The Emotional Side of Tech Editing

As of this writing, I have been officially considering myself a tech editor for over a year.  It’s been a wonderful time of growth and serious learning along the way.  In case you are wondering, “Why should you use a tech editor?”  Learn what to expect here on my Job Descriptions.

My Education & Background:  You may be wondering, “well how does someone become a tech editor, anyway?”  For me, it came after working as a tester for a handful of designers.  As I tested the patterns, I would point out grammatical or punctuation errors that I discovered in those patterns.  The designers were grateful for my help and one prominent designer strongly suggested I become a tech editor.

So what is my educational background that gives me expertise in this arena?  Did I go to Tech Edit School?  No.  I have two degrees in science.  I have written scientific papers and documents.  I also worked at an environmental consulting firm where my primary job was editing a very large technical document.  How does this apply to crochet?  Well, I feel it’s given me a eye for detail and to see how pertinent information can be expressed in the most efficient way.

Crochet Education: But where have I received an education in crochet?  Experience, purely from experience.  Before this year, I had never taken a course in anything related to crochet.  Not online or in person.  But I have read a great many patterns, books, magazines and blogs.  I’ve found both good and confusing patterns.  I’ve found patterns that were stitchable but maybe not written in the best way.  I’ve also found patterns connected to beautiful pictures and when reading the pattern I’ve thought, “there’s no way this pattern makes that hat.”  I’ve read patterns that were so poorly written, I had absolutely no idea what the designer intended.  I’ve read other patterns that simply had copy/paste errors that were propagated throughout an entire pattern.  I have also read a great many extremely clear, beautiful and completely understandable patterns that allowed me to try new techniques in crochet and flawlessly end up with a beautiful creation in my hands.

It’s not all self-taught experience, I have taken two courses on pattern writing by prominent crochet designers.

Am I an Expert?  Given my history leading up to calling myself a tech editor, I often think, “do I have a leg to stand on?”  Self doubt is always a struggle.  I rely on and justify many of my edits on the generally accepted guidelines laid out by the Craft Yarn Council.  Furthermore, when I took a class on pattern writing from Edie Eckman at the CGOA conference, it verified my methods.

Still, when I see designers post patterns and say that they have been “professionally tech edited” it makes me worry because I still fear that I might get something wrong.

You can learn how other tech editors grew into their positions through my Meet the Tech Editor series.  Be sure to email me if you’d like to be featured.

The feels (fears):  My biggest fear as a tech editor is that I’ll miss something.  When tech editing, we are either right or wrong.  There’s no gray area.  When we send a pattern back to the designer, we have said, “everything works and is both precise and accurate.”  Check out this post on precision and accuracy.  Tech editors need to hit the bullseye each and every time.  There is no room for error when you are the one responsible for finding the errors!

If I miss something, it doesn’t matter how many arrows hit the bullseye.  If I miss something or mark something incorrectly, it’s as though NOTHING hit the bullseye.  I have to be 100% correct.  Now, I know I’m human, and I can make mistakes, too.  But a mistake on my part can ruin my reputation and can lead to defeat and depression.

My second biggest fear as a tech editor is that I’ll offend someone.  Editing isn’t personal, but I know it can hurt.  Those are your words and you worked hard to put them there and subject them to criticism.  Unless you’re completely open to any and all criticism, you’re going to feel something.  That’s completely natural.  However, as we all know, it’s extremely difficult to relay tone through text.  When I edit, I often put it down in black and white.  Please know that none of the marks are personal.

All editorial marks are merely suggestions.  The designer is the one to decide whether or not to accept those suggestions.  Therefore, I, too, accept that all of my suggestions might not be accepted.  That does not hurt my feelings in the slightest.

My Goals:   My aim is to refine your pattern so that it is understandable by the crochet community at large.  I want any person interested in crochet, with a basic understanding, to be able to work your pattern and end up with a beautiful result in their hands.  Particularly, I think about a person who maybe has never stitched the particular thing that is made by your pattern.  Could that person understand the instructions and make this item for the very first time?

My other goal is to have your pattern be accepted by every crochet enthusiast as a valid pattern.  When reviewing patterns, readers are going to make judgement within seconds.  If a crocheter has been reading and working other patterns from books, magazines and other bloggers, will they be able to understand your pattern as well as the best written pattern they’ve ever read?  Or will they look at your pattern and think, “this is too different from what I know, I can’t learn someone else’s style, forget it.”

My suggestions are always meant to help you.  I want you to be successful and gain new readers and customers.  Therefore, all my edits come with a bit of love.  I’m trying to lift up your pattern so that together we can make the world more beautiful and bring joy to others.

With all these goals and fears, I have to then find a way to suggest edits that correct spelling, math, grammar and crochet language and still maintain the voice of the designer.  Please remember, the focus is crochet.  My tagline is “Helping you bring beauty to the world through clear and flawless patterns.”  Let’s both remember that we are human and emotions are normal, but we are also professionals and our final goal is beauty.

Along the way, I hope to also educate my clients.  Please check out more of my educational posts on project levels, gauge, punctuation, accuracy, and other common typos.

  1. I love this article! I have only ever used the services of one tech editor and she is worth her weight in gold. Don’t beat yourself up about not finding 100% of the errors. My tech editor is definitely a professional, as she edits for a very well-known crochet magazine. Yet, I and my testers still find things she missed. I continue to go back to her every time, though, because of all the things she DIDN’T miss. We’re all human and we all need each other. It takes a village!

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