KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Breaking Through the Editorial Wall

Generally, freelance copyeditors whose clients are mostly massive publishing houses don't get to speak directly with book authors; the in-house production editors, acquisitions editors, and other staff members get to do that. I'm lucky in that about half of my clients are authors and half are publishers, allowing me the chance to develop working relationships with talented authors.

The rationale for the wall between authors and freelancers who are handling projects for publishers is that being independent contractors, freelancers don't represent the publisher and so shouldn't speak for them or appear to do so. Freelancers haven't sat in on face-to-face and phone conferences between editorial staff members and the author; they don't know how many revisions a manuscript has gone through before it reaches their desk, and they don't know what the acquisitions editor has asked the author to do in revisions. They don't know about any politics associated with the manuscript, so it's possible that in speaking directly with the author, they might promise something that the publisher isn't willing to provide.

With all that in mind, I was surprised recently to get an e-mail from Therese Fowler, the author of Souvenir, a love story that's due out from Ballantine in the U.S. in 2008. She'd noted that I was the freelance copyeditor who worked on her manuscript, so she'd written to ask how best to conduct her review of my editing. Though I followed protocol and directed her to the production editor for her book at Ballantine, we did have a pleasant e-mail conversation. I was so pleased to communicate with an author who hasn't been traumatized by an overzealous Miss Thistlebottom of a copyeditor and so respects my work. She even gave her okay for me to post some of her lovely comments on my web site: Hers are near the top right of this page.

Charmed by Therese's openness and respect, I searched to see whether she has a web site or blog. Her web site's still under construction, but bingo on the blog. I commented on this post, mainly to be able to compliment her writing publicly. Then, two days later, I was touched by this gift of a post. How many authors are kind enough to praise their copyeditor's work in public, much less explain for other authors what it's like working with a copyeditor?

It takes a special kind of courage and grace submit one's own work to others' critiques and polishing and not reject it all out of hand. I hope all copyeditors are given the humbling gift at least a few times in their career of working with such an author.

Updated 10:30 a.m., 4/27/07: Therese tells how she survived reviewing my edits. ;-)



Songbird said...

I love reading about your work!

Katharine said...

Thanks, Songbird. I like to think of editing as ministering to authors and crowds of unseen readers. ;-)

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