Skill Building for Family Historians


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Editing Genealogical Publications

All writers self-edit, often extensively, but editing genealogical journals, magazines, and newsletters requires significant amounts of additional knowledge, expanded skill sets, and decision-making. The modules in this course address decisions essential to becoming an editor and the effective professional-level editing of genealogical journals, magazines, and newsletters.


Module 1: TBA (1.5 hours)
Meeting Your Publication's Goals and Purposes

Tom Jones

Discover how to define and achieve the objectives of a publication, including aligning content with the mission statement, audience engagement strategies, and measuring success against predefined benchmarks. Learn more about the different roles within an editorial team, and specific duties, responsibilities, and collaboration strategies to ensure the quality and consistency of the publication's content.

In this module:

  • The respective purposes of genealogical journals, magazines, and newsletters
  • Defining and understanding your publication’s purpose and niche (if any)
  • How appearance and content differ among genealogical journals, magazines, and newsletters
  • The value of editorial teaming, regardless of the kind of publication
  • Editorials boards: their importance, functions and responsibilities
  • Editorial support: Other staffing for editorial support, including submission reviewers, proofreaders, and indexers
  • Peer reviewer responsibilities; working with a team of proofreaders.

Module 2: TBA (1.5 hours)
The Review Process: Working with Authors

Tom Jones

Learn more about the steps involved in evaluating submissions, drafting and negotiating contracts, providing constructive feedback to authors, and fostering a collaborative relationship to enhance manuscript quality.

In this module:

  • How to attract authors
  • Author's contract, payment and rates; Contracts or agreements for acceptable submissions
  • The processes of obtaining and evaluating submissions
  • Varying kinds of acceptance and rejection decisions
  • Rejection letters for unacceptable submissions
  • Levels of editing from developmental editing to line editing; The copyediting process, including “substantive editing”
  • How to provide feedback (examples, track changes, etc.)
  • Editing timeline from submission to publication - managing and tracking papers from submission through acceptance, copy editing, proofreading, and typesetting and layout processes
  • The importance of author review of edited and typeset copy.

Module 3: TBA (1.5 hours)
Layout and Design Decisions, the Publication Process

Tom Jones

Editors of genealogical newsletters, magazines, and journals may have to make decisions about maintaining or modernizing the publication’s appearance. Those decisions address the publication’s cover and spine, and various kinds of content within the publication. Whether editors make changes in the publication’s appearance or not, they also need to make decisions about the software they will use. This module addresses those decisions.

In this module:

  • Publication elements, besides articles, in genealogical journals, magazines, and newsletters, including mastheads or nameplates, generic information pages, tables of contents, fillers, and indexes
  • Design decisions about typesetting, layout, and other page, issue, and volume features and the longevity of those decisions
  • Pros and cons of editors versus a third party (publisher, printer, or other third party) doing the design and layout of the publication’s cover, content, or both
  • Software decisions for editorial typesetting and layout
  • Decision-making: Distinction among the roles of editor, publisher, and printer for content decisions, mailing-list maintenance, registration, distribution of the publication, and other decisions and processes
  • Issue and volume numbering
  • Issues of online publication versus print publication or both
  • Software and font decisions for submissions, editing, and proofreading
  • Providing complimentary copies for authors and other publications
  • Working with publishers and printers.

Module 4: TBA (1.5 hours)
Hiring an Editor

Josh Taylor

This module provides a comprehensive overview of the essential qualifications and prerequisites needed for editors of genealogical journals, magazines, or newsletters. Opportunities for freelance editors within the genealogy field are explored, including networking and portfolio development, as well as addressing contracts, compensation, and negotiation strategies for different editorial roles.

In this module:

  • Prerequisites to becoming the editor of a genealogical journal, magazine, or newsletter
  • Examples of calls for editors, including job descriptions, qualifications, responsibilities, etc.
  • Opportunities for freelance editors
  • Contracts and compensation for editors and selected support staff; Pay ranges for editors
  • Volunteer opportunities for potential editors: how to volunteer to be a peer reviewer, serve on an editorial board, etc.
  • Educational, mentoring and internship opportunities for prospective editors.

Course Educators

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG®, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Tom Jones co-edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly for sixteen years. He has written the textbooks Mastering Genealogical Documentation and Mastering Genealogical Proof, twenty-eight articles in peer-reviewed and edited genealogy journals and twenty-six more articles in genealogical magazines and newsletters. A holder of two graduate degrees in education, he teaches online and in-person at genealogical institutes and seminars locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Audiences and students consistently report learning much from his lectures and interactive classes.

D. Joshua Taylor MA, MLS, FUGA

D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, FUGA is a nationally known and recognized speaker and author on genealogy and family history. He is the President of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B), and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Joshua is the author of numerous articles in American AncestorsUGA Crossroads, FGS Forum, Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, New England Ancestors, and other publications.

Joshua holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College and has been a featured genealogist on Who Do You Think You Are? with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly Clarkson, Ashley Judd, Reba McEntire, and Rob Lowe. Joshua can also be seen taking America through their past as a host on the popular PBS series Genealogy Roadshow.