EAC Publications and the new Editing Canadian English (EAC conference 2013)

EAC’s Publications Committee gave us an update on its activities, primarily on its work developing a new edition of Editing Canadian English. The second edition of ECE is showing its age, said editor-in-chief Karen Virag, and it’s due for a revision. The committee gathered teams of experienced editors to go over every chapter of ECE, word by word, and make recommendations on the content, addressing such questions as whether there is such a thing as Canadian usage of punctuation. In keeping with the trend of similar language resources, the next edition of ECE will be exclusively online. Subscriptions will cost $30 per year, and it will launch in 2014.

Beth Macfie, one of the managing editors, then explained how the committee has spent the last year and a half analyzing the existing ECE to figure out how to make it into a modern product. The title of the new publication will be Editing Canadian English: The Guide for Editors, Writers, and Everyone Who Works with Words, to emphasize that it is aimed at a much broader audience than just editors. ECE will explain what Canadian English is, how to handle special situations in language, and where to find additional information. The publication will feature sections about

  • editorial roles
  • editorial niches
  • an editor’s legal responsibilities (including in cases of subcontracting) and where to keep up to date on new legal developments
  • Canadian usage
  • inclusive language
  • spelling
  • compounds and hyphenation
  • capitalization
  • abbreviation
  • punctuation
  • measurements
  • documentation
  • working with bilingual documents

The new edition’s electronic format will allow the Publications Committee to update and annotate the content as time goes by. The aim, explained Macfie, is to provide something that no other publication provides.

Over the next year, as the publication takes shape, the committee will need more researchers and writers, copy editors, proofreaders, and beta testers.

Finally, production editor Carolyn Pisani gave us a glimpse of how this new publication will be implemented. She recruited volunteers to test existing databases that provide a similar reference function, using the resources as they were working to get a sense of the systems’ advantages and disadvantages in applied, real-world situations. Volunteers answered an eight-question survey to evaluate these databases for writing and editing, including

  • What makes this online database user friendly?
  • What did you like in terms of ease of use, thoroughness, etc.?
  • What seemed to be missing? What didn’t you like?

Pisani is compiling this feedback and will work together with EAC’s executive director, Carolyn Burke, to find a team that can handle the technological implementation of the new ECE.


Certification Steering Committee co-chairs Anne Brennan and Janice Dyer also presented at the same plenary session, but whatever I have not written about before will be covered in important updates to the Certification section of the EAC website. I’ll tweet or post the link once the updates have happened.

Marjorie Simmins—The editor and the memoirist: creating your best working relationship (EAC conference 2013)

“Between every line of a memoir is a pounding heart,” said Marjorie Simmins. In her presentation at the EAC conference in Halifax, Simmins, an award-winning writer who makes her living as a journalist, editor, and instructor, shared some of her wisdom about how an editor can make the most out of the sometimes intimate, sometimes delicate, and often rewarding relationship with a memoirist.

“Memoir is impossible to define,” said Simmins. “It’s a bit like a pool of mercury.” Memoirs can be poetry; they can be prose; they can be hybrid of genres. They can be illustrated; they can be literary. They can be about a regular person, a celebrity, or even a family. “Memoir,” Simmins explained, “is a chapter in someone’s life,” in contrast to an autobiography, which is a look at the whole life. “Memoir is supposed to be a piece of time, and it often relates to a particular event.”

Simmins brought along a selection of her favourite memoirs, from Linden MacIntyre’s Causeway to Laura Beatrice Berton’s I Married the Klondike to Joanna Claire Wong’s Wong Family Feast, to show us the vast range that memoirs can cover. Common to all good memoirs, however, is an affecting story, said Simmins, and it takes a skilled writer to achieve just the right balance of sentiment.

Editors can make a meaningful difference in the life of a memoirist, Simmins explained, but not every memoirist–editor pair will work. Luck, and chemistry, also factor into the relationship. “Trust your first impressions,” she advised, when considering whether to take on a project, and define the limits of the relationship through clear communication. “I try to avoid the phone,” she told us, “because people don’t think it takes you any time.” When she agrees to work on a memoir, Simmins first evaluates the manuscript, offering the author a candid overview of her response to the writing and detailing the sections that work well and those that don’t. Candour doesn’t mean insensitivity, of course, especially since memoirists often find it hard to separate themselves from the text and may take umbrage at what they perceive as criticism. After her evaluation, she performs careful line and copy editing to polish the text.

She’ll do her best to fact check, confirming names, dates, and historical references. Some manuscripts require a lot of fact checking, said Simmins, and you’ll generally know how intensive it will be from the first page. Some facts simply can’t be checked, however, and although truth and accuracy are important, so is imagination, Simmins emphasized: “No one can truly remember being three years old,” and even real people, when they are characters in a memoir, still need to be engaging and believable.

Making sure someone gets published, she said, is not her job. Having a work published may not even be a priority for some memoirists, who might write simply to unburden their souls. Memoirs are “truly written in heart’s blood,” said Simmins, and a memoirist might produce only one work in a lifetime, and so it’s particularly important for an editor to be diplomatic and open minded. She warned us that, especially for editors who work as writers, the work lines can get blurred. Occasionally she’ll catch herself thinking, “Oh, I can fix this!” but before she does, she has to remind herself to pull back and instead offer the author guidance and suggestions on what could improve the text.

Memoirists can take things very personally, and Simmins suggested that editors “learn to fend off bullies. They’re out there. Some people just want to criticize everything you do. But you know when you’ve done a good job, and you can beg to differ in a polite way.” She advocated keeping a professional distance from the work. If you get too invested, “you’ll be eaten alive.”

Not every editor is suited to working with memoirists. Some editors, for example, prefer not to work with people and might be better off quietly editing government documents. For Simmins, however, editing memoirs is enormously rewarding, as she knows that her contribution can bring a stranger “great psychic happiness.” She closed her talk with some terrific perspective, courtesy of Plato: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”


Marjorie Simmins’s own memoir, Coastal Lives, about her embracing the identify of Maritimer after moving to Nova Scotia from the West Coast, will be published by Pottersfield Press in 2014.

ISC/EAC conference notes and news

I’ve been back from the Indexing Society of Canada/Editors’ Association of Canada conference in Halifax for almost a week now but have spent these past few days trying to get caught up.

As with last year, I’ll be posting summaries of the talks I attended at the conference, but, as I learned last year, they might take me a few weeks to finish; the pockets of time I need to write have been elusive.

The ISC and EAC conference committees put on a wonderful event: the sessions were engaging and well balanced, and I loved being able to see and catch up with fellow editors and indexers from across Canada and beyond. I was also honoured to receive a President’s Award for Volunteer Service from EAC at the awards banquet—a million thanks to Frances Peck, Anne Brennan, and Eva van Emden for nominating me. I work on committees with some of the most dedicated people I know, and there’s no way I deserve this award any more than they do.

The good, the bad, and the “that could have gone better” about subcontracting

Patricia Anderson, PhD, runs an editing and literary and literary consulting business, Helping You Get Published, and has hired several editorial subcontractors over her company’s fourteen-year history. Amelia Gilliland holds an editing certificate from SFU and has worked in-house at Arsenal Pulp Press and Douglas & McIntyre; today she’s a freelance editor who occasionally subcontracts for the West Coast Editorial Associates. Eve Rickert is a Certified Professional Editor and founder of Talk Science to Me Communications Inc., which provides services including writing, editing, indexing, and design through a team of subcontractors. Anderson, Gilliland, and Rickert made up the panel on subcontracting at last week’s EAC-BC monthly meeting, moderated by Frances Peck. Peck asked the panellists questions to get the discussion going and also encouraged questions from audience members.

How did you get into subcontracting?

Rickert said that she started collaborating with others early on, mainly on big writing projects. When she took her first in-house position, she wanted to hang on to clients and began subcontracting to trusted associates. At a second in-house job, her responsibilities included a lot of project management, which she enjoyed. She integrated that element into her business when she struck out on her own to offer science communication services, and today she subcontracts to writers, editors, and designers.

Gilliland brought the perspective of someone who takes on subcontracting opportunities rather than offering them. She began subcontracting while she was still in school, working toward an editing certificate at Simon Fraser University. She asked Ruth Wilson, who was one of her instructors, to mentor her, and she began subcontracting for WCEA. “It was a great way to start,” she said. “When you’re that new to it, you don’t really know how to get into it.” She added that subcontracting gives you an opportunity to work on great projects if you’re working for people who’ve been in the business a long time and are trusted in the industry.

Anderson, who admits that she very much enjoys working on her own and always goes back to it, began subcontracting a year into taking her business online. “These were the early days of the Internet,” she said, “and after three weeks of being online I was so swamped my life was turned upside down.” She cobbled together a group of five subcontractors; the first subcontracting model she tried was to have a group of experts, each taking on one part of the business: marketing, proposals, literary consulting, etc. She said that the model worked, but because it was early in her business, she didn’t realize where the bulk of the business would be. As a result, she and her editor were overwhelmed with work.

The next model she tried was to have a combination of expert editors and some more junior subcontractors. The problem she encountered with that arrangement was that her subcontractors would regard her as an employer and would constantly expect her to give them more work. Anderson wasn’t fond of the pressure that expectation put on her and told us that if she tries other subcontracting models, she’ll emphasize that she’s offering freelance opportunities, not employment, and she’ll actively seek out entrepreneurial, proactive contractors.

Rickert hasn’t found the same kinds of expectations from her subcontractors; if anything, her problem has been the opposite, in that she’s lost a few freelancers who’ve sought out other opportunities.

Trust is a big issue in subcontracting. Those of us who are freelancers are used to doing our own work and answering for ourselves. With subcontracting you’re trusting someone else to work with your client. Did you have any initial fears about getting into subcontracting?

Gilliland responded, “I was terrified. I was new to the industry. I was terrified I was going to do something unbelievably stupid and scared that I wouldn’t represent [WCEA] well. That fear—that I wouldn’t do a good enough job—came with being new; I didn’t have the confidence. It’s different now. There’s always a bit of apprehension, but there’s less about my not representing well.”

Anderson joked that she was fearless because the business was so new she didn’t know what she was getting into. Rickert said that she started off the same way but, “I certainly have a lot of fears now. With a new subcontractor, there’s always wondering if their work is up to standard. And the relationship with clients—do I manage the relationship, or do I have subcontractors work with them directly?” She said that she eases into that arrangement with a new subcontractor; after she’s confident the subcontractor’s work is up to standard, she has them work directly with the client and keep her posted on milestones. She says she’s clear about accountability and who is responsible for what: “Subcontractors are working for me, not for my client. If my client has issues with performance, those can come to me.” Getting the right distance between the person requiring the work and the person doing the work is the balance she strives to achieve.

Both Rickert and Anderson mentioned that their business models involve a markup. Rickert described her work as trying to maintain a sweet spot—a balance between what subcontractors are paid and what clients are charged. At first she was reluctant to charge a markup, but she came to realize that she puts a lot of time into finding good people, managing projects, training, and building a brand. The subcontractor also gets value from being part of a managed project.

How much do you check up on their work? Do you rely on their background?

Rickert replied that it depends how well she knows their work. For newer subcontractors, she’ll usually work behind them and check their work, giving them feedback on areas for improvement. For more established editors, she may not have to do this.

Anderson added, “I analyze the project, decide what the major issues are and  what the best strategies are, and I convey this to the editor. I make myself available non-stop. I go through the project line by line.” It’s an intensive commitment, Anderson said, but she was quick to add, “There are junior editors who do certain things better than people with more experience,” suggesting we should play to people’s strengths and worry less about whether they are junior or senior.

Gilliland explained that when she first started out, she did have her work checked and asked for feedback, especially if she was in a situation where the editor hiring her was trying to maintain a client and just couldn’t take on a specific task. Today, most of the subcontracting work she does is when an editor isn’t interested in a project or doesn’t have time to take on the work and asks her if she wants it—in which case it’s more a referral and less a subcontract.

What is the difference between a subcontract and a referral?

Peck said, “We pride ourselves on being a collegial bunch of people; it’s not a cutthroat business and we’re often quite happy to hand off work. In a much earlier life, I was a real estate agent. In that world, you always received a referral fee that was 25 per cent of the commission. Should there be a fee for a referrals?”

“That’s a tough one,” said Gilliland. “It depends where it comes from.” She explained that the West Coast Editorial Associations, for instance, were sought out by clients and contacted because of the reputation they had built; she could understand paying a fee for projects they referred.

Rickert tries not to give referrals; she has a big enough team of subcontractors that she can usually keep projects in house. However, she does offer clients a referral bonus: if they refer new clients to her, she’ll offer a discount on the next project.

Anderson said, “I have strong feelings on this. I work hard on my websites. I put in hours and hours. If a potential new client comes to me, it’s still time invested. I’ve laid the groundwork, counselled the editor about a reasonable fee, and set the client up. I want 15 per cent. People say, ‘Why should I give you 15 per cent when I do all the work?’ Well, editing is work, but it’s not all the work in a business.”

Anderson told us that she was looking online to see who else had a referral model and discovered a site that purported to be a database of editors. In order to be listed in this database, you first have to pass an editing test—which you have to pay for. Once you’re in, the owner of the site charges you a monthly fee to remain listed. If you get work (which, according to some posted reviews of the site, may never happen), you pay 30 to 40 per cent of what you earn. We wondered whether any editing was actually going on, but the owner of the site claims to have some high-powered clients.

The last story raises a point about ethics. Have you ever encountered any concerns from the client’s point of view or concerns about ethics?

Gilliland said that she had a client who initially wasn’t comfortable with the idea that his project was being handed off to her from the editor he’d approached.  “I think his attitude was, ‘Well, why doesn’t she want to work with me?'” In the end, Gilliland met with him and gained his trust. The fact that the other editor expressed confidence in her work catalyzed that process.

Rickert said that she’s never had ethical issues because she is always responsible for the final quality of the work; she never takes herself out of the project.

Anderson takes a similar approach: “I come in at the beginning, so the client knows the work comes from me, with input and assistance from another editor.” She said she’d never pass off someone else’s work as her own.

A growing concern for Anderson is that she has so many return clients that she can barely handle them. “How do you hand off a loyal client?” she asked.

How do you decide on your markup?

Rickert explained that with established associates, her markup is 100 per cent, which is standard for the industry. For senior editors she brings in on occasional projects, the markups are lower, but they’re never less than 30 per cent.

Do you have formal contracts with subcontractors that specify editorial credit, and payment—or that stops subcontractors from absconding with your clients?

Rickert is adamant about having contracts with her subcontractors and contracts with her clients. She does have a non-soliciation clause that prevents her subcontractors from working independently with her clients for a certain period.

Anderson admitted to being a bit lax about contracts. She does have house rules and a general expectation of the level of work and editing, but she doesn’t have formal contracts.

Gilliland said that she usually has a contract directly with the client or author and has a separate contract with the editor who subcontracted the work.

What are the top one or two lessons you’ve learned through your subcontracting experiences?

Anderson said (only somewhat jokingly), “Consider not subcontracting. There’s a lot to be said for the one-person business. If you’ve got solid clients, you’re enjoying your work, and you’re able to handle it efficiently, why torture yourself?” A second lesson is that if you have to subcontract, make a plan. Decide on the kind of model that will work best for your business and the kinds of editors that will be the best fit. A last piece of advice for editors looking to subcontract is to think of themselves as independent professionals. “This is not being an employee. This is being a proactive professional fulfilling a freelance opportunity.”

Gilliland advised, “Only work for top-drawer people. Work with the best people you can, especially if you’re just starting out. They’ll be good examples, teach you, and offer you better work.”

Rickert’s advice: have a contract—with both client and subcontractor. Get a line of credit. She added, “Be clear that you’re still responsible for the work. You’re responsible to everyone: client and subcontractors. Don’t think you’re getting out of anything by subcontracting.”

PubPro 2013 recap

Managing editors and publication production managers from across BC gathered at SFU Harbour Centre on Saturday for the first ever PubPro unconference. We had representatives from educational publishers, trade book publishers, self-publishers, magazine publishers, journal publishers, technical publishers, course developers, communications departments, and more.

The day kicked off with session pitches: participants interested in presenting had a minute to pitch their topics to the crowd. Then, based on audience interest, our volunteers assigned each talk to one of our rooms. Yvonne Van Ruskenveld (West Coast Editorial Associates), Rob Clements (Ingram Content Group), Anne Brennan (Allegro Communications and EAC’s Certification Steering Committee), John Maxwell (SFU), and Jennifer Lyons (Influence Publishing) offered to present, and I  pitched my talk about the editorial wiki I built as an in-house editor.

After the presentations were added to the schedule, we still had several slots to fill, so I proposed four discussion topics and asked members of the audience to volunteer to lead them. Eve Rickert stepped up to lead the discussion about managing a team of editors and working with freelancers; Jesse Marchand led a discussion about digital workflow; Brian Scrivener chaired the roundtable on project management and workflow; and Lara Smith took on the managing editors’ wish list for production management software.

We planted a volunteer in each of our rooms to help the presenters set up and to keep the day on track. To make sure we captured the day’s main takeaways, we also had a volunteer in each room taking notes. I spent my day in the main event room helping the presenters there, so I didn’t get a chance to partake in what I’ve heard were lively and engaging discussions.  I look forward to reading our volunteers’ notes and catching up on what I missed; they will be compiling a full recap of the day for West Coast Editor, EAC-BC’s online newsletter, and I’ll post an update when the article appears.

Here’s a summary of what I did see:

Yvonne Van Ruskenveld—Interactive Editing: Big Project, Big Team, Tight Deadlines

West Coast Editorial Associates’ Yvonne Van Ruskenveld shared with us some of her wisdom gained from her experiences working in educational publishing, which can be vastly more complex than trade publishing owing to the sheer number of people involved. A project manager has to oversee the work of several writers, editors, artists, designers, picture researchers, and layout technicians, and when one phase of a project slips, the problem can cascade and put the entire project in jeopardy. In the planning phase, Van Ruskenveld said, it’s important to map out the whole project and consider issues such as how non-editors might be used to support substantive or developmental editors. Team members should receive an outline of the editorial process, a schedule, and a style sheet, as well what Van Ruskenveld calls a “project profile”—an annotated sample of a unit or chapter showing exactly what elements it has to contain.

A theme that ran throughout Van Ruskenveld’s talk was the importance of considering the social aspect of your team: a team functions more smoothly if members are encouraged to interact with one another and communicate freely. The project manager should set the tone for the group dynamics by being open, acknowledging receipt of messages, and responding promptly to team members. Most importantly, the project manager should be able to troubleshoot quickly and without pointing fingers. Once the project has wrapped up, the project manager should be sure to congratulate the team members and celebrate their contributions.

That said, Van Ruskenveld—and a few audience members—did acknowledge that some editors are just not suited to this kind of a project. Again, because educational publishing is so demanding, editors who can’t deliver on deadline should probably not be assigned to such a project, nor should editors who can’t work without a lot of guidance.

Rob Clements—Print on Demand for Editors

Rob Clements, now a sales manager at Ingram Content Group, began his publishing career at Regent College Publishing, where he eventually became the managing editor. There he helped revive out-of-print titles of Christian academic literature that had a small but enthusiastic readership by acquiring the rights to those books and printing small quantities. After hearing about Ingram’s Lightning Source print-on-demand service, he quickly became a big fan of the platform but expressed to Ingram his frustrations relating to the importation process of the print-on-demand copies. Ingram responded by offering him a job: Clements would be responsible for resolving some of the problems specific to Canadians who wanted to use Ingram’s services.

Lightning Source was founded in 1997 as a division of Ingram Content Group, and it provides digital and offset print services that help publishers sidestep the traditional supply chain, which is full of risk—risk that stock won’t arrive to a retailer in time to meet demand, risk that sell-in will be poor and that copies will sit in a warehouse, risk that sell-through will be poor and returns will have to be remaindered or pulped. Print-on-demand offers just-in-time delivery that not only eliminates this risk but also allows publishers to print in any market. Print-on-demand technology is well suited to Canadian publishing, which by definition is small-market publishing.

For editors, Clements said, opportunities lie in publishers’ and self-published authors’ desires to make reprint changes to their books. Since tweaks and adjustments are now so easy to implement—you need only wait until the next copy to be printed to see your changes made—editors will be called upon to manage and execute this process.

Anne Brennan—EAC Certification

Certification Steering Committee co-chair Anne Brennan spoke to the group about EAC’s certification program. The program was developed over the last two decades, Brennan explained, and is based on EAC’s Professional Editorial Standards. Candidates can write exams to become certified in proofreading, copy editing, stylistic editing, or structural editing—and if they pass all four, they earn the title of Certified Professional Editor. Brennan was quick to point out that not passing the certification tests doesn’t mean that you’re not a good editor, but becoming certified means that you’ve achieved the gold standard in editing.

The program’s advantages for freelancers are often touted: certification demonstrates an editor’s excellence to existing and potential clients, thus allowing that editor to gain confidence, bypass some requirements for certain contracts (e.g., some provincial government contracts allow certified editors to bid without submitting a portfolio), and maybe even raise his or her rates. But why should organizations and in-house editors care about certification? In-house editors who achieve certification are in a better position to ask for a raise or a promotion, Brennan noted, and if you’re looking for an editor, hiring someone who’s certified basically eliminates the need to test them. Opting for someone in the roster of certified editors means you’re hiring a professional who has proven that he or she can deliver excellent work. Organizations that encourage their employees to pursue certification are essentially publicly declaring their commitment to high editorial standards and clear, effective communication.

I added that I pursued certification while I was in house because I was responsible for giving editorial feedback to freelance and junior editors. Being certified gave me the confidence to go into those conversations confident and informed.

John Maxwell—Beyond Microsoft Word

Are we forever trapped in the clutches of Microsoft Word? John Maxwell explored some alternatives to the program in his talk, in which he argued that Word was really made for another time and isn’t well suited to the interactive editor–author relationship we can accommodate and have come to expect today. What are some of the other options out there?

Maxwell said right off the bat that he wouldn’t be talking about OpenOffice, which basically replicates the functionality of Microsoft Office and so isn’t an alternative to it at all. One class of true alternatives are word processors in the cloud, such as Google Docs or the ubiquitous Wysiwyg online editor on platforms like WordPress, although Maxwell did say that the next-generation HTML5 editors would likely overtake the latter very soon. Google Docs allows for collaborative authoring and editing—two people can simultaneously work on a document as long as they’re not making changes to the same paragraph—and you can see the revision history of a document, but it doesn’t really track the changes in a way that editors might want.

Another class of options includes simplified writing tools that allow you to focus on the words and not have to worry about document formatting; these include Scrivener and Editorially (in development). Part of this “back to the simple text editor” movement is the concept of markdown, a very lightweight markup language: gone are the intimidating tags that you see in XML; instead you use underscores to format text into italics, asterisks for boldface, etc.

For versioning and editorial workflow, Maxwell mentioned Git, a software tool that programmers use. It allows multiple people to edit a document at the same time and will flag editing conflicts when they arise. Although there’s a possibility it will creep into the mainstream, Maxwell thinks it will likely remain primarily a tool for the software development community. Other tools that allow versioning are wikis, which allow you to see a page’s revision history, and annotation tools that are used for peer review in scholarly publishing.

Finally, Maxwell gave us a demo of Poetica, which is being developed by a programmer and poet pair. Writers can upload or input plain text and ask for editorial input; an editor can then make suggestions, which appear as overlain editorial markup. The impressive demonstration elicited some oohs and aahs from the audience; as Maxwell later remarked to me, “You could feel the air pressure drop when everyone gasped.” He fielded several questions about what the software could and couldn’t do, and he suggested that people contact the developers for a chance play with it and send them comments about what kinds of features they’d like to see.

Iva Cheung—The Editorial Wiki: An indispensable communication and training tool

I’m glad I got to talk to the PubPro group about the remarkable usefulness of the editorial wiki that I built while I was editorial coordinator at D&M. I’ve covered all of the points in my talk in a previous post, so I won’t repeat them here, but I was so encouraged by the responsiveness of audience members to the idea. I hope some of them will decide to implement a wiki—or something like it—for their own organization, and I’m always available to consult on such a project if they go forward.

The sessions, each only forty minutes long, prompted incredibly interesting discussions that continued through the lunch break and at the afternoon’s networking tea, a completely unstructured session in which participants could grab a tea or coffee and keep the conversation going. We also invited pre-registered freelancers to join us for the tea, because we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put editors and indexers in the same room as those who might be interested in hiring them.

We wrapped up the day with a brief closing session, where we gave away two books, Adrian Bullock’s Book Production, which went to Lara Smith, and International Paper’s Pocket Pal, which went to Anne Brennan.

All in all, PubPro was an eye-opening, inspiring day. (Check out the Storify that EAC-BC compiled.) A million thanks to our amazing crew of volunteers, without whom the day would not have gone nearly as smoothly: Maria Jose Balbontin, Megan Brand, Lara Kordic, Jesse Marchand, Dee Noble, Claire Preston, Michelle van der Merwe, and Grace Yaginuma. Thanks also to EAC-BC (especially professional development co-chairs Tina Robinson and Eva van Emden) and the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing (particularly Rowly Lorimer, Suzanne Norman, and John Maxwell), as well as our event sponsors—Friesens, Hemlock, Ingram, and West Coast Editorial Associates. I’m elated by the positive feedback I’ve received so far from participants. We may have to do something like this again!

Upcoming editing and publishing events

A lot is happening over this next week! I hope to be posting about all of these editing- and publishing-related events—though probably not all at once. Look for my summaries over the next few weeks.

1. Ethics for editors

Having been a member of the Editors’ Association of Canada’s code of ethics task force about a year and a half ago, I’m very interested to hear what Mary Schendlinger will have to say about ethical dimensions of editing at her EAC-BC seminar on Saturday. At our January EAC-BC meeting, David Harrison and some members of his audience had discussed whether a code of ethics was the only piece of the puzzle we were missing before we could consider editing a bona fide profession. Schendlinger will tackle such issues as how creative a piece of creative non-fiction can be and how best to navigate a situation in which an author has used racist or sexist language.

Registration for this seminar is closed, but if you can’t attend and have some ethics-related questions about editing, get in touch with me, and I’d be happy to take them to the session and bring back whatever answers I can get.

2. Plain language certification

Katherine McManus, director of the SFU Writing and Communications Program, will speak at our March EAC-BC meeting about SFU’s role in the project by IC Clear, the International Consortium for Clear Communication, to launch certification in clear communication and plain language. McManus will also give us a preview of the upcoming PLAIN 2013 conference in October, where IC Clear hopes to pilot its first course. Join us on Wednesday, March 20, at 7pm, at the YWCA on Hornby.

3. Robert R. Reid Award and Medal to Will Rueter

The Alcuin Society will present its Robert R. Reid Award and Medal for lifetime achievement in the book arts to William Rueter of Aliquando Press on Thursday, March 21. At the free event, which starts at 7:30pm at SFU Harbour Centre,  Rollin Milroy of Heavenly Monkey will interview Rueter and show illustrations of Rueter’s work.

The making of a profession: Why do editors need a national association?

David Harrison, secretary on the Editors’ Association of Canada’s national executive council, spoke at Wednesday’s EAC-BC meeting about the making of a profession. Are editors there yet? And can EAC be considered a true professional association? In addition to exploring the answers to those questions, Harrison also gave us an update on some of EAC’s initiatives at the national level.

What defines a professional?

Harrison was in a good position to speak to this issue, since he spent much of his career developing the program of professional studies for the Certified General Accountants Association. He explained that according to the Canada Revenue Agency, only select groups of people—doctors, lawyers, accountants, and the like—are recognized professionals. Harrison distilled the definition of a profession down to these attributes:

  1. Use of skills based on a body of knowledge
  2. Education and training in these skills
  3. Competency ensured by examinations
  4. Continuing professional development
  5. Code of ethics/conduct
  6. Self-governing body
  7. Identity, shared values (i.e., a community)
  8. Portability of designation

So where do editors sit? Over EAC’s thirty-four-year history, the organization has grown from a small group of freelancers to an association of more than 1,500 members, it has established a set of professional standards of editorial excellence, it has issued publications and regularly offered professional development opportunities, and it has developed a rigorous set of certification exams and created the designation of Certified Professional Editor, which is portable across the country. What we don’t have is a professional code of ethics. What’s more, a few pockets of editors have organized themselves outside of EAC’s umbrella—including the Professional Editors’ Association of Vancouver Island and the Manitoba Editors’ Association, and so in some ways the EAC isn’t a fully national professional association. Unlike most professional organizations, EAC doesn’t require its members to have a certain level of competency, nor does it have the power to restrict people without a certification designation from taking on certain work. Frances Peck pointed out, however, that you do need a certain number of years of experience before you can be a voting member of the organization.

Anne Brennan, in the audience, asked why EAC doesn’t have a code of ethics. I jumped in at that point, because I was on the code of ethics task force that explored the issue about a year and a half ago. The Professional Editorial Standards do include some ethical aspects—including being respectful of authors and fellow editors, adhering to deadlines, etc.—but if we established a code of ethics that we expected members to follow, then we’d have to enforce it, and as an organization we simply don’t have the policing power to do that. What we may do, in the next revision of the PES, is pull out those ethical elements and flesh them out into a more explicit list of ethical principles that people can choose to honour. (EAC does have a code of conduct that governs how members ought to behave with one another.)

What’s happening at the national level at EAC?

Volunteer relations

This is a high priority for the organization, which wants to make volunteering rewarding enough that it truly becomes one of the perks of membership. Ideas being explored include establishing a volunteer database that matches people to interests, as well as training, support, and recognition programs.

Training and professional development

Webinars are a proposed addition to the association’s professional development programs. These will allow members to attend training sessions no matter where they are, freeing the professional development chairs at each branch from having to reinvent the wheel.


An ebook edition of Editing Canadian English (3rd edition) is in the works.

l’agrément en français de l’ACR

The francophone members hope to develop a French version of certification.


A governance task force is redrafting association bylaws and procedures to meet new federal government legislation for not-for-profit organizations.

Membership survey

EAC will soon release the results of the 2012 membership survey, which will give us a clear picture of the membership’s demographics, as well as members’ typical fee structures and rates. Harrison couldn’t share much with us, but he did mention that EAC members most valued branch seminars, followed by the Online Directory of Editors, followed by EAC’s publications.


A couple of years ago, EAC was restructured such that the national executive council no longer had representatives from each branch or province. Although the executive council now includes a western regional director and an eastern regional director, I think that not having a B.C.-based representative at the national level last year made our branch feel as though it was in the dark about what was happening elsewhere within the organization. David Harrison’s involvement on the national council and his updates at our branch meeting have helped me, at least, feel a bit more engaged.

Book review: The Art of Making Magazines

Each spring the Columbia School of Journalism invites heavyweights from the magazine industry to speak about magazine journalism at its George Delacorte Lecture Series. Victor S. Navasky, publisher emeritus of The Nation, and Evan Cornog, dean of the School of Communication at Hofstra University and former publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, pulled together a varied collection of the lecture series’ highlights in The Art of Making Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views from the Industry (published by Columbia Journalism Review Books). The book offers up a variety of perspectives: we hear from the late John Gregory Dunne about writing for magazines; Roberta Myers about editing women’s magazines; Peter Canby about fact checking at The New Yorker; Tina Brown about her time heading Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Talk; John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s, about the balance between editorial content and advertising; and several others. This mosaic of viewpoints from industry insiders underscores the complexity of magazine publishing—the myriad considerations from the big picture to the minutiae that editors face with every issue.

Despite the speakers’ wide-ranging experiences and backgrounds, key themes recurred throughout the book; the primacy of the reader, for example, featured prominently. Ruth Reichl, who served as Gourmet’s editor before it closed up shop in 2009, said,

I learned that the only way to do a magazine… is not to underestimate your audience, ever… That the only way to have a really good magazine is to print the things you want to read and assume that it will find its own readership. (p. 34)

And Elle’s Roberta Myers told her audience,

You can’t edit a magazine to impress people; you can’t edit a magazine to show your friends how clever you are or what access you were able to get. You really have to edit to, and for, your reader. (p. 54)

Felix Dennis, owner of Dennis Publishing, devoted his entire talk to the importance of the reader, saying

What’s madness is thinking that you can publish on and on and on without putting out something that readers want to read. What’s madness is this: focusing on what advertisers want, not on what readers want. (p. 172)

Yet, of course, pragmatism dictates that magazines do have to consider advertisers to remain strong. In one of the most interesting essays in the book, John R. MacArthur addresses this slippery issue:

With the advent in the 1970s of so-called advertorials—that is, advertising promotion copy masquerading as real editorial material—the walls between advertising and editorial have weakened apace. Labeled advertorial has more and more been supplanted by unlabeled advertorial, where the editor is called upon to run articles complementary to adjacent advertising. (p. 149)

According to MacArthur, a large part of the problem stems from a devaluation of content in readers’ eyes; the glut of available information makes them less willing to pay for what a magazine has to offer:

There’s another important factor that’s made magazines more vulnerable to the demands and whims of advertisers, which is the continuing decline in the cost of subscriptions. Because magazines are so desperate for advertising, they view subscribers by and large as loss leaders whose principal function is to support the publication’s guaranteed advertising rate base. Since the advertising agencies get a flat percentage of whatever they buy—traditionally it’s 15 percent—the more the page costs, the more they make. Thus publishers and ad directors of magazines strain mightily and discount heavily to make their circulation as big as possible in order to please the ad agencies. (p. 151)

At the same time, the Internet—with its implied promise of free, free, free editorial content—encourages people to think that they shouldn’t have to pay for magazines and newspapers at all. To my mind, the Internet is just a gigantic, much-faster version of the photocopying machine. And as such, it’s a great enemy of periodicals, because so many library users and professors are happy to read a cheap Xerox of an article or distribute it to their students, rather than pay for a subscription. I’ve tried again and again to explain to the young Internet enthusiasts on my staff that the Web is actually driving down the perceived value of their work, which makes us even more dependent on advertising. (152)

And if publishers and editors-in-chief aren’t pitching to advertisers, they’re expected to build the brand and pitch to everyone else. Roberta Myers recounted her tenure as senior editor of InStyle, saying, “It was there that I… saw the necessity—and power—of marketing. Dollar for dollar, they spent as much marketing the magazine as they did making it.” (p. 55)

After she moved to Elle, Myers encountered the “brand wheel”:

In the middle of the wheel was the word Elle, and the spokes of the wheel were the magazine and the show Project Runway and the Web site, Elle.com. And one was a cell phone. Today the editor-in-chief of a big, successful, broad magazine like ours—1.1 million circulation, 6 million readers—is expected to oversee all of these “extensions.” (p. 59)

Ruth Reichl shared a similar experience, noting that her role as editor of Gourmet shifted dramatically since the explosion of online marketing and social media:

When I spoke to this group six years ago, the list of what I did today would have been completely and utterly different. In those days, I was editing a magazine, and everything I had to do was about editing the magazine. And today, almost nothing that I do has to do with editing a magazine. My role is now pretty much long-term planning, thinking about the issues, dealing with the art director… So it’s very much a changing role. (p. 46)

Interestingly, whereas Gourmet folded, Dennis Publishing’s offerings, including The Week and Men’s Fitness, among others, seem to be going strong, and this success may have something to do with Felix Dennis’s approach to emerging technologies:

We concluded that the Web should not be treated as merely an extension of our ink-on-paper brands and products. It was a beast of a different stripe. This was a counterintuitive conclusion back then… but we persevered and permitted our Web editors and journalists to break away early from the domination of the “mother ship” ink-on-paper brand and develop their own Internet identity. In retrospect, this was possibly the best decision made by my board in decades. (p. 168)

Perhaps this division has allowed editors to focus on editing, which was the subject of Robert Gottlieb’s terrific piece, “Editing Books Versus Editing Magazines.” Gottlieb had moved from a position at Alfred A. Knopf to The New Yorker, where he served as editor-in-chief from 1987 to 1992. About the differences between the two media, he had this to say:

Being the editor-in-chief of a book publishing house is a vastly different matter from being the editor-in-chief of a magazine. When you’re in a publishing house, you are in a strictly service job as an editor… To keep your good authors and to attract other good authors, you have to serve them. They have to feel protected, which means they have to believe that their editor, a specific personal editor, understands their work, sympathizes with their work, and is on their wavelength. They must believe that the editor can help them make the book not other than what it is, but better than what it is. (p. 157)

When you’re the editor-in-chief of a magazine, as I was of The New Yorker, it’s opposite. You are the living god. You are not there to please the writers, but the writers are there to satisfy you because they want to be in the magazine, and you are the one who says yes or no. (p. 158)

Another major contrast between book and magazine publishing, Gottlieb noted, relates to fact checking: whereas some magazines have dedicated fact-checking departments, that level of rigour simply isn’t possible in a book-publishing environment, where much of the onus is on the author to ensure factual accuracy. And his comment about Knopf’s editorial standards had me smiling and cringing at the same time:

I can say that although I’ve been embarrassed by some of the books we’ve published, on the whole we’ve done a good job. Certainly better than most publishing houses, and certainly better than any British publishing houses, since I don’t believe an editor or a copyeditor’s pencil has ever touched a piece of text in England. It’s really amazing what they do not do, but then they love amateurism. (p. 158)

And finally, from Gottlieb, a truism known widely to editors but not so much to others:

It’s always the books, by the way, that you spend the most time on and put the most editorial energy into that get reviews that say, “What this book needed was a good editor.” And that’s for a reason. Because when a book is really in trouble, there’s a point beyond which you can’t go. And some reviewers, not all, are slow to catch on to that. (p. 158)

Barbara Wallraff addressed the same problem, from the copy editor’s perspective:

Most [writers and supervising editors] look very sloppy. And sometimes so sloppy that I couldn’t do as good a job—I couldn’t do as much polishing, as much perfecting, as I really would have liked to do, because I was just too busy correcting stuff that was all garbled up. It makes you mad. Can’t they do any better than that?

And then, over the years, it occurs to you, no, they can’t. But the more the writer or the supervising editor can do to improve a piece, starting at the biggest level but on down into the smaller levels, the higher the level that everybody else—including the copyeditor—can work at.

If you don’t have to be just hacking your way, with a machete, through the jungle, you can pay closer attention to where the flowers are, and whether the leaves are neat and tidy. You can really go a much longer way toward making that piece its best self. (p. 93)

And details matter. Wallraff said in her talk, “A Magazine Needs Copyeditors Because…,” “Even a bunch of highly skilled writers won’t do things consistently. And consistency strengthens the identity of a magazine.” (p. 86) She continued, “I am not saying any particular style is inherently bad or good. I am just pointing out that they project different images.” (p. 87)

Being a stickler may not make you any friends:

The problem with copyediting—and the downside to the job—is that it is a relentlessly negative, critical job. I mean, you try correcting everybody’s spelling and grammar and logic and organization, and do that day in, day out, and see how popular that makes you. (p. 90)

but, according to Wallraff, remembering that the copy editor is a person will improve not only your professional relationship but also the project:

Have a human relationship with them. The way most organizations are set up, it won’t be part of the workflow ever to talk to the copyeditor. And you may have to go a little bit out of your way to do that. By try to anyway. (p. 95)

Although I can pluck any number of memorable quotes from The Art of Making Magazines, I don’t think the book quite succeeds as the “how-to and how-to-be guide” that its editors had perhaps envisioned. The anecdotes are colourful, but they lack the practical advice that readers or students hoping to break into magazines might be looking for in a book like this. A fundamental problem is that most of the lectures included in the book were delivered between 2002 and 2009, and a lot has changed in the magazine world in the past decade—even in the past couple of years. The most recent talk featured in the book was given in February 2010, which, I believe, just misses the surging growth in tablets. Both Ruth Reichl and Roberta Myers allude to the impact of online marketing and social media, but the tablet may be have as a large an impact on the magazine world as e-readers have had on the book world, and the book discusses none of that.

Further, because the book is tied to the Columbia School of Journalism, most of the speakers naturally represent the major New York–based magazines. Someone looking to start a career in magazine publishing, particularly outside of New York, probably won’t hit up The New Yorker from the outset. Most writers and editors would likely cut their teeth, and perhaps build a career, in niche publications—like magazines for cigar aficionados or antique teapot enthusiasts. That rather significant portion of the industry isn’t addressed at all in this book. Further, the book makes the prospect of upward mobility at the big glossies look rather bleak: Tina Brown and Robert Gottlieb were installed as heads of their magazines having come from elsewhere, and hiring budding talent from within a magazine to take over an editorial vacancy doesn’t appear to be a common practice, at least as far as this anthology implies.

The Art of Making Magazines is for readers who want to hear what the likes of Ruth Reichl and Tina Brown and Felix Dennis have to say because of who they are. Although it may be interesting reading for those hoping to make a career out of magazine publishing and editing, it won’t light the path to get there.

Book review: Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text

Too often we see book production as a sequence of tasks—writing, editing, design, proofreading—forgetting that behind these tasks are professionals who have to work as a team to make a book happen. Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text (edited by Darcy Cullen, published by University of Toronto Press) urges us to shift our perspective—not only towards the dynamic, social aspects of the production process that are so critical to its functioning but also away from the notion that an editor is “an invisible figure who must leave no trace of his or her presence or as a taint to be expunged.” (p. 4)

Darcy Cullen, an acquisitions editor at UBC Press, has assembled an impressive cast of contributors to this authoritative collection, including Peter L. Shillingsburg, author of From Gutenberg to Google, and Amy Einsohn, author of The Copyeditor’s Handbook. We hear from academic experts as well as editors and designers in a rich mosaic of experiences and complementary viewpoints. In short, this unassuming volume brims with wisdom.

Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text focuses naturally on academic publishing, but much of the insight and information it offers would also be useful to trade publishers. It divides its attention between scholarly editors (scholars who develop, curate, and compile) and academic editors (in-house or freelance professionals who acquire manuscripts, copy edit, and project manage), and although I found many of the former pieces interesting, I gravitated towards essays about the latter, which were both a mirror of my own experiences and a window into a parallel universe. Editors (and publishers) may operate according to the same set of best practices, but they all have different approaches, and it’s these details that intrigue me most.

To give a sweeping review of such a heterogeneous collection would be an unfair oversimplification, so my goal here is to hit what I considered the highlights, from my perspective as an editor, rather than attempt to be comprehensive.

Cullen’s motivation for bringing together these essays carries a subtle but definite tone of activism. Of the legions of books devoted to publishing, most are focused on helping authors get their manuscripts published or marketed, yet, writes Cullen, “the ‘middle’ part of the publishing process, sandwiched between acquisitions and sales, is often closed from view, or viewed as closed off, even though it is here that the manuscript’s metamorphosis into book occurs.” (p. 3) The shrinking-violet stereotype of editors must be abandoned because it perpetuates a certain self-marginalization that denies the important social contribution of an editor to the publishing process. Cullen hopes that “these chapters engaging the question of minority cultures and ethnicity in the spheres of scholarly and academic editing and scholarly publishing should serve as an impetus to editors who still invisibilize themselves, so that they acknowledge their place and position of influence as it extends beyond the chain of production.” (p. 12)

That thread is carried through Rosemary Shipton’s brilliant chapter, “The Mysterious Relationship: Authors and Their Editors,” in which she gives readers a most cogent description of the editorial process, comparing trade and academic publishing. “So long as the editors’ contribution to publications in all genres… is not given the recognition it deserves,” writes Shipton, “editors will remain vulnerable to low salaries and, in times of economic downturn, early layoff.”

The relationship an editor fosters with an author is key to a book’s realization—and it may play a role in a publisher’s ability to retain an author: “When the collaboration works well,” Shipton writes, “inevitably authors bond with their editors—they request them for book after book.” But “if the collaboration between author and editor does not work well, the author very quickly feels threatened and loses confidence in the editor.” (p. 51) As one of the founders of the publishing program at Ryerson, her advocacy for the editing profession is grounded in her belief in high standards and a solid foundation of editorial principles, as she warns, “The most common disputes arise when copyeditors lack training and experience.” (p. 45)

Shipton explains that whereas “most trade publishers know that, to make their books excellent and interesting, to attract good reviews and other media attention, to win book awards, and to get that word-of-mouth buzz that entices readers to buy, they really should edit at both the macro and the micro level,” (p. 50) meaning that manuscripts at trade houses go through structural, stylistic, and copy editing, “scholarly publishers do not usually do intensive substantive editing—and for many good reasons. Their mandate is to publish books that make an original contribution to knowledge; most of their authors are professors or researchers; the majority of their readers are academics and students; and the number of copies they print of most titles is small.” (p. 52) Because they write for an academic audience, says Shipton, scholars “know that these readers will understand the specialized jargon and the guarded, often obtuse long sentences in which they make their arguments.” (p. 52) (I haven’t worked much with textual scholars, but based on my experiences with scientific scholars, I couldn’t help wondering if scholars’ resistance to being stylistically edited or have at least some clear communication principles applied to their writing is a symptom of an academic culture that routinely conflates abstruseness with erudition.)

Shipton also touches on issues specific to legal editing and educational publishing, adeptly showing not only the peculiarities of each genre but also aspects of our work that unite us all as editors; as far as I’m concerned, her chapter should be required reading in all introductory editing courses. Veteran editors—trade or academic, freelance or in house—would also benefit from her wisdom.

Amy Einsohn’s piece, “Juggling Expectations: The Copyeditor’s Roles and Responsibilities” provides equally valuable information for both novice and seasoned copy editors, encouraging them to pull back and look at their own vulnerabilities so that they can become more effective in their work. “Conflicting opinions about what constitutes good or acceptable expository writing can be particularly difficult to negotiate. Because any sentence can be rewritten (and arguably “improved” thereby), copyeditors must learn to resist the impulse to tinker,” (p. 79) she writes, cautioning that copyeditors “labour in the presence of benevolent or fearsome ghosts: a high school English teacher, a freshman composition instructor, one or more publishing mentors, and the authors of favourite usage books.” (p. 69)

Copy editing is an exercise in juggling quality, collegiality, cost, and control, Einsohn says. And true to the book’s overarching message, she emphasizes the importance of the relationships built—largely through clear, respectful communication—between copy editor and author and between copy editor and press. Most importantly, she offers concrete suggestions to improve these relationships and improve editor retention, including checklists, sample edits, and style memos.

Whereas Einsohn’s contribution focused on text, Camilla Blakeley revealed through a case study of an award-winning project of hers, The Trickster Shift by Allan J. Ryan, the complexities of editing an illustrated book. Tactfully mediating a relationship between the author and designer, securing permissions within a specified budget, coordinating captions and credits, and taking into account the effect these added tasks have on the project schedule are some of just some of the considerations for illustrated books, and, again, communication is paramount. On this project, Blakeley set up a meeting with the author and designer at the very early stages, which the designer, George Vaitkunas, credited with making the project particularly rewarding. Blakeley notes, “early communication makes the job not only easier but more pleasurable. This is significant.” (p. 156)

One point of hers that caught my attention was that “while an experienced scholarly editor knows that a table or a graph requires as much editing as a narrative—often more—most of us have no training in how to look at photograph.” (p. 165) She points to a positive editor–designer relationship as an opportunity for editors to educate themselves about these kinds of issues so that they can better serve the author, designer, and, ultimately, the book.

Blakeley’s contribution is packed with examples from The Trickster Shift—of such details as art logs and schedules—that are useful not only because they inform readers about the anatomy of an illustrated book project as it evolves but also because editors can easily appropriate and adapt these documents for their own use.

Blakeley does a tremendous job of giving the designer on her project a voice, but what sets this book apart is that we get to hear directly from designers themselves. Learning from designer Richard Hendel, for example, about not only how designers fit in to the book production process but also how designers view editors (both flatteringly and unflatteringly) can be an important step to better communication and a more effective workflow. Hendel stresses that “The designer cannot properly address a text until an editor has understood and clearly dealt with the physical aspects of the content: how chapters and chapter titles are arranged, how subheads are dealt with, kinds of extract, and the like.” (p. 175) Referring to English typographer John Ryder, Hendel writes, “Ryder felt that editors should be more critical about how something in the manuscript will eventually appear in the printed book—the need to edit visually before the design process even begins.” (p. 176)

In her chapter, designer Sigrid Albert looks at the evolving role of the designer and the changing relationship between editor and designer as the publishing landscape adjusts to accommodate ebooks and other technologies. “The traditional printed book as a highly crafted cultural object, whether in a humble, low-budget or a luxurious, highly produced format, is the goal of the editor and designer. At the highest level of the book production process, the editor has shaped a piece of history, and the designer has shaped a piece of art,” writes Albert, in one of my favourite quotes from the book.

Whereas the traditional book all but demands a strong, communicative relationship between editor and designer to transmit a single vision, digital books have meant that content and form are separate: “book content is increasingly being stored in databases and tagged with content-related markup—such as chapter titles, subtitles, subheads, extracts—by the editor, while the visual design is controlled by a separate style markup—such as margin widths, font, font size, font weight, colour, or line height—delivered by the designer.” (p. 184) Albert wonders if the relationship will only grow further apart as designers eventually stop designing single books and instead create digital templates that they license. Yet, Albert says, “From the designer’s point of view, the design process, despite the technological advances, still requires a synthesis of information and a variety of visual choices to form an aesthetic unity.” (p. 193)

Yuri Cowan (“Reading Material Bibliography and Digital Editions”) and Darcy Cullen (“The Object and the Process”) also explore the implications of a workflow that incorporates digital outputs, with Cowan taking a more theoretical approach and Cullen sharing the triumphs and growing pains of UBC Press’s first steps into the realm of digital production. Writes Cowan, “our editors can inform their theoretical approaches with recent scholarship in the sociology of material texts, creating a model of readerly engagement and a generation of reader/editors who will be neither overawed by the authority of print nor seduced by the hyperbolic claims made for the electronic edition.” (p. 236)

The book’s other contributors—Peter L. Shillingsburg, Alexander Petit, Peter Mahon, and John K. Young—offer scholars’ perspectives on various facets of the academic publishing process, and although these chapters are all worth reading for the sake of interest, I believe that the general editor-reader will find the essays I’ve mentioned most engaging and directly relevant to their work—and it’s to this specific but vast audience, editors of whatever genre and whatever experience level, that I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Freelance editors who have never worked in house may have the most to gain from this insiders’ view. As Amy Einsohn writes, “Some presses make an effort to train, coach, and acculturate their freelancers, but most freelancers have few opportunities to learn about the publisher’s activities, customs, and mores,” (p. 69) and being informed about a publishing house’s inner workings helps editors anticipate what may be expected of them.

UBC Press—and hence Cullen’s book—specializes in the social sciences, but I would be intrigued to see how the processes described in Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text compare with the workflow and author–editor relationships at academic presses focused on the natural sciences. Most of those authors probably will not read this book, and perhaps even most social science scholars hoping to get published would not think to read it. In many ways, it is much more information than they need to play their roles in book production. Yet, I hope that some academic authors choose to hear what Cullen’s roster of experts have to say. This book beautifully humanizes the publishing process in a way that could only foster mutual respect between professionals—ones with the common aim of producing great books.