Katie Van Heest started editing as a natural outgrowth of consulting for a graduate-school writing center. She has been editing since 2003 and established Tweed Editing about two years ago. Her services are tailored to scholarly writing and publishing.
How is scholarly editing different from more general editing?
The citations! More broadly, though, working with scholars and advanced students means appreciating the motivations of all involved parties. A professor might need to publish for tenure; a dissertator needs to please the three or four people on her committee; presses often want so many things (to fulfill their commitment to the academy, to sell books, to accrue prestige); readers want clear writing and quality ideas.
What resources are particularly helpful to your area of editing?
The entire Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing series is top notch and covers many scholarly fields in detail. The APA Style Blog clears up a lot of what's cloudy in that manual. In January, it posted research on the most common errors found in journal submissions [PDF here]. I use the included chart as an editing checklist.
What advice would you give other editors interested in scholarly or dissertation editing?
Be an insider-outsider. Have credentials and also show that you understand the publishing world. Academe is a community, and referrals seem to be self-generating. University writing centers even keep lists of editors on hand for inquiring faculty and students.
When working on dissertations, be aware of boundaries. Faculty committees are the students' primary resources for content and argument issues. From outside editors, dissertators usually need just copyediting for mechanics and style, but ask to read their committees’ feedback in advance.
What’s one thing you wish all your authors knew?
My best clients know that it's smart to work with an editor. It's a sign of professionalism and even status, not of intellectual weakness.
Thanks for giving us a glimpse behind the tweed curtain of academic editing, Katie!