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Ask the Editing Experts Roundtable

It was an honor to be a part of the “Ask the Editing Experts Roundtable” on April 3, 2024, with such admired colleagues. The event was put on by ACES: The Society for Editing the day before its annual conference, which was in San Diego.


The Roundtable was an in-person workshop designed for new editors, those exploring editing, and seasoned professionals. Attendees were given a set period to sit at each table of interest and ask speakers questions, and then they moved to the next table. It was an engaging exchange in a small-group setting.


Nine of us shared about a variety of topics related to editing, including accessibility, AI, conscious language, developmental editing, educational materials and digital assets, government/military, networking for freelancers, plain language, and querying.

See some querying tips below.

Photo credit: Constance Brossa.

L to R:

  • Erin Servais, Instructor, AI for Editors - AI

  • Griffin Zimmerman, Accessibility Editor, University of Kansas – accessibility

  • Tiffany Vakilian, Editor, Writing Coach, Public Speaker - developmental editing

  • Kim Cragg, Supervisory Writer-Editor, VA Office of Inspector General, District of Columbia - government/military

  • Nadia Pupa, Cofounder and CEO, Pique Publishing, Inc. – educational materials and digital assets

  • Me, querying

  • Samantha Enslen, Editorial Agency Owner, Dragonfly Editorial - plain language

  • Karen Yin, Founder, Conscious Style Guide - conscious language

  • Linda Ruggieri (not pictured), Editor and award-winning writer - networking for freelance editors

Querying was my topic, and it’s a subject I love talking about. Here’s a few basics I shared:

  • “Query” is publishing jargon for “question,” and it can be a noun or verb. A query may not always be a question. It could be a comment or a brief explanation.

  • Sometimes queries may be the only communication between an editor and writer or it is the only way for an editor to tell the author where text is confusing, a meaning is unclear, facts contradict, and where the reader might potentially be lost or confused.

  • Rewriting too much and not explaining anything in a query bubble will puzzle and possibly offend the author. We lose their trust, and they think less of us because we are rewriting their copy. We didn’t explain in support of the reader nor give the author a chance to make any edits themselves. It could look like we just took control of their work.

Why do we query? Querying is an aid to editing as it helps us get our questions answered so we can continue the editing process.

  1. To get clarification.

  2. To explain a complicated revision.

  3. To ask the author to check a piece of information.

Be a coach. A writer would want to work with a coach over someone who is bossy or authoritative. We should have a kind tone and ensure we don’t unintentionally insult the author in how we write our queries.

Why good querying is important:

  • Fosters a good relationship.

  • Avoids workplace drama.

  • Author will trust editor.

  • Editors earns credibility.

  • Author could give the editor more work or send referrals.

Say it with Steele, x C


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