Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Do you copy, Houston?

The next book, Ecologic is now in the copy editing phase. Some poor soul has gone through the whole thing in exquisite detail, checking for my manifold grammatical slips, and Just a Minute problems (repetition, deviation or hesitation).

Different publishers play the copy editing game subtly differently. Some just send any queries that the copy editor has ('did you really mean to say this???') without revealing just what is being done to the text, others give you the whole manuscript marked up along with the editor's detailed changes. The latter is the approach taken by Transworld, the publishers of Ecologic and I am currently working through this as quickly as I can, because (to be honest) it's a mind-numbing task.

It's very rare that I change any simple edits, and even most of the queries from the copy editor make total sense, and I leave them as they are. But occasionally something will need a tweak. For example (s)he picked up on my use of the term 'speech radio' saying 'odd phrase - unless it's music all radio is speech.' I think this reflects the rather cloistered world that copy editors live in. (I imagine publishers keep them in a cupboard, rather like the bank managers in a very old TV ad I seem to remember.) Speech radio is a common term used to distinguish dedicated-to-speech stations like BBC Radio 4 from music stations (which also have plenty of speech) like Radio 1 or Classic FM. As it happens, I found a better wording that suited both of us, so that was okay.

Tomorrow it will be over - corrections emailed back to be incorporated before the manuscript moves down the production line to be given the layout of a real book.

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