Professional Experience: Proofreader and Editorial Assistant for Soundings Publications

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 2.48.24 PMSoundings Publications, based in Essex, CT, produces three monthly, nationally-distributed magazines: Soundings (a consumer boating magazine), Woodshop News (a woodworking industry magazine), and Trade Only Today (a boating industry magazine). As their Proofreader and Editorial Assistant, I was responsible for a great many things, chief among them going over the proofs for each magazine with a fine-toothed comb and ensuring they conformed to Associate Press Style.

Each magazine operated on a tight production cycle, with one week each month devoted to bringing each magazine from proof to print. In addition to giving the copy a final look-through, I also worked in conjunction with the designers to over all page-design elements right down to the kerning. Working in this fast-paced and demanding production environment forced me to develop all the skills necessary to be a both efficient and meticulous editor.

The cover of the July 2009 issue of Soundings.

The cover of the July 2009 issue of Soundings.

In addition to my duties as a proofreader, I also worked closely with the editorial staff for all three magazines to produce and distribute daily and weekly e-newsletters. This required me to do a great deal of HTML formatting with Microsoft Frontpage, as well as maintenance of the magazine’s respective websites through Joomla, their Content Management System.  Towards the end of my tenure at Soundings Publications, I also began to write the monthly “Book Notes” column for Soundings’ “Home Waters” section.

My time spent at Soundings was perhaps the most rewarding period of my professional career, and many of the skills that make me an excellent freelancer are skills that I developed there. Had the swift winds of change that have been altering the field of print journalism not claimed my position (and the positions of many other copy editors and proofreaders), I’d likely still be there today.

The "Book Notes" column that I wrote for Soundings.

The “Book Notes” column that I wrote for Soundings.

If you’re interested in seeing samples of the writing I produced for Soundings magazine, you can download this PDF or you can check out any of the links below:

Remembering Camden: Stories From Old Maine

Mayday!: Shipwrecks, Tragedies, and Tale from Long Island’s Eastern Shore

Modern Sharking

Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing Through 2012

Harbor Voices: New York Harbor Tugs, Ferries, People, Places and More

Power Boating for Dummies

The Dangerous Book for Boaters

Instant Storm Forecasting

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Professional Experience: Marketing Assistant for Job Target

A flyer produced for distribution by Job Target at the Spring 2010 ERE Conference.

A flyer that I produced for Job Target that was distributed at the Spring 2010 ERE Conference.

For a brief period in 2010, I worked as a Marketing Assistant for Job Target (www.jobtarget.com) based in New London, CT. In a nutshell, the company provided a web-based software platform with which various companies and trade organizations could establish their own online job boards.

At the time that I was hired, the company was rolling out a new analytics package (OneClick Analytics) that would allow its customers and clients to track and refine their recruiting strategies. As part of the product rollout, I was tasked with producing copy for press releases, advertisements, and flyers that would be distributed at the spring ERE Conference. For these marketing materials, I developed the idea of inviting prospective clients to participate in the “Science of Recruitmentology”–a term inspired by NCAA March Madness “Bracketology”–and broke down the product’s offerings into an easy-to-digest 4-step system. You can take a look at flyer by clicking here.

In addition such projects, I also produced the copy for monthly e-newsletters, as well as crafted and disseminated press releases. At the time I was employed at Job Target, that company was experimenting with different ways to grow, and unfortunately they determined that having a Marketing Assistant on staff was more of a luxury than a necessity. Regardless, I remain immensely grateful for the experience I gained there and proud of what I accomplished.

Content Writing: Whiskey and Cigars

A how-to article on enjoying  cigars and whiskey like a high roller.

A how-to article on enjoying cigars and whiskey like a high roller.

This was a quick and fun project. The client needed a 500+ word article written on whiskey and cigars from a “high-roller’s perspective.” To accomplish this, I crafted an article the explored the finer points of choosing the correct cigar and the correct whiskey to complement one another. While I’m certainly not a “high roller” myself, I wrote the article’s content with a self-assured and subdued wit in order to appeal to both high rollers themselves and those who want to be like them. After all, with the right know-how, can’t we all enjoy the finer things in life as much as the rich and famous?

As you might expect, the content has been published under another’s name and slightly altered from the finished copy that I produced. If you’d like to take a look at the end result, you can find it here.

Content Writing: Mad Libs

This project was extremely unique and very fun, although it presented a variety of challenges as I worked through it. The client tasked me with producing 200 ten-sentence mad-lib-like short stories across a variety of different genres in the span of 3 weeks. Due to a non-disclosure agreement that I signed with the client, I am unable to provide any examples of this work. However, I thought it might be useful to discuss the process by which I completed the project.

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Handwritten notes for 200 mad-lib-like stories.

When I first began, I attempted to write each of the stories one by one. Although this proved sufficient to start out, I found after a time that I was frequently stalling while trying to develop new premises for each successive story. Identifying this as a potential hurdle to completing the project on schedule, I quickly adapted to a new process for creating the stories. Instead of trying to write each successive one from scratch on a blank computer screen, I wrote out pages of notes with quick ideas to work from. With a roadmap for where I would be going, the process of writing the stories became effortless and I found I had more time available to double- and triple-check my work.

In the end, I was able to deliver 200 unique, original and fun mad-lib-like stories that the client was extremely pleased with. In their feedback, the client noted that: “[Scott] does his work on time and is very inquisitive about projects, so as to deliver quality driven and precise work.” I had a lot of fun working on this one, and I’d love to participate in a similar project again.

Academic Writing: Fishery in ‘Free Spaces’

Edits provided for the abstract to this academic article.

Edits provided for the abstract to this academic article.

For this project, the client required a final read-through of their academic article on fishery in ‘free spaces’ of northern Russia. The client wanted to ensure that the article was correctly formatted, contained no errors and also conformed to standard English usage–English being their second language. The project was immensely fun, and in providing edits I learned a great deal about a culture that I knew very little about. Through my editing process, I provided the client with valuable feedback about where their article might be vague or unclear, while also providing the standard edits to grammar, syntax and punctuation. Since the client was under a tight deadline to submit the article, I turned around their article in less than 24 hours. Although, I had to work quickly, I left no comma unscrutinized and provided the client with an edit that they were immensely satisfied with: “Great work. Very good editor.”

Academic Writing: An Essay on Alexander Calder

For this project, I was tasked with assisting a client in the production of an academic article about the famous visual artist Alexander Calder. The client specifically required assistance with organizing their voluminous thoughts and notes into a cogent, concise and logical academic article. In order to accomplish this I suggested that we break the project down into two distinct phases.

In the first, I assisted the client by reading their notes, outline and a rough draft of the final work. After doing so, I provided the client with an assessment of what I interpreted their argument to be and suggested ways in which they should organize their disparate thoughts and arguments into an incremental and air-tight argument. After providing this assessment to the client, we remained in touch while the client worked on putting together a final draft of the article.

The initial round of edits provided for the rough draft.

The initial round of edits provided for the rough draft.

In the second phase, the client provided me with a complete draft of their article which I both edited and critiqued. While providing necessary edits for parts of the draft that were rock-solid, I also suggested places where the client could further expand upon their thinking or underscore their article’s thesis. After this initial edit was completed, I gave the finished product one more read-through to check for nitty-gritty errors and omissions.

In the end, the client was immensely satisfied with my work, remarking, “Scott is a pleasure to work with, provided excellent editorial feedback with insightful analysis of structure, form, content and organization. Meticulous, and great sense of humor. Would work with him again and recommend him to others.” I enjoyed working with this client as well, and found the project as rewarding as it was fascinating and enlightening.

Novel Editing: Penny and Amber

Among the many projects that I’ve taken on this year, this one was, without a doubt, the most challenging. The client sought my services in providing a final proofread of their novel-length manuscript Penny & Amber. After accepting the project, I soon discovered that the manuscript had been produced by multiple authors, at least one of whom was a non-native English speaker/writer. As such, in addition to routine grammatical and syntactical errors, there were also jarring shifts in tense, tone and voice that needed to be addressed.

An example of the heavy editing provided for "Penny & Amber"

An example of the heavy editing provided for “Penny & Amber” while in process.

With a week to complete the edits for this 60,000 word manuscript, I dove in headfirst and worked line-by-line to pull the manuscript together. In doing so, I made not only corrections to grammar and word choice, but also to a great deal of the content. Although the time and budget allotted for the project did not allow me to truly hone the text, I was able, through my diligence, to create a consistent narrative voice and flow for which the client was extremely grateful.

Currently, the book is available for purchase on Amazon. If you’d like to have a look at the finished product, it can be found here.