How to edit 1,160 pages in one week

paper-pile-lg1We edited 1,160 pages last week, Monday through Sunday. I think that’s an all-time Dragonfly high.
The work was spread across four clients. One needed just 10 pages edited; another, 830. Many of the projects came in unexpectedly and required same-day or next-day turnaround. Other projects had schedules and deadlines that fluctuated constantly, requiring us to flex our staff and our schedules to match.
How did we do it?

  • Use dedicated project managers. Each client worked with a dedicated project manager who took in the documents, assigned them to our various editors, funneled them through desktop publishing (if needed), and returned them to the client. The project managers carefully tracked where each document was at any given time — so nothing got lost, and no deadlines were missed.
  • Use editorial leads. For these efforts, the project managers also acted as editorial leads, fielding style questions from the editors, communicating requests from the client, and quality-checking all the work performed.
  • Use experienced editors. The editors handling these four projects — which included proposals, medical journals, and marketing copy — all had extensive experience with these particular types of projects. They also had experience working with the clients involved, and knew their editorial style and preferences. Experienced editors can dig into even difficult copy without any learning curve — and produce quality results, time after time.
  • Use standard processes. All of our editors follow a standard procedures sheet that guides them through the steps in the editing process, and all follow a specific style guide for each of our clients. Using standard processes eliminates questions and uncertainty when starting a job — and produces a cleaner end product, saving time in the quality-checking rounds.
  • Staff around the clock. OK, we didn’t staff completely around the clock. But we had editors and project managers working on staggered shifts from 8:00 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Using staggered shifts allows us to be much more responsive to our clients’ needs; authors can write until 4:00 p.m., for example, and have us edit between 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. It also allows us to accommodate our editors’ needs; staff with work commitments or child care duties during the day can come on call at 6:00 p.m. and give us 5 or 6 hours of quiet editing time in the evening.

The real secret to getting this amount of work done in a week, however, is our amazing Dragonfly editors and project managers. These great people are consistently willing to throw themselves into projects with challenging deadlines and “get ‘er done,” no matter what it takes. Once they commit to a project, they’re in it for the long haul. I appreciate their commitment, their attention to detail, and their good humor tremendously.

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