Tools of the Trade
I like to think that editing found me, rather than the other way around. An avid bookworm from the age of 5, I believe that years of reading well-written literature helped instill a natural sense of how sentences should flow, and why semi-colons are horribly misunderstood in the punctuation world. After graduating with a degree in English, Public Relations, and Journalism, I realized that I preferred taking the work of others and tweaking it to make it shine, over coming up with my own material.
Even though editing comes naturally to me – commas just do or don’t belong – my gut feelings need factual backup when it comes to cutting out, rearranging, and correcting. No man – or editor – is an island. Or, at least, they shouldn’t be!
I’m old fashioned in my desire to keep reference books on hand when I am working through a book edit, but I am also a huge fan of the best resource anyone can ever utilize: Google search. It’s gives me instant access to a massive reference pool, and since I do all of my editing on the computer these days, it’s as simple as switching tabs or screens to access the wisdom of people who don’t second guess themselves as much as I do.
However, there is a caution here: the internet can be wrong. Even with my trusty Google search, I have found some sites that I like (and trust) more than others, and some online “experts” who should have hired another editor to double-check their work before sharing it with the world. Yes, even editors need an editor – or at least a second set of eyes to catch all those rogue extra spaces, double words, or I-was-in-the-middle-of-correcting-a-sentence-when-the-phone-rang-and-I-forgot-to-finish bits. It happens to the best of us.
When it comes to books, I keep these three on hand:
My Writer’s Reference is an old, worn out copy that I was required to purchase during my sophomore year of college; outstanding when it comes to how to write a cover letter, but super slim on email etiquette and online practices since both were relatively new when I was at university. When a client requests a specific style be adhered to, like AP or Yahoo!, I prefer to have a book on hand to look through as I work, but as previously mentioned, there are many excellent resources to be found online and I have certainly taken advantage of these sites in my editing work:
- Grammar Girl on QuickandDirtyTips.com
- Grammarly & Grammarly Handbook
- The Chicago Manual of Style (purchase a subscription or check out their Q & A section)
One final thing to note, and that’s about style rules verses preference. There are some rules that must be adhered to, of course, but often you will find that it’s a matter of preference – either the author’s or the editor’s. As an editor, I always start by offering my suggestions and thoughts about my preferred method of writing (long live the Oxford comma!), but in the end, I bow to the wishes and preference of the author as it is their work, not mine.
Interested in getting editorial help on your book, blog, newsletter, website, or bio? Contact me!