A Manuscript, Pocked With Red

Here’s the copyedit of Zoe’s Tale, which I will need to get through and see if I agree with where the copyeditor says I have gone horribly wrong. I’m sure she’s correct in all cases — even so, best if I eyeball it to make sure. But not today, since due to illness last week I’m behind on a novella I owe someone. So I am novella-ing today.

As an aside, I’m always amazed, when I get back a copyedited manuscript, how big it is. I send in all my manuscripts electronically (which I suppose technically means they aren’t actual manuscripts at all), and I haven’t owned a printer in years, so I rarely see printed versions of my work until they come back to me in this form. And then I’m always, like, damn, I sure do blather on, don’t I. I fear to think what the copyedit manuscript on some of those huge fantasy novels looks like. And I pity the UPS dude who has to deliver one.

Anyway, off I go to write. See you all later.

33 Comments on “A Manuscript, Pocked With Red”

  1. I can’t proofread to save my life, that’s why I have suckers… uh… friends who proofread for me.

  2. I’m with Rob.

    In fact, couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about how you didn’t have a printer; probably because I knew you were finishing your novel and because I knew you didn’t have one. And my mind couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that a successful writer didn’t own a printer — and didn’t *need* one either.

    How do you live?

    (I’m impressed too.)

    For that matter, I like printing things out. Sometimes I need to print stuff out.

    What’s going to happen when Athena needs to print out her homework. Will she get a printer? Do you have a printer in your house.

    Okay. I am thinking about this WAY too much

  3. I can proof my own stuff on a computer screen, but practically nobody else’s. (I’m also not fond of e-books, despite loving to read webpages. Don’t know why–although I have suspicions that the web is my ADD reading and books are my sink-in-and-immerse reading.)

  4. I don’t print anything out until I am required to by my editor. I can’t work off the printed page! Writing by pen is so slow and hard to read. I’ll type thank you.

  5. From the picture, it looks like the left page is part of the novel, and the right page consists of reams of comments from your editor. It’s hard to tell; I just know that the right-hand page has a constant part that’s the same on the left of each line.

  6. Do you have a hi-res version of the picture? I need to… make a poster of it. That’s right, make a poster of it. Not read the two pages of ZT that lies mocking me in the picture.

    Hopefully we’ll get more info on the Consu. Their behavior and motives are fascinating… along with that with all their power, they don’t bother to give the Consu consciousness. I doubt that they didn’t give the Consu consciousness because they couldn’t; it has to be something with their philosophy…

  7. Is that an natural 20 that you rolled in the top right corner there? Does it have something to do with the editing process? Did you have to role a save versus a slashing red pen?

  8. I just printed out my Nanowrimo novel from this past November. OMG. It is funny, but it did not seem “real” to me until just this morning when i printed it out and held it in my hands.
    I wrote a book. Not in the John Scalzi sense of course, but more in the “i-put-50-plus-thousand-words-down-in-a-somewhat-orderly-fashion” kind of way.

    But can I say that the editing process is harder than actually writing the darn thing? SO glad i have others who have no problem using a purple pen.

    And #8 Richard?..i know of a few us who would love to buy that..um…poster..that you are making!

  9. Kelsey @ 12:

    When I edit things, especially if I’m doing grammar and spelling, I do sometimes print it out to look at it.

    However, since most of the things that I edit are sent to me online, I do use Track Changes. Sometimes to a completely crazy degree.

    But I’ve noticed that most people would rather they just get a clean, changes made copy back, especially if they’re just worried about technical aspects of it.

    So I send out both.

    Anyway, you have to remember that Tor’s staff has lots and lots of experience, and thus, they probably were trained way back in the day before editing directly into the computer was well understood.

  10. “Haven’t copyeditors heard of the track changes/comment function in MS Word?Haven’t copyeditors heard of the track changes/comment function in MS Word?”

    Well, my wife who is a copy-editor in the RPG industry (where copy-editing is sadly considered a luxury), has heard of it, and uses it quite a lot; apparently to the delight of her employers.

  11. I’m okay editing onscreen. But I find I have a better sense of the pacing of my novels if I print them out. I also get a better sense of how the story arc is progressing. Onscreen, it’s just scrolling, which I can’t feel in the same way. Dunno if that makes sense.

  12. At least it just says “pocked with red” and not “smothered with red” or something equally discouraging. Can’t wait to read it.

  13. To #12 and #16:
    When I copyedit (other people’s work), I always work digitally in MS Word. I was shocked to see the photo on this page. I can’t believe the publisher and copyeditor agreed to work in hardcopy! Not to mention that the AU has to review that one and only copy of the work completed! Digital files are easier to send, receive, edit, backup, share, revise, and so on . . .

  14. Sky @ 19: You live too far in the future. It’s much easier to jump in my flying car and drop off a paper copy, and have my proof-reader fly back with corrections etc.

  15. The manuscript for the book I’m working on now is going to be absolutely massive. I’m not looking forward to mailing that sucker.

  16. I do some freelance copyediting work for major publishers, including Tor. I *wish* they’d let me work electronically, with Track Changes. Copyeditors have, indeed, heard of this wonderful feature — it’s the publishing houses that have yet to catch onto the 21st century.

    It hasn’t happened yet, in almost 20 years of freelancing, but I dread the day that FedEx or a corporate mailroom loses or mangles one of my copyedited manuscripts. No amount of insurance can make up for losing all that work.

  17. ‘Anyway, you have to remember that Tor’s staff has lots and lots of experience, and thus, they probably were trained way back in the day before editing directly into the computer was well understood.’

    Well, we used to do our copy-editing in the later 1980s at the university department I worked at (yes, my only graduate credits were for copy-editing and technical writing) on a computer, so that may give you some idea how experience can translate into age.

    And then we sent it to a printer to create photo ready copy, used scissors to create the final lay out, and sent it back to the printer for the print run.

    On the other hand, unfortunately, it is unlikely that the publishing industry will adapt effectively to what many of us grew up with.

    Copy-editing is a valuable skill, but also a luxury in an age where essentially anyone can write and publish for a global audience.

    What is equally amusing, at least to me, is how the fiction that authors possess amazing skills of spelling and grammar is beginning to fade under the bright reality depicted on the Internet. Some of the authors I knew personally were amazingly poor in both skills, but rescued by the unnamed people actually involved in creating a book.

    Much like how an op-ed/speech from a public figure is unlikely to come from their own hand, what people read in a book has been carefully crafted to conform to a broad set of proper rules. And is generally a collaboration between an author, an editor (though this function is hard to define, an editor in this sense can be considered someone who has the power to overrule what an author intends to have published), and a copy-editor.

    In part, this is what truly sets self-published works apart from those produced by a publishing industry intending to make a profit. That, and the fact that good authors are generally rare, resulting in enough market scarcity to allow authors to at least make the attempt to write for a living.

    Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the growth of blogging, more people are spending more time creating text for anyone to read, with others reading it, with a number responding in turn, thus creating an ongoing cycle, where profit is generally not a major motive. And time spent writing and reading at a screen is not time which the publishing industry can fill with text you have to buy first. Though at least some people seem to have understood that creating a self-reinforcing grouping of links/interests/relationships may be a viable business model in the future, especially if those links/interests/relationships are aware of their own role in creating that business model.

    At this time, even a major publisher’s output of text pales before a few day’s worth of what millions of Internet users create. And no, not all text on the Internet is worthless or poorly written, regardless of what some people, generally those who earn money from writing/publishing, think.

  18. I once had three copies of my less-huge fantasy manuscript printed out, single-spaced because none of them were going to a publisher or agent. Cost me $183! Heck yeah, I’m sticking with a computer screen for nearly all of my editing and proofreading.

  19. Richard @8, Kim @13:

    I ran the left-hand page through an image enhancer. It digitally scrubbed the words, and it came up with the following. Remember, you saw it here first!

    I’m intrigued by John’s great change in narrative style.


    “Izlacs kept the promise he had given to Jane Sagan who had spoken to him on behalf of her only son Wortcod on the evening of Zoe’s soiree. The matter was mentioned to the Galactic Emperor, an exception made, and Wortcod transferred into the CDF with the rank of cornet. He received, however, no appointment to Szillard’s staff despite all Raeb Htebaile’s endeavors and entreaties. Soon after Zoe’s reception Raeb Htebaile returned to New Moscow and went straight to her rich relations, the Nielniehs, with whom she stayed when in the town and where and where her darling Wortcod, who had only just entered a regiment of the line and was being at once transferred to the CDF Guards as a cornet, had been educated from childhood and lived for years at a time. The Guards had already left New St. Petersburg on the tenth of August, and her son, who had remained in New Moscow for his equipment, was to join them on the march to Novy Radzivilov.

    “It was St. Ainigriv’s day and the name day of two of the Nielniehs- the mother and the youngest daughter- both named Ainigriv. Ever since the morning, flying cars had been coming and going continually, bringing visitors to the Countess Nielnieh’s big house on the Povarskaya, so well known to all New Moscow. The countess herself and her handsome eldest daughter were in the drawing-room with the visitors who came to congratulate, and who constantly succeeded one another in relays.”

  20. I do most of my editing on screen, but for me it’s almost impossible to catch everything unless it’s on paper. So I usually revise twice in hard copy. I go through a lot of paper, but at least it works.

    The exhausting part is when I punch the paper to put it in a three ring binder (which I only do for my personal copy and for revisions). It would almost be worth taking it to Kinkos just for that.

  21. Copy-editing is a valuable skill, but also a luxury in an age where essentially anyone can write and publish for a global audience.

    I’m gonna say this: I’m in the middle of reading a paperback by a major author from a major publisher (one that I’ve worked for, though not a book I worked on), and I cannot believe the copyediting errors I’ve found.

    It’s not just bloggers who are skimping on copyediting these days…

  22. Hobbens: Tor’s is a good example of the industry standard:

    How do I submit writing to Tom Doherty Associates, LLC?

    Time of an upgrade?

    Actually, PNH would probably rather die a million deaths first. Really, they have trouble getting through all of the manuscripts that they already receive. Therefore, they want to make you work for it so that you cant’ just submit a ten thousand page manuscript.

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