P-credit and e-credit

Following my entry last week about properly crediting all of a publication’s team members, Ric Day posted some very interesting information about the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), which would allow all of a publication’s contributors to be given credit within a digital work’s metadata, opening the door to a model such as the one Jeff Norton proposed in “Follow the editor.”

Whereas Day seems to imply that my suggestions and his are divergent, however, I see them as having exactly the same aim: ensuring that everyone who contributes to a published work be recognized, and in the process raising the profile of each of their respective professions. Credit is credit—whether it’s a line on a copyright page, in a masthead, or in a digital file’s metadata—and I do feel it’s worth pursuing.

I also don’t share his pessimism about publishers being unwilling to change their ways. First, all of my book-publishing clients credit the designer, and most credit the substantive editor, so clearly a precedent has been set. Those that don’t credit editors seem to be the exception. Most publishers don’t credit indexers, but I strongly suspect that it’s simply because they’ve never been asked; I see the problem as far from insurmountable.

Second, we’re in a key time of transition in Canadian publishing. Last year UBC Press, D&M, and Arsenal Pulp all celebrated their fortieth anniversary (was there something in Vancouver’s water in 1971?), and several other publishing houses were founded in the same period. Many have either completed or are in the midst of implementing succession plans, and coming into the industry are savvy, bright minds who understand that publishing must evolve in order to survive. This evolution includes adopting digital strategies and changing the way they interact with their human resources, both in house and freelance.

And with more and more authors wishing to self-publish, whether in print or digitally, we as publishing professionals are now in a unique position of being able to educate authors and define a new standard rather than having to resign ourselves to “this is how we’ve always done it.” Why not begin explicitly requesting a credit line (or an equivalent shoutout in the metadata) as part as your boilerplate freelance contract?

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