Things I Remember About Freelance Editing Before the Internet

  1. Calling the reference librarian
    The university reference librarians knew me by my voice. I loved calling in with my fact-checking questions
  2. Afternoons in the library
    When I had many things to check -- as when editing historical fiction -- I would keep a running list of names and dates and places and block out an afternoon for library research
  3. Checking trademarks
    To check the proper spelling of and use of trademarks, I subscribed to the International Trademark Association's publications and took advantage of their telephone hot line
  4. Owning road atlases from around the world
    Atlases were used to check names of streets and places and to double-check plot issues. I had a pile of them.
  5. Buying the World Almanac
    I would buy one every year. Handy for stats, facts, and spellings
  6. Owning shelves of dictionaries
    Besides the current Merriam-Webster, I had two unabridged dictionaries, dictionary supplements, foreign-language dictionaries, medical dictionaries, slang dictionaries, sports dictionaries, and many more
  7. Owning style guides
    It was vitally important to buy each new style guide as it was updated. I owned Chicago, APA, MLA, AMA, ACS, CBE, and more
  8. Owning multiple Bibles
    Publishing houses each rely on a particular translation for checking biblical quotes.
  9. Owning an odd assortment of reference books
    Music history, television awards, movie indexes, history books, art books, sports books, food guides, PDFs, medical references. I had all of these and more.
  10. Having an answering service
    I had an answering service and then answering machine to catch calls from clients and authors. No 24/7 connectivity
  11. Making phone calls
    We talked to clients and authors directly. I miss this the most. Though email is less intrusive, faster, and in many ways easier, I don't have the same personal connections I used to have. No sincere small talk. On the other hand, I don't miss being tied to that phone or needing to check the answering service.
  12. Owning a fax machine
    I almost forgot about this. I was thrilled when I got my first fax machine. I remember saving up for it. You could send short documents electronically. What a miracle -- until the paper jammed.