Friday, April 17, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 6 of 12)

After the proofreader has done her work, reputable publishers will send you page proofs. (In the typewriter days, we called them gallies and they were printed on one long sheet of paper.) These days, the page proofs show us what the interior of the book will look like.

Read your manuscript carefully. Computers sometimes goof on syllabication. Most publishers still print their books with a justified right margin (but you send in your manuscript with what we call the ragged right). The computers sometimes make what we call BB—bad breaks—by hyphenating words already hyphenated.

For example, self-conscious might be divided to read self-cons- and the rest of the word on the next line or even on the following page. The rule is that we never break a hyphenated word at the end of the line except where the hyphen already appears (self-).

When you receive the page proofs, you'll also receive a note saying that if you want to make any significant changes, you, the author, will pay for them.

The page proofs normally come in jpeg and they'll explain how to make those minor corrections.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 5 of 12)

I haven't discussed some of the other editorial positions because publishers vary with their titles and job descriptions. I've presented the basic positions. Here are a few examples.

Associate editor, especially in larger houses, refers to someone who hopes to step up to the position of being called an editor or even senior editor. They probably don't edit manuscripts, but they do the scud work. The job refers to anything other than hands-on editing such as administrative work, formatting, and corresponding with the authors.

Assistant editor is another term that can mean the same as associate editor. Some houses have a managing editor who, as the title suggests, handles things to keep everything flowing on time. They may edit or function like supervisors for the editorial staff.

Editorial director is a term I encounter occasionally. The title says it. This is the top position. She may be an administrator or a senior editor. One editorial director with whom I worked was able to offer contracts to authors without going through the publications committee.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 4 of 12)

4. Proofreaders do the final editing, and they're a special kind of editor. They see the missing comma or the left-out words. If you typed was for saw, a good proofreader jumps on it.

He is the person who catches the little things that we tend to overlook. You may read a track change that says, "You used begin three times in this paragraph," and he suggests how you can rewrite to get rid of one of them and perhaps two.

They see the manuscript after the design is completed, and the photos, captions, front matter, and back matter are all in place. They check headings, page numbers, typeface styles, and make sure that corrections by you and the the copyeditor have been inserted.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 3 of 12)

3. Copyeditors usually come next. (Smaller publishers have cut out the copyeditors and expect the acquiring editors to function in both positions.)

Copyeditors are the techies who take over after you and your editor have polished the manuscript. They check for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. They point out inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Sometimes they rewrite an awkward sentence.

For my last few books, I've had two bad copyeditors. In both instances, they were new and still in the stage of proving themselves. One of the books Twila Belk and I wrote together was the worst. The copyeditor forgot the book was ours and her responsibility was to make it sound like us—only better. Instead, she eliminated contractions, reworded important sentences, and the style became stiff and very unlike us.

I appealed to the senior editor, who agreed, and they assigned an experienced copyeditor who did an excellent job.

Remind yourself that editors aren't the final word. It's a cooperative venture to put out the best product.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 2 of 12)

2. The next editor is the developmental or substantive editor. That person will probably be the same one who took the manuscript to the committee. This is what I call the broad-brush editor.

Occasionally, publishers contract with a celebrity or a newsworthy person who hasn't written a book. Unless they assign a ghostwriter, collaborator, or book doctor, the developmental editor helps that author define the concept, especially in nonfiction, and figure out, among other things, the target audience. The word I associate with them is flow. They help the author produce a logical manuscript that will attract readers.

Sometimes a contracted book, even by a well-published writer, requires substantial revision and restructuring. Someone compared those editors to therapists: They don’t tell you what to do; they get you to tell yourself. Some developmental editors, of course, do the restructuring themselves, but the most professional ones make it a learning experience for a writer.

No matter what the editor's title, you will see the suggested revisions. Most of them use track changes in Word. (If you don't know what they are and how they work, here's one of several links to explain): http://shaunakelly.com/word/sharing/howtrackchangesworks.html.

Unless you sell a manuscript for a flat fee, any reputable publishing house will send you the changes they make on your manuscript.

That also means it's truly a mutual arrangement. The editor suggests changes and you, as the author, have the right to reject or respond with a different wording.

A word of caution here. Editors aren't your adversaries and they try to make it the best product possible. Try not to be defensive. Read the changes and ask yourself, "Does this improve the manuscript?"

Remind yourself that once the book is printed, readers will think everything is your work.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 1 of 12)

To new authors (and to some more experienced ones) the various titles of editors can be confusing.

In recent years, some publishers have cut expenses by eliminating editorial positions. For example, two decades ago, publishers employed a Rights and Permissions Editor. (My wife held such a position for several years.) That person checked all references to ascertain their accuracy. Sometimes they contacted publishers for permission.

Today, getting permission to quote from material (a subject I dealt with in previous blogs) has become the responsibility of the author. And copyeditors check for accuracy.

Who are these editors and what do they do?

1. Acquisitions editors. At one time, that was a specific job description. They contracted for the manuscripts and sent them to the editorial staff for editing.

These days, most publishers allow any editor to function as an acquisitions editor. It means the editors can reject a manuscript, but don't have the authority to make offers.

When editors want their publishing house to acquire a book, they take it to their committees. Because publishing houses work differently, here's a simple view.

The "acquisitions" editor becomes the author's champion. She presents the book proposal to the editorial committee. If they agree, the proposal goes to a joint meeting of the editors and the marketing people, often called the publications committee. If they say yes, the acquisitions editor figures out the cost to the publishing house and how much advance they can offer.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Attending Trade Shows (Part 3 of 3)

Elaine Wright Colvin makes additional practical suggestions.

* "A good pair of shoes is a must for a comfortable convention. As a representative of WIN, professional dress (Sunday type attire) is the rule for everything else."

As culture changes, so does everything else and today, dress is far more casual. Even so, my rule is simple: Look professional.

* "A strong bag for carrying all those freebies and catalogs is a lifesaver (an expandable bag on wheels, brief case, backpack, whatever works best for you)."

* "Visiting booths near espresso/concession stands, restrooms, and the VIP Autograph booths where you want to be in line helps your schedule. If that’s not possible, try to make other convenient arrangements. Your feet will thank you for planning ahead and preventing unnecessary back-tracking."

* Try to schedule "the most boring seminars/press conferences right after lunch." Pace yourself so you have enough energy to make it through a hectic week.

* Tipping. I've never seen this noted anywhere else, but Elaine tells her readers to adhere to tipping standards. She adds, "Bless the people who serve you in a way they'll understand: Increase their income."