Co-working: does it make SENSE?
Have you heard of co-working? Did you know the concept has been around for 15 years? The thought of co-working may either excite or terrify you: excite you because of the prospect of getting out of the office once in a while and meeting your colleagues or other professionals to collaborate, om mee te denken. Or terrify you because you possibly became a freelancer to avoid interacting with anybody face to face.
What is co-working?
Co-working is essentially about doing what you already do, but with others, in person. On 11 October in Amersfoort, SENSE member Lloyd Bingham will outline the mental health benefits of having some company and a change of scenery. He will argue that co-working can increase your productivity, while offering a space to share knowledge and ideas with your contemporaries, which could ultimately produce a better result for your clients.
Co-working with fellow linguists or other professionals?
Lloyd will explain the differences between working with fellow language professionals and working with professionals in other sectors. Both models offer their own benefits, and one might be a better fit for you than the other.
Co-working or coworking?
Perhaps the most important question is: with or without a hyphen? Supporters of no-hyphen include the esteemed Garner’s Modern English Usage. Supporters of retaining the hyphen include many of our esteemed SENSE colleagues. We know who we’d rather trust.
We hope to see you in Amersfoort on 11 October, so you can find out whether co-working makes SENSE for you!
This Free Lecture is open to SENSE members only. Not a SENSE member yet? For a mere €40, you can benefit from SENSE membership for the remainder of 2019! Sign up for your Free Lecture ticket + discounted 2019 membership here.
Members of the SfEP Run On Group (photo by Kate Wright)
On 14 September, editors worldwide gathered in Birmingham for the 30th annual conference of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). Lured by the interesting programme and a desire to finally meet all those SfEP members I know so well on social media, I decided to join in the fun.
I immediately felt right at home. Within a few minutes I bumped into long-time member Helen Stevens, who was just as friendly and supportive in real life as she is online, introducing me to fellow academic editors and recommending my blog to others. First-time conference goers were invited for a welcome drink with the SfEP Council before dinner, which gave us the chance to break the ice (with the help of alcohol).
The opening lecture turned out to be a free comedy gig. Chris Brookmyre entertained us all with stories about his relationship with copyeditors, the perils of getting his work translated, and how readers are very good at telling you what’s wrong with your work (we enjoyed hearing a selection of his one-star reviews). Chris had warned us that he may have to resort to ‘infantile filth’ to make us laugh so early in the morning. He did his job well.
There were more laughs at the gala dinner. Rob Drummond talked about the relationship between linguistic knowledge and linguistic pedantry, explaining why language isn’t about right or wrong. So what about those annoying errors that bug you? Rob’s son has the answer: ‘Mate, let it go. It’s just nonstandard.’
SfEP director David Crystal closed the conference with a witty talk about the challenges his team faced getting the third edition of the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language published. The encyclopaedia needed fifty extra pages to incorporate massive linguistic changes and cultural differences – who knew a traffic light is called a robot in South Africa? We also enjoyed David’s hilarious parody of a Donald Trump speech: ‘make the SfEP great again!’
Of course, there was also quite a bit of professional development on offer. The sessions tackled a variety of relevant topics and we all had problems choosing which sessions to attend.
To help our writers get their message across to the reader, we editors sometimes need to query things with the author. Knowing when to query can be tricky, so I was grateful to Gerard Hill for offering a workshop on The art of querying. He explained why querying may be necessary (omission, inconsistency and ambiguity) and how to handle notes and queries to the author (get the author on your side, be concise but thorough and keep your notes error-free). Gerard also provided a useful tool to help us decide what to do when we want to restyle something but aren’t sure why: check if it is wrong. If it is, then decide whether to silently correct or amend but flag. If it may be wrong, then decide whether to let it stand, query, or query and suggest an alternative.
Learning new things
I decided to dip my academic toes into the world of fiction editing at Louise Harnby’s seminar on Switching to fiction editing. (To be honest, I was a bit star-struck. I couldn’t resist seeing Louise in action – her resources for editors have helped me immensely.) Louise told us what to look out for when editing fiction. Some of these points were specific to fiction, like keeping an eye on the narrative viewpoint so that the plot and chronology run smoothly. Others also crop up a lot in academic writing: unnecessary adverbs, needless repetition and endless description. Louise also generously gave all attendees free access to her new online course Switching to fiction editing. Thanks, Louise!
Marketing tips: be engaging
Effective marketing is important for every business. I’ve been dabbling in content marketing for a few years and was looking for ways to make my strategies more effective. Cathy Wassells explained how to use social media to market your business. Take-home messages were to post different types of content in your posts and to keep them engaging and personal – videos and selfies are particularly effective (time to leave my comfort zone, it seems). To increase engagement, Cathy also recommended posting content when your clients are online.
Have you ever thought about offering training – maybe to your clients, or to other editors? Hilary Cadman has developed online training courses for editors and shared her experiences in her workshop. She told us about teaching platforms that didn’t work for her (OptimizePress) and those that did (Teachable). She also showed us how easy it is to make a short screencast and explained how to do it right: keep it short, talk slowly and invest in a decent microphone and software. Her helpful workshop made developing an online course seem doable.
Keep on running
Conferences can be pretty overwhelming, so I was happy to escape the conference centre for an early morning run with the SfEP Run On Group – a lovely group of editors who like to run. Some of us run for miles every day, while others are happy with a short jog every now and again. Anyone interested in joining the group can check us out on Facebook where we discuss all things related to running. It was great to finally get together in person for a run – thank you Cathy Tingle and Shannon Humberstone for organizing it.
A toast to the SfEP
There was also stuff to celebrate. Chair Sabine Citron announced at the welcome address that the SfEP is now a chartered institute, thanks to the initiative of Gerard Hill who convinced the SfEP council to make a bid for chartership back in 2016. There were standing ovations for Sabine and Gerard at the gala dinner – and rightly so, as chartered status will raise the professional status of copyeditors and proofreaders all over the world.
All good things must come to an end. The conference closed with a raffle (where I won Louise Harnby’s online Blogging for Business Growth course – as if the conference wasn’t brilliant enough already!) and we all said our goodbyes.
I am often struck by how supportive the editing community is. I left academia five years ago and now I have an editing business that I am very proud of. But I would not be here without the support and guidance of my colleagues from SENSE and the SfEP. To all those lovely editors: you are my people.
On 6 September, 11 SENSE members attended the freestyle UniSIG meeting at which attendees introduced the topics. The wide range of topics included those listed below.
Mention of this movement defending the interests of university education led into a broader discussion about the cuts to university funding that fuelled the ‘red felt squares’ protests by academics at the start of the academic year.
University language centres and their influence on our work
Language centres are also providers of work but do not always pay good rates. Since they are now often independent services rather than part of a university, we wondered how they manage to avoid charging BTW for their internal (university) clients. Here the point was also raised about the need for the editor/translator to have direct contact with the client/author and how third parties and agencies discourage or do not permit this.
Most attendees did not have such insurance, but one said it gave her peace of mind; several said that clients required them to have it. An indicative price of about €600 per annum was mentioned.
Expected rates for someone embarking on a career as a translator but working mainly for agencies
These are generally rather low, but it takes time to find your way and acquire independent clients.
The editor’s role as a teacher
Most editors of academic texts consider at least part of their role to include acting as a writing coach, pointing out mistakes made in style, terminology and grammar, and even content for those who are also subject experts.
The pros and cons of taking on pro bono assignments
These can sometimes lead to a fee-paying client, but it is often a case of being caught in the moment and just saying yes to such work! We agreed you often do not know what you’re getting into at the start of such projects, so the advice is to clarify as much as possible.
Using academia.eu and researchgate.net (see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academia.edu and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ResearchGate) to keep abreast of relevant research (eg on editing student texts)
Once you’ve registered and indicated your interests, you can search for papers and chapters and upload any of your own work to share with the community. Both sites will also suggest literature on topics that could be relevant to you. The documents can be downloaded from links on their websites, or the author(s) can be contacted via the form the website provides. For ResearchGate, you need to register with an institutional email address.
Whether students benefit more from courses that are based on writing across the curriculum or from courses focusing on writing within a discipline
Over half of the attendees also teach academic or science writing. There was no consensus as to what type of course is more effective, as much depends on factors such as group size and students’ linguistic, cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. A biomedical editor suggested consulting the guidelines on science publishing practice and writing available on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (CORR) websites. See https://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/resources-authors and http://tools.clinorthop.org/author-guidelines
SENSE Guidelines for Proofreading Student Texts
Are they being circulated and referred to? Why is the ethics of editing student texts not a hot topic in Dutch academia? We concluded, regretfully, that there is little interest among academics here.
Plans to revamp language teaching in Dutch schools, so that pupils are made more aware of the power of language for expressing ideas and are better equipped to express themselves in writing when they reach university
Dutch schools have so far not placed much emphasis on learning to write well. New approaches are on the horizon.
Our meeting was held in a room on the first floor of Restaurant Se7en in Utrecht. The facilities were not as modern as those of Park Plaza, but the general opinion was that this is a convenient and pleasant venue for meetings and serves good and reasonably priced food. Unfortunately, it does not have a lift.
It’s almost time for our biennial Professional Development Day! Join us in Amersfoort on Saturday 21 September for a full day of interactive learning. This year's programme will include two great plenary talks as well as presentations by some of the society's best translators, copywriters and editors. Attendance at the SENSE PDD will entitle you to 5.75 PE points.
Talks to watch include Anita van Adelsbergen’s presentation on Cornish history, culture and languages, which will dive into how much influence the Cornish have had worldwide. For example, did you know the American state of Pennsylvania was named after a Cornish family?
If you’ve been thinking about taking up copywriting, be sure to attend Cathy Scott’s talk. After walking you through the basics of copywriting, she’ll discuss different approaches for different media, talk about how to attract clients, and leave you with some useful tips for background reading.
It’s not all sitting back and listening, though. Mike Hannay’s interactive plenary about the importance of rhythm and flow when writing will involve quite a bit of audience participation! If you have an example of a particularly well-flowing text – or the exact opposite – be sure to bring it along.
Of course, the programme will allow you plenty of time to catch up with other members and compare notes on different break-out sessions, either during the buffet lunch or over drinks and nibbles after the official part of the PDD concludes. Be sure to stay until the closing session for your chance to win some interesting prizes during our very first SENSE raffle!
Can’t make the PDD? SENSE will be offering several other CPD opportunities over the coming months, including a free lecture on co-working by Lloyd Bingham and a tax workshop to help you get all your financial affairs in order by year-end. Stay tuned for more!
On Sunday 14 July, a group of nearly 40 SENSE members met in lovely Deventer for an afternoon of leisurely fun. We started with a guided walk around the historic Bergkwartier. Over the course of an hour, two knowledgeable guides showed us some of the city’s centuries-old sights (did you know Deventer is over 1,250 years old?) as well as its more modern gezelligheid. One of them even switched to English to accommodate us – very thoughtful!
We ended the tour back at our starting point, then split into groups for the other afternoon activities: a Brain Art Workshop at Atelier ARToMoNDo, a beer tasting at local brewery and taplokaal Davo or a look at the Charles Dickens Kabinet.
The ARToMoNDo group was welcomed by Marianne de Bakker, who explained that people use both hemispheres of the brain to draw. The left and right hemispheres control different functions: the left half is for rational activities like language and reasoning, as well as maths and science, while the right half controls art awareness, creativity, intuition and insight. Marianne showed the group a fun way to access their artistic and creative abilities, by not looking at the paper as they were drawing. One attendee said: ‘The hardest part for me was to remember which bits I had already drawn and – when I had taken the charcoal off the paper – where to start drawing again! So one of my subjects ended up without any hair!’
The beer tasting took place at Davo’s own proeflokaal, located in an old factory. The café was buzzing with activity, and the beer garden in the back was nearly full. Clearly, this is the place to be for Deventer beer lovers! Attendees were shown into a private room, where one of the brewers told them all about how to brew different kinds of beers. The tasting involved three different beers: their most popular ale, a dark beer that was a cross-over between a double and a stout, and a tripel that was deceptively doordrinkbaar. He also shared the story behind their brand, talked about the challenges of scaling up and offered a sneak peek of what the future will bring. After a quick tour of the actual brewing facility just across from the bar area, it was time to head to De Fermerie for drinks and nibbles. Several of the attendees made a detour past the gift shop on their way out…
The Dickens group was big and had to be split in two, with one half being guided through the Dickens Kabinet on the ground floor, being fed titbits of gossip and fun facts. One British attendee said, ‘any snobbish feelings of “What the dickens are these Dutch people doing with our author?” disappeared immediately’ at the sight of the pure enormity of the collection and at the knowledgeability of their guide. The other half went upstairs to be charmed by Emmy Strik, who led them around her enormous collection of costumes – some custom-made, others rescued from imminent destruction, some made by the townspeople who wear them to the annual Dickens Festijn. One member said: ‘It really wasn’t my thing, any of it, and yet it was! Loved it!’
Once the breakout activities were concluded, everyone met up at café De Fermerie, where SENSE picked up the tab for the first round of drinks. We had the whole space to ourselves, which made for easy conversation and plenty of seating opportunity. Attendees swapped stories about their chosen afternoon activities over a drink or two, as the owner made the rounds with several types of tasty vegetarian borrelhapjes. All in all, a great way to welcome summer!
Nine of us gathered at John Alexander’s place in Amsterdam for an excellent sparring session over a glass of wine. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun discussing taxes!
Rob Bradley took the title of his presentation from Jean Baptiste Colbert, a French Minister of Finance under Louis XIV, who said that ‘the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing.’
Rob described what it’s like working in this market niche:
We then discussed Rob’s handout (content available to SENSE members only), which followed a hypothetical company as it grows and starts to form a group – first domestically, then internationally. After that, we talked about what facilities and arrangements the company can use to optimize its tax situation, and how it interacts with the tax authorities. The handout provided attendees with Dutch and English terminology relevant to each stage in the company’s development.
Rob explained the many finer points brilliantly, like the difference between a vrijstelling and an aftrekpost, or between loonbelasting and loonheffing. He also explained base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and the arm’s length principle.
Rob helped us understand how tax rulings used to work: the national government and the company negotiated the total tax bill the company would have to pay. Today, the company and its tax lawyers propose a specific corporate structure, and the country’s tax authorities provide advance certainty on its tax treatment. A ruling is far more tightly controlled and above board. Its validity is limited to four years. During that time, changes in legislation can override agreements in the ruling.
There was a lively discussion on the shift in public opinion on tax planning by companies. In just a few years, this has gone from ‘smart’ to ‘immoral’. Then and now, the object of tax planning is 100% legal tax avoidance, rather than illegal tax evasion. Let’s face it, none of us want to pay any more than we have to, whether we’re multinationals or freelancers! Though as one member remarked, it is some consolation to see your tax money relatively well-spent, as it is in the Netherlands.
One member said: ‘I thought the speaker was very knowledgeable and I will certainly use his handout in future as a reference. His understanding of his field and his craft are impressive.’
We wrapped up with a big thank-you for Rob and our host and convener John. Alison Gibbs has offered to present at our next meeting after the summer. Topics buzzed round, but she’ll let us know nearer the date. Watch this space!
For further reading, see the International Financing Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adopted by the EU (multilingual display optional). Individual language versions of more recent IFRSs are also available in English and in Dutch.
It was a fairly early start in Zwolle for the Eastern SIG meeting, but fortunately there was a Nespresso machine to help us wake up. The topic of the meeting was ‘levels of editing’, an idea that had arisen from a discussion at a previous meeting where Sally and Kumar had mentioned how different their editing styles are. Before the meeting, Kumar and Sally both edited a 300-word text (taken from a medical journal, though not too specialized). The text was also sent around beforehand, so that other members could have a try too.
The intention was that Sally and Kumar would compare their edits at the meeting and discuss them with the other SENSE members present. Why would you choose whether or not to change something? Are the changes justified? Unfortunately, Kumar had to leave almost immediately, but Sally was so well-prepared that this was no problem at all! For each sentence, we compared and discussed the changes that the two of them had made and compared them with our own edits − it was very interesting to hear the different approaches taken. We also discussed the assumptions that we made when editing the text, some of which were not always correct! (As also discussed in this thread on the members-only forum.)
Besides discussing the actual edits made, we also talked about what the editor’s job should/could be, and how this depends on the time available. We then went on to talk about client acquisition and contact with clients.
All in all, a highly informative and certainly well-attended morning!
I’ve been a loyal PerfectIt user since 2015, when I was faced with a 100+-page document with a style guide that required both odd hyphenation and the use of numerals for all numbers, even at the start of a sentence. Back then I was still trying to prove to myself that I was a good proofreader, but that document was the final nail in the coffin for that idea: I do have a keen eye for typos and grammar errors, but variations tend to slip under the radar. Noticing that there are ‘3 policymakers’ on page 12 and ‘three policy-makers’ on page 86? Not a chance.
I heard of PerfectIt through SENSE and it was just what I needed. The time I saved on that last read-through of that initial document paid for the licence three times over. These days, I run everything through PerfectIt and I have PerfectIt styles set up for all my regular clients. So I was thrilled when I got to take a sneak peek at the upcoming edition, PerfectIt 4.
No more ups and downs
The one dislike I had about PerfectIt was the inefficiency of mouse movements. Run a test, click on a highlighted sentence, move your mouse down to the bottom of the window to click on ‘Fix’, move your mouse up to select the next sentence, move your mouse down again, repeat for all the sentences in all the tests.
Of course, this is a minor niggle, because PerfectIt has had a robust keyboard shortcut system for years. Still, I am delighted that PerfectIt 4 gives each individual sentence its own Fix button. It may only save you half a second per fix, but that adds up over long documents and long work weeks. Not to mention avoiding the short, jerky, repetitive mouse movements that can be the most aggravating for RSI.
More elegance and speed
PerfectIt 4 is more elegant in other ways as well. You can now directly create a new style based on an existing one. The user interface has a more polished look. The initial scan time is reduced considerably, though I always liked to take that moment to stretch and pour myself a cup of tea.
All in all, should you subscribe to PerfectIt? My answer to that has always been ‘yes’, although I am enough of a dinosaur to miss the one-time-purchase option. Even if you have perfect hyphen sensitivity, PerfectIt will help you save valuable time. And with the upgrades in PerfectIt 4, you will be able to increase the consistency of your documents in a way that feels effortless, intuitive and elegant.
In 2009, the Expertisecentrum Literair Vertalen (ELV), the Centre of Expertise for Literary Translation, published a plea entitled ‘Overigens schitterend vertaald’ ('Great translation by the way'), to maintain a flourishing translation culture in the Netherlands and Flanders. This plea motivated the universities of Utrecht and Louvain to collaborate and set up a literary translation master’s programme. Now, ten years later, the ELV is ringing the alarm bell once again, owing to a developing threat to the translation culture in the Low Countries, and has produced another plea, 'VerTALEN voor de toekomst’ (a play on words that roughly translates as 'Translation and languages for the future', not yet available in English).
Internationalization and ongoing globalization have increased the level of English speaking, reading and writing skills in Dutch and Flemish society. But they have also put other languages, including Dutch, under pressure. European languages are disappearing from the curricula of universities. These days, a mastery of English is often regarded as being sufficiently multilingual. The traditional Dutch openness and curiosity about foreign languages, which led to commercial and cultural success in the past, is giving way to a monoculture that focuses on English. We all admire the language skills of Frans Timmermans, who switches effortlessly from French to Italian to Russian to German, but he finds few followers in that regard. Whether on holiday or business in France or Germany, we expect to be able to get by with our knowledge of English.
The dwindling interest in foreign languages other than English is also affecting the supply of a new generation of translators, working both from and into Dutch. Add to that (or because of that) the poor compensation literary translators receive, and we see a declining number of students opting to study language or translation. The financial prospects are simply not good enough. This is reflected in the general lack of interest in literary translation among SENSE members, and their focus on language products that are financially more worthwhile.
An article by Abdelkader Benali, born in Morocco but now a leading Dutch author (Bruiloft aan zee, Brief aan mijn dochter), recently appeared in NRC Handelsblad. ‘Save the literary translator!’ he calls out, because the shortage of translators is a cultural disaster. Just like bees, they do their work in silence, away from all publicity, but without them an entire ecosystem falls apart. Without them, the possibility of contact with other cultures disappears. To get to know a country, Benali says, read its literature. Read the characters it creates, the stories that originate from its history, its silent tragedies. If Fjodor Dostojevski, Franz Kafka, Primo Levi, Albert Camus and so many others had not been translated, it would have proved impossible to gain the other’s perspective and to discover what has shaped the European landscape.
According to Benali, the translator risks becoming an extinct species because fewer students decide to study language. The low financial reward may be fatal to the translation profession. The ELV therefore calls upon the Dutch and Flemish governments to initiate a campaign: Kies voor taal (Choose language), analogous to the Kies exact (Choose science) campaign of some years ago. Likewise, it calls upon publishers and other clients to respect the standard amount mentioned in the Model Contract.
Could this be an opportunity for those of us working as legal, medical, financial or technical translators and editors?
For the Utrecht SIG, the 8 May meeting marked a return to the Park Plaza after a long remodelling period. The upstairs bar was an excellent new addition, but we all thought the large workshop space was a bit much for only five participants.
The translation of the evening was an analysis document about a company struggling with an unfavourable work culture. The company, historically Dutch but with a large contingent from a specific other country, was recently purchased by an American company. The Dutch consultant who had written the document needed it translated into English as a starting point for conversation with the American management.
Despite a few odd turns of phrase ('de juiste maat en modus vinden', 'deze notitie vormt de onderlegger voor het gesprek'), the text had very few grammatical issues. But boy was it vague. The consultant firmly refused to put their finger on many of the actual pain points and left a lot to be read as subtext. This is fine for an 'onderlegger voor een gesprek' – you can clarify the finer points during the actual conversation – but it makes life difficult for a translator. Instead of translating what it says, we ended up trying to find the right translation for what it didn’t say. That required extensive mindreading.
If something 'doet iets met het al dan niet vertrouwen hebben in mensen', does that mean lack of confidence or lack of trust? Especially if some people then 'koppelen dit aan de [other country’s] versus Nederlandse cultuur'? You get the sense someone is being racist, but who? And are they implying that they’re sick of some people showing up late or being stiff and judgemental, or that they’re afraid to leave their wallets out in the open?
We spent some time going round and round with this. With a text like this, the nuance is very important. Still, the client was very happy with the original translation, which was not all that nuanced because it had a really tight deadline. I guess the fact it was an onderlegger works both ways.
As usual, the main conclusion of the evening was: ‘If we could do all translations in a group, like this, all our clients would think we’re brilliant.’ Also want to feel brilliant? The next Utrecht SIG meeting will be held on 10 July at the Park Plaza Hotel in Utrecht. With a fancy upstairs bar!
In 2020, it’ll be 30 years since SENSE was founded. Is that not a ‘pearl’ of an anniversary worth celebrating with an international conference?!
Well, the SENSEConference2020 team certainly thinks it is, and it has already begun planning for the June 2020 event. While the search for a location and a venue is well underway, it’s still too early to even hint at possible candidates. Nevertheless, you can be sure we’ll find somewhere just as special as the venues of the previous two conferences…watch out for our next blog post!
Of course, to secure a venue and keynote speakers, you also need to know when the conference will be happening. And that much we know: Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 June, probably preceded by workshops. We’ll be following the well-received format of the 2018 Conference. If you have any suggestions for workshop topics and presenters, please email email@example.com – the team will welcome your contributions.
We’d also welcome your suggestions for sponsors of the conference, whether individuals or businesses.
What we can also share with you are the makings of a conference theme: ‘20/20 (Re)Vision: Honing our skills to meet market challenges.’
We’re looking forward to attracting a stimulating range of presentations in response to this theme, so look out for the Call for Papers in August 2019. And if you’d like to offer your services as a peer reviewer during September and October this year, do send an email to the conference team.
Talking of the team, we are indeed fortunate that essentially the same players who contributed to the success of the 2018 SENSE Conference have volunteered their services for the jubilee conference: Jenny Zonneveld, Theresa Truax-Gischler, Nigel Saych, Ken McGillivray and John Linnegar. The continuity that this will provide bodes well for the next conference. But it certainly won’t be a case of ‘same old, same old’, thanks to an injection of fresh new blood in the form of SENSE CPD coordinator Erin Goedhart-Stallings and someone who hails all the way from Wales: SENSE and ITI member, Lloyd Bingham. Both have already made their mark on our deliberations, so welcome aboard Erin and Lloyd!
Pearls, it is said, symbolize wisdom acquired through experience: how appropriate, therefore, for SENSE to provide an enriching experience through which both its members and other professionals will be able to share their collective wisdom in June 2020.
The Dutch platform for independent professionals known as Platform Zelfstandig Ondernemers, or PZO, was set up in 2002 to champion the interests of freelancers in the political arena. It is based in the Malietoren in The Hague and works closely with the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW) and with MKB-Nederland, which represents small to medium enterprises.
PZO is also a member of the European Forum of Independent Professionals (EFIP). PZO lobbies for freelancers’ interests on matters such as the Wet DBA, pensions and mortgages. There is an ongoing discussion on all these topics with officials, Dutch members of parliament and, where necessary, ministers.
Since 2010, PZO has had a seat on the Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER). This means that it can participate in discussions with employers, unions and other organizations in matters concerning the freelancer.
Apart from lobbying, PZO supports its members in their business practices by offering advice on incapacity for work or on liability. It also has a free helpdesk for tax and legal matters.
PZO members are eligible for discounts with companies offering a wide range of services for freelancers, from insurance and GDPR compliancy to software packages and mobile phone contracts, and even rapid phone repair services.
The PZO Academy organizes workshops throughout the country. Subjects range from raising your Google ranking to successful job acquisition and the secret to a good email!
PZO also organizes knowledge-sharing lunch sessions or Kennislunches which bring freelancers up to date on subjects such as marketing, innovation, and financial matters. The next Kennislunch will be held on 9 May in Almere and will revolve around disability insurance. For more information, see the website.
Individual membership of PZO costs 135 euros per year. However, if you join the collective SENSE membership, it will only cost you approximately 35 euros per year.
As SENSE's Membership Secretary, I am our liaison to the PZO Board, which means SENSE members can pass on any ideas and issues relating to freelancers through me.
On Friday 12 April, 14 SENSE members gathered at Park Plaza Utrecht to receive an answer to the question: ‘Do online editing services have a place in your client portfolio?’
After a short introduction round, Curtis Barrett took the floor to share his past experience working for one of the largest international online science editing agencies. A scientist originally from New York, Curtis emigrated to the Netherlands nearly 12 years ago to work as a senior researcher at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). As a native English-speaking scientist, he realized that his PhD and postdoc years had given him a wealth of scientific expertise as well as sound academic writing skills, and he discovered an affinity for science editing. After leaving LUMC and accepting a freelance contract position at the editing agency, he learned the ins and outs of editing and discovered his full value as a science editor. During his presentation, Curtis explained how he progressed from being a junior editor to a senior editor at the agency, identifying the potential pros and cons of working with an online agency, and enlightened us with some excellent take-home messages.
Curtis identified the following advantages and disadvantages of working for online editing agencies:
To answer the key question: yes, online editing services can have a place in your client portfolio, provided you do some research in advance. If you are considering an offer to work with an agency but are in doubt, enquire on the members-only SENSE forum. And don’t shy away if the agency wants you to take a test, even if it's not a paid test.
Last month I took the train from Heidelberg to Sylt (one of the North Frisian Islands, and Germany’s northernmost point), where I was planning to run the annual 33-kilometre Syltlauf. Looking forward to a nine-hour train journey with no children to look after and nobody to talk to, plus lots of guilt-free relaxation in the face of the impending run, I finally had time to read Carol Fisher Saller’s The Subversive Copy Editor, which had been sitting on my ‘to read’ pile for ages.
The Subversive Copy Editor is an established classic in the editing world. Saller worked for many years as an editor for the University of Chicago press and has handled countless requests about writing style on the Chicago Manual of Style Online’s Q&A forum. Clearly, anything she has to say on the subject of editing and how to do it must be worth reading.
It certainly was. I wasn’t far into the book before I found myself nodding in approval and making notes. Although many of you have probably already read the book, I couldn’t resist sharing some of Saller’s valuable advice. So here it is...
Do no harm
According to Saller, this should be our first goal as an editor. While none of us would dream of harming our client’s text on purpose, you may be surprised how much damage you can do to a text if you insist on imposing all the grammar rules you have learned. Rules are often style choices after all, and the author may have broken a rule on purpose.
Both the experienced and the novice editor can fall into this trap. Grammar ‘experts’ may assert a specific rule because ‘that’s the way it has always been’ without realizing that said rule is now outdated. And the less-experienced editor may cling to the limited rules they do know without realizing that the ‘mistake’ they are correcting is a perfectly suitable alternative.
That doesn’t mean you should forget all you know about grammar. Far from it. A thorough knowledge of grammar and usage is essential for good editing because it allows us to decide when the rules should be broken to help the reader. So before you make a change, keep the golden rule do no harm in mind. To help you make the right decision, stay up to date with the latest changes in grammar and usage and, if you are still learning a style guide, show restraint and look something up if you are not sure.
Cultivate a good author–editor relationship
As editors, our first loyalty is to the reader. To help the reader, we have to work through the writer, so it is a good idea to build a good working relationship with our clients. In her book, Saller explains how to lay the groundwork for a collaborative author–editor relationship:
Know thy word processor
In her book, Saller says ‘if you charge money for editing services and you aren’t an expert word processor, you’re not doing honest work.’ Oh dear. Sure, I know my way around Word, and I don’t waste too much time shouting at my computer to do what I want it to. Still, I know that I don’t use Word to its full advantage when I’m editing. Saller emphasizes that becoming an expert at the keyboard will make you faster, more confident, more accurate, and more valuable. Sounds like a good idea – tell me how.
Learning to use keyboard shortcuts instead of your mouse is a great way to start improving your skills, Saller says. Many of these are already built in, but you can assign your own (I have discovered the power of Ctrl F6 for switching between documents and Ctrl Shift W for underlining one word. I also assigned my very own shortcuts for square brackets, which I use all the time). I also signed up for the SfEP’s Editing with Word course, which has introduced me to the delights of wildcards and macros. How did I live without them?
Saller also offers a wealth of good advice on managing projects. To be able to meet deadlines, we should master three skills, she says: prioritization (deciding which job is most important), organization (monitoring our tasks in lists, schedules and logs) and documentation (keeping track of any changes in a project’s schedule). The most useful advice for me in this chapter was to keep your inbox as empty as possible and file messages away as soon as you have dealt with them. I acted on this advice as soon as I was home (nursing very tired legs after successfully finishing my run!). Now, instead of having more than 1,000 emails in my inbox, I have two. The rest have been dealt with and filed away, and I really do feel much better.
For more great advice from Carol Fisher Saller, or to buy your own copy of The Subversive Copy Editor, visit The Subversive Copy Editor blog.