Monday, February 05, 2007

A Copyeditor Rant and Two Hurrahs

I appreciate what copyeditors do. I really, really do. They have saved me from all sorts of embarrassment in the past. But pardon me while I vent some spleen over the copyeditor who went through the manuscript of WHY MERMAIDS SING and very conscientiously took out all of the capitalizations of things like the Earl, the Crown, the King, etc, etc. Ghhrrrr.

And, excuse me, but hasn’t everyone heard of Alfred, Lord Tennyson? Thus one should realize that Alfred, Lord Stanton, a baron, should not suddenly be turned into the younger son of a duke by being renamed Lord Alfred Stanton.

And what is it with copyeditors and commas? I really try to conform to my current houses’ standards. Do they want, “Once, he believed…” or “Once he believed…” ? The standards at the various houses seem to change with each copyeditor. I’m now hopelessly confused.

Bah humbug!

On a more upbeat note, two things. I’ve accepted my editor’s offer for the fourth book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, which I will be starting as soon as Steve and I finish the proposal for our next thriller. But my most exciting news is THEY PICKED UP MY NEXTDOOR NEIGHBOR’S FEMA TRAILER!! Whoohoo.

69 comments:

liz fenwick said...

Congrats!!! On both the trailer removal and the offer on the fourth book.

Charles Gramlich said...

That "Picked up my next door neighbor's FEMA trailer" sounds like a killer of a thriller. I can't wait to read this one. Sorry about the idiot copyeditor.

Anonymous said...

FYI about copy editors: It isn't that they are "idiots" or don't have high standards. They don't make up the rules, either. They simply apply the rules. They are asked by publishers to follow specific rules in books such as The Chicago Manual of Style as well as certain dictionaries and the publishing house's rules. To lowercase a title like the king is one of the rules. I suggest in the future that you type up a list of your preferences and give that to your editor when you turn in your next book. You can say that you prefer the King to the king, etc. The editor may or may not allow such deviations from the standard copyediting rules, but it's worth a shot. But remember, when it comes to copyeditors: Don't shoot the messenger. They are simply trying to do their job and follow the plethora of details and rules. One very big final note is that authors should search their manuscripts and make sure their characters' names are spelled consistently the way they want them to be spelled; ditto for other details. If the copyeditor thus does not have to be distracted by querying and correcting, for example Stephen versus Steven, he or she can concentrate on the bigger picture. I hope this is helpful.

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