part in the exploration and expansion of publishing boundaries through the new digital medium is beyond my wildest.

Today, I am copy-editing short stories and poetry from the comfort of a French villa. The cigales are singing in the background as I immerse myself in rural Luxemburg, remote Shetland, and central Glasgow. And Nana has just brought me a kir. Santé!