I am immense.
A ripened fruit.
My skin stretched taunt,
Falling from the tree,
fragile stem snapping.
juicy skin bursting.
My flesh split open,
bruised and exposed
for all the world to see.
Kelly Robinson has worked in the publishing industry for nine years. Seven of those were spent in-house working as both an Educational and Trade editor. She tells of how she found the position too “managerial” and not stimulating enough. Seeking to break into trade editing Ms. Robinson made the liberating move to freelance editing. I caught up with her to discuss the changes she believes imperative to the publishing industry in light of her vast and personal experiences in the business.
Q). What sort of Editing are you currently doing?
A). Mainly educational, in “second stage” so texts and online resources for secondary and primary schools. The Trade stuff I’ve done was adult fiction. I started out editing mainly secondary school texts books but I have (recently) done more primary.
Q). Can you name any of the work you’ve done?
A). Mainly series. My specialty, I suppose, is psychology and I’ve done quite a lot of psych because I have a strong background with that, having studied it at uni, so I know the subject it follows, being able to edit that more thoroughly than someone without subject experience. I’ve done some of the MacMillan VCE Psychology series in-house and as a freelancer. I’ve worked on MCM Math series for Neilson when I was working in house and Neilson Psychology series. Lots of Business Education books for Neilson. There has been so much and working in-house I would have 10 or more projects on the go at once but those are the major ones that I’ve worked on.
Q). Is educational editing more technical? Are you required to check the facts?
A). Sometimes, yes. The broad humanities subjects such as English, History and Business Management require some level of editing in that area but subjects such as Mathematics, Science and Psychology less so. Most people, in my experience, want to get an editor who knows the subject well though. You don’t always have to know the subject but it pays too. Ultimately, the publishers always say the responsibility for getting the facts right lies with the authors. There are very few specialist editors. That’s why there is usually an editor checker for that, especially at second or third stages, when its proof read it is also checked for accuracy.
Q). What sort of work do you do on a typical daily basis?
A). As a freelancer I work on whatever project I have got going (at the time). It could be several things at once and it changes depending on what stage. At the beginning of the project obviously you’re just familiarizing yourself with it, doing the first edit, sorting out the author criteria, which actually takes a very long time. Then there is the artistic side- getting the artwork together and working on the layout. In educational editing there is a huge artwork component. All of that takes five or six weeks. And, of course, in between there is handling all the admin work. As a business owner it is difficult to juggle that side of things. Once a freelance editor has looked at it will usually go in-house for typesetting and then the freelancer’s checks it again before it goes back in-house and remains there. A proofreader will usually check it at second stages. There is an awful lot of communication going on between the freelancer, the in-house people and the author. The role of an in-house editor is more of a project management role where you have editorial input and you cast an editorial eye over everything but you’re not actually doing the hands on editing. It’s mainly liaising with the people, the designers, authors, and publishers and coordinating the whole process.
Q). How does educational editing differ from trade?
A). It is quite different because of all the different elements in educational. My experience with trade is working on novels with a manuscript, which obviously takes a lot of work to get knocked into shape, but then that’s it. It’s just typeset after that, as it’s just a novel. Whereas with Education there is lots of different features. There isn’t just text but the layout and artwork. Also making sure the contents of every chapter corresponds with the syllabus. With educational one of the biggest differences is that there is a right answer and a wrong answer. A right way to explain things and a wrong way. With Educational you can intervene more and even re-write it but with trade you can’t because you don’t want to intrude on the author’s style. In trade publishing you need to be a lot more diplomatic when you’re dealing with an author’s manuscript, because there work is there babies and they get very touchy about things. Although in my experience a lot of educational authors are very similar. However because it’s factual you can make a better case for changing something than you can with trade. Each has their own pros and cons.
Q). What was it like as an in-house editor and how did it differ to freelancing?
A). It is very different as my in house role was more project management. In house is a lot of project management and liaison with in-house people. As a freelancer I am one step removed from that. As a freelancer it is also a lot more hands on with the authors than in-house. In-house it is usually the publisher that communicates with the author. But having said that, it does depend on the publisher that you’re working for.
Q). Why and how did you make the move to freelancing?
A). Mainly I had worked for seven and half years in house and I wanted some independence and wanted to have ninety percent of my time doing the editing side of it. I was sick of project management and I was sick of dealing with crazy, in-house personalities. All of those things plus the appeal of being able to make my own time, and being in charge of my own time. The freedom of being able to do this. However it is scary having no guaranteed income or no pay leave.
Q) Has it been successful?
A). So far yes! I can pay my mortgage (laughs) to be honest you don’t make that much money. It’s actually not a very well paid industry unless you do government editing. It is important to budget well. If I charge for x amount of hours and it ends up taking double that time it isn’t good but sometimes it levels out if I take twice as long on another job. However if it takes much longer on a job the publishers don’t pay for that overtime.
Q). Would you say the introduction of e-books and sites such as amazon will have a positive outcome for the publishing industry. If so, why?
A). I think the whole e-book thing it is difficult to know how it’s going to turn out at the moment as a lot of publishers don’t know where to go with it at the moment. They don’t have a clear model for how it’s going to work; especially with copy write issues and things like that. I think a lot of Australian publishers are trying to work out a model for how to deal with e-books which is why when people use e-books they order there stuff from amazon. I think if a clear model were worked out it would be really good for it. If a system were worked out it would supplement the industry rather than kill it. There is something about books, about being able to hold them and take them around with you. Being able to interact with an actual book is so much different. I believe there is something about books that will always stick around. In Education it is different as it could really boost the industry and make it a lot more interactive. For example having textbooks linked up with online quizzes and more interactive methods of learning. A lot of people turn to amazon as they think books are overpriced in Australia but they have to consider that we have a large country and a small population and that causes freight costs to be higher. That’s why the books are priced higher but most people don’t consider the distribution charges. I don’t think the independent bookstore will ever go out of fashion just because they’re local and the people who work there really know there stuff, unlike at Dymocks and Borders who have underage teenagers in store and very rarely even stock the text I’m after.
Q). Do you feel that self-publishing effects editing at all?
A). Yeah, a lot of people who self-publish don’t get their stuff edited, as you would know. Besides form the fact it does us out of a job it is interesting. In one way it shows how beneficial editing is as you can tell by the quality that editors are valuable. I have actually done some work with a self-published author but there was a bit of difficult with payment method. I think there should be some sort of place made for self-publishers to get their stuff edited. And a lot of publishers don’t want to look at trade work that hasn’t already been edited, or in really good shape….I think some agents actually do that to a certain extent. They make recommendations but the authors generally have to fix it themselves.
Q). How did you get involved in the publishing industry? What are your recommendations?
A). Through a university degree and internships. I recommend doing internships and reading industry magazines. Anything that gets your work out there really. Try and make contacts early. I didn’t do any of this as a student but I think it would be good to start contacting publishers, especially trade wise. Start reviewing books for magazines or anything you can get involved with.
Q). What was your goal?
A). I really wanted to be a trade editor however I found it hard to get into it as in-house it can be quite “clique-ey”. Once I was labeled as educational no one considers you for trade anymore. That is partly why I made the move to freelancing.
After the interview Ms. Robinson continued to chat about the industry, suggesting that writing and publishing students get involved in the industry as early as possible, particularly if keen on trade editing. Ms. Robinson’s positive outlook on the future of the publishing industry was enlightening. Perhaps everyone should be more inclined to look at the introduction of e-books as an asset rather than a threat. It certainly seems that whether it is in-house, freelance, e-book or bookstore, the publishing industry is, and will continue, thriving.
On visits to the city the homeless can be seen scattered everywhere. Scrunched up on footpaths, cowering in park corners. They can be seen but do you ever think of them as people, human, just like us?Do you even care?
In an impressive and significant step the Rudd government has launched a 1.6 billion dollar plan to help the thousands of Australians in need. The plan includes giving the homeless and unemployed jobs building homes in which they may then live, donating money to hostels that are turning away hundreds daily and putting money toward preventive aid.
Many have ridiculed Kevin Rudd’s idea saying it is too little, too late. It is far from “too late”- with the recent devastating bushfires and global economic crisis the situation will only get worse- acting now is crucial. “For too long we have sidelined the plight of Australia’s homeless youth” and it is an applaudable decision of Rudd’s to start acting now.
The issue of putting 1.6 billion dollars toward such a cause has created outrage amongst the ignorant in our society who feel able to make judgments based on what little knowledge they have. “This policy just makes things easier for others [the homeless] to keep sponging off the rest of us who actually put in a hard day’s work?” This woman’s thoughtless comments make one wonder where the evidence for such a claim is? Is their evidence of successful “sponging” in the homeless twelve year old in the park? Is there evidence of it in the woman with three kids, living in her car?
One man wrote into The Age with similar shocking statements, saying “why should society care about you?”. This question was again directed at the homeless. Think again of a homeless twelve year old and ask yourselves that same question: why should society care about that child? Think of your brothers and sisters and ask “why should society care about them?”And then think of yourself and think of the thousands of things that could push your life to such a rock bottom and ask “why should society care about me?”
An article in The Age on March 2nd of this year publicizes one homeless woman’s story, typical of many. She used to work in a bank. She used to have a home. This same woman now draws on the pavement, where she sleeps, to make money. As journalist Peter Munn rightly says, “It is alarming to think that life might make such deviations”. Another such article in the Daily Telegraph, “Desperate times create new homeless”, outlines the plight of the ever-increasing number of homeless families due to the economic crisis now facing Australia. One family, consisting of both parents and three children, are faced with living in their car. The parents preparing for job interviews in public toilets- “Never in a million years did they think they would be in this situation”.
The point is no one ever dreams it could happen to them but with 100,000 homeless in Australia it is happening, all too frequently. Although none of you may believe it, it could happen to any one of you. In fact, with 1 in 8 becoming homeless, statistics suggest it will .
Those most affected by homelessness are society’s most vulnerable people. That is young children and teenagers, women, sufferers of mental health problems and Australians of an indigenous background. The exact statistics for homeless children under the age of twelve is 10% of 100,000. Whilst 10% of 100,000 might not sound like such a large number you must remember that that is 10,000 homeless children under twelve years old in Australia alone. For a country that prides itself on being accepting and compassionate this is a despicable figure. That’s 10,000 children not yet even 13 years old, younger than the majority of year seven students, who have lost almost all basic human rights. Being homeless at such a young age sees the loss of the right for health care, personal safety, social security, even an education. How can an innocent child rightfully be denied these things? How could anyone deny that child the right to grow up and lead a life such as the ones we have? Alyssa Coulter, one previously homeless teen says of her life “everyday was just another day to survive”, These children yearn for what we take for granted: a home and someone who cares. Reporter Stephen Lunn says “This is a crisis, this is life or death for some young kids”. Something needs to be done to help these children now before they too reach an age where it is easy to shove them aside, give them the usual discriminatory labels of “bludgers” and “addicts”, and then happily forget about them. Happily forget about how and why they have ended up in such a situation. Happily forget why we should help.
Homelessness is most often not the fault of the homeless person, but a gross injustice as Australia’s system fails them, as stated by the Commission of justice and peace: “any person or family that, without any direct fault on his or her part, does not have suitable housing is the victim of an injustice”. Real, effective change for Australia’s homeless will only come when society stops viewing them as “bludgers” and gives the Rudd government, and it’s 1.6 billion dollar plan, their full support. What I hope you all gain from this is the knowledge that the homeless are victims, not vermin and to give your support in ending this crisis.
Alumbra is one of those high end bars that changes into a nightclub as the night progresses. Formal attire is required and it is best to arrive early if you don’t want to be lining up for hours. The best part about Alumbra is the hiring of a Shisha for $35 with flavours of your choice. Though it’s rather expensive just to inhale flavoured smoke, but the novelty of doing it with all your friends is well worth it. With standard drink prices after a $20 dollar entry fee, it’s not exactly a cheap start to the night but worth the splashing of money.
My 10 Pet Peeves (this is not a complete list).
Hope walked slowly, her pale eyes looking beyond all the faces that zoomed by in a blur. In this moment nothing mattered besides the polished wood, glinting beautifully in the buttery yellow morning light. Nothing mattered besides the deep hole gaping open underneath where the coffin sat, suspended in the air by rope. She raised her hand to her chest, taking deep breaths. Her mouth twisted into a thin line, her face paling as, in her mind, she gazed through the wood and looked on the body of her baby.
“Had you lived we would have loved you and we loved you anyway, loved you as you kicked and wiggled, loved the sound of your heartbeat. We loved the way you rolled away from the ultrasound, hiding your beautiful face. We loved holding you for those precious few seconds. We will love you always, even from this distance”.
The speeches went on and on, washing steadily over Hope. She heard none of it, never taking her eyes from the coffin. Her mind was far away, reliving the birth. Hope winced as she recalls the pain as she pushed and then, worse, the deadly silence that followed. Her tiny baby lay blue and lifeless in the doctor’s arms. For that fraction of a second the world spun to a stop. It seemed to go on for a lifetime but within a moment they had her baby across the room, hooked up to alien machines. Hope remembered being shown them when, at thirty six weeks, she and her birthing class were taken on a tour of the maternity ward. She had hardly listened when they had described the machines, their names and what they were for. Like the others Hope had been too full of joy, exclaiming over the size of the rooms, laughing warily at the gas and air pumps beside the bed and the other one next to the bath.
“I’m going to be needing that” she remembered joking.
But Hope had not once considered the machines, or even imagined for a second her baby would be hooked up to them. But he was, and then wheeled away from her. Within the hour the doctor returned. His face was drawn and white, the lines around his eyes deep and sorrowful.
“I’m sorry” he said. He said other things too, explanations, said the midwives would see her about the birth certificate, offered to have him bought in so they could hold him, for the first and last time. It broke her completely, gazing down at his tiny face. Hope stroked his soft skin, ran her finger tips over the closed eyes. He looked just like he was sleeping with his eyes scrunched shut like that. She smiled as she lifted his miniature fists and kissed them. They wrapped him in a soft blue blanket and as she cradled him in her arms they took photos. She smiled at the camera even as the tears spilled down her cheeks. Hope kissed his face, his hands, and his feet and cried so hard it hurt as they took him away.
- © Mikki