PubPro 2016: Event Recap and Session Summaries (Part 4)

PubPro2016_scheduleIntroduction by Iva Cheung, PubPro facilitator

The fourth annual PubPro unconference for managing editors and publication production professionals welcomed participants from across Canada and the U.S., as it was, for the first time, offered as a workshop immediately before the Editors Canada national conference. Although not as many attendees came prepared with talks, all participants came prepared to talk, many of them stepping up to lead discussions on different aspects of publication project management. PubPro volunteers Connie Behl, Ellen Michelle Koehler, and Yvonne Robertson took notes and have summarized the sessions.

Recruiting, training, and retaining freelance editors: A discussion led by Jennifer Latham
Written by Ellen Michelle Koehler; copy edited by Maggie Clark

How much can you test freelance editors before you give them paid work? Do you give them feedback on the test afterward, especially if they don’t pass it? Should you only hire freelance editors who are highly experienced, or are people new to the profession okay for your purposes and publication? As with most queries, the answers depend on the type of publication you produce and who your audience is.

Jennifer Latham, who ran this session, works with highly specialized government documents, so she hires only experienced editors and trains them significantly before giving them work. Other publishers may choose to use less experienced editors because they want to cut back on their budget or their publication is less specialized.

During Jennifer’s session, it was suggested that only editors hired for in-house positions are properly trained for those particular positions. However, Jennifer explained that she trains all of her freelance editors as well because her employer produces highly specialized publications.

The training process can include further testing to ensure editors can identify the different types of editing and know what your specific editorial schedule looks like. Training freelance editors extensively leads to retaining them, because you will identify their skills and strengths and consistently give them work that plays into their abilities. Retaining freelance editors also depends on the topic or subject preference. If they aren’t interested in the types of documents you produce, they aren’t likely to want to edit for you on a consistent basis. It all comes down to publisher–editor relationships.

How to raise the profile of the editorial department: A discussion led by Iva Cheung
Written by Yvonne Robertson; copy edited by Emma Caplan

Iva Cheung led a discussion on how to raise the profile of the editorial department. We identified that the main pushback comes from management and focused on ways to make management aware of the department’s value.

One of the solutions was to talk to clients. As clients are valuable to both management and editors, they’re in an opportune position to stress the importance of editing. Ask clients for testimonials or to reiterate your value to management.

Use professional development. Organize events such as brown bag lunch meetings or workshops to show other departments you exist, what you do, and how you fit into the company’s processes. Make them aware of your value. When you attend professional development events, bring new ideas to management.

Push for plain language and demonstrate how it saves money. Iva mentioned Joe Kimble’s book Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please as a good example of what can be saved through plain language editing.

And finally, don’t be afraid to brag about your successes to management: apply for awards to demonstrate expertise, and gather evidence to show the value of editing.


Ellen Michelle Koehler is a graduate of SFU in English with a focus on publishing as well as a current student of SFU’s Editing Certificate program.

Maggie Clark is a post-secondary student whose goal in life is to work as a professional editor. On her way to achieving that goal, she has recently graduated from Royal Roads University’s Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication program. Her next step is to learn and graduate from the Editing Certificate program at SFU.  

Yvonne  Robertson is a freelance writer, editor, and communications specialist. After graduating from the Master of Journalism program at UBC, she enjoyed a career as a journalist for three different Vancouver publications. She currently writes and edits a variety of content, from short stories and essays to blog posts, newsletters, and articles. Yvonne is passionate about social justice and arts activism.

Emma Caplan edits client-facing documents and takes pride in making them sales-ready and reader-friendly. She has additional experience in quality control and proofreading. For more than six years, Emma has worked in the business consulting and professional services sectors, producing documents such as reports, proposals, and project qualifications. She is currently enrolled in SFU’s Editing Certificate program, a complement to her bachelor’s degree in business management. In her free time, Emma enjoys hiking, travelling, and creating jewelry. Connect with her on LinkedIn, or browse through her shop on Etsy.

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