Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Zombie editing

I have a pronounced weakness for post-apocalypse fiction. It's not the apocalypse itself that gets me, it's the sociological implications of the collapse and rebuilding. So one of the genres I enjoy happens to be zombie fiction. I've read quite a bit, and I have to say that the recent resurgence of zombies into popular culture has proven to be a boon for those of my ilk.

A very brief list of the books/series I have read and enjoyed:
Newsflesh, by Mira Grant
Apocalypse Z, by Manel Loureiro
and of course, World War Z, by Max Brooks.
Even Diana Gabaldon wrote an Outlander novella with zombies!

I'm reading an interesting zombie series now, and will be dropping the author a line to offer editing services. The books have many errors in word choice, not in spelling. For instance, the survivors used water canon instead of water cannon, and that is just one tiny example. Your average spell-check would pass right by these, but they will catch the eye of the reader. I hope that I can convince the author to engage a professional editor, even if it's someone other than yours truly!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reddit post: "Don't Insult the Editor"


Here's the text of the original post, and the comments are definitely worth reading as well:

It might be silly to even say this, but I highly advise not insulting agents or editors when responding to rejection letters. Even if they're mean or belittle you, even if you feel like a great injustice has occurred, please just take a breath and move on.
However, if they've treated you in a way you think might not represent the best interests of their publication or company, do figure out who to email that might supervise the agent or editor. Let that person know you've been mistreated.
This happens way too often, and it doesn't make sense to me because my rejection letters usually read as follows:
Thanks again for submitting to [publisher]. Your manuscript had [specific thing that worked well] and [maybe another thing that worked], but because of [reason for rejection] I've decided to pass on it for me.
In today's rejection that prompted this post, I'd given a simple reason: the prose wasn't where it needed to be, that another round or two of revisions were necessary before I could get behind it. The author responded by trying to make me feel bad, shaming me for saying their writing wasn't good enough to be published.
And that sucks for them because such an attitude is going to get you absolutely nowhere if your goal is to find traditional publication. Even if I'd been mean or cruel, it would have been a bad move on the author's part to send a defensive response (or in this case, an attack, since the author seemed less concerned with the possibility of the truth of my assessment and more so with letting me know she didn't approve of how I handled things).
Normally I just delete these emails and move on. But today I recalled how many times I've been in a workshop or read about an author sweeping their Amazon review page or whatever else with the intention of defending their work. You don't need to do this. Your work should stand on its own, to use the cliche (which you shouldn't do in your fiction :P). If an agent doesn't like it, for whatever reason, that means they're not your agent. If they were mean to you, that means they've even less your agent. Sucks for them. Move on and find your agent.
I want to help authors. That's what editors and agents do. We help authors get published. It's really hard to do this job when authors have shitty attitudes. Agents and editors can have shitty attitudes too, and that's bad for them and the publishers and clients they work with, but a quick and easy way to drastically increase your ability to be published is to treat other people in the industry how you'd want to be treated. Don't lash out at an editor because of a rejection; stop and listen to the reasons for the rejection. This author could have instead asked for clarification, which I would have happily provided. Instead they got their email deleted and have less of a chance to get their book published.
TL:DR: be nice, yo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Your friendly neighborhood apostrophe

Friendly advice from a favorite online comic, The Oatmeal, about apostrophes.

One of the funniest fails I've ever seen was in an ad for Free Puppie's. So, so close!

Is passive voice really THAT bad?

No, it's not that bad. But it can be lazy, and I'll change it if I can do so without resorting to verbal gymnastics. By zombies.

Monday, January 19, 2015

What is a copy editor, anyway?

I like to warn new authors not to panic when they see the first markup of their book. It generally looks like a bloodbath, and their first reaction is to wig out at all the edits. My standard approach is to tell them that their job is to get their book written. They're doing the heavy lifting: either building a world, creating characters, and getting a plot in motion; or gathering facts, organizing them, and making the whole into a readable book. My job is to come in afterward with a mop and feather duster and clean up after the construction!

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders describes the copy editor's job very well. We do not try to re-write the book, but instead correct errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and, depending on the author's needs, style. We will ensure proper flow and make sure that the author isn't omitting anything: the author knows the material so well that she may inadvertently leave out important information. We make decisions about consistency, especially in novels that use dialects. (I edited a Scottish time-travel romance [not Outlander, though I sure wish it had been!], and let the hero use "No" as well as "Nay" throughout the book. I use "No," "Nope," "Not a bit," "Not at all," "No way," and "Nuh-uh," so didn't consider it important that the hero used "No" sometimes and "Nay" other times. I was overridden by the head editor, though.)

Some of what I do as a copy editor can also fall under "line editing" but I do not go into structural editing. I assume that the author knows what he wants to say, and I make it as clean and tidy and internally consistent as possible! If you have any questions about what I can do for you, please use the Contact section to inquire.

I am not alone

I'm always glad to run across people who have the same reaction to poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage that I do. Hyperbole and a Half addresses it artistically, and hilariously. I love that alot.