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copy-editing

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Wednesday, 06 June 2007 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I received the copy-edited manuscript of my new book (to be published Spring 2008) and it occurred to me that some of you may be interested in seeing how that part of the process works.

I mailed the completed manuscript to the publisher some time ago. They turned it over to a copy-editor. The author never meets the copy editor, and she (usually it is a woman) may be different for each book. I suppose it depends on who is available.

The copy editor goes through the manuscript meticulously, looking for typos, misspellings, questions of punctuation, and watching for continuity errors (a character has blue eyes on page 13, brown eyes on page 202?) and simple stylistic questions. The copy editor does not make any changes, but marks all these things...(questions, usually in teensy printing...in the margins. Things like: "You used the word beautiful twice on this page. Want to change one?") and using editing marks that indicate what punctuation should be changed. (I always use too many commas, and copy editors always indicate that many of them should be removed).

The author can, theoretically, say "No, I MEANT to use that stupid adverb. Leave it in." That's a stylistic thing and the author can make the final decision.

But formatting issues need to follow the rules, and so I open up the manuscript in my computer, set the copy-edited hard copy in front of me, and go through page by page, deleting commas, making the indicated changes. I've attached two examples here. The first is a snippet from the orignal manuscript, the one I sent the publisher, but now it has the copy editor's markings on it (in red). Her abbreviations mean that the underlined section should be changed to "small caps" ... and the second example is what it looks like after I have made that change. (If you click on them you can see them bigger).

Yesterday I went through 173 pages, amazed as I always am at the meticulousless with which a copy editor works. Page by page I changed the manuscript, throwing away all those superfluous commas as I always do.

One thing the copy editor had suggested in her teensy printing was that the final chapter, instead of being Chapter 22, lent itself to being "Epilogue." I agreed with her and made that change.

Then I printed the new, finished manuscript. I burned it onto a disc. And I returned to the publisher the copy-edited original, plus the final version, plus the disc, from which they will now work. (see that comma? I should have typed "the disc from which they will now work").

Oh my, computers have made all of this so much easier!!!!

Next, because this book will have illustrations, the book designer and the editor will deal with the placement of those, and with designing a jacket.

But for now, my part of it is done.


Copyediting_3
Snippet_copy_2

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Comments

Guest
N Monday, 29 November 1999

A good medium-length book: Madeleine L'Engle's A House Like a Lotus. James McWhorter's The Power of Babel is longer (nonfiction) and also really good. Also nonfiction: James C. Davis's The Human Story. Maureen Johnson's The Bermudez Triangle is an easy YA read, but it's excellent. These are somewhat random recommendations, but they're ones I'm always ready to recommend to anyone. Merry Christmas and have a good trip!

Guest
Dawn Farmer Monday, 29 November 1999

I am very anxious to learn about your visit to your granddaughter's 8th grade class. I teach 8th grade and plan to begin THE GIVER on our return from winter break, Jan 2nd. I always become very excited when preparing to read it with my classes. Please consider posting about how the visit goes!
Happy Holidays!

Guest
Kelsey Monday, 29 November 1999

My husband read today that New England's football game will also be on broadcast television. This is something NFL Network never said they'd do, but they are allowing simulcasting because of the chance the Patriots will make it a 16-0 season, which is something any football fan (even Packer fans like me!) would relish a chance to watch. Think of it as a belated Christmas gift! Hope your visitors won't mind some Saturday night football. :-)

Guest
Lois Lowry Monday, 29 November 1999

Thank you, thank you! That decision makes my Saturday night very happy!

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