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iwannabepublished
09-10-2012, 07:09 PM
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Torgo
09-10-2012, 07:15 PM
I've had some people read my novel and received reports indicating my work could use the benefit of professional copy editing. A few companies I've looked into offer a free sample of their work. Although I am sure anything I send will have some errors, I'm thinking about purposefully making sure the sample contains a few I can identify. Things like 'to' instead of 'too' or the use of a comma when it should be a semi-colon, or 'solders' instead of 'soldiers'. Things that my word processor won't pick up. After all, if errors I know are there are not caught, what's the point of paying someone to find them?

Is this ethical?

I don't see why not.

Susan Littlefield
09-10-2012, 07:30 PM
I've had some people read my novel and received reports indicating my work could use the benefit of professional copy editing. A few companies I've looked into offer a free sample of their work. Although I am sure anything I send will have some errors, I'm thinking about purposefully making sure the sample contains a few I can identify. Things like 'to' instead of 'too' or the use of a comma when it should be a semi-colon, or 'solders' instead of 'soldiers'. Things that my word processor won't pick up. After all, if errors I know are there are not caught, what's the point of paying someone to find them?

Is this ethical?

Why put intentional errors? Why trick them? If you know your grammar, spelling, etc., you will spot if there are errors in their corrections. Just send your sample off for your free editing and see what they come up with.

If you are not up on your grammar, etc., I would urge a refresher before you send off for free samples.

As a side note, unless you are self-publishing, you need to know how to edit your own work. A copy editor can be a great learning experience, but they are not necessary if you submit to an agent or publisher. I suggest Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and Dave King. It's an excellent resource.

Torgo
09-10-2012, 07:34 PM
Why put intentional errors? Why trick them? If you know your grammar, spelling, etc., you will spot if there are errors in their corrections.

But if you don't know your grammar, how are you going to spot whether they did a good job or not?

I honestly can't see a problem with sticking a few controls in there, to check you're not just dealing with a spellcheck program.

EDIT: If I'm hiring, say, an editorial assistant to work for me full-time, they have to take a copyediting test to see if they spot the deliberate mistakes. I can't see the difference here...?

CaroGirl
09-10-2012, 07:38 PM
If you make any errors at all, you'll see when you get your edited work back what errors the editor finds and the suggested changes. Why add more errors when you already know your manuscript has them? Doesn't make any sense at all to me.

Torgo
09-10-2012, 07:41 PM
If you make any errors at all, you'll see when you get your edited work back what errors the editor finds and the suggested changes. Why add more errors when you already know your manuscript has them? Doesn't make any sense at all to me.

I give things to a copyeditor to edit precisely because I can't see them myself. If I was able to spot them in the first place, then I wouldn't need a copyed.

Adding one or two that a decent copyed would HAVE to notice seems like a pretty sound way of giving yourself a tiny bit of extra peace of mind about paying out money to someone you haven't worked with before.

veinglory
09-10-2012, 07:44 PM
I don't see the problem. The only way to be sure they are good at picking up technical errors would be to insert some known technical errors.

thothguard51
09-10-2012, 08:20 PM
Iwanna...

Let me tell you about my experience.

About five years ago, I sent sample chapter to five different editors who offered a free sample edit. I researched these editors on line to make sure they specialized in the genre I was writing in.

All were sent the same sample, the first 3000 words. I wanted to see who I understood and who I felt comfortable with in their style of editing. About 3-5 days later the sample edits responses started returning...

All five caught the simple typos, punctuation problems and missing words, etc. But I also got five very different comments on structure, grammar usage, and story content.

I had one editor explain to me that I was not ready to have someone edit my work. That I needed to work on many things, which he explained. He said he would be willing to take my money, but felt his edits would change my voice if I did not understand what he was talking about.

Another editor tried to change my style into something more flowery and purple. I later found out she used to edit for Elf Quest Magazine or something like that. I passed on her real quick.

The other three we a little less direct, but still, they all did good jobs of catching things I could not see.

I thanked all five for their time and took the advice of the editor who told me I was not ready and worked on understanding what he was talking about. I also work shopped my writing with several very experienced beta readers in another writing group. I learned more from them than all the writing books I have read.

If you are doing free samples, there is no reason to spike your work with mistakes. Research the editors first. Find out who their clients have been that have been published. Find out if they belong to an Independent Editors association or at lease follow their ethic guidelines. Sample edits should contain more comments than simple typo mistakes, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Editors do so much more.

Do I find what you want to do ethical. NO. I find it unethical and as an editor, I would feel insulted because you are wasting my time on a free sample edit.

Torgo
09-10-2012, 08:27 PM
Do I find what you want to do ethical. NO. I find it unethical and as an editor, I would feel insulted because you are wasting my time on a free sample edit.

First, the OP is talking about hiring a copyeditor. You've been talking about hiring an editor. The two are different things. When you say "Sample edits should contain more comments than simple typo mistakes, grammar, and punctuation mistakes", I don't think you're speaking to the OP's question.

In any case, please to explain where the violation of ethics lies. I can't see it myself.

Your sample copyedit is intended to be a sample of the contractor's work product. If you're hiring a copyeditor, the work product you want is a clean manuscript free of the kinds of errors you need to be an expert copyeditor to pick up.

Any reputable publisher hiring an editor uses a copyediting test on applicants. I've never felt insulted about doing one myself, because I'm trying to get a gig. I understand they need me to prove I have skills.

If you feel the need for reassurance, then adding a couple of deliberate mistakes to your sample for copyediting doesn't waste anyone's time. They're supposed to be looking at every word anyway, and it doesn't take a second to mark up a missing comma or errant capital letter.

veinglory
09-10-2012, 09:04 PM
A sample edit is a test to distinguish quality in technical copyediting. I see nothing wrong with the suggestion.

ArtsyAmy
09-11-2012, 01:31 AM
I've never gotten help from a copyeditor before, so I don't know what's standard. But I'm wondering, could you ask that the copyeditor show what's been changed? Maybe have corrections in a different color or in italics? I would want to be able to see that, know just what was changed. I know I could just read the piece as edited, but I'm not sure I'd pick up on what had been changed. Knowing would satisfy my curiosity, allow me to make sure I agree with the changes, and I could also learn something for next time.

veinglory
09-11-2012, 01:36 AM
Knowing what has changed doesn't in itself tell you if the changes are correct. You need to have a reason to have faith in their ability to change things correctly--not just assume that because they have a fancy website they have the chops.

Torgo
09-11-2012, 01:45 AM
I've never gotten help from a copyeditor before, so I don't know what's standard. But I'm wondering, could you ask that the copyeditor show what's been changed? Maybe have corrections in a different color or in italics? I would want to be able to see that, know just what was changed. I know I could just read the piece as edited, but I'm not sure I'd pick up on what had been changed. Knowing would satisfy my curiosity, allow me to make sure I agree with the changes, and I could also learn something for next time.

It's fairly usual these days to do a lot of editing work on digital files with Track Changes on, so you can see everything that's happened.

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 02:07 AM
But if you don't know your grammar, how are you going to spot whether they did a good job or not?

You learn your grammar first, or you ask the copy editor to work with you to learn grammar skills. Better yet, take an English class. Grammar is one of the tools we must have in our toolbox.

If someone doesn't know their grammar, what makes you think they know how to put in those intentional mistakes?

As for unethical- that was the question, but I don't think that's even the issue. The bottom line is we need to know our grammar in order to write well and to edit our work.

thothguard51
09-11-2012, 03:35 AM
First, the OP is talking about hiring a copyeditor. You've been talking about hiring an editor. The two are different things. When you say "Sample edits should contain more comments than simple typo mistakes, grammar, and punctuation mistakes", I don't think you're speaking to the OP's question.

I understand a copyeditor has a different function, as does a proof reader. Preaching to the choir here bro...

My example was more about the responses I got from those five editors. Which will be similar to what she would get from five different copy editors. And trust me, they will all catch the basics, but its after that where they differ...


In any case, please to explain where the violation of ethics lies. I can't see it myself.

Your sample copyedit is intended to be a sample of the contractor's work product. If you're hiring a copyeditor, the work product you want is a clean manuscript free of the kinds of errors you need to be an expert copyeditor to pick up.

OK so the writer sprinkles in a few typos, misspelled words, and some punctuation issues as a test. What has this accomplished? What if the copyeditor catches all the mistakes, does that mean they are right for the job when in reality they have never done this before and have no references? What about the a copyeditor who appears to have missed a comma used instead of a semi-colon? Does this mean they are not doing their job even if they have impeccable references and qualifications? How will the writer know who is the better of the two?

If the writer found the editors on line, then more than likely the editor has a web site or blog that will list their qualifications and references. If none are listed, a good editor will not feel insulted in providing them if contacted.

Research is far more valuable in understanding any editors qualifications than some gimmicky gotcha test.


Any reputable publisher hiring an editor uses a copyediting test on applicants. I've never felt insulted about doing one myself, because I'm trying to get a gig. I understand they need me to prove I have skills.

That is one professional testing the qualifications of another professional. You should not feel insulted.


If you feel the need for reassurance, then adding a couple of deliberate mistakes to your sample for copyediting doesn't waste anyone's time. They're supposed to be looking at every word anyway, and it doesn't take a second to mark up a missing comma or errant capital letter.

In my opinion, this type of action reeks of I don't trust them. Well, if you don't trust someone, you don't do business with them. Period.

Research is a far better tool for the writers than gimmicky test. IMHO...

Torgo
09-11-2012, 04:38 AM
You learn your grammar first, or you ask the copy editor to work with you to learn grammar skills. Better yet, take an English class. Grammar is one of the tools we must have in our toolbox.

But then I see a fair few manuscripts passed through to our copyed to essentially be rewritten every year. Grammar is a good and useful tool, but I've seen books acquired that don't excel in their grammatical perfection. I myself just agonized about the correct relative pronoun there, and it's such a black spot for me that I just accept I'm going to get it wrong half the time.

Copyedited text is held to a higher standard than MS or edited MS. You want a ninja on it. I am highly literate, and have edited books for 12 years, but I wrote a novel last year in which I screwed up my tenses on regular basis, and had to rely on my copyeditor to sort it out.


As for unethical- that was the question, but I don't think that's even the issue. The bottom line is we need to know our grammar in order to write well and to edit our work.

I wouldn't disagree in principle, but I don't think it's necessary for a writer to be so good at copyediting that you put copyeditors out of work. What I don't get about the ethics call is which ethical rule one is supposed to be violating in the OP's question...

Torgo
09-11-2012, 04:53 AM
I understand a copyeditor has a different function, as does a proof reader. Preaching to the choir here bro...

Sorry, dude, I must have read you wrong.


My example was more about the responses I got from those five editors. Which will be similar to what she would get from five different copy editors. And trust me, they will all catch the basics, but its after that where they differ...

This (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1225116) would seem to be a good primer on the kinds of points of comparison I'd use.


OK so the writer sprinkles in a few typos, misspelled words, and some punctuation issues as a test. What has this accomplished? What if the copyeditor catches all the mistakes, does that mean they are right for the job when in reality they have never done this before and have no references?

Well, I'd never advocate hiring someone with no references. The question was: is it unethical to drop a few clear errors in as a test of the candidate's professionalism. It wasn't unethical of the SFWA to deploy Atlanta Nights as a test of PublishAmerica's commissioning principles. I don't see what the ethical violation is here, so I say, if it helps make a decision, why not?


What about the a copyeditor who appears to have missed a comma used instead of a semi-colon? Does this mean they are not doing their job even if they have impeccable references and qualifications? How will the writer know who is the better of the two?

If the copyed missed a clear, unequivocal error, it's going to bother me more than a lack of references, because what I'm paying for is the closest approximation to perfection commensurate with my ambitions and means.


Research is far more valuable in understanding any editors qualifications than some gimmicky gotcha test.

I'm not sure about that, especially in today's sock-puppetty climate. Certainly recruiters aren't phasing out copyediting tests in favour of references.


That is one professional testing the qualifications of another professional. You should not feel insulted.

Aren't we talking about a professional writer testing the qualifications of a professional copyeditor? The copyed should not feel insulted.


In my opinion, this type of action reeks of I don't trust them. Well, if you don't trust someone, you don't do business with them. Period.

Sure! Trust, but verify.

Torgo
09-11-2012, 04:59 AM
Now I am baffled. What is correct in the above sample 'too' or 'to'?

'Too'. The copyeditor shouldn't have missed it.

WildScribe
09-11-2012, 05:08 AM
As an editor (I do all levels of edits), I would advise using caution with sprinkling your work with intentional edits. Things like the incorrect "to" or "there" usually indicates a low level of writing to me, and a writer who may have some other serious grammatical problems. I would happily do their sample edit, but I would also make a note to charge more for even basic proofreading if I thought I was going to have to spend so much time correcting such basic errors.

I have also, as was mentioned above, given detailed critiques on samples and recommended that the writer learn about certain problem areas in their writing before they hire an editor. It's frustrating advice to give sometimes, as it costs me the immediate job, but...

thothguard51
09-11-2012, 05:13 AM
As an editor (I do all levels of edits), I would advise using caution with sprinkling your work with intentional edits. Things like the incorrect "to" or "there" usually indicates a low level of writing to me, and a writer who may have some other serious grammatical problems. I would happily do their sample edit, but I would also make a note to charge more for even basic proofreading if I thought I was going to have to spend so much time correcting such basic errors.

I have also, as was mentioned above, given detailed critiques on samples and recommended that the writer learn about certain problem areas in their writing before they hire an editor. It's frustrating advice to give sometimes, as it costs me the immediate job, but...

But you have ethics...:)

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 05:58 AM
Isn't this backwards? I would think you would say, you need to to know how to edit - especially - if you are self publishing. That is if you

When you traditionally publish, if you work is accepted it goes throught an editing process anyway. If you self publish, you still have to edit, but the final edits will need to come from a professional.

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 06:19 AM
But then I see a fair few manuscripts passed through to our copyed to essentially be rewritten every year. Grammar is a good and useful tool, but I've seen books acquired that don't excel in their grammatical perfection. I myself just agonized about the correct relative pronoun there, and it's such a black spot for me that I just accept I'm going to get it wrong half the time.

I understand. However, that still does not negate the fact that we need to make sure we know our grammar and spelling. This does not mean we will put out perfect manuscripts, as everyone makes mistakes, it just means it is our responsibility to make sure our toolbox is well equipped.


Copyedited text is held to a higher standard than MS or edited MS. You want a ninja on it. I am highly literate, and have edited books for 12 years, but I wrote a novel last year in which I screwed up my tenses on regular basis, and had to rely on my copyeditor to sort it out.

I've heard from more than one agent that they want the writer to know how to edit their own manuscript. I'm listening to them.


I wouldn't disagree in principle, but I don't think it's necessary for a writer to be so good at copyediting that you put copyeditors out of work. What I don't get about the ethics call is which ethical rule one is supposed to be violating in the OP's question...

Well, shoot, money is supposed to flow to the writer not away. This discussion has nothing to do with putting copy editors out of work, and up thread I said it's not a question of ethics. It's about not depending upon another person to do our work for us.

There is a difference between hiring a copy editor as a learning experience and hiring them because our manuscript needs work.

absitinvidia
09-11-2012, 07:07 AM
You learn your grammar first, or you ask the copy editor to work with you to learn grammar skills. Better yet, take an English class. Grammar is one of the tools we must have in our toolbox.


Speaking as a longtime professional copy editor, I'm going to put on my asbestos suit and say this: Teaching an author grammar is not my job, unless I'm hired specifically for that purpose and paid to be an English tutor and not a copy editor. My job as a copy editor is to identify problem areas in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style within a manuscript and correct them, based either on my own knowledge or on my knowledge of appropriate resources, and using the specified dictionary and style guide. Yes, I am sure to include comments for things like frequent misplaced modifiers or use of nominative rather than objective pronouns (between you and I, for example), but generally speaking, I'm not being paid to correct the manuscript the way a teacher would, I'm there to prepare it for publication. Very different things.

Moreover, someone can be an incredibly good copy editor without having the ability to pass those skills to an author who may or may not even have the vocabulary needed to discuss these things. I know all manner of arcane grammatical info that the average person will never need to know--even the average writer. Moreover, I'd argue that there's a metric crapton of stuff a copy editor has to know that an author doesn't. We don't just correct grammar and spelling. I'd say that's at most half of what I do on any given manuscript. The rest is style and formatting, and that's something a publisher might not even want the author to get involved with overmuch.

For example, I'm the one who makes sure the comma after an italicized word is set in roman--because that's what my publisher wants. Other publishers might want it in italics. I'm the one who makes sure the serial comma (Oxford comma) is either present or absent, based on publisher preference. I do a whole lot of stuff that publishers don't want authors to spend their time on because they know I'll fix them; they want the author fixing other things.

Copy editors have a specific skills set and knowledge base, and trust me when I say that agents and publishers absolutely do not expect--or even want--authors to try to learn this stuff. When agents and publishers say they want authors to be able to edit their own work, this is NOT what they are talking about.

WildScribe
09-11-2012, 07:12 AM
But you have ethics...:)

Yeah... really cuts into my bottom line, but I get a lot of thank you notes. :tongue

Also this...


Speaking as a longtime professional copy editor, I'm going to put on my asbestos suit and say this: Teaching an author grammar is not my job, unless I'm hired specifically for that purpose and paid to be an English tutor and not a copy editor. My job as a copy editor is to identify problem areas in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style within a manuscript and correct them, based either on my own knowledge or on my knowledge of appropriate resources, and using the specified dictionary and style guide. Yes, I am sure to include comments for things like frequent misplaced modifiers or use of nominative rather than objective pronouns (between you and I, for example), but generally speaking, I'm not being paid to correct the manuscript the way a teacher would, I'm there to prepare it for publication. Very different things.

Moreover, someone can be an incredibly good copy editor without having the ability to pass those skills to an author who may or may not even have the vocabulary needed to discuss these things. I know all manner of arcane grammatical info that the average person will never need to know--even the average writer. Moreover, I'd argue that there's a metric crapton of stuff a copy editor has to know that an author doesn't. We don't just correct grammar and spelling. I'd say that's at most half of what I do on any given manuscript. The rest is style and formatting, and that's something a publisher might not even want the author to get involved with overmuch.

For example, I'm the one who makes sure the comma after an italicized word is set in roman--because that's what my publisher wants. Other publishers might want it in italics. I'm the one who makes sure the serial comma (Oxford comma) is either present or absent, based on publisher preference. I do a whole lot of stuff that publishers don't want authors to spend their time on because they know I'll fix them; they want the author fixing other things.

Copy editors have a specific skills set and knowledge base, and trust me when I say that agents and publishers absolutely do not expect--or even want--authors to try to learn this stuff. When agents and publishers say they want authors to be able to edit their own work, this is NOT what they are talking about.

...because everything she said is perfectly brilliant (and perfectly accurate.)

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 07:35 AM
Speaking as a longtime professional copy editor, I'm going to put on my asbestos suit and say this: Teaching an author grammar is not my job, unless I'm hired specifically for that purpose and paid to be an English tutor and not a copy editor.

Fair enough, but a writer can learn from a copy editor even if teaching is not your job. What's better--a learning experience or a quick fix?



Moreover, someone can be an incredibly good copy editor without having the ability to pass those skills to an author who may or may not even have the vocabulary needed to discuss these things. I know all manner of arcane grammatical info that the average person will never need to know--even the average writer. Moreover, I'd argue that there's a metric crapton of stuff a copy editor has to know that an author doesn't. We don't just correct grammar and spelling. I'd say that's at most half of what I do on any given manuscript. The rest is style and formatting, and that's something a publisher might not even want the author to get involved with overmuch.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a manuscript is accepted for publication, it receives editing services anyway. There are many wonderful authors out there who did not/do not have their manuscripts edited in any form prior to submission to an agent. A writer can submit a manuscript to you for copy editing, but they need to know their grammar, spelling, and sentence structure in order to understand your suggested changes. A writer needs to know how to edit their own work regardless of whether they employ a copy editor or not.


For example, I'm the one who makes sure the comma after an italicized word is set in roman--because that's what my publisher wants. Other publishers might want it in italics. I'm the one who makes sure the serial comma (Oxford comma) is either present or absent, based on publisher preference.

As a writer, it's my job to know those things. And, if I don't know the answer, it's my job to look it up, not to hire someone else to do my work for me.


I do a whole lot of stuff that publishers don't want authors to spend their time on because they know I'll fix them; they want the author fixing other things.

Well, if you copy edit in house, I can see that being true. However, I don't buy that this is true prior to submission to an agent or publisher. We need to show competency in grammar, spelling, structure, etc.


Copy editors have a specific skills set and knowledge base, and trust me when I say that agents and publishers absolutely do not expect--or even want--authors to try to learn this stuff. When agents and publishers say they want authors to be able to edit their own work, this is NOT what they are talking about.

I have nothing against copy editors, and several of my friends work in the field. ;) However, I disagree that agents and publishers do not want writers to have good editing skills. Writers absolutely need to know how to make changes to editorial order. Many successful authors have never had outside editing prior to submitting their manuscripts.

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 07:38 AM
My decision to work with a copy-editor is based on a person who read a story of mine and found several errors I missed. He only counted 12 mistakes in a 90,000 word novel. Still, I was embarrassed to have not picked them up myself. Realizing there are probably more errors, I decided to have a better set of eyes look at my work. As you say, it will be a learning experience, that I hope I will not have to repeat.

Oh, you are in so much trouble. You started this thread over 12 errors in a 90,000 word novel? :D :evil

Seriously, good luck!

thothguard51
09-11-2012, 08:10 AM
Speaking as a longtime professional copy editor, I'm going to put on my asbestos suit and say this: Teaching an author grammar is not my job, unless I'm hired specifically for that purpose and paid to be an English tutor and not a copy editor. My job as a copy editor is to identify problem areas in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style within a manuscript and correct them, based either on my own knowledge or on my knowledge of appropriate resources, and using the specified dictionary and style guide. Yes, I am sure to include comments for things like frequent misplaced modifiers or use of nominative rather than objective pronouns (between you and I, for example), but generally speaking, I'm not being paid to correct the manuscript the way a teacher would, I'm there to prepare it for publication. Very different things.

Moreover, someone can be an incredibly good copy editor without having the ability to pass those skills to an author who may or may not even have the vocabulary needed to discuss these things. I know all manner of arcane grammatical info that the average person will never need to know--even the average writer. Moreover, I'd argue that there's a metric crapton of stuff a copy editor has to know that an author doesn't. We don't just correct grammar and spelling. I'd say that's at most half of what I do on any given manuscript. The rest is style and formatting, and that's something a publisher might not even want the author to get involved with overmuch.

For example, I'm the one who makes sure the comma after an italicized word is set in roman--because that's what my publisher wants. Other publishers might want it in italics. I'm the one who makes sure the serial comma (Oxford comma) is either present or absent, based on publisher preference. I do a whole lot of stuff that publishers don't want authors to spend their time on because they know I'll fix them; they want the author fixing other things.

Copy editors have a specific skills set and knowledge base, and trust me when I say that agents and publishers absolutely do not expect--or even want--authors to try to learn this stuff. When agents and publishers say they want authors to be able to edit their own work, this is NOT what they are talking about.

Thank you...thank you...thank you for saying what I was only hinting at...

absitinvidia
09-11-2012, 10:46 AM
A writer can submit a manuscript to you for copy editing, but they need to know their grammar, spelling, and sentence structure in order to understand your suggested changes.

I say this with all respect: You're wrong. A writer doesn't always have to understand my suggested changes any more than a patient has to understand why a prescribed medication works. Just because an author doesn't understand the subjunctive, will never understand the subjunctive, doesn't make him any less talented a writer. It means he needs a copy editor who understands the subjunctive. It would be great if the writer learned his strengths and weaknesses and learned to look things up, but ultimately, if I'm the publisher, I'd rather have a writer who writes than a writer who stresses out over things that a copy editor is going to fix later.



A writer needs to know how to edit their own work regardless of whether they employ a copy editor or not.

Editing and copy editing are two different things. Most publishers and agents do not expect their writers to have copy editing skills. There's no reason for them to, especially when so much varies from publisher to publisher. Unless a writer has a multi-book contract with a specific publisher, it's quite frankly a waste of time to try to learn a lot of the copy editing rules specific to a single publisher.




As a writer, it's my job to know those things. And, if I don't know the answer, it's my job to look it up, not to hire someone else to do my work for me.

As a writer, it's your job to write. It is not your job to be a copy editor. Again, publishers and agents want a writer who can fix the substance of a manuscript. You can be the world's best copy editor and not know a thing about how to correct flat characters and poor pacing, just as you can be a fantastic developmental editor who can hardly spell your own name.





Well, if you copy edit in house, I can see that being true. However, I don't buy that this is true prior to submission to an agent or publisher. We need to show competency in grammar, spelling, structure, etc.

Competency, yes. But basic competency is not what a copy editor needs; a copy editor has specialized knowledge that the average writer doesn't necessarily need. And any agent or publisher will tell you that it's a lot easier to fix a good story with bad grammar/spelling/structure than it is to fix a manuscript that is pristine in terms of spelling, grammar, and punctuation but that lacks heart or substance.




I have nothing against copy editors, and several of my friends work in the field. ;) However, I disagree that agents and publishers do not want writers to have good editing skills. Writers absolutely need to know how to make changes to editorial order. Many successful authors have never had outside editing prior to submitting their manuscripts.

Again I say: "editing skills" and "copy editing skills" are two entirely different things. All I'm saying is, agents and publishers do not necessarily care if writers have good COPY EDITING skills. And I stand by that.

CaroGirl
09-11-2012, 04:43 PM
Again I say: "editing skills" and "copy editing skills" are two entirely different things. All I'm saying is, agents and publishers do not necessarily care if writers have good COPY EDITING skills. And I stand by that.
Well, yes and no.

A copy edit is a level of edit, the second finest level of edit in a hierarchy that runs from developmental to substantive to copy to proof. I agree that each level of edit requires a particular skillset, but they are all types of edit.

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 06:44 PM
I say this with all respect: You're wrong. A writer doesn't always have to understand my suggested changes any more than a patient has to understand why a prescribed medication works. Just because an author doesn't understand the subjunctive, will never understand the subjunctive, doesn't make him any less talented a writer. It means he needs a copy editor who understands the subjunctive. It would be great if the writer learned his strengths and weaknesses and learned to look things up, but ultimately, if I'm the publisher, I'd rather have a writer who writes than a writer who stresses out over things that a copy editor is going to fix later.

I don't see you as being disrespectful at all. ;) I think we are talking about two different things. I am simply saying that it is my job to edit prior to publication so that I can present the best possible product to an agent of publisher. This is with the understanding that professional editing, including copy editing, comes after agent or publisher acceptance.

And, with all due respect to you, if I employ you to copy edit my work prior to submitting to an agent or publisher, I want to know what I'm missing in my work. Since I don't expect you to sit down and explain it to me, it is up to me to have good grammar, spelling, and sentence construction skills. It is up to me to learn what I need to learn to write well.


Editing and copy editing are two different things. Most publishers and agents do not expect their writers to have copy editing skills. There's no reason for them to, especially when so much varies from publisher to publisher. Unless a writer has a multi-book contract with a specific publisher, it's quite frankly a waste of time to try to learn a lot of the copy editing rules specific to a single publisher.

I am not saying that copy editing and self-editing are the same. Of course they are different. Agents and publishers expect writers to make changes to editorial order. However, if I have my novel edited prior to submission and I don't understand suggested changes and how to make my work better, I won't be a able to make changes later on. I won't know what changes to reject and which to keep.


As a writer, it's your job to write. It is not your job to be a copy editor. Again, publishers and agents want a writer who can fix the substance of a manuscript. You can be the world's best copy editor and not know a thing about how to correct flat characters and poor pacing, just as you can be a fantastic developmental editor who can hardly spell your own name.

I never said it was my job to be a copy editor. I said it's my job to know how to edit my own work prior to publication. It's up to me to have the skills to present the best possible product I can to an agent or publisher.


Competency, yes. But basic competency is not what a copy editor needs; a copy editor has specialized knowledge that the average writer doesn't necessarily need. And any agent or publisher will tell you that it's a lot easier to fix a good story with bad grammar/spelling/structure than it is to fix a manuscript that is pristine in terms of spelling, grammar, and punctuation but that lacks heart or substance

Again I say: "editing skills" and "copy editing skills" are two entirely different things. All I'm saying is, agents and publishers do not necessarily care if writers have good COPY EDITING skills. And I stand by that.

Well, agents do care if writers have good EDITING skills, and they do expect writers to edit thier own work prior to publication. And many do not want to see manuscripts edited by outside professionals because they want the writer to know how to make changes to editorial order. And, I stand by this because I've heard it enough times from agents at conferences.

With all due respect, it feels to me like you are defending copy editors. Well, my issue has nothing to do with copy editors, but sending manuscripts to outside editing prior to publication in hopes of getting their manuscript fixed.

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 06:47 PM
Well, yes and no.

A copy edit is a level of edit, the second finest level of edit in a hierarchy that runs from developmental to substantive to copy to proof. I agree that each level of edit requires a particular skillset, but they are all types of edit.

Exactly.

CaroGirl
09-11-2012, 07:05 PM
Also, let me agree with absitinvidia in that a copy edit depends on adherence to a style sheet or style guide that is specific to a particular publisher. The skill here is both in knowing the publisher's guidelines and having an eye for finding deviations from the style standards. And not just having an eye, but training your eye to see these errors. Keep in mind, these might not be errors per se, but deviations from a style standard, such as UK vs. US spelling or employing the Oxford comma.

Fallen
09-11-2012, 09:37 PM
With all due respect, it feels to me like you are defending copy editors. Well, my issue has nothing to do with copy editors, but sending manuscripts to outside editing prior to publication in hopes of getting their manuscript fixed.

I think that's a good point, Sue.

We're talking outside of publishing companies here. How many CEs inside a publishing house have direct contact with the author? I know mine have to go through the Senior Editor (bad philosophy to suggest all work that way, so I'll leave that open for correcting).But I don't communicate with the author at all (other than the suggestions on the manuscript).

The dynamics can change slightly when you step outside of a publishing house and go private (or one to one with a copyeditor).

Torgo
09-11-2012, 09:38 PM
Just on this issue:


Fair enough, but a writer can learn from a copy editor even if teaching is not your job. What's better--a learning experience or a quick fix?

Every single book we publish gets copyedited by a dedicated copyed. Though in an ideal world we'd prefer completely clean manuscripts, we don't remotely expect them.

I don't see any obligation on a writer to get their copyediting skills up to a professional level or to deliver manuscripts so clean that they don't need any work. It's specialised enough that it's a separate role.

I do see an obligation on the publisher - whether it's a trade press or the writer acting as their own publisher - to deliver copyedited books to the consumer. So at some point virtually all writers are going to be spending some money on copyediting, either directly out of their own pockets or in the sense that their publisher is going to handle it for them for a percentage of royalties. (This isn't a violation of Yog's law, because Yog governs the interaction between authors and publishers, and because in the latter case the money that's being used to pay for publishing services is taken out of the back end.)

While I agree that writers should always be learning and honing their skills, I'd argue that a freelance copyed is practically mandatory if you're self-publishing.

Torgo
09-11-2012, 09:40 PM
With all due respect, it feels to me like you are defending copy editors. Well, my issue has nothing to do with copy editors, but sending manuscripts to outside editing prior to publication in hopes of getting their manuscript fixed.

Oh, I see where my crossed wire is. OK. The OP ought to hire editing services of various kinds if self-publishing. If thinking of trade publication, then yes, avoid hiring any editors.

veinglory
09-11-2012, 09:45 PM
I say this with all respect: You're wrong. A writer doesn't always have to understand my suggested changes any more than a patient has to understand why a prescribed medication works.

I disagree. If I do not both understand and agree with a change, I do not accept it. I considering understanding the change and following up on those I do not understand part of my job. Because medication is something I take as proscribed by a member of another profession, novels are something I make as part of my own. I have to understand stand behind every word that will be presented as written by me--even if it is a house style element I am not all that keen on.

quicklime
09-11-2012, 11:27 PM
If someone doesn't know their grammar, what makes you think they know how to put in those intentional mistakes?

.


this has been a sticking point for me as well. now, my grammar is impeccabler than most, so it isn't an isue for me, but I find myself a bit at a loose as to how this would work

Susan Littlefield
09-11-2012, 11:39 PM
If I do not both understand and agree with a change, I do not accept it. I considering understanding the change and following up on those I do not understand part of my job. Because medication is something I take as proscribed by a member of another profession, novels are something I make as part of my own. I have to understand stand behind every word that will be presented as written by me--even if it is a house style element I am not all that keen on.


this has been a sticking point for me as well. now, my grammar is impeccabler than most, so it isn't an isue for me, but I find myself a bit at a loose as to how this would work

You both are right on point.

BethS
09-12-2012, 03:40 AM
I've had some people read my novel and received reports indicating my work could use the benefit of professional copy editing. A few companies I've looked into offer a free sample of their work. Although I am sure anything I send will have some errors, I'm thinking about purposefully making sure the sample contains a few I can identify. Things like 'to' instead of 'too' or the use of a comma when it should be a semi-colon, or 'solders' instead of 'soldiers'. Things that my word processor won't pick up. After all, if errors I know are there are not caught, what's the point of paying someone to find them?

Is this ethical?

If you know enough punctuation, grammar, and spelling to introduce deliberate errors, why not just edit your manuscript yourself? Professional copy-editing is expensive. And writers need to learn to edit their own work as much as possible.


My decision to work with a copy-editor is based on a person who read a story of mine and found several errors I missed. He only counted 12 mistakes in a 90,000 word novel. Still, I was embarrassed to have not picked them up myself. Realizing there are probably more errors, I decided to have a better set of eyes look at my work. As you say, it will be a learning experience, that I hope I will not have to repeat.

Twelve mistakes is not many. Why pay all that money for a manuscript that appears to be essentially clean?

Susan Littlefield
09-12-2012, 05:28 AM
Facts:

1. I write
2. I have chosen to self publish
3. I recognize the need to have my work reviewed by someone with copy-editing experience. I acknowledge that my work is not error free. However, I am capable of recognizing and correcting the vast number of errors I make in early drafts.
4. I have limited funds.
5. The work to be edited amounts to approximately 268,000 words
6. I have found three categories of copy-editors -
a) Well known professional organizations with verifiable credentials. COST FOR WORK $4,000 +
b) Independent professionals recommended by someone I know and trust. COST FOR WORK $2,500 to $3,500
c) Independent individuals whose work I cannot verify. COST FOR WORK $950 to $1,200

It is this third group to whom I am referring when I speak about requesting a sample of work. It is in those samples that I have inserted a very small numbers of errors.

Yes, I would prefer to spend $1,000 and verify competency myself.

---

Good luck. :)

thothguard51
09-12-2012, 05:32 AM
Facts:

[QUOTE]1. I write

We all do, we understand. You are not alone here...


2. I have chosen to self publish

Again, you are not alone, many here have chosen this route. My issue with this route is when writers are impatient and publish before they are ready. It sours the readers...


3. I recognize the need to have my work reviewed by someone with copy-editing experience. I acknowledge that my work is not error free. However, I am capable of recognizing and correcting the vast number of errors I make in early drafts.

OK, I got to ask, why are you cutting out other the 1st stage LINE EDITOR?


4. I have limited funds.

Again, you are not alone, but you have made a choice to self publish and you get what you pay for.


5. The work to be edited amounts to approximately 268,000 words

Holy crap. Is this for one book or a whole series? The reason I ask is because if this is one book, something tells me you have overwritten, redundant and perhaps, just perhaps, a bit flowery where not needed.

If this is for a series, then break it down. Why pay for a whole series in one shot if the first one in the series does not recoup your initial investment?


6. I have found three categories of copy-editors -

a) Well known professional organizations with verifiable credentials. COST FOR WORK $4,000 +
b) Independent professionals recommended by someone I know and trust. COST FOR WORK $2,500 to $3,500
c) Independent individuals whose work I cannot verify. COST FOR WORK $950 to $1,200

The numbers sound about right. Now remember this, a little lesson I learned a long time ago. You get what you pay for. If you can not verify the Independents professional credential, how will you know you are getting a a professional and not some English major with no publishing experience who decided one day, wow...easy cash.


It is this third group to whom I am referring when I speak about requesting a sample of work. It is in those samples that I have inserted a very small numbers of errors.

So an English major catches your mistakes and a few more. Will you be any more secure that they are professionals and not amateurs? Will you know the difference since you really don't seem to understand what all a copyeditor does? Do you know what questions to ask them, like what style sheet they use, or grammar references to they go by? As has been said elsewhere in this thread, there is a whole lot more to copyediting than just catching punctuation and grammar issues.


Yes, I would prefer to spend $1,000 and verify competency myself. ---

Competency to your standards you mean. Right?

Listen, I am not trying to knock you or your work. What I am trying to do is point you in the right direction. This is your work, with your name on it. Research anyone you hire to edit, copy-edit, or proof read. Research the differences between the various levels of editing and what you can expect.

Your handle is Iwannabepublished, not Iwannapublish.

Damn I wish I could find Hopisofts thread on what the difference aspects of editing are. He spells out each step an editor goes through. Very eye opening if you can find it.

In the end, its your novel, your name and your money. Good luck...