What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

She's Gotta Not Have It, or No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


When you edited chapter two of [a book on leadership], you changed his to the word her in the following sentence:

A sage leader learns to delegate her time wisely and finds a sense of balance in life.

Some of our writers might feel that we are trying to impose political correctness on them if we make changes like this. So for future reference, you can leave it as is (his) or change it to something like this:

A sage leader learns to delegate his or her time wisely and finds a sense of balance in life.

Thank you.



XXX: I wouldn't call it imposing political correctness as much as living in the 21st century and not offending half of the potential readership. Don't these folks want to sell books? Does the writer not think there are women leaders?

I alternated "his" and "her" through the book rather than the rather clunky "his or her," which gets cumbersome after a while.

I'll do whatever you want me to do, though.



Funny thing is, the CEO of this publishing house (not listed in my client list) is a woman.

In my mind, gender inclusiveness in a business title is not PC. It's common sense. When I read a book on leadership and every single pronoun reference is male, I'm wondering why the company has decided to reprint a Sputnik-era volume. In this day and age, if I'm a woman reading a book on leadership traits and no generic leader in the book is portrayed as a woman -- and when that's the case, I don't think it's writer laziness as much as a conscious decision -- I'm putting the book down, if not using it as a fire starter when wintertime comes.



moi said...

Alternating "she" with "he" is just as jarring to my ear as all "he's" or "his or her." My solution is to pluralize whenever possible: Sage leaders learn to delegate their time wisely and find a sense of balance in life.

czar said...


Point well taken, and "whenever possible" is the key phrase here. Sometimes it's very difficult to carry that plural nicely through a whole manuscript, especially when the author's written the whole thing talking about "a leader" or "the leader," with examples accompanying.

I'm trying to drag this publisher into the modern era on a number of fronts. I guess I just saw this manuscript as another aspect of the battle.

moi said...

You make a good point about the style of the manuscript. If the author isn't nimble enough (or the subject matter is too constrictive) to get his/her point across in a way that doesn't create this kind of problem, then there isn't a satisfying solution. The copy editor can only do so much.