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- 04/01/08  

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Trainer Network | MAI


April/May 2008

In This Issue:
Editors for Africa
Don’t Compete with Your Slides
Room to Read
MAI Leads West African Workshop
Self-published Competition

Hi, !

What works in Paris may not work in Bangkok, but exchanging ideas can potentially help us improve the way we pass on skills in publishing. In this issue, learn about an innovative editorial training program that’s ramping up the skills of African editors. Do you have ideas for training that others could learn from? We’d love to hear from you at

- Dawn Herzog Jewell, editor

Editors for Africa

African editors are turning up these days in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Their main objective:  substantive editing classes with Isobel Stevenson, a veteran editor who recently edited the Africa Bible Commentary. This training is part of an initiative by Langham Literature to boost the quality of African Christian literature. MAI asked Isobel about this unique training program.

Q: How exactly does the editor training program work?

Langham selects a suitable trainee and a suitable book to work on. Then the trainee comes to Canada and we edit the book together. That sounds simple, but it is actually a grueling workout for the trainee. He or she works alongside me all day, and then is expected to do some extra reading at night. We both put in very long days.

Each morning, we begin with prayer, and then I ask the trainee to tell me what they learned from the previous night's homework. Over coffee, we may also compare North American and African cultures. Next we go through the work done the previous day, and I ask the trainee to justify the editorial changes they made. Sometimes I ask them to compare my edit of a passage with theirs and explain why I made different decisions. Later on in the training, I may ask them to explain my decisions. This dissection of the manuscript and of editorial decision making can take a couple of hours. And then we start work on the next section of the manuscript.

By the end of the 60-day program, the trainee is exhausted, but a much better editor than when he or she started.

Q: Do you conduct all of the training?

Most, but not all. Trainees also attend two seminars offered by the Editors' Association of Canada on topics like copy-editing, proofreading and substantive editing. They also spend a few days with another very experienced Canadian editor, who explains details of the book layout and production process.

Q: Have you evaluated the program's success so far?

The three trained editors all report increased awareness of the importance of thinking of the reader when editing and a new understanding of the relationship between editor and author. The first book published as a result of this training process is My Neighbour's Faith: An Introduction to Islam for Christians by John Azumah of Ghana. It will be the first title of the new African imprint, Hippo Books


Q: Could this training model be repeated elsewhere?

Yes - my first Indian trainee arrives later this year! Similar training could be offered wherever an experienced professional editor is willing to work with a trainee. Editing is best taught by example. While basic skills in copyediting and proofreading can be taught in classes, there is a difference between knowledge and the skills needed to apply that knowledge. But the type of individual training I do is very expensive. So I would like to see more use of Internet training, where a group of editors could discuss an editing project together.


Q: How do you select the trainees?

The selection process involves the Langham Partnership International and indigenous Christian publishers. Langham asks the publishers to identify a local editor who is committed to Christian publishing, is competent in basic proofreading and copyediting, has a strong logical and creative mind with some ability as a writer.

Q: Is the training program given on a scholarship basis?

Yes. The publisher pays for the trainee's insurance and daily allowance. Langham pays for their training, airfare, accommodation, travel and books.

Q: What are your long-term goals for each of the editors this program trains?

That they edit books so well that readers will be blessed by them, and that they train other editors. We want the books produced by Christian publishers to become so good that they will be sold in secular bookstores.


Don't Compete with Your Slides

Secure audience attention by standing to the right of the screen—that’s the audience’s left. Reason: Audience members will read from left to right, and you should position yourself opposite to the way their eyes move when they read. Otherwise, their eyes will tire as they move from you to the screen, and their attention span will suffer as a result.

-Adapted from “Where to Stand When Presenting a Slide Show,” Allan Misch. Reprinted from Communication Briefings: February 2008. phone: (570) 567-1982.

Room to Read

Room to Read, a non-profit organization, partners with communities in developing nations to help establish schools and libraries, promote the creation of locally-written children's books and more. The group is currently working in seven nations, with plans to expand: Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Book donations from publishers help enable the creation of libraries in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
Learn more

Self-published Competition

Writer's Digest magazine is searching for the best self-published books of the past few years. The competition is open to all English-language self-published books for which the authors have paid the full cost of publication, or the cost of printing has been paid for by a grant or as part of a prize. Fee for first entry: $100. Deadline: May 1, 2008. Find out more.

MAI Leads West African Workshop

MAI has been invited to lead marketing and writing workshops this May in Bamako, Mali, for Africa’s largest French-language Christian publisher, CPE. Some 55 publishers, writers and booksellers are expected from eight West African nations.

Please pray for:

--traveling mercies for all participants

--effective teaching

--encouragement and spiritual edification for participants who are experiencing burnout

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