Editing

Red Pens and Invisible Ink

16 May 2017

From Slate:

In 2008 I published a short piece in Cabinet magazine on the fate of writer Thomas Browne’s skull, stolen from his coffin 158 years after his death. It caught the attention of an editor at a small press called Unbridled Books, Fred Ramey, who contacted me and asked if I would develop it into what became my first book. He particularly praised the final line of the Cabinet piece, saying that line showed him I was a strong writer. I didn’t have the courage to tell him that the line in question had not been written by me but added by my editor at Cabinet, Sina Najafi.

Who can properly claim credit for such a line, written by the editor but appearing under the name of the writer? Where is the editor’s hand evident—if at all—in the writer’s work? Ramey asks these questions in The Insect Dialogues, a book-length conversation with another writer, Marc Estrin, on the role and responsibility of the editor.

In early 2000, Estrin submitted a 900-page manuscript to Ramey, then an editor at Penguin Putnam; Ramey agreed to publish it only on the condition that they cut 300 pages and significantly revise it. The result, Insect Dreams: The Half-Life of Gregor Samsa, went on to garner critical acclaim (though moderate sales) and initiated a professional relationship and friendship between the two. Ramey eventually left Penguin Putnam and co-founded Unbridled Books; there he published five more of Estrin’s books through 2009. (Ramey also published my second book, though we haven’t worked together in over five years.)

Since then, though, Estrin has founded his own press, Fomite Press, and in 2016 decided to publish his original, unadulterated manuscript, now titled Kafka’s Roach: The Life and Times of Gregor Samsa. While Ramey gave Estrin his blessing, he feared such a move might be seen as a repudiation of his original editing, and so a third book was born: The Insect Dialogues, a transcription of a three-month email exchange in which the two discuss the history of this book in particular and, through it, much larger questions of publishing, editing, and authorial authority.

So within these pages there’s a hint of recrimination, at times even bitterness. What’s clear is that Estrin, despite his gratitude for a publishing break, never seems to have considered Insect Dreams entirely his. He refers to it as “my book in Fred’s edit,” or “Fred’s Gregor,” the novel that’s been “fredited,” all the while keeping hold of the manuscript he calls “the original Gregor.” Ramey in turn sees Estrin’s decision to publish his original manuscript as, at least in part, a repudiation both of Ramey’s editorial work and the larger question of editing altogether. “At the end of the day,” he worries, “Kafka’s Roach will become and always be the real novel; Insect Dreams will be the artificial, tainted construct.”

Link to the rest at Slate

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Author Overhead, Pt. 1

10 March 2017

From the Draft2Digital blog:

One of the burdens shouldered by indie authors is the overhead of the business. With a traditional publishing contract, some of that overhead is mitigated. The author isn’t asked to pay directly for cover design, layout, or distribution—though ultimately the cost of these services is factored into the royalty deal between the author and the publisher.

Having those expenses covered up front can be one advantage of going traditional. But as an independent author, all those expenses and more may fall on your shoulders alone. In this two-part series, we’ll look at some of the expenses and overhead you’ll take on for your indie author business, and those you should avoid.

First, The Unavoidable

Death. Taxes. Overhead for your author career. There are some things you just can’t avoid.

Author overhead can be a bit tricky, though, when it comes to the ‘unavoidable.’ Because for the most part, there really are no barriers to entry in this business. Anyone with access to a public library’s internet connection can write and publish for free. Whether that book becomes a success, however, comes down to pure luck unless there is an investment on the part of the author.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to a successful author business is to accept that there will always be a cost to pay. You may pay that in dollars, as we’re discussing here. Or you may pay it in time—whether that means taking the time to do all the work yourself, or enduring the time it takes for your book to reach an audience without any investment on your part. One way or another, Overhead takes her due.

In that sense, it’s easier to just think of any money you spend as a shortcut for time. If you can pay for services to be rendered, you’ll save both the time to do the work yourself and the time spent waiting for readers to look past the flaws of your book and give it a chance. Overhead may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be a burden.

. . . .

It’s true, you can edit your work yourself. Particularly if you are skilled at copyediting—finding typos, grammar gaffs, and logical omissions in writing. If you are meticulous enough, you can certainly find and fix any errors that appear in your work.

That’s good news for many authors, who pride themselves on being savvy perfectionists. But the truth is even the keenest editing eyes among us have trouble objectively reviewing their own work.

Editing your own book can save you a few hundred dollars, but what it doesn’t save you is time. The fact is, when you edit your own work you spend more time reading and rereading and re-rereading. It can slow down the release of your book by weeks or even months. This is due to a bit of hardwiring in the human brain.

Humans are wired to look for shortcuts. Think of stereotypes: If I say ‘doctor’ or ‘nurse,’ there’s a very good chance you pictured a man first and a woman second. Never mind the fact that in our much more enlightened age women can be doctors and men can be nurses. There’s a pre-wired pattern (learned from years of cognitive bias) that makes you fall back on a stereotype in the absence of any other evidence. The stereotype is a shortcut for you brain, so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to create a mental image.

. . . .

The way this impacts our editing is simple: We wrote what we wrote, and we know what we meant.

When we’re reading our own work again (and again, and again) we’re often seeing our intention rather than the actual words on the page. This is how you can read the same sentence a dozen times and never realize you left out a “the” or even a noun or a verb. You have a built-in expectation of those words being there—your brain is biased to expect them so the sentence will make logical sense. As you read, your brain fires up its shortcut and inserts the missing words into the flow, even though they do not appear on the page.

Link to the rest at Draft2Digital and thanks to Alexis for the tip.

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On the Use of Sensitivity Readers in Publishing

18 January 2017

From The Literary Hub:

In the past few years, authors concerned about the accuracy of their cultural representations have started using a new tool. Sensitivity reading, or beta reading, involves manuscript review where the author is writing about a marginalized group to which they doesn’t belong. A sensitivity reader might have a particular medical condition, sexual orientation, ethnic background, or any experience or identity that may be poorly understood by the majority culture.

Some might consider the use of sensitivity readers an eye-rolling exercise in identity liberalism that has become bruised a bit by recent political events. To others, sensitivity reading is a welcome means, though by no means a sufficient one, of working towards a more inclusive and less cliché-ridden publishing industry.

. . . .

Becky Albertalli’s experience with sensitivity readers provides a useful snapshot of this trend. When she was writing Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, published in 2013, she hadn’t heard the term “sensitivity reader.” But the book, which centers on a closeted teenager, passed through the hands of many gay men as part of the process of consultation. This was basically a form of sensitivity reading, although not formalized.

When it came time to write her next book, The Upside of Unrequited, sensitivity reading had become more familiar. We Need Diverse Books was launched in 2014, and major lists of available sensitivity readers were created in 2016. For this book, Albertalli wanted to be much more deliberate about the process.

The protagonist of The Upside of Unrequited, which will be published in April 2017, is a fat, anxious, cis, straight, Jewish teenage girl; this adjective soup is autobiographical for Albertalli.

. . . .

One example came in the very first scene of the book—which Albertalli wryly notes was a high-stakes situation. Here the narrator mentioned outright that she was straight. A bisexual sensitivity reader critiqued the overtness of this, saying, “That comes off as super ‘no homo’ to me.” Albertalli agreed. It was obvious by page two that this character was straight, and she realized that in aiming for political correctness, she had struck a false note. She reshaped the scene.

. . . .

Sangu Mandanna is an author and editor who has been doing formal sensitivity reads for over six months. She’s listed on the best-known database of sensitivity readers, compiled by Writing in the Margins.

Mandanna’s experience inhabiting these multiple roles shows that sensitivity reading makes for a unique set of demands on a reader/editor. “You’re not looking for plot holes or world-building inconsistencies, for example; you’re looking for places in the text where [characterization] or a narrative arc or even just a turn of phrase could be a problematic or downright harmful representation.”

These can be seemingly minor issues, but the very fact that they’re often overlooked points to the ease with which a majority culture can reproduce stereotypes. Mandanna gives as an example the frequent exoticizing of brown characters. “Take phrases like ‘glowing brown skin’ or ‘eyes like jewels’, which are phrases I see very often. These phrases are meant to be positive, but the author would never use them to describe their white characters.”

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

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Kill Your Darlings, and Some Trees

31 August 2016

From PubCrawl:

So you’ve written the first draft of your novel! Now what?

Most writers will tell you to put it in a drawer for a week or month, to spend some time apart from it before you return to the manuscript with fresh eyes for the first round of revision. That’s great advice, but I’m going to take it one step further and say you should literally put the manuscript in a drawer. For that you need a physical copy of it, which means I’m telling you to print the darned thing out. That’s right. All of it. On paper.

What? But that’s so wasteful! Those poor trees.

There are always studies that suggest reading on paper is different from reading on a screen. Makes sense to me. I think many of us have become accustomed to skimming websites and social media updates and blog posts (I bet some of you are doing it right now!), which means our brains are now trained to not look at text too closely on screens. There’s also something less permanent about something we see on the screen versus a hard copy before us, and so I think we treat words on the screen less critically. Science tells us that creative writing is a left brain activity, while critical thinking and editing is a right brain thing. It seems that it might be helpful to distinguish those activities more — such as by only writing your novel on your computer but editing it on paper. At least, this helps me. I’m the guy who prints everything I’m line editing or revising at work, from e-mails to manuals. Maybe that’s wasteful, but I consider it part of the cost of business, like my salary; my job is to catch and fix mistakes, and I notice more on paper than I do staring at a screen, especially subtle changes in font size and spacing.

. . . .

If I’m editing on screen, I’m mostly tinkering, the same as I would do while drafting — deleting a word here, moving a sentence there, adding a description. But once I have it on paper, with pen in hand, I can look at the bigger picture. I have no problem putting slashes through entire pages or chapters, rewriting and commenting in the margins, often with helpful notes like “Make this better.”

Link to the rest at PubCrawl

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BookBaby Launches e-Book Editing Service for $1,200

11 July 2016

From GoodEreader:

BookBaby has just announced that they have a new editing service available to self-published authors. They will copy edit a 60,000-word eBook for under $1,200, which is 50% lower than other competing premium offers.

. . . .

“Every book needs editing–that’s an established fact,” says BookBaby President Steven Spatz. “Now every author can get the kind of top-notch editing they need. Our goal was to provide a cost-effective solution for self-publishing authors while maintaining the quality that they expect and deserve.”

Here’s why our program is different–it’s not just about speed and price. It’s about providing a book editing service that keeps authors’ best interests as the priority,” says Spatz. “Our editing process is personalized by matching authors with book editors that specialize in their respective genres to yield the best possible results. And while the editor’s goal is always to improve the book, we understand this is a subjective process and authors may not always agree with the changes. But authors will always have the final say on their work, retaining control throughout the entire process.”

Link to the rest at GoodEreader

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On Max Perkins, One of America’s Greatest Editors

14 June 2016

From LitHub:

Shortly after six o’clock on a rainy March evening in 1946, a slender, gray-haired man sat in his favorite bar, the Ritz, finishing the last of several martinis. Finding himself adequately fortified for the ordeal ahead, he paid the check, got up, and pulled on his coat and hat. A well-stuffed briefcase in one hand and an umbrella in the other, he left the bar and ventured into the downpour drenching mid-Manhattan. He headed west toward a small storefront on 43rd Street, several blocks away.

Inside the storefront, 30 young men and women were awaiting him. They were students in an extension course on book publishing which New York University had asked Kenneth D. McCormick, editor-in-chief of Doubleday & Company, to conduct. All were eager to find a foothold in publishing and were attending the weekly seminars to increase their chances. On most evenings there were a few latecomers, but tonight, McCormick noted, every student was on hand and seated by the stroke of six. McCormick knew why. This evening’s lecture was on book editing, and he had persuaded the most respected, most influential book editor in America to “give a few words on the subject.”

Maxwell Evarts Perkins was unknown to the general public, but to people in the world of books he was a major figure, a kind of hero. For he was the consummate editor. As a young man he had discovered great new talents—such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe—and had staked his career on them, defying the established tastes of the earlier generation and revolutionizing American literature. He had been associated with one firm, Charles Scribner’s Sons, for 36 years, and during this time, no editor at any house even approached his record for finding gifted authors and getting them into print. Several of McCormick’s students had confessed to him that it was the brilliant example of Perkins that had attracted them to publishing.

. . . .

Partly because Perkins was the preeminent editor of his day, partly because many of his authors were celebrities, and partly because Perkins himself was somewhat eccentric, innumerable legends had sprung up about him, most of them rooted in truth. Everyone in Kenneth McCormick’s class had heard at least one breathless version of how Perkins had discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald; or how Scott’s wife, Zelda, at the wheel of Scott’s automobile, had once driven the editor into the Long Island Sound; or how Perkins had made Scribners lend Fitzgerald many thousands of dollars and rescued him from his breakdown. It was said that Perkins had agreed to publish Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises, sight unseen, then had to fight to keep his job when the manuscript arrived because it contained off-color language. Another favorite Perkins story concerned his confrontation with his ultraconservative publisher, Charles Scribner, over the four-letter words in Hemingway’s second novel, A Farewell to Arms.

. . . .

Many stories about Perkins dealt with the untamed writing and temperament of Thomas Wolfe. It was said that as Wolfe wrote Of Time and the River he leaned his six-and-a-half foot frame against his refrigerator and used the appliance’s top for a desk, casting each completed page into a wooden crate without even rereading it. Eventually, it was said, three husky men carted the heavily laden box to Perkins, who somehow shaped the outpouring into books. Everyone in McCormick’s class had also heard about Maxwell Perkins’s hat, a battered fedora, which he was reputed to wear all day long, indoors and out, removing it from his head only before going to bed.

. . . .

Perkins took of his sopping raincoat and revealed an unpressed, pepper-and-salt, three-piece suit. Then his eyes shot upward and he removed his hat, under which a full head of metallic-gray hair was combed straight back from a V in the center of his forehead. Max Perkins did not care much about the impression he gave, which was just as well, for the first one he made on this particular evening was of some Vermont feed-and-grain merchant who had come to the city in his Sunday clothes and got caught in the rain. As he walked to the front of the room, he seemed slightly bewildered, and more so as Kenneth McCormick introduced him as “the dean of American editors.”

. . . .

Hooking his thumbs comfortably into the armholes of his waistcoat, speaking in his slightly rasping, well-bred voice, Perkins began. “The first thing you must remember,” he said, without quite facing his audience: “An editor does not add to a book. At best he serves as a handmaiden to an author. Don’t ever get to feeling important about yourself, because an editor at most releases energy. He creates nothing.” Perkins admitted that he had suggested books to authors who had no ideas of their own at the moment, but he maintained that such works were usually below their best, even though they were sometimes financially and even critically successful. “A writer’s best work,” he said, “comes entirely from himself.” He warned the students against any efforts by an editor to inject his own point of view into a writer’s work to try to make him something other than what he is. “The process is so simple,” he said. “If you have Mark Twain, don’t try to make him into a Shakespeare or make a Shakespeare into a Mark Twain. Because in the end an editor can only get as much out of an author as the author has in him.”

. . . .

Once Perkins had concluded his prepared remarks, Kenneth McCormick asked the class for questions. “What was it like to work with F. Scott Fitzgerald?” was the first.

A fragile smile floated across Perkins’s face as he thought for a moment. Then he replied, “Scott was always the gentleman. Sometimes he needed extra support—and sobering up—but the writing was so rich it was worth it.” Perkins went on to say that Fitzgerald was comparatively simple to edit because he was a perfectionist about his work and wanted it to be right. However, Perkins had added, “Scott was especially sensitive to criticism. He could accept it, but as his editor you had to be sure of everything you suggested.”

The discussion turned to Ernest Hemingway. Perkins said Hemingway needed backing in the beginning of his career, and even more later, “because he wrote as daringly as he lived.” Perkins believed Hemingway’s writing displayed that virtue of his heroes, “grace under pressure.” Hemingway, he said, was susceptible to overcorrecting himself. “He once told me that he had written parts of A Farewell to Arms fifty times,” Perkins said.

Link to the rest at LitHub

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The Copyedit from Heck

12 March 2016

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

In late February, I was scrambling to clear the decks for last week’s anthology workshop , I got an email from an editor who had kindly bought one of my stories for a major traditionally published anthology that will appear in November. Attached to the email was the copyedited story, along with a deadline of this week.

No problem. All I had to do was move that copyedit into the proper file on my writing computer so I could work on the manuscript when the workshop was over. However, I have learned that the first thing to do with any file that includes track changes is open the file and make sure the track changes are visible on both my e-mail computer and my writing computer.

I did just that—and hit the ceiling.

Two hours and a lot of invective later, I had completed the copyedit and returned it to the editor at the traditional publishing house, while copying the anthology editor (as per instructions). I wrote the editor at the trad pub house a polite letter that I have written a version of a lot in my career.

Dear Editor,

I have enclosed the copyedit for my story. The copyeditor took the voice out of the story. I have stetted almost all of her changes. I do apologize for the tone of my comments in track changes as I got deeper into the manuscript. It became clear to me that the copyeditor had no concept of a writer’s personal style.

I have run two separate publishing companies, won awards for my editing, and have trained copyeditors over my thirty-year career. I am hoping that this particular copyeditor saw my opening three lines and decided that I did not know how to punctuate dialogue. Because if the copyeditor treated the other manuscripts in this stellar anthology the way that mine was treated, you have a problem.

I’m stunned that this copyeditor was chosen for an urban fantasy anthology. Urban fantasy is voice- and style-heavy, and should be copyedited with a light hand.

I do hope that you will ensure that my corrections make it into the final volume. …

I received a kind letter in reply from the editor, who works for Random Penguin. She said she forwarded my letter to the managing editor who hired the copyeditor, and promised to make sure the changes were in the volume.

The letter came before last week’s bloodbath at Random Penguin, where most of the mass market division NAL/Berkley is being “repurposed.” Last week, according to Publisher’s Marketplace:

Other outlets and Twitter conversations indicate at least four editors and other support staff have been let go, and that title cuts at the Ace and Roc science fiction and fantasy imprints are on the way.

Note that it says “title cuts.” That means books already purchased will be cut and the contracts canceled.

. . . .

I have no idea if the editor I dealt with still has a job. I have no idea if the managing editor still has a job. I’m assuming the copyeditor from heck isn’t employed with that company, since most traditional publishers’ copyeditors these days are freelancers.

I do know that the volume will appear in November as promised, since the book is available for preorder. I am now braced for a voiceless version of my story to hit print, since I doubt there’s anyone remaining at the company to oversee this volume.

Such is life. In a few months or years after publication (whatever my contract says), I will publish the author’s preferred edition. I do so love the modern era.

I know many of the writers in that volume and was exchanging emails with them on another project. I found out that several of them had had a harsh copyedit too. Some didn’t care (I never read copyedits,one told me), but some got as angry as I did. Of the ones who got angry, only one other writer (that I know of) actually restored the original version. The others told me that the copyeditor knew better.

Nope. No. Not at all. The copyeditor knew the style manual better. The writer knew how to tell a story with an authentic voice better than that copyeditor ever would.

. . . .

I’ve had copyedits from traditional publishers that are much worse than this one, including one young copyeditor who rewrote every sentence of my 100,000 word novel. I’m not the only writer this has happened to. A traditionally published friend of mine just dealt with the same thing last year on one of his novels.

. . . .

I wasn’t kidding when I told the editor at Random Penguin that I used to train copyeditors. I still train them sometimes, although less often now. When I had published my novels traditionally, every single company I worked for used my manuscripts as a litmus test for their copyeditors.

My manuscripts were exceptionally clean. The editors would tell me (one or two novels in) that they were sending my manuscript to a new copyeditor, with a recommendation for a light copyedit. If the manuscript came back with hundreds of changes in the first chapter, that copyeditor never worked again.

The copyedit was sometimes tossed away, and we would let the proofreader catch the typos. It was easier than doing repair.

. . . .

The best way to learn how to tell a story properly is to read for enjoyment. NOT critically. If you read for enjoyment, you’re getting the same effect that the readers are. When you’re done with that story or novel, figure out if you enjoyed the story. If you liked the voice, or the story startled you somewhere, go back and figure out why.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

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What Exactly Does An Editor Do? The Role Has Changed Over Time

30 December 2015

From National Public Radio:

When Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman was published earlier this year, readers learned that this much anticipated “second book” by Lee was actually a first draft of what would later become the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee radically revised this early version of the book on the advice of her editor, Tay Hohoff. That made us wonder: How much do editors shape the final book we read?

On hearing the news about the role Lee’s editor played in the creation of To Kill a Mockingbird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg was surprised at first. The story immediately made him think of legendary editor Max Perkins — who shepherded the works of such greats as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway. Berg, who wrote a biography of Perkins, says Perkins had a huge influence on the editors who came after him because of the way he worked with his authors.

“Not only did he change the course of the American literary river, but he changed what editors do by becoming their best friends, their money lenders, their marriage counselors, their psychoanalysts,” Berg says. “And along the way he began offering them titles. He often provided structure for what their novels ought to be. He often gave them whole ideas for what their next book should be.”

That was the way editors interacted with their writers for many years after Perkins came on the scene, Berg says, but now publishing has changed: These days there is more pressure on editors to acquire best-sellers, and they are much more involved in marketing a book. And that, he says, leaves precious little time for actual editing.

“Make no mistake about it: That editor-author relationship is still fundamental to good books,” says Berg. “But it’s not necessarily cost-effective for book editors to invest as much of their time into any single manuscript or any single author and that’s simply because the publishing houses have not encouraged their editors to edit.”

Link to the rest at NPR and thanks to Deb for the tip.

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I Will Not Join in the Snooty Trashing of Self-Published Books; Here’s Why

9 September 2015

From Foreword Reviews:

The self-published book—despite its surge in respectability of late—is still derided, with snoots in the air, as “vanity press” by self-important literary critics. On a recent New York Times Book Review podcast, editor Pamela Paul proudly asserted that they don’t even read them. After all, who has time to go through all those so-called books? The assumption is that no legitimate publisher would touch it, so the author had to go it alone.

So, indulge me a little and let me take you back to my very first editing assignment. I was fifteen years old and my grandfather, a former Hungarian refugee from the Holocaust, was writing his life story. I was “the writer” in a family of doctors, so he came to me for this project, asking me to fix his broken English. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of his book. It was 1918, and he and his brother were hiding in wine casks in a courtyard in Paks, Hungary, while the townspeople went on an anti-Jewish rampage. My grandfather, six years old, looking out through cork holes in his makeshift hiding place, witnessed this:

“The mob was busy and loud. Every business was looted, homes ransacked and fires burning at will. … The women were beaten, their clothes ripped off, the men’s beards were plucked and given twenty-five lashes on the street, as the enraged mob looked on and enjoyed all the atrocities. … As the night came, the street was filled with drunks and looters singing hate songs which sometimes were mixed with the cry and pleading for mercy of the Jewish population. As we looked out from our peephole, we recognized some of our neighbors as they went by with their loot, and we fell asleep. Our sleep was short-lived, when we heard an enormously loud crash. The mob reached our house, broke through the steel shutters and rampaged the house, and as we looked out from our hiding place, across the street, the little Jewish-owned grocery store was in flames.”

My grandpa’s book recalls his childhood as a Jew in Hungary, his escape—with my grandmother and my father, then four years old—from Europe to make a new life in America. I am nearly fifty years old, and for American Jews of my generation, my grandpa’s story is both an ordinary one—for it was mirrored in the experiences of grandparents of many American Jews who grew up in the safety of ’60s and ’70s America—and an extraordinary one, because it described a lost world that took on mythic proportions in my imagination, of a life filled with danger and split-second decisions that could mean living or dying.

It was a heavy editing assignment for me as a teenager who only had some vague idea that I wanted to be a writer. What I did not tell my grandpa was that I kept much of his original wording in the book. I cannot imagine reading my grandfather’s book in anything other than his broken, Hungarian-accented English.

Later, after it was completed, my grandpa showed me a letter he received from a literary agent. She wrote that while his story of escape from the Holocaust had potential, there needed to be some sex in it if she were to sell it to any publisher. My teenage brain tried to wrap around this thought. Some agent behind a desk somewhere in New York was telling my grandfather, the most honest man I knew, a man who lived enough adventure for many lives, that his life story was not worth telling if he did not invent some sex scenes.

Link to the rest at Foreword Reviews and thanks to Judith for the tip.

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Copyediting or Proofreading? Getting the Most for Your Editing Dollar

13 May 2015

From The Book Designer:

As a self-publishing author, it’s next to impossible to manage all aspects of publishing a book by yourself. Inevitably, you’ll need to seek help with at least some stages of the process. And there’s a bevy of providers out there, eager to offer their assistance.

. . . .

Joanna Penn again warns authors to “do their due diligence” when seeking help with self-publishing. These comments are as true for editing as for any other author service.

How can authors know what they’re getting? Bottom line: if you’re paying someone to help you, that transaction must be transparent. You need to know exactly what the editor will do and what it will cost. In short, all the terms must be spelled out plainly.

Lately, most authors who contact us are requesting a quote for proofreading. And we could simply provide a quote for proofreading, but that wouldn’t be transparent. Why? Because when we look at the manuscript they’ve sent, it’s clear that the manuscript doesn’t need proofreading—it needs copyediting.

. . . .

The easiest way to remember the difference between copyediting and proofreading is to consider when they occur in the editing process. Proofreading is the final stage of editing. It occurs after your book has been formatted for print or digital distribution—after you get it back from your formatter or book designer. Proofreading occurs when your book is in its final form—in the environment in which your reader will read it.

For print books, proofreading will occur on a PDF. For an ebook, the proofreader will view your book as an epub or mobi file—on a Kindle, perhaps—and keep a list of any changes that need to be made in the master file. Any corrections that the proofreader suggests will need to be addressed by your formatter or designer. If you’re the formatter or designer, you’ll be the one making the corrections.

The proofreader will also look for errors that have been introduced during the formatting and design process. That’s right! Every time someone touches your book manuscript for any reason, the possibility of introducing errors exists. So the fewer changes you have to make at the proofreading stage, the better.

. . . .

When an author submits a manuscript to us for “proofreading,” this is the first question we ask: “Has your book been copyedited?” If it hasn’t, the process can become costly for the author.

Here’s why: editors generally copyedit a manuscript using a variety of automated copyediting tools. These tools not only help editors to be more accurate in hunting down errors, they also help them to be more efficient during the copyediting process. If an editor charges by the hour, you will want her to use the tools that will make the process more efficient, as this will be less of a drain on your book budget.

Most automated tools only work with Microsoft Word—the editor’s tool of choice. It follows, then, that the bulk of corrections should occur when your book manuscript has not yet been formatted as a PDF, epub, or mobi.

Further, copyediting can involve recasting and reordering sentences for clarity, a task you most definitely want to avoid when your book has been formatted or laid out.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

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