Sunday, April 29, 2007

Online Job Search Advice from Peter Weddle

I just returned from a three-day conference for career management professionals. The members of the Career Masters Institute are primarily resume writers and career coaches, but there are representatives of all facets of the job search industry.

One of the most impressive speakers was Peter Weddle, author and expert behind He summed up his strategy for job seekers using the WINNER acronym. In a nutshell, job seekers must
  • Watch for opportunities every day. The best jobs come and go quickly. Use a job search agent (an automated e-mail alert when new jobs are posted on a job board that meet your criteria) for the rest of your work life--not just when you are actively looking for a job.
  • Investigate those opportunities. Use sites like Vault and WetFeet as "electronic watercoolers" to find the insider scoop on what working at a particular company is like.
  • Network to leverage the opportunities.
  • Never be a "graffiti applicant"--don't hit SUBMIT more than once when submitting your resume online, and don't resend it a week later when you don't get a response (the career pros all confirmed that most companies never acknowlege receiving your resume).
  • Ensure that you're "interview ready" by doing your research about the company and the job.
  • Reject "herdball." Don't waste your time on the biggest job boards, such as and CareerBuilder. There are 40,000 niche job boards. The key is to find the ones most likely to post the job that you want.

In the spirit of that last comment, I went out and found a gaggle of niche boards relevant to writers, editors, and other publishing professionals. Here are a few that look like they might be just right:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

David: Scholarly Editor for the Institute for American Thought (at IUPUI)

I met David recently when he responded to my freelance editor survey (which I will work this week on quantifying and reporting to you). I was intrigued by the very different sort of editing that he does. A literature major might find this much more appealing than, say, the computer-programming books I started out editing!

What is your position at IUPUI and what is your affiliation with the editing program?

I work at the Institute for American Thought (IAT), which is a part of the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The IAT includes several scholarly editing and research projects, as well as a certificate program in professional editing, which I completed in 2003.

I started out working with the letters of George Santayana, proofreading and writing footnotes. Now I do textual editing on philosophical writings published by the Santayana Edition and the Peirce Edition Project, which means that I help the Senior Textual Editor to identify specific portions of text to change, mark up transcripts to show the changes, and write notes justifying changes. I also do a lot of word-for-word proofreading, either on my own or with someone else (team proofreading). With team proofreading, one person reads the original text out loud, while the other person checks the transcript.

A portion of my time is allocated to working on a journal called Documentary Editing, which is the quarterly publication of the Association for Documentary Editing. For each issue I solicit and edit book reviews, I supervise the production of a summary of recently published scholarly editions, and I help to proofread all the pages.

Can you describe the editing program at IUPUI and the specialized type of editing that it focuses on?

The Professional Editing graduate program offers a certificate for completing one of five academic tracks: scholarly critical editing, scholarly documentary (historical) editing, technical editing, journalistic editing, or general professional editing. It is a standalone program, but taking the classes may require admission to another department in the School of Liberal Arts, such as English or History.

The critical editing and documentary editing tracks are the most popular, because they are allied with developed graduate programs in the English and History departments. Critical editing focuses on making changes to the text of a document based on evidence of the author’s actual intent, whereas documentary editing focuses on presenting the actual text of a physical document. Both usually involve rejecting changes made by editors in previous published versions of the text.

Scholarly publishing is simply publishing for the small audience of scholars doing research in certain fields where it is important to be able to read the actual source documents, but those documents are difficult to access or understand; or where the author’s previously published editions are known to have errors; or where much of the author’s work is unpublished. Usually this involves going through thousands of pages of handwritten letters, lecture notes, memos, rough drafts, submitted manuscripts, and so on, as well as comparing each word of a particular text in each edition published under the author’s direction. That means a lot of transcribing, proofreading, proofreading again, textual editing, proofreading, writing footnotes, proofreading, formatting, then proofreading again.

Most of these kinds of projects are concerned with the writings of historical or literary figures, but a few are for philosophers or scientists.

How did you get into publishing?

Before finishing college, I was hired to proofread Yellow Pages ads in 1986, based solely on my experience working on my high school yearbook. After earning a BA in German, I took a freelance job editing for a college professor. For several years I was unable to get a job in publishing, so I worked in factories, warehouses, and retail stores.

Shortly after I went back to school to earn a master’s degree, I was hired by a prepress company in 1999 as a proofreader for college textbooks, based on my previous proofreading experience, my BA, and my high score on a proofreading test. Prepress companies bid on contracts to do almost any of the production work for a book, from design to copyediting, project management, art, layout, and proofreading. Consequently, I was required to proofread many different types of books from different publishers, each following different standards.

After 18 months, the prepress company promoted me to copyeditor. As a copyeditor, I was responsible for applying the publisher’s house style, as well as setting other conventions for the book and applying them consistently. I typically edited a textbook from a different publisher each month. In 2003 they went out of business, perhaps because of the amount of prepress work being done in China and India. Because of my in-house experience, I was able to get freelance work proofreading and copyediting for publishers and prepress companies.

I had finished an MA in journalism by this time, and to complete the certification program in scholarly editing I needed only one class, which I took as an internship at the Santayana Edition. In 2004 IUPUI hired me full time, mainly because of the work I had been doing for them part time as an editorial assistant. Other important factors included my experience with desktop publishing programs, knowledge of a foreign language, experience in copyediting, an MA, and knowledge of scholarly editing gained through the Professional Editing program.

Most of the people working for scholarly editions have an MA or PhD in a relevant area (usually history, English, or philosophy) and have experience in academic research rather than commercial publishing.

After starting work with IUPUI, I continued to do commercial and academic freelance work as a copyeditor, proofreader, and electronic formatter.

What advice do you give to aspiring editors?

Almost everyone in editorial work starts out as a proofreader or editorial assistant. Almost every editorial job requires first passing a practical test of proofreading or copyediting skills, so it is important to know what is expected. Apart from watching how someone else does it, the best way to prepare is by thoroughly learning the conventions of the publisher or field you are interested in. In book publishing, the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is generally considered essential.

In commercial publishing, a bachelor’s degree is required. Postgraduate education is meaningless to most commercial publishers, unless it is in a technical area where they need a specialized editor. In scholarly publishing, a master’s degree is usually required, or at least enrollment in a graduate program.

Other thoughts?

For editorial work, your major area of study in college doesn’t actually matter, but most employers favor applicants with English or journalism degrees. This isn’t because of any particular skills taught in these programs, but rather because they want someone who already knows correct grammar, usage, and spelling and who doesn’t mind spending most of their time reading. However, most of the reading in editorial work is done at a fast pace, most of it is not going to be intrinsically interesting to you, and most of what the publisher wants you to do is dictated by them.

Also, the conventions of grammar and usage common in publishing are not necessarily the same ones taught in high school or college English classes, or indeed anything you would voluntarily read, unless you get a job with someone who publishes your favorite type of books.

Nonfiction commercial publishers are rarely interested in good “literary” style, or any idiosyncratic style at all; what they really want from most authors is clarity, good organization, and punctuality. The author also is rarely interested in stylistic questions, since they tend to already like the way they write. Therefore, most of your changes will be very pragmatic and repetitive.

In scholarly publishing, the most important standards are what the author actually wrote and what the author intended to write, while also correcting obvious errors. Most of the time is spent undoing and correcting all the work done by editors during the author’s lifetime, or redoing the work done by editors after the author’s death.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Andrew: eLearning and IT Coordinator for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers

I had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old friend over the weekend who, 14 years after finishing his undergraduate education, has ended up in book publishing (where he belongs). In his own words, here's his journey into the world of publishing:

I'm the eLearning and IT Coordinator for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., an academic and independent publishing house specializing in Classical (Greek and Roman) scholarship and education. My mission is to find new ways of facilitating language learning (Latin and ancient Greek) via existing and emerging technologies, and to find other ways of promoting our titles using Internet resources and presenting papers at professional conferences. I am a technical person by accident, having majored in English and archaeology at the University of Evansville (MA in archaeology from Missouri), but in the process finding computers and the shiny brand new Internet to be of infinite help to me as a scholar, writer, designer, and editor.

How I got into publishing:
In high school, I was a sports stringer for the Tampa Tribune and also wrote sports features for the Tampa Tribune and the Brandon News. I wrote for my high school paper, the Bloomingdale Senior High School Lariat, and later wrote news stories for the University of Evansville Crescent, the campus weekly, where I would ultimately become copy editor, circulation manager, columnist, and music reviewer. While at Evansville I was one of the founders of UE's first literary magazine, Pendulum, which later became the Evansville Review. I also twice edited the On-Time poetry chapbook for UE's department of English. In 1992, I held an unpaid summer internship with Archaeology magazine in New York City. I was a double-major in college (English with a writing concentration) and my work study was in the unversity's Writing Center, which I managed my senior year. My other major was archaeology, and I have spent years trying to reconcile my two loves with each other, working first for a museum software company, and now for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. As a kid, I was a decent writer and was able to prove myself locally by providing good copy (edited by dear old Mom), which gave me clips that earned me a slot on the Tampa Tribune's roster of stringers. That led to features, and so on. Having a student membership in the Society for Professional Journalists helped as it became my first network which ultimately landed me the job at the Trib at 17. That professional experience helped me get the internship at Archaeology, which ultimately led to work for Bolchazy-Carducci.

Typical day:
I work from 8:30 - 5:00, M-F, and also work from home at night and at times on weekends, more out of a genuine curiosity than anything on how to put technology to work for us. I also spend this extra time evaluating software and blogging for my company. Every day is a bit different. The morning chores are of course checking e-mail, reading and responding to forum posts, communicating with our authors and programmers involved on digital projects, reading two eLearning blogs, and basically sopping up as much information as I can about new classroom technologies and brainstorming ways on how we can put them to work for our readers. I usually block out a couple of hours to work on design projects, online demos, and web site updates. I have at least one formal meeting and usually one or two ad hoc meetings that eat up another hour or two at least. We're very big on face-to-face meetings. I'm on the Acquisitions committee and participate in our Development meetings, and bring 1-2 new, articulated ideas to the table each week to discuss and potentially implement. I have also noticed that some days are IT days where I'll do office tech support, upgrade hardware, software, etc., and then there are other days which are more creative days where I can play with new ideas and develop our eLearning projects. I do travel about four times a year to conferences to meet authors and readers and to give papers and workshops on eLearning topics. These shows usually require a solid week of following up leads and establishing new relationships with people I just met.

Advice for people who want to get into publishing:
The moral here is that when you're just starting out, nurture multiple interests without foresaking writing time. Volunteer or apply for jobs with any small-time publication you can for the experience of writing under deadline, following a production schedule, all the while learning how to create and preserve professional contacts that will ultimately become your network. By excelling (or having a strong interest) in a field outside of English or journalism, you are able to make yourself valuable as a niche writer or specialist. Having a Classics background along with significant writing/editing experience finally paid off for me with what I call my career-ending decision, working full-time for a boutique publisher of ancient authors who are still able to change the world.

You can do the same thing with physics or medicine or law, working your way into professional journals or specialty publishing houses that ache for people who are academically sound in one field, and are grammatically sound as well. Also, maintain your network of contacts, try not to burn any bridges, and keep up to date with new technology. If you haven't already, start blogging. Who cares if nobody reads your stuff; the important thing is to keep your language skills sharp. Entertain yourself and you're on your way to entertaining somebody else, and that person might very well become your boss.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs

I just this moment became aware of another great organization for aspiring writers and editors (even though it has been around almost as long as I have). The Association of Writers and Writing Programs has a wealth of information for you. You can access many career-advice articles for free at For more information and access to the AWP JobList, you can become a member for $65 per year ($37 if you're a student).

The Association of Writers and Writing programs is sponsored by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Check it out!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Internship Available: Project Editor at Pearson Education

One of the most emphatic tips I give aspiring editors is to get an internship. It's the best way to get experience on your resume before you graduate from college (or a way to get your feet wet if you are thinking of switching careers). I just ran across this post for a great internship in Indy. Also check; they have postings for several different internships. Act fast, though--time's a'wastin'!

Title: Intern
Req Number: 00019930
Date Opened: Mon Mar 26 16:48:34 EST 2007
Location(s): Indianapolis IN
Pearson Education is an Equal Opportunity Employer EOE/M/F/V/D.
The project editor guides the manuscript through copy editing, author review, indexing, composition, proofreading, and prepress. This particular group supports the following imprints: Addison Wesley Professional, Prentice Hall Professional, Wharton School Publishing, FT-PH, Cisco Press, Que, and Sams Publishing.Coordinates the flow of manuscripts from the author stage through shipping the book to the printer, copy editing manuscript for grammar and consistency, developing manuscript content, proofreading page proofs, processing art and illustrations, and formatting text. Interns are responsible for all steps involved in the project editing process and interact with authors, editorial, production, marketing, and manufacturing. Interns must maintain corporate database systems with a high degree of accuracy and timeliness.
Area of study in English, journalism, or related program; strong grammar skills; knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel; detail-oriented; good communication skills; strong organizational skills; self-motivated.Knowledge of Macs, QuarkXPress, FileMaker, and graphic design using programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, a plus.If you are interested in applying for this position and you meet the minimum qualifications for the opening, please submit your resume no later than April 20, 2007 to our paperless, on-line database by going to to complete the Online Response Form. Please note: No resumes will be accepted via the mail, fax or walk-in. All applicants must submit their interest in a specific position by applying online.Equal Opportunity Employer m/f/d/v