What is Responsive Editing?
The name Responsive Editing reflects my core belief as an editor and business owner. The work I do is not about me, but my clients. Who do they want to appeal to? What format would they like me to work in? Do they have style preferences, or would they like me to guide them? When would they like the work done? I will always offer my professional opinion if I think something could be approached differently, but my main goal is to have satisfied clients, with text that fulfils their brief and is ready to be published.
That said, Responsive Editing is also about me. I’m a responsive editor because I’ve adapted my practice over more than two decades to fit what’s needed. When I started as an editorial assistant in 1998, I shared a computer with a colleague, and it certainly wasn’t connected to the internet. When I commissioned a copyeditor or proofreader, I posted them hard copy to work on. These days, almost everything I do is at a computer, and much of it is online, whether it’s individual research or collaborating with colleagues. I hardly ever work on paper proofs – although if that’s what a client prefers, I’ll happily get out my red pen.
Continuing professional development
I’m also a responsive editor because I believe there is always room for improvement. I have a network of editorial friends and colleagues who are not just competitors, but advisers. I learn from other editors every day. And I try to share what I learn, too. Most years I attend the CIEP conference, sometimes as a session leader, and I take training courses and participate in forum discussions. My work as a commissioning editor for the CIEP also keeps me in touch with innovations from practitioners at the forefront of their field. I read widely, from novels and memoirs to newspapers and social media, and I keep up with language change as much as I can, such as fun or topical new usages, or ways to be more respectful and inclusive.
A responsive editor responds. I treat clients how I would like to be treated myself. If they contact me, I will always respond within 24 hours, and often much more quickly. If they ask me a question, I will answer it as fully as I can. If they would like to understand my reason for making an editorial decision, I will back it up with trusted sources. If they give me a deadline, I’ll meet it.
Finally, Responsive Editing is about staying relevant. I’ve watched publishing workflows change beyond recognition. What might once have taken weeks and several rounds of expensive hard-copy proofs to correct can now be done in seconds. And these days, technology means that anyone can be a publisher. So the way I work now is not about clinging to the old ways because they are what I cut my teeth on. It is about understanding the publishing landscape – whoever is doing the publishing – as it really is. It is about making your text fit for purpose in whatever way works best.
She made many thoughtful suggestions for ways to improve the readability and clarity of the text. I thoroughly recommend Liz’s service to anyone working on a non-fiction book or any other longform project.
Tom Albrighton, ABC Copywriting