Monday, May 16, 2005

A conversation with copy editors in publishing

The Book Standards has a feature on manuscript copy editors by Adam Langer.
They perform one of the most important jobs on manuscripts, saving authors from their misspellings, their grammatical errors, their logical and stylistic flaws, and yet, their efforts remain largely anonymous.
He interviews a few editors (Judit Z. Bodnar, Courtney Denney, Jude Grant. Dorian Hastings, Steve Lamont and Betsy Uhrig) and includes responses in the article.

Find the books they keep at their desks, their tips on what makes a good editor and why it can be tough, the anonymity of editing, and what to do when you're forced to copy edit a snoozer.
One needs to be fairly neurotic to copyedit -- you have to be willing to spend time worrying about whether something's a restrictive participle or a nonrestrictive one, and you actually have to care. Relatedly, it has to make a difference to you whether the name of the song is "I Want to Hold You Hand" or "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." ...

I work in fits and starts, bitch and moan to others in the business, toy with the idea of leaving everything just as it is, walk around the block when I find myself sarcastically reading passages aloud to myself. When the deadline looms close enough, I sit down and do what I'm being paid to do. You just do your best and wonder why you didn't make a career of grooming poodles or putting wheels on toy trains when you had the chance. And why you didn't have the business sense to whip out a piece of trash and sell it to a publisher for a huge advance.
(Link via Languagehat)


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