Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Urge to Click*

One of the things that often surprises my students is that, until very recently, every bit of editing that happened to my manuscript was on paper. My editor might email me her comments, but after that I was expected to do them and then print out two copies and mail them to New York. (One stayed with my editor, the other went to a copy editor).

Until very recently (like within the last two years), I would get a copy edited manuscript back with post-it notes stuck all over it where the copy editor or editor had questions for me to address. I was expected to make changes in a colored pencil on the paper where I could (or reprint a page or two if I had to) and mail it back.

Weird, huh?

Now, finally, and for the first time, I got back a commented/track changed manuscript electronically as my _editorial letter_.

Penguin has been starting to do this for copy edited manuscripts, but this is my first back-and-forth that's just between me and my editor. I think I complained here (or perhaps elsewhere) that I wasn't necessarily fond of the new electronic copy editing, if only because the temptation to fire back snarky commentary to the occasional dense question from a copy editor was VERY STRONG. When there were post-it notes to scribble on, it was much easier to resist. I had to pick up a pencil and crib out some long rant. Now it's a click away. Much harder to remain professional. Though I managed to do it -- I think.

However, I find I'm liking the track changes editorial letter. I'm getting a much better line-by-line sense of what my editor had trouble with and, I find, more compliments dashed in here and there. The "ha! funny line!" bits, even for an old hand like me, still go a long way. My editor's standard e-mail editorial letter always had a line in there about how I gave her a great read and all that, but, you know, it feels more real when I can see where she put in positive comments.

Plus, the urge to respond to comments here is very different. It feels more like a conversation with my editor. She tends to start out with, "What do you think of..." which naturally calls for a response both in the text and in the comments field. Of course it helps that I have a long, well-established relationship with her, and I tend to trust her judgement. :-)


* x-posted from Wyrdsmiths

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