Charlie's Diary

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Thu, 11 Nov 2004

Scribble, scribble

The copy edits arrived on Tuesday morning, right after my last posting here. They're due back in production a week today -- which sounds like plenty of time until you consider that the production department is in New York, and I'm away from tomorrow through Tuesday evening in Dublin. So I've just spent a few happy fun 12-hour working days slaving over a hot manuscript.

For those of you who don't know what copy edits entail, it's like this: your editor sends the typescript you sent them on to a freelance copy editor. The copy editor's job is to look for errors and fix them -- not big, sweeping errors but little ones like using "email" on page 47 and "e-mail" on pages 192 and 256. Typos, naturally, fall within their remit, but consistency is also part and parcel of the job -- it's amazing how characters middle names can change in two hundred pages that were written four months apart, or how someone can drain the same cup of coffee twice on successive pages while wrapped up in a conversation. The copy editor fixes typographical stuff using a red pencil, with occasional marginalia on a cover note (and you'd better read those questions, and answer them, unless you want your readers to think you're an idiot), renders your usage and spelling consistent, maybe draws up a list of odd words or names that appear in your book (optionally with a concordance, just to make the typesetters job easier -- this is less important when the author is submitting electronic copy which just needs to be re-flowed and tweaked in Quark), and so on.

It's not entirely a one-way process. If you take exception to what your copy editor is doing (they're not telepathic, and sometimes they misinterpret what you're trying to say) you can scribble STET in the margin or over their changes, using a different-coloured pencil, and insert your own corrections. Sometimes you find they've been tweaking your text for consistency and missed something: at this point you get a warm glow of satisfaction from finding the poor copy-editor's omission.

This time, I did a couple of extra steps. I updated my own manuscript copy -- this forced me to read every change the copy editor made, carefully noting it down, and dragged everything into greater focus than usual. (I have my own reason for wanting a 100% up-to-date manuscript copy, and it's easier to generate my own than to dig one out of the bowels of a big publishing company on the other side of the Atlantic.) And I fed the entire thing to a scanner with an automatic document feeder, saving a PDF image of the pages. That way, I can ship it back to the publisher via regular air mail (printed matter rate plus signed-for delivery) rather than an expensive courier firm, knowing that if it goes missing I've still got a copy with all the painstaking work that's gone into it. (Given the amount of stuff I'm shipping across the Atlantic these days, this measure saves a not insignificant amount of money.)

Anyway, I reckon I've put in the equivalent of a 40-hour working week and then some in the past three days. And as I'm about to slouch exhaustedly off to the post office to pass he two-kilogram brick of paper across the counter, one question keeps floating through my mind:

Why, when I have two novels coming out in the whole of next year, do both publishers decide to send me the copy-edits for checking within two weeks of each other?

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 14:00 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

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Missile Gap
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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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