Credit where credit’s due

EAC-BC’s professional development co-chair, Eva van Emden, has posted some thoughts of her own about low-cost ways book and magazine publishers can help keep their freelancers happy, following my posts about the care and feeding of freelancers and maximizing your freelance editors’ marketing potential.

Her point about acknowledging a freelancer’s role with a credit line is an excellent one. Although most of my book publisher clients will credit at least the designer and substantive editor, and sometimes the copy editor, I’m well aware that doing so is not standard within the industry, and I think that, as minor a point as it seems, making it standard is something worth fighting for. Our work as editors should be invisible, but we shouldn’t be.

I appreciate that my editorial credits often pop up in Google Books results when people search for my name and that I can easily point prospective clients to Amazon’s Look Inside feature to show that I’ve worked on a particular book when my name appears on the copyright page. Not only does not including an editorial credit hurt my ability to promote myself, but it also hurts the profession. We aren’t doing ourselves any favours by essentially agreeing to pretend that editors don’t contribute to a book.

Although I understand why the proofreader may not be credited (or wish to be credited), particularly unsung are indexers, who are only very rarely acknowledged for their contributions. In a way, I can understand why—the tight timelines involved in indexing and the fact that the author and editor will modify the index often mean that the indexer does not have direct control over the quality of the final printed index, and since the index is occasionally added in at bluelines, having to modify the copyright page to add a credit would mean additional costs for the publisher. Mostly, however, I think it’s just inertia that has prevented crediting indexers from becoming standard. The indexer for Derek Hayes’s Historical Atlas of the North American Railroad (2010), Judith Anderson, was delighted to be asked if she wanted a credit, and Hayes, who designs all of his own books, has acknowledged the indexer on the copyright page of his atlases ever since. Associating the index with a name is especially important, I think, to show that a person is involved in creating the index—there’s a common misconception that indexes can be computer generated without human input, and, again, perpetuating that myth can only damage the indexing profession.

I’m not suggesting that we need some sort of overt advocacy campaign to change the way publishers operate (although organizations like the Editors’ Association of Canada and Indexing Society of Canada are in a good position to raise awareness of this issue), but if we all begin requesting credits when we work with our clients, we can begin organically to define a new standard for giving all team members their due.

2 thoughts on “Credit where credit’s due”

  1. I wrote about indexer Christine Jacobs’s strategy of getting credit lines in another post, but it really belongs here:

    Christine Jacobs… asks for a credit on the copyright page, in the acknowledgements, or in the index itself, and lists this as a separate line item on her invoice. In cases where she doesn’t approve of the changes an editor, author, or publisher has made to the index, she simply removes that item, and her name doesn’t appear.

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