IPEd Conference 2021: Editing on the Edges

Emily Gleeson

Emily Gleeson
Emily is a developmental-, line-, and copyeditor of YA and adult fiction in a number of genres. Her work with independent authors has encouraged her love of learning, educating, and sharing knowledge, and has helped her to develop a deeper understanding of the power that can be given to a novice writer by doing so.

Though she enjoys working on pieces that are different or brave, her real delight (and pride) comes from the happiness and sense of accomplishment her clients find in their growth and achievements. Emily is a Professional Member of IPEd and CIEP, and a Full Member of ACES. She is the mother of one daughter and one cat, and splits her time between the Gold Coast, Queensland and Launceston, Tasmania.

Wobble, Leap, Define: Industry Revolution and The Leading Edge

The growing rate of self-published writers, global networking, and easy access to under-educated, under-priced, and frankly, underwhelming editing services threatens to leave the freelance fiction editing profession in floundering disrepute. We are teetering on the precipice of obsolescence and irrelevance—the edge is here, and the difference between wobbling over the line and taking just a tiny leap might just be the difference in struggling to find business and being on the leading edge of something new. 

Editing professionals need to find something secure—something relevant—to give them back their edge in an ever-increasingly accessible sea of keen but under-skilled voices. Writers—many more and varied now that a few clicks of the mouse can produce a saleable product—need something too: they need more help.

It seems clear then, that the key to meeting the challenge of modern publishing head on is in education.

The idea of editors as educators is far from revolutionary, but it is frequently balked at as taking the job just a little bit too far—becoming too interfering. By embracing the ability to educate clients on-the-job, editors in all specialties can increase their contribution to industry and the maintenance of quality publishing standards, whilst moving into the exciting (and rather daunting) modern world that is inclusivity, creativity, encouragement, diligence, and a beautiful autonomy.

In order to shift our perception of What Editors Do, we need to see a slight shift in the accepted narrative. We need to work with our writers, not for our clients; we need to discontinue the notion that an endless cycle of scratching out redundancies and manipulating punctuation is productive and forward moving; we need to be less afraid of being visible.

As it stands, we Track Changes in Word documents or Make Suggestions in Google documents, presenting our clients with merry little ‘accept’ or ‘decline’ buttons that ultimately teach them… exactly nothing, except perhaps that they’re not that fond of grammar conventions. We sigh loudly, sip at our coffee, and resign ourselves to a rinse and repeat process for the next bit of work they draft. 

Why? 

“Because it’s how we do it,” is no longer an acceptable answer. 

We can’t accept it when a few simple, quick, and easy to implement processes have the power to actually help someone improve—to improve the quality standard of the entire industry.

Taking the time to understand (or create) a few unobtrusive, voice retaining educational processes that can be implemented during all stages of the editing process and encourage development and confidence in today’s varied writers can help you—particularly those with less experience—become stronger, more confident, more valuable, and ultimately more relevant in an ever-moving industry that requires constant adaptation and a thorough understanding of your client’s needs.

Let’s leap; let’s conquer the edge."
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Online, 28 to 30 June 2021
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