Monday, October 19, 2009
Tell Me Again Why I Hired You
Just got off the phone with an author whose book I copyedited. Author is meticulous, professional, and experienced.
We are reviewing the Contents. Per asks if I would recommend using B-level heads in some chapters and not others. I say no. Per says she'll likely override my recommendation.
Per mentions in passing that all instances of the word "percent" when accompanying a number will be changed to "%." Chicago, AP, and every style manual I know recommends otherwise in running text. But per says that most of the readers of this book are also readers of the Wall Street Journal, and since the WSJ does it that way, so will per. Whatever.
Per also mentions that since receiving my copyedits, per has made quite a number of changes to the book. I'll also be proofing this book, and I told the author about problems with noncopyedited copy. To per's credit, I'll receive sections of the manuscript that have been rewritten before receiving the proofs to give them the once-over. Or per will pay me at proofreading stage for any text that needs copyediting. I wish some publishers, who should know better, would be so enlightened.
Really, though, it doesn't matter to me what an author ultimately does to any book after I copyedit, unless it's a book I particularly care about. Well, I care about them all--in my own mercenary way--but, no offense to this author, this title isn't one that hits close to the heart. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's not that kind of book.
An editor's stock-in-trade is consistency. The variation in presentation of different levels of heads in the Contents is misleading to a reader, because it gives the impression that some chapters have a level of detail that others don't. I explained this perspective to the author. Once. I just hope I remember come proofreading time that all this had been ironed out beforehand.