Today we have a extra bonus post for the Pattern Workshop Blog Series! I was introduced to Linda Griepentrog, who is a tech editor, writer and designer, by Christa Watson. Linda was generous to offer to teach us a little about tech editors today.
Unsung Heroes of Sorts
As a pattern designer, do you ever breathe deeply with trepidation that everything is perfect with the instructions before you press that "upload" button to launch your new design or send it off to the printer? And, then comes the first e-mail with a question about the number of pieces cut or where a particular fabric goes in the design. Oops….missed that.
Behind the scenes working in home offices around the country are those who can help avert pattern crises—they're called tech editors. When you're just starting out in the pattern biz you're trying to keep expenses to a minimum, but this is one resource person you shouldn't do without. Your reputation as a designer and pattern writer is on the line. As you well know, if there's an issue with your pattern, frustrated consumers tend to let all their quilting friends know about it.
So what does a tech editor do? They're the minions who double check yardage requirements, the number of pieces cut vs. what the instructions call for. They also check that your design comes out to the size it says it is and that the pieces all fit together to make the blocks work. If grammar and spelling aren't your thing, there's a double check for that as well. And do the illustrations show what is detailed in the instructions and the finished quilt? Perhaps you accidentally show that blue piece on the left of the block, but the instructions say to put it on the right.
Most tech editors also check for style. Did you say "With right sides together, place piece A and piece B together" in one paragraph and then in the next one say, "Place piece C and D right sides together." In a perfect world, both instructions should be formatted the same.
Tech editors often suggest a different order for assembling something, or a different method for doing something based on their years of quilting/sewing experience. Not, that you have to make the change, but it might be worth thinking about.
Most people don't love math, but tech editors do. And they're also those crazy personalities that love the "find six differences from picture A to picture B" puzzles. They have a mind for detail and are sticklers for consistency.
You can have a friend read over your pattern as a double check, but it's better to have a professional—someone who isn't emotionally attached to you or the project—do this work. Yes, you do have to pay tech editors. Most charge by the hour and rates vary, so perhaps contact several to see who you feel comfortable working with. Network with other pattern designers for recommendations.
Investing in your pattern product will bring long-term rewards.
Linda Griepentrog is a tech editor, writer and designer who lives in Bend, Oregon. She works with independent pattern designers, fabric companies and book publishers counting triangles and squares with calculator in hand. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.