Saturday, 4 November 2017

From the Heart of a Copy Editor... by Rosalie Warren (or Sheila Glasbey, if you prefer)



Hello! I’m drafting this on November 1st and am currently up to my eyes in what can optimistically be described as ‘preparing for publication’. If you saw my office, you’d be more likely to think of the aftermath of a violent storm. Almost every writing manual and self-help book I own (and that’s a lot) lies open on my desk, or on the blanket chest next to my desk, or on the bunk beds behind it. In pride of place, I have to say, is Chris Longmuir’s Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing, which has so far proved invaluable in negotiating Microsoft Word-whatever-version-I-now-have – the one with the ribbon, anyway. Thank you enormously, Chris, for writing this and for going into so much helpful detail – enough, it seems, even for me.

My computer desktop is cluttered too, with so many files open that I’ve lost count. Got into a panic yesterday when I discovered I had the same file open twice – which one contained my painstakingly added latest revisions and which didn’t? Major panic ensued. Had I overwritten the new version? Thankfully, I discovered that one of them was my back-up file from a different folder, which I’d opened so I could see my table of contents at the start and match it up to the chapter headings inside... I should have called the back-up file a different name... oh dear!

All seems to be well now, even the style files, though as I write this I don’t yet know what Amazon KDP will make of it. It’s the first non-fiction book I’ve published and the first time I’ve needed such a thing as a table of contents – though I think someone mentioned that even novels need them now? No doubt I’ll find that out when I publish my new novel next year. 

I had nightmares last night about... well, I’m sure they had something to do with multiple file openings and overwritings. Much scarier than anything to do with Hallowe’en. 

My intention, however, was to tell you about the book, so here goes. I'm delighted with my cover, which features a fantastic drawing of an editor pig by illustrator Alex Hallatt (turned into a lovely cover by Indie-Go). I can only hope the book lives up to this high standard.

Cover illustration (c) 2017 Alex Hallatt


From the Heart of a Copy Editor is aimed at writers – those intending to self-publish and those planning to submit to publishers and/or agents. It’s a summary of the ten most common writing errors I’ve encountered in my years as a professional copy editor and proofreader (these being the things I do when I’m not writing). The idea is to help writers get most things correct before sending their ms to a professional copy editor, and thus to save themselves money on the quote. As part of my work I prepare a summary for each client of their most frequent mistakes and send this to them, together with their corrected manuscript. The ‘ten most common mistakes’ have been gleaned from these summaries. As I say in the book, 40% or more of my time is spent on the same old errors (mostly to do with dialogue and punctuation) that writers, even the best ones, make over and over again. Get these things right and your copy editor’s task could be cut in half, pretty much – and so could your bill. 

I’m not trying to do myself or my colleagues out of a job, but to make all our lives easier. Of course, there will always be the need for a professional to give your book the final copy edit and proofread, since we all, however competent, fall down when we try to correct our own work.

So where, you may be wondering, did the pig come from? For some reason, a lot of the example sentences I made up to illustrate various points seemed to involve pigs. I have no idea why. Although I like and admire pigs, I don’t have any particular attachment to them and I’ve never owned one. But the pig was very persistent and the examples soon started to form a story involving a young couple with a troubled relationship, a crumbling home and a pig. I asked Alex Hallatt for a pig on the cover and she had the brilliant idea of giving him (or her?) glasses and making him/her the editor. A worried-looking editor – I know how s/he feels. I also asked for a pig in the text and Alex created a wonderful image of the editor pig running away – from what, I’m not sure. Maybe from John and Mariella, his troubled owners. Anyway...

(c) Alex Hallatt 2017
The book is short and relatively concise. I’ve worked hard to make it clear and I hope I’ve succeeded. Much of the content will be familiar stuff to readers of this blog. But I hope it will prove useful to many authors at all stages of their careers. This will be the UK edition, since US English differs in some subtle and interesting ways. I hope to bring out a US edition soon.

Update on Nov 2nd: From the Heart of a Copy Editor – the 10 Most Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Publication date is 15th Nov 2017, so this means you can order your copy now and you'll receive it on 15th Nov. As I said, it’s a short book, and costs only £1.99 (and it's currently free on Kindle Unlimited). I hope to publish a paperback version before long.

I’m using my real name, Sheila Glasbey, as opposed to the pen-name Rosalie Warren I use for my novels. This is so I can link it to my role of editor, where I use my real name too. It’s more bother than it’s worth, this two-name thing, and I’d strongly advise anyone starting out not to do it. But I’m stuck with it now!

Before I go – what would I do without my wonderful fellow authors on this blog? Special thanks to Jan Needle of Authors Electric for many helpful comments and suggestions, and many thanks again to Chris Longmuir for her wonderful book.

I hope my book will also be useful, in its way. Click here if you'd like to take a look.

All the best,
Ros

Details: 
Edition: Amazon Kindle 2017
Author: Sheila Glasbey
Date of Publication: 15th November 2017 (available for pre-order from 2nd Nov).

For updates, please see my Facebook Author Page 
Twitter: @Ros_Warren

9 comments:

Jan Needle said...

Thanks for the mention, Sheila/Rosalie. And to the rest of the world, it's a very readable and worthwhile book. Useful on all sorts of levels.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you, Jan. And many thanks again for all the help.

Melissa Lawrence said...

I've been privileged to be quite closely involved with the journey that Sheila/Rosalie's book has taken and I'm delighted to see that we are nearly there! I can highly recommend 'From the Heart of a Copy Editor' for both new writers and more experienced ones. It certainly helped me to view my own work in a whole new light and I have become quite obsessive about commas! Good luck with the book. You deserve it to be a success after all your hard work.

Umberto Tosi said...

I'm really looking forward to getting my copy of "From the Heart of a Copy Editor!" I feel your last minute prep-panic. This too will pass - splendidly. Best of luck with your much anticipated, first-hand guide - like talking directly with a trusted editor in days of old!

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you, Melissa - and many thanks for all your help, too.

And thank you, Umberto, for your encouraging words and for buying a copy. I really hope you like the book.

Debbie Bennett said...

It's a really useful book. I'd agree with all of those mistakes from the editorial work I've done and Rosalie explains everything in such simple terms that it's easy to understand.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you, Debbie.

Chris Longmuir said...

Thank you for the mention Rosalie and I'm pleased you found the book useful, as for the requirement of fiction to have a table of contents (TOC) it's another hoop we have to jump through. But, personally, I hate those ebooks with a TOC that lists the chapters eg Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 etc. I get round it by simply making the contents a hyperlink to each section rather than each chapter. I'm almost sure I covered it in Nuts & Bolts. Good luck with the sales of your book. Mine is on preorder.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thanks, Chris - and thanks for pre-ordering. You certainly do cover the TOC issue, very clearly, and I intend to use your suggestions concerning 'Chapter 1' etc when I publish my next novel.