“What is a Tech Editor and what do they actually do?” is a question I get asked weekly. I figured it was time to soar high on this topic and explain in detail all about the role of a Tech Editor.
If you’ve been in the pattern publishing industry for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the role of a tech editor. Any crochet or knitting publication that prints patterns has worked closely with Tech Editors to make sure that their publication is printed as flawless as possible.
However, many self-publishing designers don’t even know what a Tech Editor is or that they even need one! In this article, I’m going to answer some of the questions I’ve received about Tech Editing and by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly why you need one!
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What is a Tech Editor?
Writing patterns and tech editing patterns are two different birds of a feather! Writing crochet patterns requires a creative designing process, working up the pattern (sometimes multiple times), lots of frogging of said project, a lot of written rough drafts, and all the frustration and fun that comes with designing. A Tech Editor comes in when the designer is ready to publish their pattern!
A Tech Editor, also known as a Technical Editor, is an expert in crochet communication and language. A Tech Editor will be proficient in grammatical knowledge and the art of preparing a clear and comprehensive pattern. They are experts in crochet abbreviations, terminology, stylization, and industry standards. Many Tech Editors are very detailed oriented and tend to be perfectionists.
The Technical part of a Tech Editor is important to note. The technical part of our job is what makes us stand out above a standard editor. A standard editor mainly checks for spelling, grammatical errors, and continuity in parts of speech. Whereas a Technical Editor will check for E V E R Y T H I N G concerning your pattern.
A Technical Editor is a trained professional who will very meticulously review your pattern for the following: (this is not a complete list but highlights the main editing details)
Ensure all parts of a pattern are included: There are a lot of different parts that are needed in any crochet pattern. A TE will make sure all these parts are included so consumers will have all the necessary information to make the crochet design.
Check Abbreviations: TE will make sure all abbreviations are listed and used consistently throughout the pattern according to industry standards. They also make sure that abbreviations used within the pattern are listed in the abbreviations list. (You won’t believe how many times this has been an issue in editing.)
Gauge: As a designer, gauge is very important with any design. A TE will make certain that gauge is listed properly, and that measurements and instructions are consistent to reflect gauge. (hint hint: we’ll be discussing gauge next week!)
Supplies: This section of a pattern always needs attention! A TE will make sure the pattern has all supplies listed in the materials list that are used within the pattern. They will also make sure the supplies are listed properly and accurately.
Copy Edits: TE will analyze grammar, parts of speech, spelling, and syntax (arrangement of words and phrases). They make sure that the crochet pattern is free of any errors and ensures all instructions make sense, so the consumer won’t have any issues when making the crochet design.
Math: Yes, crochet designs are all about the math! TE will check and double check that all instructions and stitch counts are correct. They check for all the math in measurements and stitch counts for each round or row. They also check for accuracy in all math.
Schematics, Graphs, and Charts: If a designer uses schematics (illustration/diagram of design), graphs (a visual illustration of a picture or design used within the pattern), and charts (a visual representation of a stitch pattern) within their pattern it’s important to make sure they are accurate. A TE will check all the schematics, graphs, and charts against the pattern to make certain everything matches and is completely precise.
Consistency: For all my TE clients, I ask them to fill out a Style Guide. This Style Guide is a ‘questionnaire’ that I created so I can get to know the “style” of pattern writing for each designer. Sometimes, a designer doesn’t know what their style is until they begin to work with me as their editor. Having this style guide helps me to make sure the pattern is written consistently with the designer’s style.
Why do I need a Tech Editor?
Anyone who publishes any kind of publication, whether it’s a book, magazine, or crochet pattern needs to ensure that it’s free of errors and easy to read. As you read above, a Tech Editor will ensure that your pattern is ready to be professionally published.
When your pattern is professionally edited it helps to build trust with your consumers. Have you ever bought a pattern from a designer and found errors or instructions that were confusing? I have too! Because of those errors or inconsistencies, I didn’t buy another pattern from that designer. I couldn’t trust that the next pattern I bought from them would be easy to understand or error free. I don’t want to waste my money on patterns that aren’t easy to read, have inconsistencies, and a bunch of errors.
Crocheters appreciate a well written, edited pattern! When your patterns are error free, easy to read, consistent, and accurate you’ll have a lifetime of return consumers! Crocheters will want to invest their money in your patterns because they know you write excellent patterns!
Does a Tech Editor rewrite or change my pattern?
No, Tech Editors don’t change anything in a designer’s pattern. When a designer sends me their pattern (usually in a PDF or Google Doc), I’ll sit down with the designer’s Style Guide and make annotations (notes) on the pattern. I make notes of any errors, inconsistencies, inaccuracies I find. I’ll also make suggestions on how instructions can be written more clearly but I never change anything!
Making any changes to the pattern is the responsibility of the designer.
One of my main goals in Tech Editing, besides a flawless pattern, is to keep the voice of the designer!
What’s the difference between a pattern tester and a Tech Editor?
A pattern tester’s role is to make the designer’s unpublished pattern. They are not trained to edit patterns. A TE has been trained and certified to know what to look for when it comes to editing patterns. To find out more about the role of a pattern tester, I wrote a detailed blog post about it HERE.
A pattern tester is NOT a Tech Editor and vice versa. Tech Editors only edit your patterns. TE do not work up the pattern at all. However, some TE may want to test the pattern because they love it that much!
If you’re a designer who believes you don’t need a Tech Editor because you have pattern testers who will make the edits, I want to challenge you. On your next pattern, hire a TE and see the difference it has compared to your unedited patterns. I believe you’ll be completely amazed at the difference!
How much does a Tech Editor cost?
The cost of a Tech Editor varies from one TE to another. I charge $30 an hour for my professional services. When a designer inquires about my services, I first offer a FREE consultation so I can answer any questions the designer may have and find out a little more about them. If they choose to use my services, I ask them to send me their pattern so I can give them an estimate of the cost, how long it will take me, and the time frame I’ll have it finished in.
If you’re a designer who publishes multiple patterns a month, I also offer a MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION which will save you money!
What if I can’t afford tech editing services?
The one thing I hear, especially from new crochet designers, is they don’t sell enough patterns to justify hiring a Tech Editor. I understand this thinking. However, let’s flip the script a little bit. Hiring a Tech Editor is an investment in your pattern. It’s a necessary business expense (and write off) as a crochet designer and professional pattern writer.
You’re essentially an author of a very short story. Your story deserves to be as flawless as possible so others can join in on your journey!
If you are working from a tight budget, there are a few things you can do to save money when hiring a Tech Editor:
- Make sure your abbreviations are in alphabetical order.
- Make sure all materials are listed.
- Make sure all abbreviations are consistent throughout your pattern.
- Double and triple check your math against instructions.
- Double check all your spelling.
- Make sure yarn and hook are listed according to industry standards.
- Make sure all pictures match instructions.
- Click on all hyperlinks and make sure they work.
Your pattern is worth the investment!
I hope I answered all your questions! Oh, wait…. another question worth addressing and gets asked often is: “Can I edit my own patterns?” The answer is a resounding “No!” Your brain is so used to seeing and reading your pattern that it wouldn’t see an error if it hit it right in the middle of its gray matter! As a Tech Editor, I don’t even edit my own patterns! Even Tech Editors need Tech Editors!
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Drop any questions about Tech Editing in the comments below!