Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The perils of the self-edited resume

There are so many different kinds of resumes. Traditionally, a resume is a snapshot of your personal history, highlighting your skills and experience. However, for the academically inclined, the resume goes a step further and grows into the curriculum vitae (CV). In some ways, a CV is much easier to create than a traditional resume, because a CV is not bound to one page. Most of them go well beyond ten pages, including every academic accomplishment imaginable. A more traditional resume, however, has to give that aforementioned snapshot - it has to capture the attention of the hiring manager in one glance. Outside of a university setting, no one has the time to wade through the CV.
It can be incredibly difficult to prioritize content, though, so whittling one's experience down to one page can be daunting.

Add to that the fact that traditional resumes take many forms. The most popular one currently is the dynamic functional resume, which eschews the standard list of work history, focusing instead upon specific skills and the number of years associated with those skills. How can you figure out which kind is correct for you? And where does a copy editor come in? Does a copy editor also become the content editor when it comes to resumes?

For this particular editor, I would answer yes, to that last question. Resume editing requires an editor to put on both editing hats. But why is an editor even needed? Surely simply talking to your parents, your friends, even a college advisor, could offer you enough guidance regarding what to put on your resume.

Unfortunately, that's far from the case. Your resume's goal is to put your very best face forward. While an advisor, relatives, or friends can certainly offer you guidance about what should be prioritized, and might be able to offer some guidance regarding which type of resume might be best, nothing can compare to the touch of a professional editor. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The next step in content editing: the traditional publishing route

Yesterday, I declined a potential editing client. Two gentleman have collaborated on what they describe as a "labor of love;" they have decades of experience in real estate and have been working on a related book together for quite sometime. They were looking for an editor who does nonfiction, and I certainly fit the bill. I have lots of experience editing nonfiction, both academic and standard. I charge more for academic pieces, because there are many, many more components to copyediting and content editing an academic piece of work.

The piece that I declined skirted a fine line between the academic and non-academic, doing an excellent job of keeping the manuscript well-cited and fact-based while also keeping a voice that the average person can understand. I admire what they're doing. So why did I decline it?

I declined to edit it because they're no longer at the editing step - they just didn't realize it. They had utilized beta readers as well as a copy editor, and they were looking for someone to content edit. Particularly, they were looking for the kind of content editing a traditional publisher does, regardless of what you've done to your manuscript before it's gotten to them. For anyone pursuing traditional publishing - using a query letter, finding an agent, etc. - especially in regard to nonfiction! - the final content editing is publisher-driven.

These potential clients are definitely not self-publishing, which is excellent, because the quality of nonfiction books on the self-published market is truly lousy. That makes me sad, but if they want their book to go anywhere, they need to go the traditional route. I told them to get the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents, put together a chaptee-by-chapter outline, and have three sample chapters polished and ready to submit (they already do). An agent and a publisher take it from there.

This is very rare - a potential client who does not in fact need the services I require - but when it happens, I am (and always will be) up front!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Indie Publishing vs. Literary Agents

I've just edited a novel for an author who has, up until this point, self-published. She's also provided marketing for other self-published authors as her side job. She's a very gifted author, and her success is growing. However, she's just finished a book - and I just finished editing it - that an agent wants to represent, and she's going along with that. I've said, previously, that agents are rapidly going out the window, with self-publishing becoming the wave of the future. So why would I agree with her move to go with the agent?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Upshot of Upwork

Elance, the freelancing site that I've been using to find new clients, has been taken over by the freelancing site Upwork. The transition has happened over the course of a couple of months, with things like reviews and experience transferring from one site to the next. Of course, these things are never seamless, and I know, from my experience in IT, that new software or hardware is always met with skepticism.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ack! I'm behind on the blog!

Please allow me to explain, though. I've just returned home from visiting my grandmother, who turned eighty this year. She still lives in the house in New York in which she raised my mother and her two sisters, as a single parent. It's kind of amazing, considering the time and what she had to work with, that all of the kids made it to adulthood and even had functioning kids of their own. It's a testament to resilience and determination, for sure.

That said, though, I was unable to get any work done while I was there. I thought that maybe, with my mom, brother, aunt, and grandmother, I might be able to foist off my surely charming children in order to continue the blog, copy edit more efficiently than usual, and perhaps even get some writing projects going. However, it was not to be, as that "charming" adjective may be either an exaggeration or entirely sarcastic on my part. I love my children, really I do. One of them is going through a Velcro phase, meaning she is velcroed to me. Hey, why did I capitalize that first word? Because Velcro is a proper name of a product. So why didn't I capitalize it with the second use? Because that version of the word is slang, rather than an established proper title. By all means criticize my use of a slang term, but my capitalization is on target!

And I'm back home, so I'll get back into the swing of things. I'm still accepting new clients!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Past-Perfect vs. Headings: Creating Smooth Flashback Scenes

I recently edited a piece from an author that had a significant number of what I term "flashback scenes." This particular piece was written in first-person past-tense (I was, I went, etc.), so when the main character expressed a reflection or memory within the regular narrative, in order to illustrate itself as a memory, it had to be written in past-perfect tense (or what a good friend and author terms "past-past" tense - I had been, I had gone, etc.). Is there a problem with this?

Grammatically speaking, no. However, it does make things complicated and somewhat tedious to read, if past-perfect reflections/memories are extensive. What if the memory or reflection is so extensive that you are remembering yourself remembering things from prior to the reflection? You end up with so many "had had" inserts that it's like looking at a puzzle. Without doing it like that, though, you risk the reader misunderstanding the sequence of events as you're attempting to lay it out.

This copy editor's opinion is that past-perfect tense should only be used selectively, in small doses. Does this mean I don't want to see flashback scenes and that I think every author's narrative should come out in a linear fashion? No, most definitely not. How boring would that be? My own writing certainly doesn't come out linearly.

But there's an alternative: headings, also known as subtitles. It's lately trendy to use subtitles at the beginning of each chapter to illustrate perspective change, so that a novel or story can be written from multiple perspectives. As a reader, and as a proofreader, I love this method - it's so clear, and with the headings, I, the editor, have less confusion that I have to go directly to the author to reconcile. If someone slips into the other perspective beneath the other character's heading, I can change that effectively. The same is true - perhaps even more so - of time changes. "First meeting," or "1975," can tell the reader to shift his or her perspective in just a few short words - the writing that follows will be much clearer and more understandable, as it will maintain the established tense of the book. Consider headings - and pepper in your past-perfect in tiny doses.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

So you're from New Yawk; I had no idear!

I just finished editing a YA novel set in the deep South. The author accomplished what many first-time authors struggle mightily with: a grammatically accurate representation of accent, dialect, and vernacular, that was clear and smooth to read. How did he do this, might you ask?