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Katie Skeen

To the first letter-writer, I would add that it might help to audit a *good* course in composition or professional writing. This will give the LW the terminology and tools to diagnose problems in a text without having to resort to phrases like "vague". I was a good writer but became a much better writer after I took a course in writing pedagogy and taught writing to others -- because that experience opened my eyes to what, exactly, was making a paragraph look "vague" or "disorganized". I would also recommend any books by Joseph Williams (can you tell I'm a Chicago alum?).
To the second LW I would say, yes, there are lots of good freelance copyeditors out there! (I am one, of course.) There's the EFA list, and also the list on the Copyediting-L listserv.

Carol Saller

Thanks, Katie--I hope more readers will make suggestions along these lines.

Susana Kelly

I'm so glad that Valerie asked you that question, as it has been my to-do list for a month. Related to that question, where are the best places to post open positions for freelance copyeditors/proofreaders?

Carol Saller

Susana, for big online job postings, try Media Bistro, Copyediting (the newsletter), Journalism Jobs, Monster, CareerBuilder, IMDiversity. Even Craigslist. Search online using keywords to find places to post closer to home.


Valerie can find links to many more editors' associations (both in the United States and in other nations) and their directories here:


Susana can also find good places, through the links on that page, to the web sites of editorial associations that will post job listings.

Carol Saller

Katharine is right! Her site has googobs of excellent resources for editors and hirers.


I'm liking your word "googobs," Carol. I'm off to go use it in a sentence somewhere.


As usual, Carol, you have provided sound advice in a way that many, many veteran editors have been unable to articulate.

The “coaching” you describe in response to Heidi’s query is a lot like what the Editors’ Association of Canada calls “substantive and stylistic editing.” (Defined at http://www.editors.ca/hire/definitions.html.)

Suggesting that Valerie ask for referrals is excellent advice. I have seen editors advertise on their own websites, on Kijiji, in magazines, and even on a roadside sandwich-board. (I took a picture of that last example, so I could prove it.) There are a few certification systems with limited spread that would serve to somewhat assure writers that they are getting a skilled editor. (EAC http://editors.ca has a gruelling, multi-layered certification process that should somewhat assure clients, for example.) In the end, as in all things, /caveat emptor/.

I loved /The Copy Editor’s Handbook/ (and /The Subversive Copy Editor/) when I was studying for the EAC certification exams. The 16th edition of /CMOS/ recommends a book that Heidi might also find helpful: /Developmental Editing/, by Scott Norton. Some development tasks are beyond the scope of the coaching Heidi is trying to do, but there is much overlap.

Heidi, good for you for coaching. Writing and editing continue to be more of an art than a science, and like other trades (and professions) once courses are complete, these skills are best learned from a mentor.

PS Katharine’s website lists a ridiculous amount of well-curated resources.

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