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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

Kinds of editors and levels of edit--what every writer and editor should know (updated)

Updated 7-5-22. Original post 7-22-13)

If you want to hire (or be) an editor, it is important to know the difference between what different kinds of editors do. There are developmental or substantive editors, assignment editors, story editors, production editors, photo editors, line editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders, among other specialties? Read up on the different functions in these stories (linked to below), so you know what to ask for and what to expect. These articles are sorted roughly by category; Freelance editing


What editors do: levels and types of editing
Fiction editing
Copyediting
Proofreading
Newspaper editing
Technical and academic editing
Freelance editing
The editor-author relationship
Whether editors are valued and valuable
Becoming an editor
Editing a website

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Pat McNees, social distancing

Pat McNees, social distancing (Paulette's near the sidewalk), after swapping eggs from Paulette's chickens for carrots from Pat's fridge. Painting by Lucinda.
Pat McNees, social distancing during pandemic (talking with Paulette, not in the picture), after swapping eggs from Paulette's chickens for carrots from Pat's fridge. Painting by Paulette's daughter Lucinda Nehemias. She painted this based on a photo Paulette took when she was bringing me the eggs. Lucinda tells people (Instagram, Etsy, Facebook and Word of Mouth) that if you send her one of your photos, she will make a drawing/painting inspired by your photo, typically 4" x 6" and she will email you a photo of the painting and then the actual painting as well. She only wants people to pay if they love the piece. She did 30 such pictures for Mother's Day.
Will gladly forward your email questions to Lucinda.
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Deciding what level of editing to assign to a piece of writing

The following email exchange started in response to an earlier blog post (Kinds of editors and levels of edit--what every writer and editor should know). It seemed worth its own blog post.


JOE CASEY WROTE: "Thanks so much, Pat. This is a great and helpful explanation of a reasonable hierarchy. It is also supported by the fact that edits get progressively easier to fix as one moves down the list. By metrics I mean this: when the editor is also managing writers (say in a content development context for instance) and has to assess their writing (track performance), how can one translate this hierarchy into something numerical? How do we "weight" a structural problem against other types of errors? Maybe this forum is not the best place for this query as it is not a purely editing question, but I'm just curious if anyone has had to defend an assessment of the relative merits of different writers. It's obviously not an exact science, but sometimes it has to be done, and can have very real consequences (on pay etc.). My question is really about quantifying quality of writing.


PAT McNEES RESPONDS: Well that's a different kettle of fish, and also closer to what a managing editor has to do -- figure out what level of editing to assign to a particular writer or piece of writing. It isn't always easy to assess ahead of time if a piece of writing is a structural mess, without reading or at least skimming it, but if you sense that it probably is, you will assign it to a good developmental editor--someone who can see the big picture as well as handle the nitpicking. And if the writer is sound but a little sloppy on the details, as we all can be when we're in a rush, you'll assign it for a light edit.

      So when you are assigning an edit, why not think in terms of heavy, medium, and light edit. And if you are evaluating their skill, evaluate the same as if you were grading a student: D for structural, B for grammar and spelling, C for style and flow (or whatever), A for typos. (Whatever you can easily measure.) I had a friend in college who wrote brilliant papers, but couldn't spell worth a darn (this was before we knew about dyslexia), and her teachers would give her a split grade: A/D , to show appreciation for the quality of her thinking and writing -- but yes, they did notice she would always need an editor. Which is why exams are worth giving because students don't have time to get a friend or parent to correct all the spelling errors so the teacher doesn't see them.
      And I agree with what you said: Sometimes it's only the typos and obvious grammatical errors that most people notice--they just wonder why a piece of writing is heavy slogging for the reader.I hope others respond with how they do a quick assessment of the writing they're about to hand off to an editor.


JOE RESPONDS: I like your idea, and I have been developing a few tracks.... Another track I have to consider is level of difficulty: some projects are relatively easy, others very difficult!


PAT ADDS: And then there is budget: If you have a small budget, you have to decide which aspects of the ms. you can afford to have edited.

---Editing for structure, organization (not every editor is good at this)
---Editing for clarity
---Editing for grammar and style
---Editing (proofing?) for typos and other mechanical errors

 

If it's a structural mess, does it make sense to have it edited only for grammatical and spelling errors?

 

 

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Celebrating diversity in children's books

BOOKS THAT CELEBRATE DIVERSITY: RECOMMENDED READING
10 Websites to Help You Find the Best Diverse Books Lists (and Other Resources) (Melissa Reif, Book Source Banter blog, 10-15-15) Links to National Education Association, Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Children’s Book Council, Anti-Defamation League, Teaching Tolerance, Jane Addams Peace, Reading Is Fundamental, We Need Diverse Books, Diversity in YA, and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People).
20 Wonderful Children's Books That Celebrate Diversity (Anna Lane, The Bump, 7-18)
22 Diverse Book Choices for All Grade Levels (Edutopia, 2-15-19)
30 Children’s Books About Diversity That Celebrate Our Differences (Danika Ellis, Book Riot, 9-19-18)
The Ultimate List of Diverse Children's Books (Here Wee Read, 2018)
Diverse voices: the 50 best culturally diverse children's books (The Guardian, 10-13-14)
Books by Theme (NEA, Read Across America and Colorín Colorado)
Books by Theme (Reading Rockets)
Notable Children's Book Lists (American Library Association)
80 carefully selected lists of multicultural and social justice books for children, young adults, and educators. (Social Justice Books, NEA, Read Across America)
Great Reads Recommended by Authors and Illustrators (The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance)

What children's books that celebrate diversity would you recommend?  Let me know in the comments section (and be sure to leave your name).

ARTICLES ABOUT DIVERSITY IN CHILDREN'S BOOKS
American Indians in Children's Literature (blog of Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo and Dr. Jean Mendoza)
An Updated Look at Diversity in Children's Books (School Library Journal, 6-19-19) H/T for many of the links in this section.
CCBlogC blog. Observations about books for children and teens from the Cooperative Children's Book Center. Statistics from April 2018.
Children’s Books as a Radical Act Excellent infographics based on the work and philosophy of Maya Gonzalez.
Diversity in Children’s Books: Check Your Blind Spot (Jennie McDonald, Center for the Collaborative Classroom, Part 1)
Diversity in Children’s Literature: Check Your Blind Spot, Part 2
Diversity Resources (Crazy Quilted)
Is Equality in the Children’s Book Industry Possible? (a post on Maya Gonzalez's blog)
The Invisible Lesbian in Young Adult Fiction and other blog posts about LGBTQ fiction by Malinda Lo. See also her book review.
Picture This: Diversity in Children's Books 2018 (Sara Park, sarahpark.com, musings on korean diaspora, children’s literature, and adoption) A shareable infographic.
Publishing Statistics on Children's/YA Books about People of Color and First/Native Nations and by People of Color and First/Native Nations Authors and Illustrators Documented by the Cooperative Children's Book Center School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Reading While White Workiing for racial diversity and inclusion in books for children and teens. See excellent links to other resources along right side.
Research on Diversity in Youth Literature A peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal hosted by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program and University Library. See and download Most Popular Papers.
We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Imagine a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.
Zetta Elliott's blog
Zetta Elliott Discusses the "Difficult Miracle" of Black Girl Poets (School Library Journal, 2-21-2020) and Other Zetta Elliott pieces (SLJ)

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Covering Covid-19: Resources for and reports from journalists

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Estate Planning: Your literary estate

Have you spelled out who inherits your intellectual property? Here are some helpful explanations.This is an update of an earlier blog post (Authors' wills, trusts, and estates), with much new material added.

by Pat McNees
Estate Planning for Authors (Edward M. McBoyd, YouTube video of Authors Guild webinar, 11-6-19, 1.4 hrs) Pretty thorough legal overview to help you plan for your author's estate.
Estate Planning For Writers (Matt Knight, Sidebar Saturdays, 12-2-17) The advantages and disadvantages of wills and trusts, whether you need both an executor and a literary trustee, how to structure a literary estate.
What Happens When An Author Dies. Estate Planning With Kathryn Goldman (Joanna Penn, Creative Penn, 11-23-15) Podcast and text.
The Death of a Writer (Allison K Williams, Brevity's nonfiction blog, 6-4-19) Who is going to deal with your literary legacy, and what do you want done with your journals, family photos, genealogical research, story notes, complete and unfinished manuscripts, published works (who inherits the copyright?), treasured mementos, social media (wipes? or legacy status?), passwords and account numbers for whoever wraps up your estate? And do you want any old letters or evidence of love affairs preserved or destroyed?
Death is not the end: the lucrative world of literary estates (Financial Times, 7-25-19) The growth of streaming services, demand for audio books and the globalisation of publishing are a boon for a writer’s descendants.
Your Literary Estate, Part One: Assigning a Literary Executor (Christopher Klim, The US Review of Books, 2-1-17) "Your heirs will have varying degrees of concern for your legacy, ranging from not-at-all through avarice to sincere compassion for your work. Get control of the process now....Your literary executor would optimally be someone who is both involved in the business of publishing and is familiar with you and your heirs. It could be an editor, agent, or fellow writer. He/She should understand both your work and intentions....Gover knew that his heirs would trust me and my eventual decisions, but I was powerless in managing his literary estate unless it was official. However, I learned that almost no one had information on this topic."
Your Literary Estate, Part Two: Managing Your Work (Christopher Klim, The US Review of Books, 3-1-17) "Assigning a literary executor is not all about contract negotiation and oversight. It also involves handling your literary papers and letters....For the Eric Hoffer estate, his papers had already been stored at the Hoover Institute, but with regular rights inquiries, it was important to have access to existing contracts in order to help avoid copyright conflicts....In my experience, publishers will be intentionally unhelpful. They have a long history of hiding royalties from authors, as well as assuming rights that they had never obtained. Make sure your literary executor knows everything you do, so he/she can make the best decisions. Slapping a firm letter on a publisher with the power of an informed literary executor is better on any day than filing a lawsuit. The big publishers will out-wait and out-lawyer you every time."
How to Fund a Living Trust With Royalties (John Stevens, LegalBeagle) A royalty is the right to receive financial compensation for a body of work that is used by a third party (e.g., for songs played on the radio, for books sold). A living trust is a common way to pass those rights at death. The main reason to create a living trust is to avoid probate
My Life, Their Archive (Tim Parks, New York Review of Books, 5-21-14) 'For the author, needless to say, the lure is money. Large sums can be involved. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas reputedly paid $1.5 million for J. M. Coetzee’s papers. The British Library more modestly gave £110,000 for the manuscripts of novelist Graham Swift, announcing as a special attraction “a tape recording of the answer phone messages he received on the night he won the Booker Prize.” ...But not only money. Any organization that spends a considerable sum on you will also have an interest in promoting your reputation. They don’t want to be accused of having thrown cash at a lemon. So there will be exhibitions, seminars, features of archived material.'
Final Drafts: Selecting a Literary Executor (Lloyd Jassin and Ronald Finkelstein, CopyLaw.com, 2002) 'A General Executor will often be a spouse or other family member that does not have experience with literary matters. Therefore, you should consider entrusting the care of your papers, existing contracts and unpublished manuscripts to a Literary Executor. Keep in mind that being a Literary Executor can be a lot of work. By taking the time to carefully select a Literary Executor, you lessen the likelihood of intra-family disputes that could result in family members refusing to negotiate for the further exploitation of your works -- preferring instead to retire your copyrighted works from publication....While a family member may agree to work for free, attorneys and literary agents will most likely seek a fee of between 10% and 15% for new contracts they negotiate on behalf of the estate....In some instances, an author may create a lifetime (“inter-vivos”) trust and transfer literary assets to the trust. In this case, a trustee will be appointed to carry out responsibilities similar to an Executor. In such instances, the author appoints a "Literary Trustee" who acts in much the same manner as a "Literary Executor" would under a decedent's will....Authors with significant estates should meet with their attorney or accountant now to determine whether any lifetime planning can be employed to reduce the value of their estates at their death so that more assets can pass to their heirs.'
The Works of Merton (letter from Robert E. Daggy and reply by J.M. Cameron, New York Review of Books, 11-22-79) In 1967, on the advice of friends and with the concurrence of his abbot, Merton decided to name Bellarmine College repository for his literary estate.
Do You Need a Literary Executor? (Susan Spann, Writers in the Storm, 7-15-13) When do you need a literary executor (or trustee) to administer the copyright in your estate? "Copyrights aren’t like houses, or cars, or jewelry—assets which can be readily converted into cash and which require no ongoing business skills. Copyright management requires specialized skills which many heirs do not possess....The copyright management process can be confusing even for one heir and confrontational when many heirs are involved... The literary executor can be one of the heirs, or can be a professional hired (and often paid) to manage the copyrights on your heirs’ behalf....While the general executor’s job may be finished in about a year, the literary executor may continue to manage creative works on behalf of the author’s estate until the end of the copyright term."
Estate Planning for Your Indie Author Business (Karen Myers, 1-4-19) Estate planning advice for indie authors and micropublishers. "We don't think in terms of key employees, since we haven't got any, but we are ourselves the key employee, and we need to make plans for what will happen when we are no longer able to run our business. And if we've managed to grow large enough to have actual employees, we have the same issues as any other small business. We need a business succession plan."
Orphan Row Update: Another Living Author, Two Books in Print, Literary Estates Held by Charities, Etc. (Authors Guild, 9-15-11) "Here’s what we can tell you about authors of some of the books that HathiTrust is scheduled to release for downloading by hundreds of thousands of students."
Bitter feuds, buried scandal: the contested world of literary estates (Leo Robson, New Statesman, 1-2-19) When an author dies, literary estates take over – bringing disputes, fraud and conflagrations.
The great estate: those global literary brands roll on (Robert McCrum, The Guardian, 3-15-12) The recently deceased Dmitri Nabokov made a fortune from his father's estate, while the houses of Fleming, Tolkien et al are equally at home in the digital age.
Important. And pass it on... (Neil Gaiman, A Simple Will,10-30-06) Download "A Simple Will" and fill it in for yourself.
Neil Gaiman on why writers tend to put off writing wills, particularly wills that spell out how their intellectual property should be handled. You can download a template (PDF) of a generic will for U.S. authors but maybe run it by a lawyer, as laws vary by state.
Writers' wills: a rich legacy for readers (Claire Armitstead, The Guardian, 1-8-14) As a stock of famous authors' final testaments are posted online, we can be glad of the insights they leave to us.
An end to bad heir days: The posthumous power of the literary estate (Gordon Bowker, Independent UK, 1-6-12) ""On the last day of 2011, the 70th anniversary year of his death, James Joyce's work finally passed out of copyright. It was the dawn of a new age for Joyce scholars, publishers and biographers who are now free to quote or publish him without the permission of the ferociously prohibitive Joyce estate."
Wills of the Rich and Famous (aka "celebrity wills," posted on Living Trust Network, an estate planning portal). Featured: Warren Burger, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Princess Diana. Walt Disney, Doris Duke, Elizabeth Edwards, Henry Fonda, Benjamin Franklin, Clark Gable, James Gandolfini, Katherine Hepburn, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, President John F. Kennedy, John Kennedy, Jr. and more.
Famous wills 1552-1854 In 2014, the National Archives (UK) brought online this collection of documents that will delight biographers and historians. Among them, the wills of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Admiral Lord Nelson, Dr. Samuel Johnson, John Donne, Sir Francis Drake, William Congreve, Samuel Pepys, William Penn, George Frederic Handel, and William Wordsworth.
• Guest-blogging on Writers in the storm, Susan Spann (author of the popular Shinobi Mystery series, published a series of pieces advising on authors' estate planning and authors' trusts, under the Publaw theme (where you can find more of these). I link to some of them here:
--- WHO WILL YOU TRUST? Wills in Author Estate Planning Susan Spann, guest blog on Writers in the Storm, 5-10-13).
---Who Inherits Your Copyrights? (4-22-13)
---Do You Own Your Copyrights? (Susan Spann, 1-10-14)
---Do You Know Your (Copy) Rights? (Susan Spann, 12-13-13)
---Who Can an Author Trust? Trusts in the Author Estate Plan (6-14-13).
---Do You Need a Literary Executor? (Susan Spann, 7-15-13)
--- How to Choose a Literary Executor (Susan Spann, 8-9-13)
---But What Does a Literary Trustee DO? (Part 1) (Susan Spann)
---Trust The Process: Literary Executors, Part 2 (Susan Spann)

Rights and Royalties Management, Licensing,

issues about and problems with authors' and artists' estates. What happens to works after authors die. (Writers and Editors, Copyright, work for hire, and other rights issues)


• SFWA runs two helpful lists (which cover more than genre fiction writers):
---Estates Contact Information
---Estates we’re looking for
Literary estates administered by The Society of Authors (UK)
Wills, Probate and Trusts For Writers (H.S. Stavropoulos, author of crime fiction with a Greek-American flavor)

Now some stunning photographs:
15 Famous Authors’ Beautiful Estates (Emily Temple, Flavorwire, 1-24-12) Photos of the beautiful homes of Anaïs Nin, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Evelyn Waugh, Gore Vidal, J. K. Rowling, Kurt Vonnegut,Vladimir Nabokov, Mark Twain, Stephen King, Robert Graves, Victor Hugo, Eudora Welty, William Shakespeare, Frederick Douglass.'
18 Famous Authors’ Houses Worth Seeing (Nick Mafi, Architectural Digest, 10-4-19)

What other resources are helpful? Tell me about experiences you've had or know about that it might be helpful for others to know about -- particularly problems to avoid or minimize.

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And the people stayed home (a poem about the 2020 pandemic)

by Kitty O'Meara

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.




And no, the poem wasn't written in 1869, during the Irish famine, or in 1918, during the Spanish flu epidemic. It was written during the 2020 coronavirus epidemic. 

Kitty O'Meara, Author of "And the People Stayed Home," Opens Up About Writing That Viral Poem ~ Elena Nicolaou, Oprah, 3-19-2020

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Independent writers object to laws that reclassify independent contractors (freelancers) as employees

Statement on Legislative Threats to Freelance Writers
From the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc.

For more than 70 years, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc., has recognized and endorsed the guarantees of free speech and an unfettered press established in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and the promise of equal protection under the laws set out in the Fourteenth Amendment. Our dedication to these basic principles of writing with a free hand is part of the organization's Constitution, which includes the improvement of "professional conditions for the independent writer" as one of ASJA's principal purposes. Our mission statement reflects our on-going intention to "represent freelancers' interests, serving as spokesperson for their right to control and profit from the uses of their work wherever it appears."

In this context, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc., opposes legislative efforts to restrict the ability of independent writers to work as they choose without governmental interference. The organization stands in solidarity with our members and with all freelancers facing threats to their livelihoods as a result of laws and legislation aimed at either prohibiting or restricting their work as independent entrepreneurs.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc., recognizes that misclassification of workers as independent contractors when they deserve treatment as employees is a serious problem in many—but certainly not all—sectors of the labor market. We in no way condone the exploitation of workers by their employers. Trying to solve the problem by painting all independent workers with the same overly broad brush, however, ignores a robust community of freelance writers who choose independent career paths. Such legislation is both short-sighted and ultimately counterproductive. We urge the country's lawmakers to respect the constitutional rights and personal preferences of freelancers when considering legislation that redefines the status of independent contractors. Legislation that includes freelance writers in the general class of allegedly exploited workers is an attempt to solve a problem that does not exist and will cause immeasurable harm.

Milton C. Toby JD
President
American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc.

 

Reprinted by permission. (I am a member of ASJA)

 

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Writing and editing for Wikipedia

Experienced Wikipedia writers and editors: Let me know which important pages I should add here, for the benefit of people new to contributing to Wikipedia.

Who writes Wikipedia?
Contributing to Wikipedia (describes the Wikipedia editing community's established practice on some aspect or aspects of Wikipedia's norms and customs)
Frequently Asked Questions About Wikipedia
FAQs about editing for Wikipedia
Wikipedia Guidelines
How do I create a new page?
Article size
Featured content Featured content represents the best of Wikipedia, including articles, pictures, and other contributions that showcase excellent results of the collaborative efforts of Wikipedia. All featured content undergoes a thorough review process to ensure that it meets the highest standards in order to serve as the best example of our end goals. A small bronze star (The featured content star) in the top right corner of a desktop page indicates that the content is featured.
Citing sources Wikipedia's verifiability policy requires inline citations for any material challenged or likely to be challenged, and for all quotations, anywhere in article space.
Navigation Wikipedia is so vast that the features that usually facilitate navigating, like hypertext and a search box, are supplemented by portals and a page theme that features a toolbox, a search box, and the category of the page, on every page.
Neutral point of view "Articles must not take sides, but should explain the sides, fairly and without editorial bias. This applies to both what you say and how you say it."
"Notability" guidelines
Researching and Writing Wikipedia Articles (How Wikipedia Works/Chapter 6, Wikibooks)
What Wikipedia is not
Wikipedia: Teahouse (a friendly forum in which to learn about editing Wikipedia)
Are There Rules Against Paying Someone To Write A Wikipedia Article? (Michael Wood, Social Media Today, 11-24-14) Read the full article.

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Where to get science news

Updated 8-14-2020.  Let me know if any wonderful publications are left out of this informally assembled list. Scroll down for links to forums.

Aeon ("a sanctuary online for serious thinking")
Ars Technica
Cosmos (the science of everything)
Ag Insider (Food and Environment Reporting Network)
Cosmos
Discover
Environmental Health News (EHN, publisher of several newsletters: (Above the Fold, The Daily Climate, Good News, Plastic Pollution, Children’s Health, Energy & Health, Science Saturday, The Weekend Reader, Population Weekly, Pittsburgh Weekly)
Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN, publishes Ag Insider)
Food Dive (See also BioPharma Dive, Construction Dive, Education Dive, Healthcare Dive, MedTech Dive, Restaurant Dive, Smart Cities Dive, Social Media Today, Utility Dive, Waste Dive)
GreenBiz Featured columns. See also webcasts and Video
JSTOR
Massive Science (New science stories every week, written by scientists themselves)
Mosaic Longform stories about science and health. (Closed 12-10-19). No longer publishing but archive still available under Creative Commons license.
National Geographic Magazine
Nature (an esteemed and heavily cited science journal)
Nautilus (each issue on a special topic, backed by Howard Hughes Medical Institute)
New Scientist (realistic news reporting, from UK)
Newswise
Politico
Pro Publica (Journalism in the Public Interest) Read More 

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