1 Year with EFA: Editor Training on Sensitivity

July 1 is the first anniversary of SRD Editing Services’ membership in the Editorial Freelancers Association. In the past year, editor Cortni Merritt has taken some awesome editor training and webinar sessions provided by the EFA, and we wanted to tell you a bit more about what’s going on behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-screens at SRD Editing Services.

EFA Member & Public Webinars & Editor Training

The Editorial Freelancers Association offers a number of live trainings and recorded webinars. Most are accessible both to editors who are members as well as to the general public, however, a number of them are exclusive only to EFA members. While some webinars and trainings are free, others have an enrollment fee associated with them, although typically the fee is reduced for EFA members.

In addition to a series of webinars to help freelancers and business-owning editors enhance their business skills, several EFA courses focus on improving practical skills such as copy editing and proofreading, while others are meant to enhance the editor’s techniques within certain genres—mystery, memoir, children’s literature, etc. 

This year, editor Cortni Merritt completed and participated in a number of editor trainings that she felt could enhance practical technical skills across multiple genres, while also enriching the customer service experience she could provide to authors who choose SRD Editing Services for their editorial needs. 

The Art of Feedback

Although the MA program and editor training at Florida State University provided extensive practice on giving writers feedback, this hour-long webinar hosted by EFA Chief Executive Officer Christina Frey was a helpful refresher.

Napkin next to a red coffee mug showing feedback loop of "same old thinking" leads to "same old results" and vice versa

Feedback, especially from an editor, should be both collaborative and effective. The author must find it helpful, and above all, everyone must feel respected for feedback to be applied. 

When giving feedback, it is helpful for the editor to provide a neutral, “reader-first” perspective that is not based on opinion but instead on the authority of professional experience.

Authenticity Reading---What It Is & Why Editors Should Care

Authenticity reading, also known as sensitivity reading, is a type of pre-publication read-through for feedback in which the reader focuses on a specific area that readers might find unfairly portrays a group of people.

Most books have some content to which a particular sub-set of readers might be sensitive; different genres and books of different readership have different concerns, but when the writing might be considered “insensitive,” it should be evaluated for those concerns.

Trans Allyship for Writers & Editors

Writer and activist Davey Shlasko led this insightful editor training that examined how an editor can be aware and sensitive to trans identity and expression in the writing they edit. Above all, they say, “Be curious, be self-aware, and be willing to push past your comfort zone.” 

Flags depicting allyship with LGBTQIA+ community

In case of doubt about a person’s pronouns, ask! If you offer yours first (she/her), you may open the space for the other person to share theirs.

When assessing trans content, consider whether characters are being portrayed as real, whole people. Consider who the audience is and suggest further review from sensitivity readers as needed.

Lastly, Davey offered a variety of interesting resources for trans-ally copy editors, which I feel deserve (and will hopefully get!) their own blog: The Radical Copy Editor, The Conscious Style Guideand The Trans Allyship Workbook.  

Demystifying the Language of Disability

Writer and activist Emily Ladau has been educating audiences about life with disability since age 10. In this editor training, she encouraged editors to consider person-first, identity-first language as a part of recognizing and removing subtle ableist bias.

Line drawings of the shapes of people, some who are disabled and wheelchair users or prosthetics users. Line drawings are in a rainbow of colors

People often have preferences regarding the language used to identify them, and if you’re interested in knowing a person’s preference, ask! Some people find “disabled” preferable, while others prefer a euphemism, but a well-meaning editor can devalue thoughtful choices of self-identity by making assumptions.

Generally, Emily advises editing with one eye on the lookout for the tropes of disability and to focus on increasing affirming language and reducing use of disability-insensitive metaphors. While representation is important, a review from a person similar to one being represented is ideal–“Nothing about us, without us.” 

More Editor Training Planned for 2023-2024

It’s only in 2023 that we’ve really ramped up our professional involvement and development, first by announcing the SRD Editing Services membership in the EFA in January 2023, and then announcing our membership in the International Association of Professional Writers & Editors in May 2023. But there’s more coming! 

Subscribe to our blog or follow SRD Editing Services on social media to stay up-to-date with all the exciting announcements. More editor training for our team happening at the Workshop at Authors Publish magazine, as well as from the University of North Georgia. 

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