Re: CHAT: Controlling factors in author and Editor Relationships. (Newbie)

Subject: Re: CHAT: Controlling factors in author and Editor Relationships. (Newbie)
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 06:15:35 -0500

Fred Hone wrote:


I am new to the list and am self-learning Japanese and
how to become an editor.

Where do you plan to do your editing? In what language? What are the language and culture of the authors whose work you propose to edit?

Until I can afford to take some classes my main method
of learning is through reading as many books as I can
on the topic of editing. I also belong to a few lists
on the subects I am interested in.

Good approach.

I would like to ask the more experienced memebers of
the list two questions:

What are the major controling factors in an author
editor relationship?

See above. I can speak to US experience, but there are cultural differences that can dramatically affect the approach you take. I would guess (based on your spelling and diction) that you are British. We've had discussions on this list of the differences between US and UK practice (practise?) in the voice a writer uses in manuals, for example; and I suspect some of the underlying factors also affect the author-editor relationship. And the differences between either the US culture or the UK culture and Japanese culture might be even greater.

Here are a few specific ideas:

One thing I've suggested (again, my experience is only in the US) is to position yourself as being of service to the author rather than the other way around. You are there to help the authors express themselves more clearly and effectively, not to belittle them for giving you so much work to do.

If time permits and the author is interested, go through your suggested changes with the author (in person or over the phone), explaining your reasoning, rather than just returning a redlined manuscript. _Some_ authors will learn from such sessions and get better as time goes on. If you go through this exercise in person, sit next to, not across from, the author. And provide candy. Mature authors will be happy just to have the redline and will not sulk about it; but most subject-matter experts (SMEs) are not mature authors.

Do not guess at the author's meaning. Know what you know. Know what you don't know. Ask about the things you do not know. If you think the author may have omitted a key word, like "not," for example, query politely; don't assume you are correct.

How do you take the notes, explanations and deailed
text, etc. of a scientist and make it into something
that management can read while not offending the

How you take notes depends on your learning style and the SME's personal idiosyncracies. Some tech writers swear by audio tape or videotape recorders. Others take copious notes. Others listen carefully and jot down a few key words. Some drop by with one or two questions at a time, preferably in the break room. Others schedule half-hour interviews.

How you turn it into something intelligible to management or any other lay audience is this: First you understand the basics of the field you are writing about, by reading background information, textbooks, articles, etc. Second you understand the details of the specific subject you are writing about, by internalizing the information gleaned from SMEs. Third, you visualize yourself explaing all of this to a six-year-old (Albert Einstein's test of your understanding, not mine). Fourth, you write down exactly what you saw yourself telling the six-year-old. Fifth, you add any helpful diagrams, charts, tables, or illustrations. Sixth, you put your editor's hat on and have a sincere heart-to-heart with the fellow who wrote the piece.



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CHAT: Controlling factors in author and Editor Relationships. (Newbie): From: Fred Hone

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