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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Tech Edited Copy - What New Designers Need To Know

I mentioned in my last post I had finished with the book, but that it wasn't really finished. I said it still had to go to the editor and tech editor to be checked. I'm updating this to say all the tech editing has been done and checked for any mistakes, and will be going to print in a few days.
No matter how confident you are with your wording and instructions, you will be surprised to know that after the tech editor checks the patterns they can come back all marked up and you're thinking, "What in the world? I thought I worded everything perfectly and every word I wrote was clear."

 After all, I have pattern testers who were able to stitch up each and every project without any trouble. As a matter of fact, I have always told my pattern testers to try and make the project from my instructions without asking me any questions. I need to see if they understand everything I wrote. In the 10 years I've been designing professionally I have probably had a tester ask me only 1-2 questions to make something more clear. I use crocheters of all skill levels and experience, but I really prefer younger, beginning to intermediate crocheters to work up the projects. I have found that the more experienced crocheters tend to ignore or not notice if I forgot to say sinple things such as "Fasten off", "Turn", "Sew side seams", or common things in a pattern most people would know to do if it weren't stated. But the newer crocheters will always add that in a note to my patterns. I do appreciate the fact they caught that it was not mentioned in a pattern since some people would not automatically know what to do. Another reason I'm confident about my pattern writing skills is that the pattern tester I chose for the Ivory Sweater on the front of Positively Crochet was only 16 years old and she didn't have to ask me one single question on the instructions.

Having said all that, your ego can quickly get inflated after you've viewed the tech edited copy. There are some wonderful tech editors in the crochet designing world and I admire them more than they know. I could never do what they do. It's just not in the makeup of my brain to wrap my thoughts around some of the math a tech editor has to check on grading the sizes.

Knowing I was turning in my 5th book, I was feeling even more confident than I was on the last book. I was so proud of myself, thinking it would not be nearly as marked up as the last one. But to my surprise, it's marked up just as much as the last. I could be devastated but I've learned not to be and I'll explain why.

It's not that my patterns could not be understood or that it's not possible for them to be worked up the way I originally wrote them. They are very clear, but there's something you need to know about tech editing in order not to get discouraged. Even though I have used the proper crochet language, there are more ways than one to word things in the language of crochet. This all depends on the format and wording a particular publisher or editor wants. On my first book, when I stated the measurements for a purse, I said 11" x 11" without handles, which seems fine, right? But the tech editor had marked that out and wrote "excluding handles". That was no biggie, but with my next book I wrote "excluding handles" on all the bags. You guessed it! It then came back from the tech editor with "excluding handles" marked out and she had inserted "without handles". Go figure! I began thinking that tech editors just wanted to change things to make it look like they are doing their job. I've changed my mind on that now and really respect tech editors. This has always been the most frustrating part of the book process for me. Another thought I've had is "There's no way I can know if what they marked out and reworded in the pattern is right without having to remake the whole projects again myself from their instructions. So that's the point in which I have to just "let go" and trust the tech editor with her years of experience in this area. It's hard to do this but you really have no choice. After all, they are professional tech editors and get paid to know what they are doing.

But the longer I design, I've learned to be patient with this process and know that my baby, "the book", I have worked on and carried for 9 months is in good hands. On the last 2 books, I remember thinking I could not possibly know if what the tech editor changed was right (without remaking it) and was so incredibly worried there would be many major errors after the book was published. But really, there were 4 very minor things that needed corrected, which would not have any affect on the finished product with those instructions.

If you are interested in more of this process then by all means, keep reading. I want to give you some examples of wording the tech editor changed.

1. I wrote "end off", because it's shorter and they want the patterns condensed as much as    possible, but the tech editor changed it to "fasten off", which is also acceptable.

2. I wrote (at the end of a row) "sl st to top of 1st sc". The TE wrote "join with sl st to first sc". What I wrote is not wrong, but just another way of wording it.

3. I wrote "(3 dbtr-cl made)". She said "(counts as 3 dtr-cl)".

4. I said "oval loops" She said "oval rings". To me a ring is always round.

5. I said "with front facing". She said "with RS facing". Either way is good.

6. I said "sh" for "shell" and "loops for "loops", but she changed it to "shell and "lps". Same with "tog" for "together". I wrote "tog", again thinking of condensing the wording. I've always been told to use the abbreviations, and I used the ones that are in the publisher's other books. I actually studied their other books and was trying to go along with that template and wording. See what I mean? I shouldn't be complaining though. Everything will turn out ok, and once a book is actually released all this frustration is forgotten and overshadowed by your excitement!

I hope this post has been helpful to designers who are hoping to get a book published someday or if you are in the process right now. What I've said should help you not to panic and cry like I did the first time I got my marked up book back to be reviewed. Happy crocheting and happy designing!

1 comment:

  1. So it feels like they change some explanations to a standard they follow. All things can be said in a few ways. There is no crochet instructions like software code yet, where you can't change a single letter or it wouldn't work. :))) Ah, written instructions.... they are not my favorites.