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Thread: Editing accepted story for publication

  1. #1
    In debt to AW Raphee's Avatar
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    Editing accepted story for publication

    My short got accepted by a literary journal awhile back. I've just received the galleys for copy editing.
    Some small and some major changes have been indicated through comments. However some changes have been done and not marked as comments. I would like to revert a few to the original. Should I do so and how? What is accepted protocol?

    Also I can see some a couple of errors in punctuation, likely remaining as mistakes. How do I rectify these?

    Please note this is all electronic, hence there is no pen and paper used. I am afraid if I do any changes by inserting my comments I'll disturb the order of comments done by the journal's editorial staff. These comments are for me to approve. It appears to me that since the other changes are not marked as comments, they have been finalised by the journal. Am I correct in my assumption?

    What do I do in this situation since this will be my first published short?

    Can anyone give me a pointer where I may find relevant guidelines?
    Last edited by Raphee; 01-11-2013 at 04:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    First, congrats on your story! I know it's tempting to want to accept every change the editor makes, but you do have a lot of negotiating power. You are the author, after all. That said, be ready to trust some of the changes made. Do so in light of making both you and the publisher look good, and your suggestions should be responded to helpfully, even if they don't take them.

    I would point out any and all mistakes the editors seem to have missed (or introduced!). If you feel strongly that previous wordings were better than the revised, point these out too with a polite explanation. I had an editor want me to remove and entire section until I pointed out what was meant by it. She liked it, and it stayed.

    If this is a pdf, use the sticky note function to point out exactly where the changes need to take place. If your current pdf viewer doesn't have this, you can download PDF XChange viewer for free from Tracker Software. With electronic publishing, there is no reason even substantive changes can't be made even to the very end (even though it's a pain and errors should have been changed well before the galley stage).
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  3. #3
    In debt to AW Raphee's Avatar
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    Thanks Chris for the congratulations and a great reply. You are right that changes must reflect well for all sides, and not just the writer's ego, or personal preferences.

    What I have is a word doc. I'm unsure how to point out the changes I want reverted without disturbing the editors' comments.

    How did you write to the editor regarding the changes you wanted. Was it done through comments like in my case. I'd be interested to learn the process others follow.

    PS: I think I should write to the journal to get this clarified.
    Last edited by Raphee; 01-11-2013 at 05:18 PM.

  4. #4
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Click on the page where you want the comment inserted, then go to the "Review" tab, you should see "New Comment." If you're on the older Word 2003, the comments are under the "Insert" drop down. This puts in a pop-up box that doesn't disturb the text. Type your comment here. If you want to reply to an inserted comment, click on the comment, then "New Comment" and it will come up as a reply. If you have line numbers, you can say "page 3, line 27: please change : to ;" or whatever. Without seeing what you have in front of you, it's hard to suggest anything.

    As for what I said to the editor, if the comments are lengthy and numerous, I say in the cover reply "Please see my comments in the inserted balloons" or if few I list as I did with the line numbers, or "in the line beginning 'Jack pulled the worm out of his eye.' . . . " When disagreeing with the editor, I've been brief, such as "The original wording was XXX, and I believe this better illustrates the point as it foreshadows the material on page 5."

    I think (I hope!) you find that this is really not a big deal. There have been very few times, either in my fiction or scientific articles, when an editor has said "no, we're doing it our way, you pesky little varmint!" As much as I would love forever any editor who called me a "varmint," any time they've defended one of their changes it's made sense, and usually as a result of the house style.
    Short Fiction in the AW Library

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    Resingled Needs another round of betas. Interested?
    Nyasaland Undergoing major repairs.
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  5. #5
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    For me, this is a talk to the editor first decision. Taking away changes an editor has already made is, at best, a risky proposition. He made them for a reason, and the reason is almost always that he thinks the changes are necessary, if the story is going to appear in his magazine.

    Discussion is always the key, whether it's by e-mail or by phone. Do not simply change everything back to the way it was without talking to the editor first. You need to know why he made the changes, and whether they're carved in stone, etc.

    As the writer, you have the power to say yes or no to anything, but as the editor, he has the power to accept or reject anything. This is why discussion is a must.

  6. #6
    In debt to AW Raphee's Avatar
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    Thank you Chris and James for the replies and the help.
    Like I suggested above I have decided to write to the editor and get their advise before doing anything else. Your comments have helped me a lot.

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