Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Editor and Copy Editor
The squirrel is back, really interested in this new book I'm working on. She sits there for up to ten minutes at a time, several times a day, turning her head this way and that, inching closer to get a better look, not at all afraid when I lift the camera to record her existence.
Several people have asked me to explain (per the last blog entry) the difference between editor and copy editor. This will have nothing to do with squirrels. The squirrel photos are merely to show you who is watching me as I am writing this post.
My editor is the one who first sees my newest book (usually my third or fourth draft). She gives me both a general impression and an in-depth analysis, including detailed notes on the book's strengths and weaknesses. She raises questions about large issues of depth and meaning and character. She gives me these comments on the phone, in a detailed letter, and on the manuscript itself. It is up to me to think through all of her comments, resolve questions and submit revisions. The editor will continue to oversee the manuscript's development and will coordinate all issues related to design and publication.
The copy-editor (whom I have never met) is someone who sees the manuscript after I've revised it and the editor has officially approved it. The copy-editor scours the manuscript, marking it for consistency of style and format (font, headings, spacing, bold, italic) and for accuracy. She will note discrepancies (different spelling of same name, miscalculation of dates or times or distances) and awkward repetitions or phrasings. It is up to me to resolve the discrepancies and smooth or eliminate the awkward bits.
Not all editors and copy editors work the same way, but this is the way mine work with me. I've had the same editor for the past fourteen years. We've developed a deep understanding of the way each of us thinks and works and this, I think, enriches the work we do together.