At this year's EAC conference, a major theme was professional development and keeping up-to-date. Just as a physicist must keep abreast of advances and innovations in her field, so too must the editor keep up with the constant evolution of language. As keynote speaker Carol Fisher Saller pointed out, you may have learned to never split infinitives (see what I did there?), but that was twenty years ago. (And your teacher at that time was probably abiding by rules that she had learned twenty years before that!) As discussed by TEC editor Lesley-Anne in a recent blog post, the rules of grammar are not etched in stone.
Here are three ways for today’s professional logophile to remain au courant in the dynamic world of editing.
1. Update Your Reference Materials
This step is the easiest: If you’re still hanging onto your 15th-edition Chicago Manual of Style, go ahead and make the switch to the 16th. This edition features more relevant information about electronic publishing and editing, as well as the many special copyright issues that this kind of publishing raises. The same goes for these other style guides, whose most recent editions are listed below:
2. Know Your Niche
As an editor, you should be a valuable source of information for your clients.
For example, are you an editor of self-published fiction? Make sure that you know today’s self-publishing process inside and out. This includes familiarity with basic book design, self-publishing models, and the names of leading industry experts. Get to know your local writing groups, and have an understanding of fiction-writing essentials, such as setting, scene, and character development.
3. Join the Conversation
Another major theme of this year’s EAC conference was the importance of tuning in to ongoing conversations between editors online. Reading posts on blogs and forums is perhaps the quickest and easiest way for today’s editors to get a sense of what’s current in the world of editing. Even without an online subscription to the CMS, the frequently updated FAQ page is both informative and fun, and has rescued me on countless occasions when I’ve run into an editing impasse.
Twitter is quickly becoming the ultimate editor’s hang-out — after all, what editor wouldn’t love the challenge of restricting themselves to 140 characters? Even if you’re not tweeting, simply tuning in to the stream of Twitter-consciousness from publishers, editors, and authors can bring you up to speed with what’s happening and who’s who in the industry.
Keeping up-to-date may seem like a daunting task at first, but I promise that you’ll have fun along the way! Good luck!