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Book editing

Robert Gray, poet, memoirist, editor, anthologist, book reviewer, winner of the 2011 Writersí Emeritus Award presented by the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, the Patrick White Award, and several Premierís Awards

Projects include: Helping edit Robert Grayís collected poems and his memoir The Land I Came Through Last

ďIn 2011, as I revised my collected poems for a new edition, John helped me with editorial checks and proofreading. For me, Johnís more detached perspective and his detailed review of language and expression provided valuable assistance in finalising the form of the poems.

John greatly contributed to the development of another recent work, The Land I Came Through Last (a memoir; the eighth book I have written). In November 2009 the book won the Nib Award, a major literary prize funded by the Copyright Agency Limited, administered by the Waverley Library and open to writers from anywhere in Australia.

Johnís work helped transform the book, in its organization, efficiency of expression, energy and general readability. He picked up many places where the grammar needed improvement or correction, added precision and lucidity to the story, and was extraordinarily efficient at proofing.

I know John to have a great passion for language, and it has made him the most proficient editor I have ever worked with. He also has a strikingly fertile and inventive mind, so that there is real substance with his skill.Ē

John Iremonger, Academic Publishing Director, Allen & Unwin

Projects include: Structural editing, copy-editing and proof-reading services for books on history, natural history, politics and sociology

"John Carrick has provided editorial services on a range of Allen & Unwin book projects. These have included editing manuscripts and proof-reading in various subject areas of our list, including history, sociology, economics and social issues. On all these assignments his editorial work has been skilled, accurate and consistent, and manuscripts have been delivered to our deadlines.

He is able to liase successfully with authors, when required, and, because of his long experience, he has good judgment about the level of editorial intervention appropriate for each assignment. Consequently, he is able to undertake high-level structural editing as well as copy-editing.

A good example of John's structural editing was an assignment on which I asked him to substantially edit a manuscript on Aboriginal deaths in custody that told a dramatic, true story in an unsuitably sensational tabloid style. He was able to accomplish this successfully, without detracting from the integrity of the author's story, and to the author's ultimate satisfaction as well as ours. Here, John Carrick's understanding of publishing markets made a positive difference in his dealings with the author and publisher.

I know him to be a highly experienced and capable editor and I would have no hesitation in recommending his services."


Nelson Kenny, journalist and editor, director of publishing projects in Australia and New Zealand for Readerís Digest Services

Projects include: Writing and editing services on a range of book projects including the grammar and usage manual How to Write and Speak Better, the comprehensive ornithology reference The Complete Book of Australian Birds and the descriptive survey Historic Australian Towns

ďJohn Carrick assisted me as an editor during the period 1970Ė82, when I was director of publishing projects in Australia and New Zealand for Readerís Digest. My departmentís methods were probably unique in Australian publishing at that time so I will outline them to explain the nature of Johnís work.

The department produced original local books and it adapted books from Readerís Digest general books departments in London, New York and Paris to meet the needs of Australian readers.

We did not solicit or commission complete manuscripts from individual authors. Instead, our editors identified concepts for books, usually highly illustrated, to suit the Readerís Digest market. After preliminary editorial research we would engage a consultant editor Ė an authority in the chosen field Ė who would work with our project editor in developing the content and structure of the book. The consultant editor would suggest suitable contributors, whom the project editor would commission.

The project editor and assistant editors had to edit copy from numerous specialist contributors to achieve a consistent, easily readable style, explaining technicalities and eliminating jargon. For these reasons, and complexity of layout, it was often necessary to rewrite copy completely. Copy was sent to the typesetter only after it had been fitted to the art editorís layouts and approved by the consultant editor and the contributors.

In adaptations the extent of work on the text varied from one book to another. In many books the original layouts had to be preserved so that the overseas colour separations could be used. Sometimes the original edition was little more than a prototype and the entire book had to be redesigned and rewritten. For example, How to Write and Speak Better (1975), a guide to English and its usage, was modelled on an American book. The Australian edition required the services of several eminent linguists and other academics. The in-house editors included John Carrick, who spent about a year on the project, rewriting copy and devising linguistic tests.

For The Readerís Digest Book of Strange Stories, Amazing Facts (1975), an adaptation of a British book, John researched and wrote substitute Australian items.

He then worked on The Complete Book of Australian Birds, which has been in print since 1976. His principal work in this project was rewriting ornithologistsí copy, often little more than notes, into clear, flowing English.

In discussion in the office John proposed a book which eventually emerged as Guide to the Australian Coast (1983). As a freelance writer he researched and wrote entries for Historic Australian Towns.

In all his work John was skilful and reliable. He wrote well and he coped adroitly with the demands of fitting copy to layout.Ē