Credit to the copyeditor

UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO has entered the copyediting stage of production, in which some clever editor with a keen understanding for the English language, an outstanding eye for detail and an unbiased red pen will read through my manuscript line by line, proposing changes here and there to eliminate redundancy, clarify ideas, streamline sentences and make me sound a hell of a lot better than I really am.

It’s a reassuring process that allows me to sit back and wait for smart people to clean up any mess that I left behind.  And it’s one of those aspects of publishing that I once feared but now adore.

For the most part, the red pen of the copyeditor represents suggestions, and most often good ones, but I am free to reject any edit that I do not like. When going through this process for SOMETHING MISSING, I rejected few of my copyeditor’s suggestions, and when I did, it was usually in an attempt to maintain the rigidity and precision of Martin’s life by adhering to unnecessarily formal and obtuse language.

I recently read an interview with Mary Norris, copyeditor at The New Yorker, and what struck me most about her job was the lack of recognition that she receives for her work. She helps to polish dozens of stories each week, and yet her name never appears on a single one.

I wonder how this feels. Reading through her interview and getting a sense of her personality, I would guess that she is not in the publishing business for the glory or the recognition. She likes good writing and enjoys making it a little better.

But still, a little public acknowledgement might be nice.

And this led to me to realize that the same thing has happened with my book. Someone whose name I have forgotten copyedited SOMETHING MISSING, making it a better story in the process, and yet that person’s name never appears anywhere in the book. In fact, had I not acknowledged my editor, Melissa, my agent, Taryn, and my friends, all of whom helped to shape the book, their names would have never appeared in the book either.

Perhaps this should change. Maybe there is space on the page containing the book’s copyright information for the names of my editor, my copyeditor, and anyone else instrumental in the crafting of the book. Regardless of whether or not these selfless individuals desire acknowledgment of their work, shouldn’t there be some kind of recognition of their efforts?

I shall look into this.