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a born-digital, open-review volume edited by Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki

copyediting with collaborators in a digital age (May 2013)

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Have you ever tried to coordinate responses to copyediting for an edited volume with over 30 collaborators during the last four weeks of the semester? Thanks to our wonderful contributors and colleagues at the University of Michigan Press, we survived this process. Perhaps it’s worth sharing how we did it with free PDF annotation tools and a shared network folder (in our case, the free Dropbox.com service). Managing all of our copyediting this way allowed us to divide the labor, share the most up-to-date versions with our many contributors to comment on, and keep track of our work without driving ourselves crazy.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 As co-editors of Writing History in the Digital Age, we began internal copyediting with our contributors in early spring 2012 via Google Documents, before submitting the final manuscript to the Press. GoogleDocs allowed us to retain editing privileges while enabling “anyone to comment,” which enabled us to display our real-time first round of copyedits with all of our authors, as well as the public. When readers clicked on any essay in the spring 2012 web-book edition, they saw the “copyediting in progress” link to the Google Doc.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 But the Press preferred its established Microsoft Word workflow for copyediting and production, so we had to shift gears. Fortunately, it was relatively easy to export from GoogleDoc to MSWord format, do a little bit of clean-up, then submit the full manuscript in June 2012. Several months and emails later, we received word on April 8th, 2013 that the copyediting was ready for us to review, and could we have it finished by early May, less than four weeks away?

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Rather than having the Press ship the copyediting to us on paper, as the Press originally proposed, we persuaded them to upload the digital PDFs into our shared Dropbox folder. As co-editors responsible for making edits, we each had full access to all of the files even though we did our work while on different continents (Jack in Connecticut, USA and Kristen in Heidelberg, Germany). We divided up the files, marked each with the initials of the primary editor, and agreed not to make edits directly on each other’s files (to avoid syncing conflicts, one weakness of Dropbox in comparison to Google Docs). We used the “share link” Dropbox feature to give read-only access —  for the entire folder — to all of our contributors.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Dropbox folder as seen by contributors to the book, April 2013

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 We included the read-only Dropbox folder link in our email to contributors on April 11th, along with these instructions:

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Dear contributors,

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 We have received your copyedited chapters for Writing History in the Digital Age from the Press, which you can view and/or download in PDF format from our Dropbox site [URL on that date]. We ask the lead author of each chapter (in cooperation with your co-authors, if any) to do the following by Friday April 26th:

  • 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0
  • Download the copyedited PDF of your chapter from the site above
  • Review the suggested edits (and if you are in agreement, simply OK all) and respond to any author queries (marked with letter-footnotes)
  • Write your response in an email, or if you prefer, you may digitally annotate the PDF.
  • Send your response to the primary editor for your chapter (JD = Jack; KN = Kristen)

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 . . . If you do not email us your response by Friday, April 26th, we will presume you accept all of the copyediting changes and will forward your chapter to the Press. As the editors, we also may contact you individually about additional responses from us to the copyeditor. The Press has instructed us to complete our copyediting and return by May 6th.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Our contributors responded in different ways. Some sent a quick reply to approve all of the copyedits. Others wrote an email that detailed revisions to be made or responses to copyeditor queries (“on page 6, line 4, please change . . .”). Still others downloaded the PDF and inserted their responses with yellow digital sticky notes. Both of us are Mac users, though the age of our machines and their operating systems differ, so we decided to use the built-in Preview application to insert our own sticky-note edits with the “highlights and notes” view open for improved readability.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Copyediting PDF notes on Preview for Mac (on Sherman Dorn’s essay)

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 All of our copyediting notes appeared to transfer smoothly when viewed with another PDF application, Adobe Reader, which is freely available for Mac and Windows. Other editors and authors may choose to use different PDF annotation tools than the ones we used, but the concept is the same.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 The same copyediting notes as shown above, on Adobe Reader for Mac

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 As co-editors, we reviewed and responded to copyedits on all of the essays for which we were responsible, and communicated with one another about common issues via a privately shared Google Document. Among our twenty-two essays and over thirty contributors, only one did not respond. When we finished all edits on an individual file, we added an “OK” to the file name to mark our approval. Today on May 8th — only two days past the Press’s original deadline — we returned our completed copyedits to the Press via a different shared Dropbox folder.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Dropbox folder with final copyedits, May 2013

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Since our book is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC, we can share this public read-only Dropbox link to our final copyedits, to educate everyone about the process and to encourage others to create their own born-digital, freely-accessible, open peer-reviewed edited volumes. (It’s not as hard as it sounds — just ask our contributors.) The University of Michigan Press tells us to expect page proofs in about three months (August 2013), and we hope to see the final edition (for sale in print and free access online) by the end of the calendar year. Look for other open-access titles on their digitalculturebooks site. In the meantime, readers can view the web-book edition at our website, http://WritingHistory.trincoll.edu.

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Source: http://writinghistory.trincoll.edu/evolution/copyediting/