Archive for 'copyeditors are neither gnomes nor trolls really'



What Stace had to say on Monday, February 7th, 2011
Edits: Working With Trolls

Since I didn’t do a lot of planning for this particular little series, I’m not actually sure what I’m going to cover. Should I talk more about the working-with-my-editor process, or…?

So what I’m going to do today, anyway, is discuss copyedits. (This is a long, image-heavy post, FYI.)

After edits are complete–often several rounds, including line edits–the ms is printed, and the printout heads to a mysterious, homicidal, troll-like basement-dweller* known as a copyeditor. I always picture them chained to a floor, wearing rags and snarling over desks held together by Duct tape and rage. The copyeditor’s job is to inspect each and every word with a magnifying glass, using at least one grammar reference book, nitpick the hell out of your ms. with the Pencil of Doom, and examine everything with “What if I were a totally stupid person?” and ask questions thusly.*** (For more on this, check out my series from August about the publishing process: How Babies are Made parts one and two.) People often think copyeditors use a red pen; nope. They use a pencil, not always red, and you have to respond in pencil, too. But not a #2 pencil. A colored pencil. As a result, I have colored pencils and artgum erasers all over the place. I digress.

The copyeditor focuses their nasty little eyes on the pages, and starts marking it up with odd and obscure lines and squiggles–some of which I suspect are made up just to fuck with writers–while giggling maniacally.**** They’d rub their hands together if they weren’t so busy drawing bizarre alchemical symbols on the ms.**** Once they’ve sufficiently scribbled all over the book, they send it to the editor, who sends it to the writer.

So. Here are some of my actual copyedited pages. These are from UNHOLY MAGIC (which, as you’ll see on the first page, was originally titled DOWNSIDE GHOSTS. Then we decided to find a new title, and they started calling the series that, but there you go). This is the ms that was sent to me, that I went through page-by-page, printed from my original file–the one I emailed my editor and she approved (I write my books in 12-pt. Dark Courier, so that’s what you’ll see; they don’t even change my font). The copyeditor fixes any minor grammar issues I may have, clarifies things, suggests minor changes,points out factual errors or mistakes, stuff like that.

I had the hubs scan these and send them to me as jpegs, so if you click them twice they’ll go full-size and be very easy to read. You’ll be better able to see them that way, and I’ve added comments to each one to explain what everything is. Sorry, but there are so many images I really need to keep them smaller. I hope it’s not too much of an inconvenience.

Title page (my explanatory comments are in blue, and any explanations of my responses are in red): Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 26th, 2010
How Babies are Made* Part II

*books. It’s just a joke.

(Part One of this little series can be found here.)

So, where last we left our manuscript, sweet little FOUR, it was making its dark and lonely descent into the hands of a copyeditor, where it was placed on the bottom of a stack of perhaps five or ten other manuscripts just like it, to be gone over with the dreaded green pencil, and it was early February at the very earliest (but more likely at least March).

While I’ve been piddling about with words, a few other things have been happening. Shauna will come up with a few thoughts or ideas about what she might like to see on my cover; what the concept is. She presents those to the cover people, and the Publisher in a big meeting that takes place three or four times a year (this is the way it’s done at Random House, anyway; it may be different at other houses). What sort of model, background, pose, etc? One person or two? That sort of thing. They decide on a concept, or maybe a couple, and the whole thing is sent on to a cover artist person.

That person finds and hires the necessary model(s) and takes numerous pictures in various poses and outfits. They show those to Shauna and/or someone else, but I do know for a fact Shauna sees the poses and selects the one she likes best. If the meeting took place immediately after FOUR was turned in, or right after the contracts were signed, it may be only January or so, but chances are it’s closer to March or April.

Then the cover artist starts, well, being artistic. They draw or digitally create backgrounds, or manipulate existing art or backgrounds. They do whatever else it is that artists do; I have no idea, frankly. All I know is, a cover generally takes at least a couple of months, and the cover art usually starts being discussed almost immediately. Yes, writers are asked for input, and yes, if it comes down to what we like vs. what Marketing likes, we’re going to lose. We’re asked for input, but “input” is all it is. And honestly, well, Marketing’s being doing this a lot longer than we have.

And really, they want us to be happy. No editor or publisher has ever cheered and high-fived when an authors bursts into tears at the sight of their cover. They want to please us. It’s just sometimes we can’t be pleased. And sometimes Marketing is totally right, and the cover we don’t particularly care for is a cover that readers seem to adore. That happens a lot.

So. Cover art may take anywhere from 2-6 months. Which means that cover art may come in for FOUR anywhere from January-March. Because the sales people are going to need a finished cover when they start soliciting orders, it will pretty much have to be in by May at the very, very latest, but April is a much better deadline.
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