Another Successful Redact Training Intensive for Editors

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The fourth Redact, held at the Grange Bellinzona in Hepburn Springs, proved the value of intensive training in a collegial setting. Trainers Sarah Fletcher (ebooks), Mandy Brett (fiction editing) and Niki Horin and Kirstie Innes-Will (project management) prepared and presented seven comprehensive and extremely useful sessions over a wonderful weekend, regularly punctuated with fantastic opportunities to network with peers and enjoy the excellent food and accommodation.

There were no complaints, except perhaps that we had too much food, but who can knock back another scone or pastry in the pursuit of new knowledge?

Many thanks to the organising group: Liz Steele, Lan Wang, Tara Rawlins and Trischa Mann, ably assisted by Karyn and Rosemary Noble. Months of planning and discussion went into this great training initiative, which continues to be a credit to the group and to Editors Victoria.

Three registrants elaborate on some of the content:


Fiction Editing

Lorna Hendry, trainer Mandy Brett and Lu Sexton, Redact 2013


The fiction editing stream at Redact 2013 got off to an early start when Mandy Brett sent all of us a young adult manuscript to read a week beforehand. After the 'getting to know each other' formalities were dispensed with, she asked us, 'So. Will we publish it?' For most of the weekend we thrashed through that question, talked about the issues with the draft MS, discussed how they might be fixed and did role plays in which we tried to persuade the author that yes, they really did need to consider getting rid of a character.

We also did a copyediting exercise, looked at the importance of the opening paragraphs of a novel, and had a session on book covers and marketing. In the final session, to our absolute joy, Mandy gave us each a final copy of the young adult novel we'd been tackling. It was very satisfying to realise that many of the issues we'd identified had been resolved (using very clever solutions that we all immediately wished we had thought of).

One of the most valuable insights that I came away with was that every editor will approach a work of fiction differently. We all bring our personal strengths, talents, quirks and blind spots to the task of editing. Everyone in our workshop would have come up with a different edit of the manuscript we worked on, and all would have been equally valid. Mandy also impressed upon us that building a good working relationship with the author is vital. And we must never forget that publishing is a business.

Lorna Hendry


Project Management

Redact Project Management stream


Redact's two-day intensive on editorial project management was led in tandem by Niki Horin and Kirstie Innes-Will. In the first session, a broad overview of the project management process was given, with subsequent sessions further exploring different aspects of this process: for example, scheduling, choosing, appointing and briefing suppliers, keeping track of material, and end-of-project assessment. Each session was tied back to the Australian Standards for Editing Practice.

A concept that made a strong impact on all participants was the project management triangle - schedule, cost and quality - and the understanding that you can't have all three (i.e. you can't have it quick, cheap and good!). It's important to consider this concept when taking on a project and when assigning tasks to others; make sure that you have set out your expectations clearly from the beginning.

A practical exercise on assessing a project brief was undertaken in the second session, with participants breaking into groups and analysing a five-page brief that at first glance appeared quite comprehensive. Subsequent analysis showed that a lot of information was missing. This was a great opportunity to think about how not only to assess the information you are given when taking on a project, but also to give further thought to the information you provide to others.

With plenty of prior warning to stock up on caffeine, Niki later took us through the budgeting process: an onslaught of numbers and calculations that left a few of us 'wordy-types' a bit frazzled but a little better informed about what goes into determining a print run and estimating profit.

For those editors being asked to take on more than a simple edit, the weekend proved an invaluable opportunity to learn and improve practice and to share ideas and methods with others. I heard a rumour that Niki and Kirstie might be invited to run a similarly themed one-day workshop for the Editors Victoria training program, so keep an eye out for that!

Kristy Burt



Trainer Sarah Fletcher and editor Astrid Judge discuss ebooks over dinner


Ebooks are an increasingly important part of the publishing landscape, so it is vital that editors are confident working with them and knowing how the digital devices used to read them will dictate the process. Sarah Fletcher's well-prepared notes, slides and instruction provided a comprehensive overview of the conversion of print to ebook content. Text and illustrations in the ePub format accommodate/flow to differently sized screens, while interactively letting the reader change layout, typeface and font size, unlike the rigid PDF files best viewed on a larger screen.

We learned the 'why', 'what' and 'how' of ePubs, as well as the 'which', 'who' and 'when'. Fletcher told us what's not possible yet (not much) and when to delegate to an expert. We learned how to convert from Adobe InDesign and CMS (for website content) and how to check the results - and, most important of all, the editor's role in a quality ebook.

Calibre is a free cross-platform ebook library manager running on Linux, OS X and Windows. It can view, convert and catalogue ebooks in most of the major formats and for many e-readers. It can search the internet for book metadata, and can download newspapers and convert them into ebooks for convenient reading.

Sigil is a free multi-platform editing program for the e-reader standard, ePub2. It can directly edit both WYSIWYG text and its html code, including audio and video files and tags of ePub3, as yet supported in part by a few e-readers. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

The dozen candidates for the ebook publishing stream were all at different stages in their experience of ebooks, but after two days of discussion and demonstration, each was ready to take the next step after a walk-through of conversion freeware Calibre and Sigil, and hands-on experiments with prepared texts.

Christina Ratcliffe