Posted by Lynne Griffin
Lisa's story arrived in pictures on Monday, Amy's galley on Tuesday and Hannah's inspiration just yesterday. What did I get in the mail this week? My copy edited manuscript. It is really a thrill to see it, all marked up with purple pencil, with little green Post-its littered throughout.
The process of getting a manuscript through production includes a thorough read by an expert stylist and grammarian. You'd be surprised at how many little details and inconsistencies even the most meticulous writer misses.
Some of you are old pros at this part of the publication process, but for those of you who aren't, let me share how it works.
The manuscript was sent to me via UPS with a tracking number--the mere thought of all that work getting lost is frightening. When it arrived, I pulled it from its envelope and went through each page to get a sense of just how much work there would be to do. You see, my job at this stage is to go through and read the manuscript word-by-word. When I get to a correction made by the copy editor--it could be as simple as to add or delete a comma, or as complex as to change a whole sentence, for readability--I am to decide whether or not to accept the change. If I accept it, I do nothing; just leave it and keep reading. If I disagree with the change (and I would if the change interfered with meaning, or characterization, and the like) I write the word STET next to it, which means leave the material as it was written.
Through the manuscript on Post-it notes, there are what are called queries. The copy editor is in fact asking me questions. They can be easy questions such as, do I like the sentence change, to more complicated ones like would this character really do this? I even had to do a bit of research on some queries, like do certain trees hold their leaves as long as I said they did. Great pick ups like this assure a quality read for readers. My copy editor did an amazing job with another important task--reading for consistency.
Enclosed in the package sent to me, is what is called a style sheet. Imagine a set of directions that covers everything from how unique words will be spelled, (one-two punch & hit and run) how dates and times will be managed, (spell out the quarter hour & use a.m and p.m.) and (this is my favorite) a character listing, one that includes physical traits and plot details. It even includes a brief summary of each chapter. I loved seeing my novel captured this way by a fresh reader.
All of this work done by someone you may never meet, but should certainly thank, is a generous gift. To know that someone who loves books took tons of time to read and fine-tune my manuscript is awe inspiring.
My copy edits are done now and will go back to my editor. She in turn will send it back over to production so that the changes can be incorporated into the manuscript. Next step is galley creation, like the one you saw Amy holding this week. Each of these essential milestones take me closer to publication. It's hard work, but thrilling.
Those of you who've gone through this process, feel free to add info I've left out via the comments section. And if you have questions, feel free to pose them here.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Posted by Lynne Griffin