Sunday, October 21, 2007

Check-in time

I know you’re out there. Say something.

This blog is fun to write. But the idea was to generate some conversation, not just to carry on an extended monologue. A bit of audience feedback, by way of comments on posts or just an email will help me come up with posts about subjects that interest you. That, and your ideas are just as worthwhile to read as mine are.

Or you can sit there quietly and wait for my random drivel.

So, here are some questions for you. They’re all optional, but I’d be interested and my guess is that others would be, too:
  1. What’s your name?
  2. Where are you?
  3. What do you do?
  4. What topics (of those I cover) do you want to see more of?
Come on, don’t be shy. Tell me what’s on your mind.

And this does mean you. Don’t worry about overwhelming me with comments to respond to. There aren’t all that many of you who read this blog on a regular basis—just a hundred or so altogether. When NPR does their fundraising, they tell us that only ten percent of listeners contribute money. I’m not asking for money, so maybe more than ten percent of you will drop a line.


Saoirse Daily said...

Spokane WA
Want to be artist, worker bee at a dental insurance company
I like reading about everyday life

Billy Guffey said...

Bill Guffey

Burkesville, Kentucky

In one life I'm a graphic artist at the local newspaper creating ads. In my other life I design books (interior and exterior) and am a small publisher/author.

I enjoy your blog very much and like reading anything about typograhy.

Unknown said...

Hi! I'm one of the hundred ;-)

I'm a graphic designer and design software trainer/consultant. I've written or co-written a few books (web design, InDesign). For the past couple years I've been working with a lot of editors as I've been called in to companies to help them move from a Word/Quark or Word/InDesign publication workflows to InCopy/InDesign.

Editors have different interests and concerns than the clients I'm more accustomed to (designers and pre-press) so a few months ago I started subscribing to editor-focussed listservs and blogs. And thus I arrived here.

I enjoy your writing and your opinions. I know how it feels though to think you're writing into a void ... I write a couple monthly e-zines (on my site, look at the DesignGeek section) and post to an InDesign blog (

BTW despite your negative review (and despite agreeing with much of what you said) I really enjoyed the book "Typo," as have the colleagues I've recommended it to.

I can't put my finger on one particular topic I'd like to read here more than others. I like your eclectic approach.

Clare said...

Clare in Kitchener, Ontario. I found the blog when I joined the copyediting list and I enjoy the variety of things you write about. I'm a fairly beginning editor and my day job is publicist for a university press.

Dick Margulis said...

Hmmm, I didn't think my review of Typo was negative. I enjoyed it, too.

Question for you, "am": I can understand how in-house writers can be trained to use an InCopy/InDesign workflow, but contributor mss. are still coming in as Word docs, right? Do you dump them into InCopy as an intermediate step or process them conventionally?

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf

Long Island, New York

Freelance copyeditor who thinks of you as her friend

I like everything you write. I agree with pretty much everything you have to say here, so I don't always comment, because I'd be echoing you. ;-)

Gordon said...

Hi there,

Technical Writer in the UK and yeah I don't comment as often as I should. I don't visit often though as I use your RSS feed.

You do write well, but (from someone who has recently started a second blog) don't worry too much about lack of comments, that takes a while to build up. Keep writing!

Rebecca said...

Rebecca Downey
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
My day job is a senior technical writer, and at night I'm an author of role playing game articles and the pre-con registrar for WorldCon in 2009 (Anticipation in Montreal).

Continued drivel is really fine with me. I enjoy reading and your blog is an interesting jumble of topics. Naturally I have a preference for typography and drivel with purpose, but every day stuff is just as interesting.

I do apologize for my silence; but please accept that I am a fan of your blog who often has problems posting (either because of time, access, or shyness).

morgret said...

I read your blog because I no longer have time to keep up on CE-L, but am still interested in those topics.

Anonymous said...

Hullo Dick. Steve Tiano here. I generally check your blog daily. For myself, I’m not a fan of RSS as I prefer to be consciously looking for new material on the blogs I read regularly, rather than getting notices that I might find it easy to ignore—like just so much email.

A book designer and layout artist, as well as recovered proofreader, I’ve had any number of discussions with Dick on freelancing and making books. But the issue that comes up for me again and again is finding new clients.

I’m always looking for more books to work on. It’s funny how fast the outlook changes. Two weeks ago I was working three projects at once: a straight book layout, a book design and layout, and an interesting 5-booklet-plus-covers-and-j-cards project. And now I'm waiting for the next thing to materialize. Plenty of "maybes" and "soons" in the wind, but nothing concrete.

How do other freelancers ward this off?

Anyhow, 'nuff said for now.

Dick Margulis said...

"am" (see above) tried to get back into the comment stream but had technical difficulties. She wrote me the following:

Hi Dick;

I was trying to post a comment about 10 times (same comment) and it wouldn't "take" regardless of what I did... used Google accounts (2 diff. ones), "anonymous" and "other"... no joy. Every time I clicked Publish my comment just sat there in the field with the message that moderation had been turned on.

Don't know if you received any of my attempts. Why, it was almost as aggravating as being on an Adobe tech support call! ;-)

Here's the comment (responding your question):

"I can understand how in-house writers can be trained to use an InCopy/InDesign workflow, but contributor mss. are still coming in as Word docs, right?"

First, not every workgroup using InCopy has incoming manuscripts; in many situations all writing is done in house.

Of course many companies/publishers do have off-site freelance writers. Who usually use Word.

In that case it's pretty much up to the editorial team how they prefer to handle that. For some of my clients, editors and off-site writers stay in Word as usual until copy is as final as it can be without seeing the layout ... sending revisions back and forth etc. Then it goes to design, who flows it into ID, and the in-house editor uses InCopy to review it in the layout and make line break tweaks and do copyfitting edits.

Or some editors really get into InCopy and use it instead of Word. When incoming Word files come in, they use InCopy to open them (it can open .doc files) and convert them to standalone IC files (file type .incx). They apply styles and do preliminary copyfitting even before it gets to the layout, if they know a target word/page count or column depth.

To share IC stories with Word users they export as RTF. What you lose doing this though is track changes markup, which RTF doesn't support. Or they export to PDF and have authors comment them, then make those changes manually themselves to the IC file.

There are other methods I've seen used but these are common. The Word integration w/IC is pretty tight, it can even convert most of Word's track changes mark-up to IC track changes.

BTW I really hate having to enter both a capcha thing and my Google username and my password which I can never remember. Blogger doesn't have a comment spam catcher like I usually have to submit 4 or 5 times before it'll "take," don't know what I'm dong wrong.

Trying to post this as anonymous...


Dick Margulis said...

am, thanks very much for the detailed reply.

By the way, maybe I phrased my comment badly, but I do understand there are situations where all writing is done in-house. I ran an Interleaf operation like that, with thirty or forty engineers on Unix workstations who drafted their documents in Interleaf, like it or not. <g>

With regard to your posting difficulties, the only spam catching Google offers is comment moderation. The capcha challenge filters out the bots, so I don't really have to do any moderation (that is, the number of actual human-generated comments I've rejected totals two or three since the blog started, and those were rejected because they were spam, not because I disagreed with the person).

But I wonder if others are having similar technical problems that keep them from posting. I invite people to email me with their war stories if that's the case.

I know the capcha challenge widget sometimes goes belly up. But as I don't see it myself, I have no way of testing it.

Anonymous said...

Doug Geiger
Detroit, MI

First, I am nervous about typing anything on your blog because I think I missed the couple years in school where we learned about commas and semi-colons. :) Please feel free to edit this comment for grammar and style.

I have read just about everything you have posted and have quoted some of your posts in conversations "offline." It is a pleasure to read a blog that maintains its stated purpose without being tedious; that brings in anecdotes and trivia without being corny; that instructs so competently without pontification.

If I am so grateful and impressed, why have I not commented sooner, you might ask. Well, I read your blog exclusively via RSS, and almost always on my blackberry. As great as mobile browsing may be, leaving a comment on a site not optimized for mobiles is pretty cumbersome.

So today, weeks after your request, I made it a point to log in while at a PC because you deserve to hear that your blog (and those like it) typifies the promise of a world wide web--a web not merely of computer and cables--but of people, thoughts and ideas.

(are you proud of my emdashes?)

All the best,

Dick Margulis said...

Thanks, Doug.

Some notes:

1. Your punctuation is fine. In any case, I can't edit other people's comments and, hey, it's only a blog comment. So what if you missed a comma? But you didn't.

2. Your two-hyphen, typewriter-style em dashes are fine, but I've got a great site someone sent me to (forgot who) that you can use for cleaning up dashes, quotation marks, and such when you're posting on your own blog. Bookmark Daring Fireball ( Paste your raw post into the box, then select the SmartyPants filter. It puts in the correct Unicode character codes for you. Very cool. I don't think you can use it for comments, but it works great on posts.

3. I tried to do something to let RSS folks click through to the comments page, but the widget I tried to use is broken. If I can find one that works, I'll add it. I know that most people read the blog on RSS, so this will be helpful to others once I get it to work.