Copy-Editors? We have Copy-Editors at the Sewcialists? Why yes, we do! You may not hear about them very often, but we have a stellar team that edits our copy, and who are actually an integral part of our mission of inclusivity.
Copy-Editors versus “regular” Editors — what’s the difference?
The answer is: It depends. Terms such as “content editing”, “copy-editing”, “proof-reading”, and so forth are used inconsistently across national borders, and sometimes even more so by companies across the street from one another.
Here at the Sewcialists, our Editors are the folks who plan and create content: They come up with topics and ideas, and then they write, co-write, or coordinate all the amazing posts you see on offer here. They find guest authors, interview interesting people, gather images, and invite the community to challenges, theme months, and other fun stuff. They also run the Instagram account, which is a huge job all on its own. Think of them as the curators of the art gallery that is the Sewcialists community: They set the grand vision for what we showcase and amplify. They’re also the comms or media team, getting the word out about the exciting new exhibits, and the docents (museum/gallery speak for guides or interpreters) who show everyone around and answer questions.
Our Copy-Editors, on the other hand, are responsible for what some call “proof-reading”. They will often earn the nickname of “Eagle Eye,” for they are the folks whose careful sharp eyes check for typos, grammar fails, wrong words, broken links, and all the rest of those tiny bits which, if not corrected, can be very distracting to the reader. Think of the Copy-Editors as the technicians behind the scenes in this gallery, who make sure that the paintings have frames that fit and the sculptures have plinths that hold them safely, and the lights work and there are ramps for accessibility and the floor plan in the brochure actually lines up with what’s on exhibit where in this grand gallery.
Here at Sewcialists, Copy-Editors are also responsible for ensuring that the author’s own storytelling does not get lost amidst all the editing! We try to work with a light hand, ensuring, for example, that posts written by international Authors retain the spellings and stylings of their homelands (e.g., “color” versus “colour”). If an Author is talking about “pants,” we’ll try to make sure that the context makes it clear to readers around the world whether the topic is “trousers” or “underwear”!
We re-work awkward or unclear sentences for the sake of readability and clarity, attempting to preserve the unique “voice” and phrasing of each author who contributes to the diversity and vibrancy of our community. We want the blog to showcase sewists from around the world and from every culture, including people for whom English is not their first (or even fifth) language, and we work especially hard to make sure that posts actually say what the Authors meant to say rather than what Google Translate or a half-remembered school lesson might have suggested.
We make a sincere effort in our editing to keep away from standardizing the unique and varied ways of speaking/writing into a homogenized form of English—while also trying to centre accessibility and clarity. Broken links, spelling mistakes, or unclear phrases may not be huge issues, in the grand scheme of things, but they do distract from whatever a given author is trying to say.
Why are we bringing this up now? Well, in light of the tremendous discussions about racism and oppression in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the overlapping set of discussions around inclusion for Pride Month, we thought it was important to re-commit to this in a visible and public way. We want to amplify voices and experiences, not standardize them into one tone, register, or form. The pressure to assimilate or homogenize is laden with prejudice, conscious or not, so we’re making an explicit pledge to check our own privilege and biases in this regard.
We Copy-Editors aren’t here as censors or as tone police. We pledge to help our Authors and Editors put themselves forward to the world in the best light possible, without taking away from their voices.
About Our Copy-Editing Team
The Sewcialists generally have about a half-dozen or so volunteer Copy-Editors at any given time; people rotate in and out, as with the Editors, so that no one feels overburdened. We are always happy to have more people on the team, so if this work appeals to you, please drop us a line at email@example.com!
Here’s our current team, in no particular order:
I’m Gillian’s older sister, and grew up shrieking at my kid sister’s “creative” spelling. I pointed out one too many typos on the Sewcialists blog, and suddenly found myself with editor-level WordPress access and a mandate to correct those typos before publication! I expanded that mandate over time to include the other aspects of copy-editing and accessibility above, and was overjoyed when we were able to bring on other Copy-Editors to share the task.
I’m a conference planner by day, and probably far too much of a perfectionist for my own good. I’m more of a knitter than a sewist — which I have decided to claim as a good thing because helps me flag any jargon that might be inaccessible to newbie sewists here! My great joy in life is forging connections, whether I’m connecting bits of fabric with thread, loops of yarn on the needles, or excellent people with other excellent people, and I love the connections that happen here at the Sewcialists. I’m richer for being part of this community!
I’m on Instagram as @anniebeeknits. (Fair warning: my feed is often mostly dog pictures.)
I’ve always been a ‘words’ person, so when the opportunity arose to help edit a blog about sewing — my other obsession — I jumped at it. I taught myself to sew when I realised I’d be able to not only make clothes I liked the look of, but also that fit my body shape, rather than having to squeeze myself into high street garments that looked and felt wrong.
Copy-Editing for the Sewcialists means I get to help other writers convey what sewing means to them. In my relatively short time here so far, I’ve learned that this is a really powerful thing, because sewing is often much more than just a hobby, it’s a means of expression and an important part of keeping our mental health in check. Similarly, our own words are an important tool in communicating this, so it’s a great privilege to be able to help our contributors convey their message in their own words.
If you’d like to know more, you can find me on Instagram at @alphabet_thread
Growing up, I learned to do a few things with my mother’s sewing machine but mostly stuck to knitting. In my early 20s, I started reading sewing blogs, which inspired me to purchase a secondhand sewing machine and slowly learn how to sew garments. I turned to the online sewing community for tutorials and inspiration and have become a much more accomplished sewist because of what others have been willing to share. I’ve benefited a lot from what others have shared over the years and wanted to give back to the online sewing community but I’m terrible at maintaining any kind of social media presence and knew that I would never post regularly on a blog or even on Instagram. A year ago, the Sewcialists did a call for Copy-Editors and I jumped at the chance. Copy-editing for the Sewcialists seemed like a great way to give back to the online sewing community in a way that was sustainable for me. I’m super detail-oriented and have enjoyed copy-editing as well as getting to know others in the Sewcialists community.
Writing and sewing are two of my greatest passions. I love a properly placed semicolon as much as I love a beautifully pressed seam. I started sewing because I had a million ideas for what I wanted to wear, but I could never see those ideas materialized in RTW. On the rare occasion that I did, the garment was ill-fitting or poorly constructed. Sewing allows me to create whatever I can imagine—and that’s particularly useful when the clothes I imagine are what I describe as grown-up-goth-lite. When the opportunity to become a Copy-Editor at the Sewcialists appeared, I was thrilled. I get to read about sewing from people who are immensely talented and passionate, and I make sure that their ideas flow smoothly without any pesky comma splices or dangling modifiers. During the day, I am a teacher librarian at a Los Angeles high school; at night, I am often found sewing, cooking, and reading while listening to goth/post-punk music. And I love cats! I document my sewing adventures on my blog, SewGoth, and my Instagram account, @sewgoth.
I suppose it’s partly my mom’s fault, me being here, I mean. Mom used to read stories to my sisters and me each night, giving growl-y voices to the trolls, and squeaky voices to the mouse princesses, lingering over the illustrations so we had time to find each ladybug and mouse baby. Those times gave me not only a deep love of books, but also a love of the tiny and the wee, of all the small details that can truly make a story sing. Mom, who sewed enough look-a-like outfits for my sister Liz and I to pass as additional von Trapps, also taught us a love of making things, especially things to wear.
As I grew older, those experiences, as well as my own now-lifelong joy in making, have shaped me into someone who loves to tell stories about making things, as well as hear the stories others tell about their own adventures in craft. I also became someone who still pays attention to, and delights in, all those lovely tiny details that make a story truly special (whether that be a cute bug in the corner of one page or a timely comma in the midst of a chaotic sentence).
Several years back, I was able to combine all these in a single job as editor of an in-print knitting magazine; once the bosses discovered that I was a bit of a tech-head, they asked me to be Founding Editor of Knitting Daily, a popular online knitting site. (I said yes, of course.) My friendship with Anne, Gillian’s sister, is one of the best things to come out of that job; when she invited me to join this merry band of sharp-eyes, I was excited to be able to support the authors here in a way that helps their stories to be told!
I currently blog about yarn, fabric, beads, and nurturing a life of creativity (under feline supervision, of course), at sandiwiseheart.wordpress.com.
As an inveterate nitpicker, looking for errors and irritants in everything I read comes naturally. 😉 Coupled with my love of sewing, volunteering to help proofread and polish posts for the Sewcialists was an easy decision. One of my favorite things about our editing work at Sewcialists is playing a role in making the site’s content as professional and welcoming as possible. We don’t just edit for grammar and “technical” issues: we edit for inclusivity! Balancing that goal with our commitment to preserving authors’ authentic voices makes the work an enjoyable challenge with meaningful results. Plus there’s our Slack channel, where we get to know each other and our editors, talk through sticky editing quandaries, swap pet photos, and post .gifs and memes! It’s a fun, thoughtful, and supportive group and I’m so honored to be a part of it. When I’m not going full Virgo on the written word, I’m probably sewing, knitting, seeking out pizza, or annoying a cat with my curiously hands-on brand of love. I occasionally blog at lifeinamadshouse.wordpress.com and am on Instagram @wronghandmads.
Yay! Thanks for all your hard work, everyone <3
As a copyeditor, I very much appreciate this post! Our work is meant to be invisible, but that usually results in a complete lack of recognition. Sewcialists is one of the most entertaining, informative, colorful, and best-written blogs in the sewing world, and that reflects the delicate balancing act performed by the copyeditors. Thank you and keep up the great work!