For the love of books

Every writer I know is, first, a reader. We all have memories of our first books. For me, it was Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth.

From the beginning, many books hold significance to us. For me the stand outs have to be Call Me By Your Name, Room, Rivers of London, The Swimming Pool Library. I could tell you where I was when I read these and I still hold those emotions that I experienced when reading.

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What’s your style?

I’m not talking about the clothes you wear. I’m sure you’re very stylish!

In my role as a copyeditor, I talk a lot about consistency. It’s your ‘style’, it’s how you do things. From a copy perspective, it’s about how you put, or style, words on your page.

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Book review: Shadow is a Colour

Cézanne, the artist, holds together the strands of multiple narratives in this ambitious debut novel.

Perhaps, a little too ambitious. There’s a lot of competing voices in the book: artists, businessmen, actors, directors. Keeping up with everyone as we flip-flop through the narrative can be quite exhausting.

Continue reading “Book review: Shadow is a Colour”

Cézanne, the artist, holds together the strands of multiple narratives in this ambitious debut novel.

Perhaps, a little too ambitious. There’s a lot of competing voices in the book: artists, businessmen, actors, directors. Keeping up with everyone as we flip-flop through the narrative can be quite exhausting.

Continue reading “Book review: Shadow is a Colour”

It’s all Greek to me

Do you know your recto from your verso? What’s the difference between MSS and MS? What is this stet I keep seeing on the page? Definitions at the end of the post!

The language of editing is complex and confusing, even for those of us who use it daily!

But is this editing jargon useful for authors or is it a distraction. Or worse, is it really just the editor showing off?

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Copycat writers

From Beatrix Potter to E. L. James, the world of self-publishing is as old as publishing itself.

And to make your venture into self-publishing as successful as possible, here are a few hints and tips that I have learnt from my experience of working with both traditional publishers and self-publishing authors.

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And to make your venture into self-publishing as successful as possible, here are a few hints and tips that I have learnt from my experience of working with both traditional publishers and self-publishing authors.

Continue reading “Copycat writers”

How old are you?

Rude! You should never ask that question!

But, are you the oldest in the room? Or the eldest? What’s the difference?

This is one of those easily confusable words that frequently gets misused in speech and in writing.

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Continue reading “How old are you?”

Telling tall tales

This is something that gets me each time I come across it. I don’t know why, but I must look it up each time I come across this in a manuscript.

They’re six foot. No, they’re six-feet. Or are they six foot tall? Six-foot-tall?

Continue reading “Telling tall tales”

Well, aren’t you dashing!

Well, I’m sure you’ve put your best frock on for this blog post but I’m not here to compliment you!

Instead, we’re going to look at all the different dashes and lines on your page, what the differences are and when you might use them.

Continue reading “Well, aren’t you dashing!”

A fine line: between style and correctness

My job is frequently portrayed as being about pedantry. The correct use of the comma, the correct use of subject, verb agreement, the correct spellings.

It’s true, there are some rules: sentences and proper nouns always begin with a capital letter; some words are always spelt the same way each time.

But that’s not always the case.

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There are times, when the rules need to be broken. A sentence without a subject would attract a pedant’s eye at fifty paces but if the narrative calls for it, if the author’s voice demands it, then there is no reason to correct it.

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And that skill, of finely balancing “correctness” with “style” is important for a fiction editor. Yes, your old grammar master might have demanded that certain words come in a certain order but why? Is the meaning clear? If so, why bother changing it?

I was inspired to write this post after completing a free sample edit for an author. As in the example above, rules and conventions were broken but it didn’t matter. It was that author’s voice.

It reminded me of another, hugely successful book: Normal People by Sally Rooney. I read this a few years ago but it has remained in my memory for one very simple reason: there isn’t a speech mark in sight!

The book is stuffed full of dialogue so it should be littered with quotation marks, right? Not one. And I love it. It shows that rules and conventions can easily be broken, the meaning remain clear and people can still love the book.

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And that’s the job of an editor. To understand when the rules need to be applied and when the author’s voice is more important. A sympathetic editor will recognise when that voice is more important to the book than a set of rules.

And that’s the job of an editor. To understand when the rules need to be applied and when the author’s voice is more important. A sympathetic editor will recognise when that voice is more important to the book than a set of rules.

To find out how I can best support your writing, get in touch today!

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How it works: Proofreading

The word “proofreading” is often confused with editing. See here for a post that explains the differences between editing and proofreading.

Proofreading is the very last step in the journey towards publication and works differently to editing. This is a follow up to the How it works post detailing how the editing process works.

Because proofreading is the very final stage before publication, a proofreader will not be making changes to a manuscript. The text should have been edited, the pages laid out and everything will be ready for publication. Proofreading is the final opportunity to catch the typos.

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Therefore, when I’m proofreading, I’m typically working with PDF files. This means that I cannot change any of the text. Instead, I’ll mark up the text with a series of symbols that indicate what needs to be changed in the text.

There are, of course, different symbols for different changes and you can find a table of these symbols in the New Hart’s Rules and in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook which are both invaluable for writers and editors alike.

Here’s how I, as a proofreader, approach working with a manuscript. It should give you an idea about what’s going on when you send your work off to someone.

  1. We agree a budget for the project, if it’s appropriate we’ll agree a focus for your proofread and I’ll get as many details from you as I can, including your style sheet or house style information. This is important at this stage as it gives me something to reference and check your writing against.
  2. You pay a small deposit for the proofread to commence, then send me the file or files, usually PDFs but Word documents work too.
  3. I get to work on your proofread, marking up the manuscript for corrections. For this, I’ll be using lots of tools, doing some research and tidying up the look of your manuscript.
  4. It might be that I need to ask you questions while I’m proofreading. It’s much easier for both of us if you’re aware and keep your eye on your email inbox!
  5. I’ll return the marked-up manuscript to you. There may be a separate queries list or illustrations box.
  6. You pay the remaining balance.
  7. If you have any questions, or something doesn’t make sense, feel free to email me and ask! I’m always happy to answer questions.
  8. You make changes to your manuscript and then publish it!
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Proofreading is about little changes. Perhaps a comma has been dropped or an indent forgotten about. It’s not about changing massive sections of text: that should all be done at the developmental or copyediting stages.

If you’d like more information on proofreading or editing, I’m more than happy to answer questions. Get in touch and I’ll make sure you get a personalised response.

For more information about editing, make sure you follow the blog to get the latest updates direct to your inbox!

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