Editing is hard work

I’ve just finished a co-edited journal on crowdfunding, which I’ve done with my friends Lucy Bennett and Bertha Chin, and am in the middle of co-editing a book on the same, with the same co-authors, so a (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) blog on editing and what I’ve discovered about it seemed timely.

Editing is hard work
I remember talking to my supervisor earlier this year about edited collections. I noted that they were hard work. “Why do you think I don’t do them?” was his reply. And he’s got a point. In terms of labour versus payoff, editing collections and journals isn’t as prestigious as writing for a collection or journal, and it’s hard work. With the crowdfunding book, for example, we wrote the proposal in September 2013 (with most of our contributors already on board following our journal special issue call for papers), signed the contract in November 2013 and promised to deliver the manuscript to the publisher by October 2014. Yes. We may not have thought that through! What it meant was that we were working on a book collection and a journal issue on the same subject at the same time, while still juggling our day jobs, the Fan Studies Network conference (September 27-28 2014, there’ll be a review afterwards), teaching and other academic commitments. We did most of our work on evenings and weekends, with a lot of email correspondence back and forth and much Whats-Apping as well.

The easiest way to keep the editing going, and keep ourselves sane, was to divide the workload into sections. We had three sections in the book (plus and introduction and afterword) so each of us chose a section to take lead on. That involved us reading the chapters for our sections, annoting them and writing up an editors report which was then circulated to the others for comment. That meant that we were all happy with the chapters, but we didn’t all have to undertake an in-depth analysis of each one. We were lucky doing it this way as we’ve worked together before and are all pretty much on the same page. For people you haven’t worked with before (or worse, don’t get on with) this might not work. Doing it this way also means that when we write the introduction to the collection (this week!) we’ll each be able to write in-depth about our own sections, the chapters in them and the contribution they may to crowdfunding scholarship. It really helps break the workload up.

Saying that, though, there are times when things conspire in real life to make things even more difficult, and juggling those on top of everything else we decided to take on was pretty nightmarish at times. Each of us dealt with something/s over the course of editing these two collections that we hopefully won’t have to again. In short, if you’re going to edit or co-edit a collection, only sign up to do one at a time and preferably when you have absolutely nothing else to do!

Filesharing is your friend
Dropbox has made the editing process so much easier. We’ve kept files for each of the projects we’re doing along with spreadsheets where we’ve tracked the progess of reviews, wordcounts, status (finished, final tweaks, revisions); draft versions of our introduction, which we’ve each worked on at the same time; notes on the proposal and a whole list of other things. This proved especially handy when my boyfriend’s laptop decided to play silly buggers last weekend and I ended up writing my part of the introduction on my phone and uploading it to Dropbox. Having a shared folder is so much easier than sending emails with different versions of a document back and for and it can be accessed anywhere, which for me is great. (I have been known to do work on my day-job lunch break on my phone in the kitchen.)

Deadlines will be missed
You’ll curse the author who doesn’t get their essay into you on time and then you’ll realise that a month has gone by without you acknowledging the six others who did. Authors sending work in late is frustrating, but it’s also inevitable. Things will come up that they have no control over and in that situation there’s not a lot you can do but try and help as best you can. Usually that will work out fine. For the most part it did for us and we submitted the journal issue to the publisher when we said we would (fingers crossed the same happens with the book!). Sometimes it won’t, and then you have to make the decision to let the author go. It’s never nice to do that, and trying to find a way to effectively dump a contributor via email is something we all hated doing.

What I also discovered about myself, though, is that if I don’t reply to emails straight away I can (and will) forget to reply for some time afterwards. This is not a good thing when you’re co-editing something. Even though the temptation may be – as mine often was – to reply from your PC when you get home from work rather than firing off a quick ‘received, thanks, talk soon’, don’t. Invariably you’ll forget, something will crop up or the last thing you’ll want to do after staring at a computer screen all day is stare at a computer screen all evening. And then it’s four weeks later and your author is asking if their email arrived and you’re thinking ‘oh shit, I knew there was something I meant to do…’. If I ever edit something like this again, I’m replying as soon as I see an email.

Many hands make light work
Having co-editors to work with, bounce ideas off, rant your frustrations at, take up the reins when you’ve realised something else is due, and a million other things is invaluable. Lucy, Bertha and I started both crowdfunding projects around the same time – about a year ago – while we were also doing other things which included a full time job, teaching, journal editing (for other journals), an MA and life in general. Doing that on our own would have been impossible. I’m grateful for Lucy and Bertha picking up the reins when I’ve had family problems to deal with, and I’m glad I’ve been able to help them when they’ve had other deadlines to focus on. Having other editors who know the process that you’re going through really makes a difference as far as I’m concerned. I’ve co-edited three journal special issues and one book collection now, all with at least one other editor, and I can’t imagine doing it on my own. Even a journal issue of eight pieces requires a lot of work, to say nothing of a book with 16 chapters. The tight timeframe we gave ourselves didn’t really help matters either.

Find co-editors who you get on with and work well with. You don’t need to like them (and you definitely don’t want to lose a friendship over a co-edited collection gone wrong) but you need to be able to work together and communicate. My co-editors have been lifesavers.

You will dream about those collections
And not the nice, ‘my collection’s been published to rave reviews’ dreams but the ‘carrying out an interview with a survey respondent while driving with the window down and losing all of the material to the sound of the wind rushing past’ sort of dreams. You’ll be thinking about the collection all the time. You’ll start drafting the introduction in the shower; think about the feedback you’re giving on a paper while driving to work; remember that email you had to send in the middle of The Walking Dead. It will consume you. And you’ll get sick of it and tell yourself never again. But then the journal will come out, the book will be published, your colleagues will use it in their classes, and someone will say ‘hey, I’ve got an idea for an edited collection on The X-Files‘ 25th anniversary…’.

Expect the call for papers soon.

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Journal Publication

So, I had my first paper published in the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures. It’s the one I wrote on fan activism, and in which I conducted two case studies on X Files fans. The abstract is: I explore the ways in which celebrity charity and fan activism can lead to civic engagement and social change. Fan studies has moved away from the traditional view of fans as psychologically deficient and has begun to examine resistance within the cultural productions of fandom—fan fiction, for example, addressing gender imbalances in popular TV shows. However, scholarship on celebrity-focused fans still retains much of the stigmatizing language that mars early writing about fans. I examine the relationship between celebrity and fan; examine the role celebrity plays in framing fan charity; assess how fan investment affects celebrity charity work; and argue that fans are active participants in encouraging social awareness and charitable giving.

And the link is: http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/309/275

The X Files – Twenty Years On

The abstract for the above journal has been revised and sent! Just got to keep all my fingers crossed that it gets accepted, and that I can get ethics committee approval from uni for it (I’m planning on questioning/interviewing fans under the age of 16 so I need to put a good proposal forward to the committee). I am a little worried that I’m going to take on too much if it does get accepted, but the stuff I’d be looking at for the paper links directly to the research I’m doing on my lit review, and first drafts don’t need to be in til January next year, which gives me plenty of time to work on it. Plus, I’m doing a PhD on The X Files. I can’t pass up an opportunity to submit something to a journal that’s doing a special edition on that very topic!

In other news, the slash book chapter I’m writing seems to be going well. I’ve had lots of thinky-thoughts on it, which have translated into about 6000 words of notes, and that’s without any quotes from my interviewees or their fic in there! One thing I do need to find though, are femslash writers in the Twilight fandom. It’s a long shot, I know, but do any of you happen to know anyone who’d be interested in being interviewed?

Supervision Meeting

But I’m not making a post like the last one I made *g* I was actually a little bit worried about the meeting, but that’s because after much umming and aahing I decided it would be better for me if I could do the PhD part time. I was very naïve (stupid?) when I first applied and thought that I’d be able to work full time and study full time (after all, I did it for the last half of my MA) but I hadn’t realised the sheer amount of work I’d need to do. Reading about fan fiction and The X Files alone just isn’t enough-there are so many other areas to read around and theories to learn, and coming at this from the academic background I have means I’m playong catch up while studying. So I decided that doing the PhD part time would be better because I’d be putting the same amount of work in but would have much longer to write everything up. I’d emailed Matt to ask if we could discuss it and the response was positive but I was still a bit nervous.

Anyway, come today it actually went well. We talked about the fact I have to work because at the moment I have a £20 a week budget and that has to cover food, train travel and all other odds and sods. £20 is what I have left after my bills, etc have gone out, and I get my pay and help from my parents for those. So Matt’s suggested I email our department head to ask about the possibility of teaching hours in the next academic year to supplement my income. He asked how much I was working, and I must have pulled a face because he said he wouldn’t be pissed off if it was full time, he just needed to know. So I told him it is full time, and I work late every night to make up for the time I lose on a Wednesday morning (because work wouldn’t grant me study leave). He said that it’s impossible to work and study for a PhD and if I keep doing it I’ll only get more stressed and harm my candidacy because there’s no way I’ll be able to complete to a high standard in 3 years. Which I agree with. So I’m going to email the department head, explain my situation and see what he says. Matt can’t see any problem with me going part time; the only issue may be that I might have to pay back some or all of the grant I was given by the university, but we’ll cross that when we come to it. So I’m going to send the email when I get home and go from there. I do feel like a weight has been lifted since making that decision though, and I’m glad today’s meeting went well.

In other news, I can’t believe a week ago I was on a train home after New York! I don’t know where the time goes.

I’m presenting a paper at the Fangbangers conference next week and am freaking out about it! I haven’t actually written the paper yet, and I don’t want to go anymore! Except I have to so I will.

Oh, and it looks like my writing therapy article is going to be published as they’ve asked for a bio, and I’ve had an article on tattoos accepted for a new literary tattoo magazine, which makes me happy.

It’s Worrying How Time Flies

I now have only two months to finish my MA portfolio of 10000. I swear 5 minutes ago I had four months.

I’ve had my marks back for my teaching essay and portfolio one – 76 for the essay and my tutor’s told me to submit it to some journals, and 68 for the portfolio. I was really hoping I’d get more, and I debated contesting it, but in the end I decided not to bother. I did, however, email a couple of journals for the teaching essay (which was on writing therapy and client safety) and one has come back to say yes, please submit. I’ve also emailed Henry Jenkins about the fan activism issue of the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures he’s guest editing, and had a reply today to say that they’re interested in the paper I’ve proposed and would like me to submit. They can’t guarantee publication as it has to go through peer review, but the fact that they’re interested when it’s not an area I’ve studied and I haven’t even started my PhD yet really pleased me. I know what I’m going to write about, and I’ve approached some people I want to do case studies with, so just waiting for their permission and then I can start the research and drawing up my questions.