What is it like to tech edit for magazines compared to designers?

I started tech editing about eight years ago and I initially started working with designers who were self-publishing on Ravelry. Then after about a year I got a gig working with a magazine and after a few months for a variety of reasons, I moved to another magazine -- Knit Now magazine -- edited by the fabulous Kate Heppell and based here in Manchester. They were a brand new magazine and Kate had mentioned on Twitter that they were going to need a tech editor. I applied for the job, and I went for an interview, and I guess they were happy enough with my work to hire me. So that was how I got started editing for Knit Now magazine. I was with them as their only tech editor for maybe eight or nine months and then we brought on another tech editor. I ended working with them for just shy of two years total.

The reasons I left were mainly that the magazine publishing schedule, at least here in the UK, is very fast paced. Knit Now put out 13 issues a year, which is one every four weeks. When I started we were putting out over 20 patterns every issue and we were initially all accessories which I loved. And then Kate started to introduce more garments, which is great for the magazine, but it's not my area of speciality and I don't love editing garments. It was a tight schedule and I had two young kids at home and it was a little bit too fast paced for me. I did work with a magazine after Knit Now, which was a magazine based in the states, and they only published I think four or five patterns per issue and they put out four issues a year. So the schedule was a lot less frantic and there was just a little bit more time to edit the patterns and there were fewer patterns so I enjoyed that a lot more. 

So magazine work, in general, is a bulk of patterns given to you at once. There's a lot of editing to do and you are making all the corrections. When you work with a designer, in general, you're just pointing out errors to the designer. The designer is making the corrections and sending a corrected proof back to you for you to then recheck and approve. With magazines, there's no back and forth with the designer, so that was hard. Because if I'm making corrections then I am prone to making mistakes and so you really need someone to check your corrections. When we moved to two tech editors, that really helped with that problem because when we got the PDF proofs to check, I could look at the patterns that I didn't tech edit and at least just run through them and the other tech editor could do the same for me.

I think people think that editing for a magazine is like a dream job but for me, it wasn't. I didn't like getting a bulk of work to do and to have to try and fit that into my schedule when I had a very unpredictable schedule. I had kids who would get sick or who would not sleep and it was just too hard to fit a bulk load of work and very tight deadlines into my very chaotic life. Working with book publishers was very similar. The deadlines were a little bit more flexible and longer but you would still get a bulk of patterns, sometimes 20 plus patterns. You were also a lot more involved with the designer and had a lot more back and forth with them which was nice. It still wasn't the right fit for me, but working on books can be a lot of fun, especially if you like that sort of challenge and you like a variety of patterns.

When you're working with designers who are self-publishing, you just get one or sometimes two patterns at a time and I really liked that. I liked that I could pick and choose my work. I liked that I could tell the designer "no, I'm not the best tech editor for this type of pattern" and suggest they contact an editor friend of mine. I liked being able to just work on the patterns that I knew I could do better than anyone. It was also more flexible. I could tell my designers: "I work Tuesdays and Thursdays, so you need to get the patterns to me by Monday night or Wednesday night or you'll have to wait until the next week." And I could see when my schedule was filling up and tell designers they'd have to wait a couple weeks before I could fit them in. So I had a lot of control over my workflow.

So those are all things to consider when you're thinking about the types of jobs you can take as an editor. Do you want a large volume of work at once? Would you prefer to have a slower drip of patterns that you can kind of schedule and control your workflow? How much are you willing to do on any one day? Do you mind tight deadlines? Do you love them? If you specialize in something and you're thinking about taking on bulk work, what if there's something that you're not familiar with? With magazines, you certainly cannot control the patterns you get in so you better be comfortable editing a wide variety. I'm a tech editor who preferred to specialize in a few things rather than everything but others prefer to have a huge variety. It's up to you.

The checklist your tech editor wants you to be using

You're a designer and you want your pattern to be in the best possible shape before you send it to your tech editor (TE), right?

Of course you do! The better the quality of the pattern you send in, the better the quality of the pattern you get out. 

The more issues a tech editor has to fix, the more things that are potentially going to be missed. It will cost you more time and money. Patterns which come to a publisher in  bad shape don't help your reputation with them.

So, here's a checklist that your tech editor will thank you for following (and you'll thank yourself as well):

  • Look at your pictures and make sure you include detail shots. Send them in the email to the TE if they aren't included in the pattern itself. The tech editor needs these to make sure that your instructions are making what's pictured in the sample. 

  • All descriptions make sense -- I know designers reuse templates a lot and sometimes you forget to update something.

  • Layout is logical and clear and the pattern is consistent in style -- for example, you might want to check your capitalisation throughout and make sure you haven't used "rep to end" in one spot and "repeat to end" in another. 

  • All needles listed are used and all needles used are listed.

  • Gauge is listed stockinette stitch but also in stitch patterns used. It's really helpful to the TE to have the gauge in stitch pattern listed as well (really helpful is an understatement if you want them to be able to accurately check the finished measurements. Absolutely vital would be more accurate.)

  • All notions are listed and in the correct amounts – buttons, ribbons, snaps, stitch holders, tapestry needles, etc. (Make sure you have button quantities correct for different sizes. I know I'm often guilty of listing the number of buttons I used in my sample, but not checking how many each size actually needs.)

  • If there is an abbreviations section then check all abbreviations used in the pattern are listed. Remember special/unusual abbreviations including cables should always be listed.

  • Pattern makes logical sense – give it a quick read through and make sure all elements are there. Mittens have thumbs, socks have heels and toes, garments have two sleeves and a neck opening, etc.

  • RS/WS are labelled correctly and follow on correctly (i.e. if Row 1 is a RS row then all odd numbered rows should be RS rows.)

  • Rows are numbered correctly (particularly if a pattern says something like “Rows 10-20: Work 10 rows in pattern.” If you have Rows X-Y then the number of rows worked is Y- X+1.)

  • Check all the numbers – look at pattern repeats working with the number of stitches in the rows and increases and decreases resulting in correct stitch counts (and please list the stitch counts after every change if possible. You can remove these before publishing but it helps the TE stay on the same track as you.)

  • Finishing instructions are listed and correct – designers often miss listing a seam to be sewn or an area to be grafted.

  • All necessary charts and schematics are included — if no schematic is going to be provided then you've got to have finished measurements listed somewhere.

  • Charts match written instructions and chart keys are given and correct. All stitches shown in the key are used in the chart and all stitches shown in the chart are listed in the key. It's helpful to let your TE know if the written instructions have been generated by your charting software or not. (If they have been then most likely the TE does not need to do a line by line comparison with the chart and this is for the two of you to discuss.)

  • Pattern sizing should be reasonable when held up to some sizing standard -- perhaps give the TE a heads up of what sizing standard you used or make sure you are following the one given to you by the publisher.

  • Can you improve the clarity of the pattern in any way? Are there spots you are unsure about the phrasing? Point these out to your TE! Let them know your specifically worried about it. It might not raise a red flag with them otherwise and it's important that you get feedback (even if it's just a "looks good to me!") to ease your worries. 

Do you agree or disagree with the points above? Have I missed anything? How do you get your pattern ready for your tech editor? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

(Does reading this list make you think you might be a good tech editor? I've got a free course for that!)

005: Crushing It!

I'm doing weekly live streams over in my facebook group, The Tech Editor Hub, and then editing them and posting them here. If you would like to join the group you can find it here.

In this episode, I talk about "Crushing It" by Gary Vaynerchuk and making sure that your ambition is mapped by your actions.

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004: Tech Editing & Mental Health

I'm doing weekly live streams over in my facebook group, The Tech Editor Hub, and then editing them and posting them here. If you would like to join the group you can find it here.

In this episode I talk about how to deal with marketing burnout and how to manage your anxiety around making mistakes as a tech editor.

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003: Newsletter Content and Timing Your Work

I'm doing weekly live streams over in my facebook group, The Tech Editor Hub, and then editing them and posting them here. If you would like to join the group you can find it here.

Today's topics:

  • What to put in a newsletter for your tech editing clients (or potential clients)
  • How to use social media and a newsletter to get more clients
  • How I time my editing work and what tool I use

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002: Instagram vs Facebook Groups for Tech Editors

I'm doing weekly live streams over in my facebook group, The Tech Editor Hub, and then editing them and posting them here. If you would like to join the group you can find it here.

Today's topics:

  • Instagram vs Facebook Groups
  • My thoughts on linktr.ee and how to best use your Instagram profile link
  • How to make the most of story highlights on Instagram
  • Best newsletter provider when you are starting out

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001: Instagram Hashtags, Stories, and Breaking All The Rules

I'm doing weekly live streams over in my facebook group, The Tech Editor Hub, and then editing them and posting them here. If you would like to join the group you can find it here.

Today's topics:
*Picking which platform(s) to use
*Hashtags on Instagram -- using them and following them
*Stories on Instagram -- how to use them, what to talk about, and using story highlights
*Time management -- how to find time for social media
*What rules to follow and what rules to ignore

Links I mention:
Marketing for Tech Editors Course
10 Tips for Growing Organically on IG
Jesse Driftwood (awesome IG stories)

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