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Thread: Copy Editor and ebook formatting

  1. #1
    Relentlessly Patient JCGAuthor's Avatar
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    Copy Editor and ebook formatting

    Folks, I tried to RTFM on this and never quite saw a post quite on-topic of what I was interested in; forgive me if there is one.

    I have a copy editor starting on my manuscript; with the eventual target being epublishing for this piece.

    Are there any needs-know they should be aware of? The manny is Courier New, double-spaced before each sentence, etc. -- all those standard Shunn-style manuscript guildeline goodies. Should I ask them to take all this out or is it even relevant?

    Any other tips/requirements I should ask them about? Thanks so much, all.
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  2. #2
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Unless the copyeditor is formatting your manuscript, the typeface and the spacing will be the same when you get it back as when you send it.

    What would be really helpful would be if you sent along a style sheet, a list of characters, the preferred spelling of any uncommon words (or common words where you're using an uncommon spelling), or other idiosyncrasies you have. If you deliberately have contra factual items in your manuscript you'll want to mention 'em.

    You'll want to know what style manual and which dictionary they're using.

    Beyond that -- you'll get back a marked-up manuscript. What you do with those markings is up to you.

  3. #3
    Relentlessly Patient JCGAuthor's Avatar
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    Thank you very much, James. I appreciate it.

    Am I to assume there isn't really a hard and fast, relied-on style manual for the land of fiction? I've heard some folks comment that CMS is detested in many fiction circles, and that many folks fly completely without a style manual at all.

    Is there a common style manual you see applied to mass market fiction?
    Last edited by JCGAuthor; 03-08-2012 at 07:30 AM.
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  4. #4
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Every publisher has their own style manual (house style).

    You have to have a style manual, else how will you stay consistent with, say, serial commas?

    You won't be wrong if you use CMS. It isn't your only choice. If you want to use Fowler's Second Edition, go for it.

  5. #5
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Are you self-publishing or looking for someone to copyedit before you submit to e-publishers? Because if you're self-publishing, I think this thread should be moved to the Self-Publishing forum, as the question isn't about e-publishing. (The E-publishing forum is for discussions related explicitly to e-publishing as a format, and copyediting is relevant to all formats, not just e-books.)

    If you're going to be submitting to e-publishers, you need to learn how to edit for yourself. You shouldn't be spending money on something that you might not ever earn back.
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  7. #7
    Relentlessly Patient JCGAuthor's Avatar
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    Thanks, all.

    Perhaps you are right, Terie. I am new here and I could have very well popped this in the wrong place.

    Here's the situation: I am planning to self-publish on Amazon, B&N, etc. I have an associate that does copy editing for catalogs and that sort of thing; they are responsible for the quality of all content that goes into the wild from a medium-sized business.

    I have given them the manuscript and some funding because they catch everything -- comma issues, etc -- the manuscript has been through four drafts and also two first readers; one of whom caught the occasional grammatical issue.

    I do know how to self-edit, and have already resolved just about anything I could in terms of prose, plot, and consistency issues.

    The idea was that this person would simply catch any remaining grammatical issues and just clean up the manuscript as much as possible, while ensuring character, tech, and place names\descriptions were consistent. In short, they are doing a "sanity check" after three people have already been through it. They will be providing back a marked-up manuscript.

    I didn't pay them as much as a full-on copy editor because they aren't one, and I am having to pay for this project out of my savings.

    I don't have a degree in creative writing or anything like that -- and until a few days ago had honestly never heard of a style manual. Sorry, folks -- maybe that makes jaws drop, but I was not a major in anything approaching this line of work and I've never had a novel pro-published; just a good chunk of short fiction.

    Have I made a mistake? If I end up self-publishing this manuscript as "cleaned" as possible, but without a style manual, is this going to compromise the quality of the manuscript?

    I am truly worried.
    Last edited by JCGAuthor; 03-09-2012 at 05:20 PM. Reason: clarification
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  8. #8
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCGAuthor View Post
    Have I made a mistake? If I end up self-publishing this manuscript as "cleaned" as possible, but without a style manual, is this going to compromise the quality of the manuscript?

    I am truly worried.

    Don't sweat it. You've done more than 99% of the self-publishers out there, and more than entirely-too-many of the small e-publishers.

    And don't worry that you didn't major in creative writing. Few pro-published authors have. (Kurt Vonnegut majored in mechanical engineering.)

  9. #9
    Relentlessly Patient JCGAuthor's Avatar
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    You magnificent, bearded man. I could kiss you.

    Seriously though, I appreciate the reassurance. I just want the finished product to be as high-quality as possible, you know? The challenge when you're starting out and you have a shoestring budget is you're constantly having to play triage against your desire to have everything just right.

    I talked to my "budget editor" about it; she informed me she actually does have some familiarity with the CMS and might use it as one of her tools to help ensure consistency anyway. Huzzah.
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