BC Book Prize nominations

The 2012 shortlist for the BC Book Prizes has been announced, and Fred Herzog: Photographs is a finalist for both the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award. Congratulations to Fred and the book’s contributors—Douglas Coupland, Claudia Gochmann, Sarah Milroy, and Jeff Wall!

Winners will be announced on May 12, 2012.

Academic editing

At last evening’s EAC-BC meeting, David Harrison spoke about academic editing. His perspective was quite a bit different from mine—he seems to have gained most of his experience working directly with academic authors, often helping them prepare a manuscript for submission to a publisher, whereas I’ve worked on the other end, editing text that a publisher has already accepted.

Harrison has worked with authors as diverse as literary biographers, CGA systems analysts, expert witnesses, and public policy specialists. One client had initially hired Harrison to edit a grant proposal, so, Harrison emphasizes, academic editors can do more than work on just journal articles and books.

He says that, as with other editing, it’s important to understand the author’s purpose. Academic editors may wish to

  • create new knowledge
  • share ideas
  • challenge the ideas of others
  • support the research and findings of others
  • reach a wider audience
  • reach a more specialized audience
  • promote a cause, a policy, a theory, etc.

We must also not forget that they may also have some more practical motivations; “publish or perish” still very much persists:

  • get published in a journal
  • get a paper accepted for a conference
  • get a research grant
  • achieve tenure
  • get promoted
  • sell a book and life off the royalties
  • get invited to address prestigious audiences in  exotic parts of the world

An academic editor must also have a good handle on what the final product will look like. Fortunately, says Harrison, academic papers generally have a very predictable structure. The first time you work with a particular author or in a particular genre, look online or in a local university library for samples of the type of publication the author wants to create. Alternatively, have the author send you a sample.

Academic publishers may have very specific guidelines that they expect authors to follow—these dictate everything from article or abstract length to preferred spellings to formatting. It’s the author’s responsibility to make sure he or she adheres to these, but it’s helpful for the editor to know about them. If a particular publisher doesn’t have such a “Guide to Authors,” follow some exemplars of that publisher’s existing publications or follow an established style guide, such as Chicago or APA, but be sure to communicate your decision to the author. Keep a style sheet for each project. In fact, archive those style sheets; if you ever have repeat work with that author, the existing style sheet will save you a lot of time.

The contract, says Harrison, is very important; make sure you get the deal in writing. Share your expectations. Is the bibliography included in the cost? Is fact checking? Build in some milestones at which you can be paid. Professionalism is key. Stay within your area of competence.

Harrison could find only a handful of books relating to academic writing and editing, but he mentioned Writing for Scholarly Publication by Anne Sigismund Huff, who encourages authors to think of writing as conversation. She, in turn, suggested Making Sense of the Organization by Karl Weick, who elucidated the cycle of writing as it related to clarifying thought. If thinking is writing and writing is thinking, Harrison says, the editor’s role is to mediate that cycle.

Harrison’s presentation sparked some lively discussion about contracts—whether to charge a project rate or hourly rate; how to educate clients about the difference between an estimate and a bid; how to clearly delineate the scope of the work (e.g., specifying the number of revisions). Harrison himself quotes a project fee, saying that an hourly rate can be intimidating to clients. “Think about it from the author’s perspective,” he advised. “How would you react to someone saying, ‘I charge this much per hour but can’t tell you definitively how long it will take me?'” But what Harrison does is charge an up-front fee of commitment and then use an instalment plan for when certain milestones have been attained (e.g., first three chapters finished, halfway mark, initial edit, final revision, etc.).

The audience also asked about what to do in instances of plagiarism. Harrison doesn’t check for plagiarism as a matter of course but encourages editors to make use of the Editors’ Association of Canada’s “Guidelines for Editing Theses” as a tool to educate authors about an editor’s limitations, especially when it comes to dissertations. Jean Lawrence suggested a helpful strategy for diplomatically flagging instances of plagiarism: give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that he or she has simply left out a citation.

I asked how polished the final product would have to be in such an author-editor relationship given that the paper or book would then go through the publisher’s own editorial process. Harrison said he’s found that less editing is happening at the level of the publisher. In fact, some publishers’ “Guide to Authors” explicitly mentions that if English isn’t your first language, you should strongly consider having your work looked at by an editor prior to submission, and he’s gotten a lot of work that way. He added that he works under the assumption that he’ll be the last person to touch the manuscript from a language point of view.

Follow the editor

Earlier this week my esteemed colleague Barbara Pulling forwarded me an article by Jeff Norton—“Follow the editor: a recommendation engine for readers”—which suggests that editors should be credited for their work on books just as producers are in music and film. He writes:

Pick up any paperback and the author’s name dominates the cover. Big authors are “brands” unto themselves, even though the final prose was a collaborative effort.  Flip the book over the cover designer and illustrator get credit (in quite small print) but search for the editor’s name and you’ll be lucky to find it in the acknowledgements (at the author’s discretion).  How are we to value the role of the professional editorial process if publishers themselves don’t even celebrate their most crucial contribution to a book’s creation?

I suppose I’m spoiled in that I’ve done the majority of my work for a company that does choose to acknowledge editors, though not to the extent that Norton would perhaps like to see. In fact, in Saeko Usukawa’s acceptance speech when she won the 2007 Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence, she specifically thanked Douglas & McIntyre for being one of the few publishers to credit editors on the copyright page. It’s interesting that the practice isn’t more widespread, since giving an editor credit is one of the easiest ways to establish a strong publisher-editor relationship. Not only is the acknowledgement in itself extremely meaningful, but the credit allows an editor to confidently promote the work as part of his or her portfolio. It seems as though sometimes the publishing industry doesn’t want to admit that books get edited at all, perpetuating the myth that prose flows from the author’s brilliant mind onto the manuscript already perfect.

Norton’s assertion that editors are akin to music and movie producers, however, may be too narrow a focus, since only acquiring and developmental editors typically get the same level of creative control as producers would. When a substantive editor is assigned a finished manuscript, the process is often less about building and more about shaping with what’s there. Crediting only producer-like editing would also sell short the vast contributions of the copy editor and all other members of the publishing team that make a book happen.

Norton also talks about “the growing sentiment that in this era of digital books in general, and the rise of self-publishing specifically, that conventional publishers were no longer relevant or required.” He adds, “I believe the most important role that publishers perform is the one they are strangely reluctant to celebrate: the editor and the process of editing an author’s manuscript into a readable book.”

Traditional publishers may have reason to bemoan the rise of the ebook and self-publishing, but editors hardly do. At last year’s Vancouver launch of I Feel Great about My Hands, I had the opportunity to speak with David Mitchell, who I believe was quoting one of his friends at the Globe and Mail when he said that these days, “Anyone can be his own publisher, but very few people can be their own editor.” I know some successful freelancers who now deal almost exclusively with self-published authors. Although I’d be the first to acknowledge that there is a lot of rubbish out there, more and more self-publishing authors are beginning to see the value in having an editor’s expert eye pore over their text—and they’re willing to compensate that editor accordingly.

The thrust of Norton’s article, though, is that he feels books should be catalogued not only by author but also by editor, which “would give readers another recommendation engine, another way to discover new fiction: follow the editor.”

As a nonfiction editor—and as an editor who never acquired projects—I have no coherent theme in my list of work, and such a recommendation engine based on my projects wouldn’t be particularly enlightening. One aspect of my job that I love is that I can be a generalist, learning a little bit of something about everything. (Editors with a more specialized focus may yield more useful results to the general reader.) Still, I’d appreciate the built-in portfolio aspect to such searchability—it would certainly make it easier to show prospective clients and employers what I’m capable of.

Maps: citations, part 2

I finally managed to look through a copy of Cartographic Materials: A Manual of Interpretation for AACR2, mentioned in my last post. I could only find it through the UBC library’s Rare Books and Special Collections; I’d never had to access a library’s special collections before, and it was an experience. To protect the collection, the library imposes strict restrictions on what can be brought into the room. I had to check my bag and jacket, clean my hands, and take notes with pencil on paper they provided—no pens or outside papers were allowed.

When I began flipping through the binder of material, I confirmed my suspicion that it would be overkill for most authors and editors. AACR stands for the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, which is primarily a resource for librarians, and Cartographic Materials is an AACR publication with a particular focus on maps, so it’s even more esoteric. Still, looking through the book provided an interesting glimpse into the complex and disciplined world of the map librarian—especially one who works with what the AACR calls “early cartographic material” and has to figure out a way to meaningfully catalogue copies of old maps that may be disintegrating or missing pieces.

What’s more, it did effectively answer my own questions regarding punctuation and titles in the citations of early maps. Here are some relevant excerpts:

Punctuation and spelling

Rule 1B1: Transcribe the title proper exactly as to wording, order, and spelling, but not necessarily as to punctuation and capitalization. Give accentuation and other diacritical marks that are present in the chief source of information. Capitalize according to AACR2 Appendix A. (Page 1-2)

In general, base the description on the copy in hand… If missing or obscured letters or words can be reconstructed with some certainty, include these in the transcription, enclosing them in square brackets. (Page 0-2)

Generally follow conventions of modern punctuation in transcribing information according to these rules. Common sense may be used in transcribing or omitting punctuation found in the source of information. (Page 0-10)

For early cartographic materials, do not correct words spelled according to older nonstandard orthographic conventions. (Page 0-12)

For works published before 1801, in general do not add accents and other diacritical markets that are not present in the source… In general, transcribe letters as they appear. Convert earlier forms of their letters and diacritical marks, however, to their modern form. [So this would include ligatures and characters like the eth, which was an alteration of the d, or the long s, which looks like an f without the crossbar.] (Page 0-13)

Identifying and truncating a title

Rule 0C2: Items lacking a chief source of information: If no part of the item supplies data that can be used as the basis of the description, take the necessary information from any available source, whether this be a reference work or the content of the item itself. (Page 0-2)

On cartographic items where the title information in the cartouche or title block is arranged decoratively and/or other elements of the description are interspersed with the title information, transcribe the title as it would logically be read. (Page 1-2)

Rule 1B4: Abridge a long title proper only if this can be done without the loss of essential information. Never omit any of the first five words of the title proper (excluding the alternative title). Indicate omissions by the mark of omission. (Page 1-5)

Rule 1D1: Transcribe parallel titles in the order indicated by their sequence on, or by the layout of, the chief source of information. (Page 1-17)

The capitalization rules in AACR2 Appendix A referred to in Rule 1B1 above don’t really apply to authors or editors (if you look at CiP data in a book, you’ll notice that cataloguers don’t use title case), so for citation styles in a book, using title case consistently, according to Cartographic Citations: A Style Guide (Kollen et al.), is likely the best bet.

Many of these “rules” may seem like common sense—but I’ve found it an enormously helpful exercise to pin down an authoritative source that confirms what I’ve been doing and telling my authors.

Maps: type style and citations

As a book editor, I’ve learned to rely pretty heavily on the dependable Chicago Manual of Style. Once in a while, though, I run into an esoteric subject that Chicago just doesn’t cover well. Maps—both in terms of working with a cartographer to create a map and in terms of citing old maps—are one such subject, and they deserve special attention because they have both visual and textual considerations and because they can serve a wide spectrum of functions: in some books they give geographical context by telling readers the locations of unfamiliar places, whereas in others, like guidebooks, they can be critical navigational tools.

In my early days at D&M, one of the more senior editors asked me to copy edit some map labels to be sent to a mapmaker. “So just make sure that the formatting is correct,” she told me. “For instance, bodies of water should be in italics—you know that, right?”

I didn’t, at the time, and a few years later, when I was putting together an editorial wiki for the company, which included our style guidelines, I wanted to add a section specifically about maps. I pored through Chicago and searched online but couldn’t find a particular authoritative source that stated the bodies of water = italics convention. I ended up listing it as a house style but never stopped wondering where that came from.

Recently I sent the question to the Canadian Cartographic Association, and the president, Gerald Stark, a cartographer for the Government of Alberta, not only wrote me an incredibly thorough response of his own but also forwarded my query to the CCA membership. Below is a summary of some of the members’ contributions to the discussion.

Type considerations on new maps

Writes David Forrest, senior lecturer at the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow:

In terms of map design generally, there are no definitive specifications that must be followed, except in a few specific cases such as hydrographic charts. Some map topics, such as topographic and geological maps, have developed “conventions” over the years, but these need not be slavishly followed, and topographic maps, even at the same scale, vary greatly around the world.

The use of italic for water names is such a convention, but you can find many maps which don’t. The main thing is that variations in letterform are used to enhance the classification of features on the map. Labelling everything in the same typeface is generally poor, but it does depend on the individual map, the number (and density) of names and what the map is for.

In a book the important thing would be to have a consistent approach throughout—much like most atlases do—but the choice of type styles may depend on whether one is trying to give the map a modern look or an historical look, for example.

On another point, in the caption for historical map illustrations, one thing really useful, but often absent, is a note of the size of the original, or the % reduction (e.g. shown 55% of original), as scale is one of the most critical factors in map design.

Henry Castner, author of Seeking New Horizons: A Perceptual Approach to Geographic Education and editor of A History of the Cartography of Russia up to 1800, writes:

In book editing, I suspect most of your maps are unique special-purpose and thematic maps for which the purpose of the map overrides some perceived need for design consistency. So depending on the purpose for labelling the water area(s), for example, it may be that large bold letters are required in one case, and small inconspicuous ones in another. In other words, an editor has much greater freedom in designing special-purpose and thematic maps as long as attention is given to the visual tasks involved and the role each map element plays in their execution. The worst sin in map designs in books, in my experience, are maps that don’t locate the places mentioned in the narrative.

So there you have it. Typographic considerations for a map depend on the map’s purpose in the book and the need for consistency within a book. If you are a publisher that works frequently with mapmakers, defining a house style for type on maps may be the way to go.

That said, if you need a place to start, check out the conventions used by national topographic mapping bodies. Gerald Stark writes:

Most national mapping programs have well-established standards for map design (e.g., United States Geological Survey; Natural Resources Canada—National Topographic Series; Ordnance Survey of the U.K.). Maps produced by these agencies do provide guidelines for producing topographic maps.

Of particular interest is a link Stark gave me to the Atlas of Canada discussing type design on maps.

For further information about map design in general, Stark recommended several books; since they’re not specific to type style on maps, I won’t include them here, but if you’re interested, get in touch with me, and I would be happy to pass along his list.

I don’t know that I agree with David Forrest’s assertion that a map’s scale of reduction is absolutely necessary to state in a citation—again, because maps serve different functions when reproduced in a book. If a map is included purely for illustration and not for navigation, an indication of a map’s reduction may be interesting to a cartographer but not needed for the general reader. Which segues beautifully to…

Citing maps

Another area that Chicago doesn’t discuss in detail is map citation. Although in many cases they can be considered art or photography and may be cited as such, their inherently informative nature usually demands more bibliographic detail, especially if the work in which they appear is meant to serve as a reference.

My query to the Canadian Cartographic Association and to the David Rumsey Historical Map Association about proper map citations brought back a number of online guides, all of which pretty well cover print and digital maps:

Alberta Wood of the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives also generously shared with me a draft of best practices in map citation; when her document has been formally approved, it will be posted on the ACMLA site.

The CCA members also recommended two print guides. The first is

Kollen, Christine, Wangyal Shawa, and Mary Larsgaard. Cartographic Citations: A Style Guide, Second edition. Chicago: Map and Geography Round Table, American Library Association, 2010.

It’s a thirty-two page handbook covering everything from manuscript maps, single-sheet maps, and atlases to remote-sensing imagery and computer spatial-data files. I found a copy at the UBC library; it’s comprehensive and easy to use, and it has a helpful glossary defining cartographic terms. Its raison d’être is clear from its introduction: “The majority of general citation guides and style manuals either do not include any information on cartographic materials or only provide guidance on how to cite a single stand-alone map or as figures in an article or book.” It is meant as a supplement to standard style and citation guides. You can buy it here for $20, but given its very specialized focus, I would say that it’s worth the investment only if you know you’ll be working with cartographic citation frequently. For most purposes, the online guides are as much information as you need.

The other recommended print guide is

Mangan, Elizabeth U., ed. Cartographic Materials: A Manual of Interpretation for AACR2, Second edition. Chicago, Ottawa, and London: Anglo-American Cataloguing Committee for Cartographic Materials, 2006.

This reference isn’t so easy to find: the only copy in the city that I could track down is in the UBC library’s reference staff area and hence unavailable for borrowing. In fact, when I went to look at it when I picked up Cartographic Citations, the reference staff was in a meeting, and I couldn’t even get access to it. Further, it’s pretty big, at 400 pages, and it carries a $138 price tag. Because Cartographic Citations is more than adequate for most editors’ purposes, I’d suggest going for that one, if you work often with maps, or leaning on the online sources.

What Mangan’s Cartographic Materials may provide specific guidance on is historical maps. I’ve had the privilege of working for several years on Derek Hayes’s magnificent historical atlases, for each of which he has had to compile a detailed catalogue of all of the maps that appear in the book. We have the odd disagreements about the format of these citations, he being more inclined to preserve the style of the original and I being partial to clarity and consistency. We’ve found a compromise we seem to be comfortable with—matching the case of the title given on the map, unless it’s in all caps, in which case we use title case. We do add punctuation for clarity if punctuation is implied but not actually written at the end of a line (for example, adding a comma if the title of a map has “Vancouver” on one line and “British Columbia” on the next). However, there are lingering questions, like when, if ever, it’s acceptable to truncate the very long title of a historical map, and where. And if a historical map appears to have several titles, how to decisively identify the map’s “main” title.

Paige Andrew, maps cataloging librarian at Pennsylvania State University Libraries, refers me to Rule 1E3 and Appendix G, “Early Cartographic Material” in the second edition of Cartographic Materials. When I return Cartographic Citations, I’ll take another shot at checking if Cartographic Materials is available to see if we can settle these issues once and for all.

Acknowledgments

If it isn’t already clear, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of helpful responses from the Canadian Cartographic Association membership. Thanks to all of them, I’ve been able to clear up some of my confusion surrounding  editorial considerations in cartography.

Editing the editor: style sheets

It’s easy to understand how a book’s style sheet can fall off a copy editor’s priority list in the rush to meet a deadline—and how tempting it can be simply to alphabetize the word list and send it in. But I’d like to argue that editing a style sheet is just as important as creating it.

Indexers understand that up to half of the time spent indexing is devoted to editing the draft index—ensuring consistency in entry structure, eliminating wordiness and unnecessary entries and subentries, correcting spelling errors, etc.—to make the final product as useful as possible to the reader. An index and a book’s style sheet have a lot in common; in fact, the word list of a style sheet could almost be considered a most basic, preliminary proper noun index, without the page numbers, so it’s not surprising that a lot of the simple editing techniques for the index could also be applied to the style sheet to produce a more polished product.

But why bother? After all, doesn’t the style sheet have a very limited lifetime and an even more limited audience? To address this question, we’ll have to look at the style sheet’s end-users:

  • The author. I always include a copy of the style sheet when I send an edited manuscript to an author, because I feel that it’s foundational to good author relations. Not all authors will look at style sheets, but those that do read them carefully, and presenting a well-edited, consistent style sheet helps authors understand that you aren’t just making arbitrary changes to their text. Conversely, a poorly organized style sheet could potentially torpedo an attentive author’s confidence in his or her editor’s competence.
  • You—the copy editor. When the author returns the copy-edited manuscript, you’ll have to refer to and update the style sheet. Why not make it easier for yourself?
  • The proofreader. This person will undoubtedly use your style sheet the most. An inconsistent, disorganized, or contradictory style sheet can be an enormous source of frustration for a proofreader, as it leads to a lot of duplicated fact-checking work. Think about how a proofreader will use your word list, and refrain from the (indexing!) sin of overclassification: there’s no need to divide your lists into names of people, names of places, names of organizations, etc.; in such a case, the proofreader has to pause, decide what category a term falls under, then find it in an alphabetized sublist, whereas a single alphabetized list makes confirming a word or term simpler and easier. Even if you and perhaps the author find the classification helpful, a proofreader will probably prefer the single master list.
  • The indexer. As an indexer, I rarely import the style sheet directly into an index, but I do use it to double-check the spelling of my entries and confirm the style for the wording of headnotes and subentries. I’ll also look through the style sheet to ensure that I haven’t missed any important names or topics. (Importing the style sheet word list into an indexing program isn’t something I’m fundamentally opposed to—it’s just something I’ve never tried. For a proper noun index, doing something like this may significantly expedite the indexing process.)
  • Any member of the editorial team that may have to work on a new edition of the book, a spinoff, or a new book within the same series. Here is where a style sheet can have a much longer lifetime than just the production cycle of the book. Think about the editor who will have to use the style sheet when writing cover copy for a new format reprint or the editor who has to work on a revised edition. A well-organized style sheet can be a major time saver in these situations, where sometimes the fact that these books are “just revisions” means that they aren’t allotted much time in the schedule.

All of this is not to say that my style sheets are always (or ever) perfect. But I feel that at a minimum, a copy editor should do the following after alphabetizing the word list:

  • Go through the list and cull duplicate entries. This exercise not only eliminates redundancy, but it can also help identify missed inconsistencies and errors, particularly if you notice two distinct entries that you think ought to be the same.
  • Run a spell check. This process can be slow, since a style sheet is typically loaded with names that don’t appear in a word processor’s dictionary, but it’s helpful in identifying not only spelling errors within the style sheet itself but also in the manuscript, essentially forcing you to pause and double-check your fact checking.
  • Spot check a handful of entries against the manuscript. Using judgment, do global searches for a selection of style decisions, especially those that can have variants in spelling, hyphenation, or capitalization—and those entries that just look kind of funny and that you’d like to confirm.

Another strategy, given the similarities between style sheet word lists and indexes, that I haven’t yet attempted (and that non-indexer editors will probably not want to try), is to use indexing software to create and maintain the style sheet. In theory doing so would eliminate the duplicate-entry problem; facilitate cross-references within the word list; allow for special glyphs, such as initial punctuation, without throwing off the alphabetization; and may allow errors to be identified earlier on, since the word list can be sorted and resorted in a number of ways, including alphabetically and by order of entry, that may highlight inconsistencies. I’ll post about the experience if I ever have the chance to try this.

Top 10 controversies surrounding cattle

I’m an (extremely) occasional contributor to Listverse. Its quality has been hit or miss as of late, but I usually see one or two lists a week that I find interesting and learn something from. This morning my most recent list, inspired by Florian Werner’s Cow: A Bovine Biography, and a David Rotsztain cheese workshop I attended a couple of months ago, was published.

A hindering hierarchy?

All editors aspiring to work in book publishing know what it takes to climb up the ladder: start off checking inputting and possibly proofreading, and once you’ve proven yourself, you can progress to copy editing. Only after mastering that will more substantive work come and then, if so desired, experience with acquisition.

The advantages of this system are many. First, you get a well-rounded understanding of all steps in the editorial process. Second, by checking corrections and inputting, you get into the heads of more senior editors and learn the tricks of the trade. Third, you develop an appreciation for the roles of all editorial, design, and production team members—an empathy that will serve you well as a mentor or project manager overseeing the copy editing or proofreading work of a more junior editor.

But how valid is this tacit hierarchy? It implies that acquiring and substantive editors are somehow better than copy editors, who themselves have a leg up on proofreaders. This stratification has real consequences: freelance proofreaders typically charge lower rates than copy editors, and substantive editors command the most. Editorial recognition like the Editors’ Association of Canada’s annual Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence generally (by which I mean the overwhelming majority of the time) goes to a substantive editor rather than a copy editor or proofreader.

Although I would agree that no amount of proofreading will ever salvage a poorly structured and awkwardly written piece, I am concerned about the limitations of this rather firmly entrenched paradigm. The fact is that proofreading, copy editing, and substantive editing (the EAC goes as far as to split up the latter into stylistic editing and structural editing) each requires its own unique skill set. Whereas some editors work well with the big-picture stuff, others are adept at the details, and it’s time to stop seeing those editors who devote themselves to copy editing as failed substantive editors. And publishers that adopt this classic “substantive reigns supreme” model may miss out on hiring someone who hasn’t yet “proven herself” at copy editing but may be an astute developmental and structural editor.

One could argue that those who wish to focus on a specific skill would be better off as freelancers and that in-house positions are better suited to generalists who are willing to learn all facets of the editorial—and publishing—process. Many freelancers eschew the hierarchy by charging a flat rate regardless of the type of work they do. And those who hope to do substantive work without having to first perfect proofreading may have better luck finding opportunities at smaller presses, where, owing to a lack of human resources, structural and stylistic editing can often be assigned to whomever is available.

I, for one, am grateful that I did get the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of editing from the ground up. But to me, the ground doesn’t correspond to checking inputting or proofreading—it corresponds to a solid foundation of amazing mentors, high standards, and a drive to keep learning and improving, no matter what kind of editing I’m doing.

Awards news

Thanks to Grace Yaginuma for reminding me that this past week Flavours of Prince Edward Island by Jeff McCourt, Allan Williams, and Austin Clement (Whitecap Books) won Gold at the Canadian Culinary Book Awards in the Canadian Culinary Culture Category, English-Language and Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey by Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij (Douglas & McIntyre) won Silver in the Cookbook Category, English-Language. Congrats to all authors! The awards were announced November 7; see a list of all of the winners here.

A celebration of Fred Herzog

“Today’s cameras are not designed by photographers. Today’s cameras are designed by geeks. And geeks do not take good pictures.” —Fred Herzog

Tonight’s event was, hands down, the best book launch I’ve ever attended—probably because it was more than just a book launch. It was also the advance screening of a documentary on Fred Herzog (part of the Snapshot) series, which will air on the Knowledge Network on Monday, November 14, at 10 pm.

The screening was hosted by Knowledge CEO Rudy Buttignol and featured speakers Douglas Coupland, Gary Stephen Ross, Sam Sullivan, Andy Sylvester, and Shelagh Rogers, who each chose one of Herzog’s photos and interpreted the image from his or her own perspective. Rogers had a family emergency and couldn’t attend personally, but, being the pro that she is, recorded her essay in studio for all of us to hear as an MP3. These special presentations were capped off with Herzog himself, an incisively witty and charming man, who gave his take on the photos that the others had commented on.

At the beginning of the evening Scott McIntyre got an opportunity to briefly recount the growth of D&M’s relationship with Herzog, and even gave me and Peter Cocking shoutouts for working on the new book. That was the evening’s first surprise. The second was that I’m shown in a scene of the documentary shaking Herzog’s hand at the opening of his Reading Pictures exhibit at the Equinox Gallery this past February.

Herzog said very explicitly in the documentary that he doesn’t sign books, and so although I’d brought along my copy in the hopes that I could get his autograph, I was a bit too intimidated to ask him at the reception. Zoe Grams and John Burns gently egged me on (the latter even providing the pen), and Herzog was gracious enough to make an exception, even as he was just on his way out.

All in all, it was a spectacular evening and a complete privilege. I’ve thought about contributing to the Knowledge Network for several months now, and tonight has strengthened my resolve.