Friday, May 13, 2016

The Chief Thing To Remember About Proofing nd Copyediting


I've been working all day on the galleys of Not So Much, Said the Cat, my new collection of short fiction forthcoming this summer from Tachyon Publications.

This time, as so rarely happened, the text has been edited with a light hand, and so the value of a second pair of eyes is obvious. Because the damnedest mistakes pop up. A female character is referred to as "he." A simple sentence like "He looked at her" has inexplicably become "He looked her." Words from earlier drafts linger long after the sentences that once sheltered them have been excised. Duplication of of propositions happens.

Sometimes you get a proofreader or a copyeditor with literary ambitions. Someone who wants to turn you into a proper writer through rigorous revision. This can be maddening when you've been writing for decades and fancy that you've begun to get somewhere as a writer. Particularly when your tormentor (for there is no kinder word) takes it into his or her head to insert grammatical errors into your text.

A kind of rage enters into you then, and you write STET in big bold letters next to every suggested change, even when you're in the wrong.

That's the chief thing to remember: Sometimes you will be in the wrong. Because errors -- typos, linguistic misuses, the mot not juste -- are like cockroaches. They want in. And they're almost impossible to keep out. So sooner or later you're going to have to systematically hunt them down and kill them, every one.

That's when it's good to have someone at your publishing house on your side.

Above: Tachyon is making a change in the title of the collection, incidentally. The quotation marks will be taken out. So many little adjustments go into a book!


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