Monday, June 26, 2017

Editing and Coaching in the Internet Age

Image by Sean MacEntee, via Flickr

I’ve gradually shifted from enjoying the safety of expressing myself in writing (i.e., being able to edit and polish my critique reports and editing comments until they were perfect, and perfectly tactful), to preferring face-to-face conversations where I can gauge my client’s response and offer further explanations as needed. I think being time-poor has impacted on my frustration – I can no longer afford to spend a whole day crafting an email.

With local editing clients, the solution has been simple. We meet up for a coffee and pore over the edits to a few chapters. But since I became active on the Internet, most of my clients have been longer-distance than is practical or possible for a meet-up. When I discovered Google Hangouts-on-Air, I realised it would be ideal for a virtual editing meeting – only to find that, when I finally had a chance to use it, Google had killed the “on-Air” part of Hangouts (it has, instead, been incorporated into YouTube Live).

So we went with a plain Google Hangout (without the ability to record the call – but there are options for add-ons, plug-ins, or downloadable programs that can record either a Skype or Hangout video call, if this is something you need.) I prepared a Powerpoint Presentation with some screen shots of edits I wanted to talk through, and used the Share Screen option to run that presentation over the call. I also saved the presentation as a PDF and emailed that to my client after the call.

It was a very successful and productive conversation. I was able to gain instant feedback that allowed me to tailor information and explanations that would otherwise have taken many hours of careful wording. Written communication can seem very formal and intimidating, so it was great to be able to keep the tone light by sharing a few humorous anecdotes.

If you can’t meet a client face-to-face (or your editor, if you’re the author in the partnership), then an online video call can help you check that you’re both on the same page. So to speak.

Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at ElleCarterNeal.com or HearWriteNow.com

10 comments :

  1. Realistically, our editing clients can come from anywhere in the world--as long as that client speaks good English. This obviously eliminates most face-to-face meetings and makes the Internet a vital partner in the process. Presently, I use Skype (no camera) or the phone for verbal meetings, but the additional options you've shared are a welcome addition to my communication possibilities. Very helpful post! :-)

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    1. The "Share Screen" option is awesome, and I love the Powerpoint presentation for being able to highlight and circle words as I'm speaking.

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  2. This is a great idea for long-distance editing commitments.

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    1. It's been on my to-do list for ages. I wish I'd done it sooner.

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  3. Linda answered one of my questions about the use of Skype. The other was Apple FaceTime if both parties have iPads. It's a brand new world out there, making some things so much easier than even five years ago.

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    1. There are plenty of options for different devices and requirements. It took me quite some time to research an acceptable alternative for my situation after I discovered Hangout-on-Air was no more.

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  4. As has already been mentioned you can use Skype. There is a way to have more than one person added to the conversations, so you can technically have a critique group meeting via Skype. Now there is Facetime for iPhones and Facebook Messenger has a video call option.

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    1. For some reason I couldn't log in to my Skype account on the day, so I went with Hangouts rather than waste time messing with reinstalling a program. Comparison articles also noted that Hangouts have an easier to access Share Screen button, and that was an important consideration too.

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  5. You mean you can Skype me on my speakerphone for a brainstorming session, Elle? FYI, I cannot use FB for this. It's the one site that is abysmally slow on my wi-fi. Not sure why, except the usual rural America issue.

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    1. Yes :-)

      (Have you tried plugging directly into the modem, rather than using wi-fi? That might improve the speed, especially for a call.)

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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