RANT: Bad Copy Editor

So I’m working on the copy edits for Wild Ride, and the copy editor is annoying me. For one thing, she loves m-dashes. It’s bad enough that she deletes my ellipses and puts in dashes–they’re not the same thing, okay?– but she also takes out my commas and puts in dashes. Is she INSANE? Then she thinks she knows more about the Army than Bob does, so she keeps putting a lower case “a” on Army, when Ethan is talking about the American Army which is capped. She also keeps crossing out my “as” for her “so,” as in changing “She looked different, not as bouncy,” to “She looked different, not so bouncey.” Bite me. She changed my “insure” as a verb to “ensure” as a verb, even though they’re synonyms. And I don’t like “ensure.” She also doubted my use of “bemused.” My use of “bemuse” is just fine. And then there’s my syntax. She doesn’t like it. She likes hers. Which is why she changed “A miner’s had could only do so much,” to “A miner’s hat could do only so much.” Keep your red pencil off my character’s voice, you . . .

And with all of this, she misses typos. I’m screaming already and I’m only on page 144. All of which is to say that it’s going to be awhile until there’s a new post. BECAUSE I’M WRITING “STET” EVERY TEN SECONDS, THAT’S WHY.

Note to copy editors: If you want to write a book, write yours, not mine. Thank you.

125 thoughts on “RANT: Bad Copy Editor

  1. LOL – bite me. Love it. Write yours – love it, love it, love it!
    Just curious here but ummmmm…. (whispers) are you allowed to say that??
    Dont get me wrong, I applaud your honesty and love reading your witty observations but aren’t you worried the copy editors of the world will unite to m-dash you to oblivion?
    I mean, aren’t you even a little (gulp) worried….

  2. Ohhh, I wish I had read this before I went through my own copy edits a few months ago…since it’s my first published novel, I felt too nervous to STET even half the things I wanted to (I was afraid of being labeled “difficult”). I really wish I’d had the guts to stand up for my writing. 🙁 Thanks for posting this – it was really good reassurance that it IS okay and professional to do that, and I will be following your example with my second book next year.

  3. Man, I’d love to be a copy editor, but no … (sorry, no –) those jobs have to go to the arrogant types who have to put their own stamp on someone else’s work. I’d be gentle, I promise.

  4. So the qualifications to become a copy editor is the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time?

    As the bestselling author of twenty-one books, I think you’ve earned the right to raise some holy heck. You don’t have time to clean up the mess of some amateur wannabe writer attacking your work. And how can someone copy edit an author’s work if they’ve obviously never read any of her books?

    lol, I think I’m a bit angry for you. Is it too early for chocolate?

  5. There are many good copy editors who catch typos and inconsistencies and make the books much better and we love them desperately. When I get a good one, I let my editors know. The trouble comes when copy editors don’t understand the difference between a style sheet and a writer’s style. But yes, I’m allowed to say this. I’m also allowed to put anything that I want back the way it was, that’s why there’s so many STETs on this thing. I am not being stifled. I’m just being harassed by em dashes and so’s.

    Of course, I do this so Bob won’t get it and decide to kill the copy editor with his little finger. With any luck, I’ll have caught everything before he reads it.

  6. Oh dear… I confess that when I lived in CopyEditor land, we were instructed that insure and ensure were two different words with two different meanings… I would’ve changed that too.

    On the other hand, changing words simply because they sound better to the copy editor’s ear? In *fiction*??????

  7. I am admittedly in an irritable, off-with-their-heads mood, but I say give it to Bob. His little finger gets some exercise, you’re saved from repetitive stet injury, we get Wild Ride without delay. Efficient and effective.

    Interfering with author/character voice is a correctible behavior. Missing typos is not. Take her out.

  8. Insure and ensure are synonyms according to the dictionary. More than that, “insure” is familiar and “ensure” sounds like an energy drink. The number one rule in word choice is, “Don’t throw the reader out of the story with fancy words.”

    1. It depends where you come from. They’re not the same in Oz; similar, but different enough that I would have used ‘ensure’ in your example.

      That said, the rest of the changes she has suggested are…bizarre, at best. STET on.

  9. Karin, you made me laugh out loud.

    Wow! Jenny, I don’t like the editor’s suggested changes, the as for so, but especially when she changed the syntax to “could do only so much” I actually stumbled on that sentence. Good for you for sticking up for your work. Stet away!

  10. I would say, “Let the author have the final word on word choice.” Unless my manager says otherwise, as she used to with insure/ensure.

    If a book had a good copy editor, I don’t notice any editing. I just enjoy the book. I only notice editing when a book had a bad copy editor. I read the Twilight books, to see what the fuss was about, and I was amazed at the amount of homonym typos throughout. It was very distracting.

  11. I have to agree, ensure is the “nutritional supplement” we had to force my dad to use a few years ago, he was most unhappy. Ensure and insure are indeed synonyms according to Merriam (and a carnation ensure advertisement led off the dictionary entry, LOL).

    I am curious, who actually gets final say in these instances (reader, not a writer, haven’t a clue)?

  12. Send it to Bob the way it is. I’m sure he can find an inventive way to kill her with the red pencil she used.

    “She looked different, not as bouncy,” to “She looked different, not so bouncey.”

    This alone is why. The second sentence makes me think the characters was once a cheerleader. And, is bouncy even spelled right with the change? AND, she’s not catching typos?

    Yup. Tell Bob.

  13. Yikes. I’m guessing there are thousands of talented, knowledgable applicants for every copy editor job. If she was away the day they covered ellipsis vs. m-dash, I can’t see how she managed to land one.

    (Have to reveal I’m a stickler for the placement of ‘only’ in a sentence, since the wrong placement often changes the meaning, but we won’t go into that right now.)

    You go, girl. Rant up a storm.

  14. Do you mind if I share this with my editing class tonight? For our final session I think we’re supposed to talk about being sure to keep the author’s voice and not overstepping boundaries.

    It’s at 6pm Eastern time so I’ll check back before showing it around. I don’t want to share you as “here, this is why we need to be careful” if you don’t want to shared that way.

  15. Do you mind if I share this with my editing class tonight? I think we all could use a reminder of what Not to do.

    I’ll check back before class (6pm, eastern time) to see if I have permission.

  16. A new editor is more likely to find fault where none exists. There’s a tendency to feel that you’re not doing your job if you’re not marking things up. To read a typo-less page and not tweak a few things takes an editor who’s confident in her or his ability /and/ respectful of the writer’s ability

  17. “Have to reveal I’m a stickler for the placement of ‘only’ in a sentence, since the wrong placement often changes the meaning”

    But this was in dialogue, which is supposed to show how the character speaks not that the author knows grammar rules.

  18. Wow. I had no idea that an editor had that much power. Kinda makes you wonder why there aren’t more of us out there running around with red ink all over us. I’m still trying to figure out what STET is. Is that a kind of martial arts move you use on dimbos? (not a typo. Dimbo is my own precious word I use on really slow witted Bimbos- move over Websters’ eh?)

    1. STET is actually Latin. It means “let it stand” as in let the type stand as written (sans the unnecessary correction).

      Jenny, save yourself the headache & let Bob at her!

  19. Maybe you should start a poll on-site here about whose artistic vision we support, and then accidentally-on-purpose provide her a hyperlink. Or maybe it’s not too early in the day for a martini…

    Either way, here’s a hand pat and a soothing voice and another vote to let Bob’s pinky in on the action.

  20. In British English, to insure something means to take out an insurance policy on it, while to ensure means to make certain of something. Presumably one of many subtle differences between British and American usage.
    Incidentally, I would regard the over-use of em-dashes as very bad style, but I recently suffered from a very young (British) copy-editor who seemed to adore them, so perhaps it’s a generational thing.

  21. BE (British English) example, which I meant to add to the post above, but I hit the ‘submit’ too soon:
    “We have insured the painting for £100,000, but our brand-new security system should ensure that no burglar ever gets near it”.
    AE (American English) has lots of distinctions between related words that we don’t bother with, e.g. ‘further’ and ‘farther’, but if insure/ensure isn’t one of them, then the editor shouldn’t be fussing about it.

    1. Um…I’m not British, but I would agree with the difference between insure and ensure. But we all have our own pet peeves when it comes to language. Mine include “peak/peek” instead of “pique”, “wahlah” (or other mutant spelling) instead of “voilà”, and most of all, “very unique” (AARRRGGHH!).

      On the other hand, if someone asks me how I’m doing, I don’t know if I’m “good” or “well”. So I’m not really in the position to cast stones.

  22. Piffle, Jenny. You stolded my Ensure joke. It’s not nice of anal-retentive types to stomp all over good writing. She’s actually messing with your potential income, trying to overlay your and Bob’s style with hers. Off with her head!

  23. Why in heaven’s name would the copy editor think she has the right to change your word usage? Punctuation and spelling are one thing (although I do think people overuse dashes because they’re too lazy to figure out the right punctuation) but I don’t see where anyone gets off correcting your word usage.

    Melissa Blue said…

    “She looked different, not as bouncy,” to “She looked different, not so bouncey.”

    … The second sentence makes me think the characters was once a cheerleader. And, is bouncy even spelled right with the change? AND, she’s not catching typos

    Exactly! And I think the “e” adds to the cheerleader impression, though I don’t know why.

    Jenny, maybe you should let Bob take a pass at her.

  24. Next to the ‘stet’ can you let her know that if she changes the voice of the book she’s going to have some very VERY upset Cherries. Not that we’d do anything mean but we might start sending pizzas to her apartment at 4AM. And we’d ensure that they would have anchovies on them.

  25. Loosen this girl’s bun, slap a box of chocolates in her pencil-happy hand and tell her we were dazzled by your ellipses long before she ever became “bouncey”….

  26. And I think the “e” adds to the cheerleader impression, though I don’t know why.

    I don’t know why either. With the correction I just kept getting an image of two ponytails and pom-poms.

  27. Good editors are a blessing.

    But bad editors are usually trying to move up their social hierarchy by following the dog-and-the-lamppost principle, by scent-marking the author’s text with their own ‘fragrance’; that is, by leaving evidence of their presence. It’s all about territory and power.
    Jenny understands dogs, so she should tell this bitch where to get off. Jenny is the alpha here: the words of A.N.Editor are not the ones we are all anxious to read, but those of J. Crusie.

    (All right, I know that only dogs, not bitches, pee on lampposts, but there are limits to how far I can sustain an analogy).

    1. Actually, some female dogs will pee on the lampposts. Usually they are the more dominent females. It’s really startling the first time it happens and, if you’re like me, you then run to your dog training books to find out why it happened.

  28. The final say depends a lot on the relationship between the editor (not the copy editor) and the writer. Jen and I have a great relationship, so she just tells me to stet whatever I don’t agree with.
    “Stet” is Latin for “let it stand” and is standard in publishing for “ignore this copy editor change.”

    “Peek and peak” are actually wrong, though (I have the same problem with people who accuse “faze” and “phase”) whereas I have American dictionaries on my side with insure and ensure.

    And the copy editor will never see the manuscript again, so there’s no point in writing notes to her. Argh. I just keep stetting. I need to get a stamp that says “stet” . . .

    You better run, Julie.

  29. Hard enough to write the book. Now you got some red-pencil happy dim-wit who thinks she knows more about you and your process than YOU do–not a happy combination… I say get a stamp that reads “STET” and have at it–get it custom made, maybe with curly cues or something to make it fun! And when you get really frustrated, a deep breath, a glass of wine ( I prefer a whiskey and soda but hey, to each their own!) and some really good chocolate should help you get over it… Hugs and a sincere “poor baby” !

  30. You know, I was actually starting to feel guilty about this post until I went back and counted. There are 61 stets in the first 150 pages. A great copy edit would have no stets but that’s not realistic; I’d be good with a dozen in an entire book. And I’ve got 61 already. Then I found this:

    “Maybe he wasn’t as harmless as they’d thought.”

    which she changed to

    “Maybe he wasn’t so harmless as they’d thought.”

    I do not feel guilty any longer.

  31. Thanks! Showed and everyone liked the reminder to be conservative in our edits. I will agree with the woman who wrote earlier that it really is hard to remember that, if your author is good enough (as you are), that it’s not a bad thing to have no edits on a page.

  32. Well, just ask Jen the Editor mot to give you to that copy editor again. I am sure you’re right, though, a good copy editor is a writer’s VERY good friend. (the best friend would be either the editor or the agent). Keep STETing, we want to read the book. Next time, just look for volunteers here for the copy editor.

  33. This copy editor needs her red pen taken away. Send her to Bob. When I see ensure I automatically think of Ensure-the energy drink of the over 70 set. I prefer the coffee flavor.

  34. “Maybe he wasn’t so harmless as they’d thought.”

    You know, I pretty much stink at grammar [and clearly I make up my own punctuation], but — is that English?

  35. Thought you might enjoy this, it’s the opening paragraph of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s new novel, The Angel’s Game, and it made me think of you. I adored his first novel, The Shadow of the Wind, and hope this one is equally as good. Just got it in the mail yesterday.

    Anyway, here’s his opening paragraph:
    ” A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.”
    I love this dude. ; 0

    Keep on steting, we need another Crusie. Soon.

  36. i can’t cast any stones – all of the germans i’ve been hanging out with lately have adversely affected my syntax and sentence structure. it’s common here – we call it germ-ish. (i like dashes. ———- hee hee!)

  37. Now I can understand how annoying it is to deal with a copy editor like that (I find it’s hard enough to be corrected at all, but to be corrected for the worse…). What surprises me, however, is the amount of negative emotion that hits me throughout the comments. (To quote somebody I value highly: “what did she do, run over your dog?”) Calm down, y’all.

  38. I’m another vote against insure. Insure and ensure are totally different words in NZ English too. I wouldn’t just have changed it, I’d have been gritting my teeth and muttering under my breath while I did. If you hadn’t mentioned it in this post, I’d have tripped over it in the book too. Could you do us poor non-Americans a favour and change it to “make sure”?

    But “so harmless as they’d thought” … that sucks!

    Look on the bright side: at least you get to STET it all. I read a horror story a while ago of an author who only saw edits after the book was on sale.

  39. CG – it’s not the “corrections” she’s making, it the attempt by the copy editor to rewrite the book. Syntax is important. Say something in a slightly different way and it takes on a different feel, if not another meaning. In this case she’s attempting to change the character’s voice. If Jenny doesn’t catch all these “tweaks” it could, as she said herself, throw the reader out of the story.

    Whether the CE is simply too enthusiastic in her job or thinks she’s a better writer I don’t know. But she isn’t doing her job … catching typos.

  40. I would think that when Jen the editor sees those STETs written all over your book, she’ll never use that copy editor again. Adding the fact that the CE’s so busy re-writing your VOICE that she’s missing typos, her career is doomed.

  41. The copy editor is overstepping, which is no fun for the writer, and making mistakes, which sucks. But as an occasional copy editor, I’ll stand up for suggesting moving “only”–which, from Jenny’s post, appears to be in an indirect quote, not dialogue. “Only” is supposed to go as close as possible to what it’s modifying, and that’s something a copy editor should point out. Then again, since the meaning in this case is clear either way, I’d be fine with the author ignoring the suggestion.

    Geeze, Jenny, just look at the wrath you can unleash!

  42. poor baby. I love the stamp idea.

    Here in SA we tend go with UK conventions. My favourite site for confirmation is http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide.

    They have these entries, one under e and the other under i. (clarification for the CE)
    make certain; insure against risk; assure life

    against risk; assure life; ensure make certain

    I like the Guradian because they have a Reader’s Editor. This person’s focus: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2009/may/14/readers-editor-terms-of-reference
    The current editor is Siobhan Butterworth, the previous one was Ian Mayes who wrote “Only Correct, the Best of Corrections and Clarifications”
    C&C is a daily column dedicated to correcting and clarifying any incorrect and unclear items that appeared in previous editions of the Guardian.

    I’d love to be a reader’s editor. I’d be a darn good one. I’d be an ok copy editor. 😉

    1. While my comment is awaiting moderation – Cologngrrl’s right – we all do need to calm down just a tad. 🙂

  43. Look, I’m not trying to defend the copy editor, I just noticed – as MJ put it so well – “the wrath you can unleash”.
    At least Jenny gets to STET her text. Recently I had to sit and watch helplessly as a really good PR concept of mine was slowly reduced to a total wreck – by the customer who paid for it, so there’s nothing you can do.

  44. OMG!! I hate it when people mess with my writing, and when they place their thoughts into your writing it just throws off the whole thing. I hope everything turns out okay.

  45. This reminds me of the time someone came into my office, cosying up to me to talk about a procedure I wanted to implement. He brought up the implementation at multiple meetings I was not invited to. He MISinterpreted parts of my idea and represented the whole thing as his own, not acknowledging me in any way. It bombed, costing probably a million bucks or so. And his reputation. VENGENCE SHALL BE MINE. Sometimes patience works. STETSTETSTET.

  46. Your copyeditor is not unjustified in the changes she made. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “army” is lowercased when standing alone, not preceded by “United States” or “U.S.” “So” rather than “as” is correct usage when the statement is negative. “Ensure” and “insure” are not exact synonyms; “insure” is best used only in the case of a policy, not when the meaning is “to make sure.” And the placement of “only” in a sentence does affect the meaning; it should be next to the word it modifies.

    Yes, I am a copyeditor. Most copyeditors work hard for low pay. Most of us are intelligent and very well-educated people who love the language. Contrary to popular opinion, not all copyeditors are frustrated novelists, though many are fine writers in their own right. We don’t feel the need to “rewrite” other writers’ books. We simply do the best we can to try to make authors appear in the best possible light. We’re in the position of having to serve, if you will, three masters: author, publisher, and reader. It isn’t always an easy balance to maintain.

    From what you post, I don’t believe your copyeditor was trying to write her own book. And please consider that she might be following the publisher’s directive and using their preferred style manual.

    You certainly have the right to stet any of her changes that you don’t want to make. But please try not to be so hostile toward someone who is doing the work she was hired to do, and trying to do the best job she can.

  47. Insure and ensure may be the same in colloquial modern American usage, but in scientific and legal writing (see Garner’s Modern American Usage, for example), they’re very different, and they’re different in Commonwealth English, including Canada. As a copyeditor I would have changed it too, unless the editorial house style specifies one way or the other.

    The rest of the stuff, though, not so much.

    1. I can under stand that. But Jenny isn’t writing a scientific paper or legal brief. I’m sure she would accept the correction there. I know I would. And she might expect the correction or even do it the other way if her character lived in Canada. I think the context she’s working in is southern Ohio.

  48. A heartfelt “poor baby!” for you! Copy-editors, like writers, need to learn their craft somewhere, and I have a feeling you just got unlucky and caught a go-getting newbie.

    You can make an easy Stet stamp out of an eraser, I’m told (-:. I hope she gets a firm, but kind, talking to by the copy-editor-in-charge, and learns something from the experience. (And if she does it again, may she be at the mercy of a Bob-like pinky, LOL!)

  49. So much of my pleasure in reading is because I admire the way a really good writer assembles phrases. I’m a grammar snob in many ways; but proper grammar doesn’t always get the effect that’s wanted. .

    But the main issue for me is that the CE isn’t doing the job. She misses the typos and creates new ones. This makes more work for everyone else without improving the book. As someone who has had her share of extra work because someone else didn’t do their job, I admit this is one of my buttons.

  50. In my circle, whenever a writer sells his first book, we give him a tiny stet stamp. Really.

  51. Recent wanderer to this blog. No idea how I ended up here… SBTB?

    But I too have to raise a hand in favor of the m-dash. Too much Emily Dickinson in my youth perhaps. However, I don’t believe it is the same thing as an ellipsis.

  52. That’s not copyediting, that’s rewriting – or at the very least, a line edit, which is a different thing. Give her hell, Jenny.

  53. I want that stet stamp.

    I didn’t think we were that un-calm, to tell you the truth. (You should see the stuff I’ve been writing to Bob. That’s un-calm. Yes, I know un-calm isn’t a word. What are you, a copy-editor?)

    I think the thing that’s frustrating is that she’s making the book worse. No book is perfect to begin with, and the copy edits are a chance to fine tune. Instead, I’ve had to go over the first 150 pages three times to catch all the em-dashes she put in, and to find all the places that should have been corrected that she missed. There are a lot of things in here I don’t necessarily agree with that I’m not fighting her on, but some of this stuff is just . . .

    Take this:

    [Gus was] oblivious to the fact that . . .

    which she changed to

    [Gus was] oblivious of the fact that . . .

    Both are correct, so why change it to the more formal, less familiar construction? The same with changing

    “Evidently beer could only buy so much”


    “Evidently beer could buy only so much.”

    We’re not talking dangling modifier here, “only” can modify “buy” or “so much,” and in this case, it modifies “buy.” She would prefer it modify “so much.” And you know, even if it did, it’s close enough that the reader get the sense easily. It’s not confusing.

    The same with a character who yells at Ethan saying, “Information only goes one way” which was changed to “Information goes only one way.” The first is informal and the second formal and not that character’s voice. Plus the first “only” modifies “goes” which is what we wanted, and the second modifies “one way” which we didn’t want.

    Even when she’s right, it’s sort of “a split infinitive is something up with which I will not put.” It’s more important that it sound right than be grammatically by-the-book perfect. Nobody talks like that, thinks like that.

    And then she puts mistakes in. She seems to feel strongly that there should be a comma separating a because clause which is such basic punctuation that I don’t understand why she keeps getting it wrong. Unless the because clause is at the beginning of the sentence, it doesn’t take the comma because it’s a dependent clause. So now I have to go back through and make sure I caught all of those. And all the em-dashes. And all the “of”s she put in. I don’t have time for this, and it’s screwing up my chance to fix the mistakes I did make in here because I’m fixing hers.

    Yes, I’m cranky. I’m up to my ass in alligators here and now it’s taking me forever to get through this ms because I have to copy edit my copy editor.

    I love good copy editors. This one is making my book worse instead of better. I’m hostile. And I still have two ceilings and forty-six miles of woodwork to paint, two books to write, and two beds to put together. But now I will go double check all the commas that I had right in the first place.

    No, now I will put up another post so that I can stop upsetting people. ARGH.

  54. A lot of these comments were caught in moderation and I just found them (ELK, I deleted your second one since it was a duplicate of the first). What’s happening is that the first time you post to the blog, your comment goes into moderation so I can make sure you’re not spam. As soon as I approve one of your comments, the rest will post without moderation.

    If you go up about eight comments, ELK has given the copy editor’s point of view on this one and it’s well worth reading. Actually, all your comments are worth reading, but I didn’t want you to miss the other side of the argument because it had gotten stuck in moderation.

    ELK, I’ve had excellent copy edits through SMP, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a publisher thing, I think it’s a letter of the law thing. That is, I’ve had copy editors who only changed the things I got wrong instead of using alternatives to something that was right because she felt the alternative was better. And good copy writers know not to change the phrasing in dialogue and internal monologue. People speak and think in dangling modifiers and other bad grammar all the time. To correct colloquial speech and thought to make it grammatically correct is bad fiction copy-editing. If you’re copy-editing non-fiction, you fix all the grammar except that in direct quotes. If you’re copy-editing fiction, you avoid stepping on voice, both author and character, at all costs. As in “up with which I will not put.” I know copy-editors are woefully underpaid. I also know there’s a line in Welcome to Temptation where a copy editor added italics for an emphasis that I did not want that completely violated character and tone and it STILL BUGS THE HELL OUT OF ME. That was invasive. It was nine years ago but I still twitch when I think about it.

  55. I’ve just gotta say, having worked as a copy editor, I’m turned off by the attitude. You’re absolutely right that it’s your book and you can either accept the changes or reject them. STET away if that’s what you want. But dissing someone behind their back on your blog? Not only is that unprofessional, it’s downright rude, and insulting to the person or persons who are only trying to do their jobs. I wonder what kind of blog post would have resulted if the shoe was on the other foot, if some copy editor posted on her blog about a newbie writer who didn’t know the difference between an ellipse and an em-dash, or the difference between “insure” and “ensure”. Would that have been okay, or would there be Something Very Bad Wrong With The Industry that such mistreatment of writers would go unchecked?

    But whatever. It’s your blog, your book, and if you want to bitch and moan about something that’s irritating the piss out of you, go right ahead. I only wonder, since it seems to be such an issue for you, why you didn’t address your concerns with your agent or editor, instead of ranting about it on your blog. Because if I were that copy editor, and I saw this post, I’m not sure I could muster up the strength to give a shit the next time one of your manuscripts landed on my desk.

    I’m just saying.

  56. Fiction? I’ve never gone into those waters, but I can’t imagine why would a CE want to change the author’s voice. All the changes you told don’t seem good to me at all; though a CE would say that it should be US Army and not American Army, hence the lowercase, it is not as simple as that. The character’s voice even comes from the capitalization; so for a little more glorification of the American army, I would even have it American Army.

  57. Of course a copy editor could post about a writer who didn’t know the difference between and em dash and an ellipsis. Why not? As for why I didn’t tell my editor, that would be lodging a formal complaint and then she’d have to do something about it and the next writer who gets this copy editor may love her. I am not interested in getting anybody fired. As it is, the copy editor is anonymous and if she’s reading the blog, she has every right to come in here and say, “Hey, you’re wrong” or just ignore the whole thing.

    As far as my attitude, did you miss the “rant” part of the post title? That pretty much lets you know my attitude is going to be very bad before you read the first sentence.

    In other news, I’m still willing to argue that Army should be capped if it’s clear that we’re talking about a specific proper noun Army and not a miscellaneous group of like-minded people in general. That is, when Ethan thinks “the Army,” he’s clearly thinking of a specific proper noun, not a general noun. None of which makes any difference if the copy editor was told to follow a style sheet that overrides that.

    I got the first coat on the woodwork. Progress.

  58. I’m a stickler, and there are definitely some writers who aren’t strong enough in their craft to be Humpty Dumpty:
       “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    However, in the case of a strong writer like Jenny, the copyeditor needs to be VERY sure that the rule she enforces is in fact a rule and not a fad, a regional usage, or a personal preference. There’s a time to stickle and a time to let an accomplished author shape the language as she chooses.

    For example, I don’t see why the copyeditor found it worthwhile to change every as/as to so/as, when that’s far from a universal rule:

       “Quite commonly. . . , in the nineteenth century and earlier, the antecedent could also be so, especially, but not only, in negative setences. . . . Nowadays as . . . as is overwhelmingly the more common of the two, but so . . . as is far from extinct.”

    BTW, this isn’t a case of “Jenny is automatically right”. She’s dead wrong on “ensure” 😉

  59. Since when does it follow that just because someone put “rant” in a subject title, they are somehow exempt from having offended anyone by the post’s content? It doesn’t work like that. “Rant” isn’t some proverbial home base where you can say whatever you want without fear of repercussion. It’s right up there with “I don’t want to be mean, but…” Of course the person using that phrase wants to be mean. They just don’t want to be caught at it.

    You told it like it is. That’s OK. I thought it was disrespectful and low-class. That’s also OK. But please don’t try and sell this as something it isn’t. From where I’m sitting, it doesn’t look like you’re trying to preserve someone’s job or reputation; it looks like you’re stewing in your own muck at your copyeditor’s expense.

    Anonymous or not, complaining about a situation isn’t going to make that situation better. In some ways, it may make it worse. There are plenty of people out there who ranted about their anonymous workplace and lost their jobs because of it. Lucky for you, you’re not in a position where such a thing is likely to happen. But don’t be fooled into thinking what’s said on your blog can never come back to bite you in the ass, simply because it’s YOUR blog.

  60. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jenny for shining a small light on what any newly or seasoned published writer could potentially get from a CE. It’s good that you tell us your publishing war stories. We unpublished writers need to know this stuff. I was thinking about this last night, If I ever have the opportunity to have something of mine published, and get a CE like this one, she could fatally crush my confidence in myself as a writer.

    Or I could possibly get a CE who might not “muster up the strength to give a shit” about my manuscript. Just wow.

    So, thank you. You’ve put more confidence in myself as a writer to trust my instincts and trust my voice. And knowing that I can STET as much as I want in my manuscript.

  61. Oh, there are always repercussions. I’m good with repercussions. I end up with them all the time. You should have seen what happened on the plagiarism hoo-ra. I just didn’t agree with your take on this, which is fine, too.

    I have been thinking about why I posted this since any time a post upsets anybody this much, it deserves a second look. And I’m trying to think why this was so upsetting. I didn’t name the copy editor by name. I don’t know her name. For all I know, she isn’t even a she. This isn’t the first publishing rant I’ve done on here; you should see me on covers. And I do believe I should be able to discuss something I’m really upset about on my blog. Also, I’m not ranting about my workplace. I’m telling people about what I think is a bad copy edit, and they’re discussing it, many of them disagreeing with me. That happens all the time, too.

    So I tried switching it around as you suggested. Suppose I read a blog from a copy writer that complained about how bad a writer was, not mentioning that writer’s name. The problem with that is, writers get trashed by name all the time. You wouldn’t believe some of the things my friends and I have been called. Of course, we signed up for that when we put our books out there, but again here I haven’t identified anybody by name, I’m just venting about something that’s making me crazy. I’m not seeing what damage I’m doing to anybody in particular, unless the copy editor in question reads the blog, in which case, whoever you are, I’m not happy with you. And since I’ve made it clear that a good copy editor is a gift from god, I’m not criticizing copy editors in general.

    So I’ll just be content with you thinking I’m disrespectful and low class. God knows, I often am. And God knows you are not alone in thinking that.

    1. First off, I’m not really upset. Just annoyed. Here’s why:

      I came to your website last night because I’m short of something to read, and wanted to know when your new book would be out. Instead, I got to read about how someone who is not you is making your book worse and you hate their edits and it’s driving you nuts. Fair enough. But as a reader, I really did not want to hear about all that stuff. On a good day, it makes me think the book will be subpar because you yourself said the edits were making it worse. As a reader (not as a former copyeditor), it left a bad taste in my mouth. This post tainted my desire to read this book. Is that unfair? Probably. But I can’t change how I feel any more than you can.

      Secondly, I never said you were low-class, just that the post itself was. It smacked me as being juvenile, something you might hear in a high school cafeteria or similar. I’ve read your blog long enough to know you don’t shy away from certain issues–like the plagiarism thing you mentioned–and in the past, even if I didn’t agree with you, I’ve respected your take on things because of how you addressed them. This post lacked any sort of desire to make a bad situation better. I understand you’re unhappy and frustrated, and that’s OK. But I would have been more receptive to your writerly woes had it not come across as diva-ish and self-absorbed.

      1. Jenny did say the edits were making the book worse or words to that effect but she also said she was spending a great deal of time fixing those edits. She shouldn’t have to be doing that.

        Secondly, most of the people who come to this blog are Jenny’s readers, published and hoping to be published writers, and fans. We have been coming here for a long time. We have learned a lot about writing; have laughed a lot and commiserated with her when she rants, as we are doing now. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t but Jenny accepts that from us too.

        None of us would call Jenny self-effacing but that is what we love about her. With Jenny what you see is what you get. When Jenny says “Rant” then we know what to expect. Maybe if you came over more often you would know that this lady’s work is well worth reading as is her blog. If you were lucky enough to have her manuscript land on your desk you had better ‘give a shit’ or risk losing your job.

        P.S. Please feel free to copy edit my writing. I am sure you’ll find something to correct. I don’t have Jenny’s talent.

      2. y’know, it would be pretty clear from a title like Copy Editor Rant that it wasn’t going to tell you anything about the date of the next book. You can’t complain it was false advertising – you just got interested, chose to read it and didn’t like it. As a reader, if you didn’t want to know about it, why didn’t you stop reading instead of complaining that the author to correspond to your expectations *when you already knew by your own admission that she would air issues*?

        Do you know any ways of making tedious copy-editing-editing better? Please share them. As an editor I have to deal with copy-editing that can be anything from helpful to infuriating and I’d love to know how to improve it.

        And, actually, you *can* change the way you feel about things; it’s the basis of therapy and helpful conversations with friends. Sometimes it’s venting, sometimes it’s coming to a new understanding; often it’s growth. There’s a scene in pretty much every Crusie book that shows it happening (in Bet Me, when both Min and Cal are shown by friends how the other one feels about the bet) and it’s part of what makes them such great books.

  62. My last job, one of my fellow editors was mostly excellent. But she didn’t have the technical knowledge (technical editing) to understand why authors would make certain choices, and she would invariably ignore the author’s all-caps “DO NOT CHANGE THIS! IT MAKES IT WRONG!” comments if by leaving it her way it followed a rule. Some of the things she left in *drastically* altered the scientific meaning.

    I’m both editor and desktop publisher, so as I incorporated the final edits into the article, I vetted all her changes (which I did NOT have time for). Frustrating as hell, and one of the things that led me to move on. I’m betting that a lot of errata started to appear after I left there….

    As for ensure/insure, yeah, I was taught that too. Sometimes “assure” also works, though, if that helps any.

    Me, I’m a demon on “audience.” Don’t tromp all over writing that’s suited for its audience.

  63. Wow. I always come late to the good parties.

    Look, bottom line, if you have to do 61 stets in 150 pages, that’s a poor copyeditor. A good one understands voice, and doesn’t mess with familiar and perfectly serviceable language just to pay homage to a style guide. The bad ones lack the skill and confidence to navigate a novel properly, and that’s the case here. Argue insure vs. ensure all you want, if you have to stet 61 times in 150 pages, the copyeditor fell down on the job. That said, I had a super-clean ms come back once in which the CE failed to correct mistakes I found, and then wrongly corrected me on usage I got right the first time. I’d rather stet 61 times than have to go through that paranoia again, in which I basically had to CE my own ms, which is so hard to do when you’re that close to it.

    I think the stamp really is the answer.

    As for the argument that Jenny doesn’t have the right to discuss her feelings about this honestly on her blog, I see that on every blog where opinions are expressed and it always annoys me. A blog owner has the right to say whatever she wants, and a visitor has the right to never come back if she doesn’t like it. Argue the point with her if you disagree, no one listens to opposing points of view with more respect and openness than our girl here, but don’t tell her she can’t say what she wants. If a blog visitor doesn’t like her attitude, that’s really the visitor’s problem, and it’s simply solved – go elsewhere.

  64. Thanks for clarifying that, Liz.

    One of the dangers of having this kind of blog is that you alienate readers. I probably turn off more readers than I get with this place. So the decision really becomes where do I set my boundaries. Tess Gerritsen stopped posting to her blog because there was such a backlash against a joke she told; it just wasn’t worth it to her at that point since she’d really been posting to her blog to help other writers, not to promote or make money off of ads. At some point I may do the same, but so far, it’s a risk I’m willing to run. I truly am sorry you came here to relax and got bitch-slapped with a complaining post; it was not my intention to give anybody a lousy time, so that’s a failure on my part. But I do feel that if I say “Rant” at the top of the post, people have been forewarned. I do have a contract with my readers here, but the “Rant” is a heads-up that I’m going to be complaining and not in a rational manner, that I am, in fact, about to be diva-ish and self-absorbed. That’s what a Rant is, somebody saying, “This is what’s bugging ME, this is something that has pushed ME over the edge, this is not a well-reasoned argument or an attempt to solve a problem, this is ME being MAD AS HELL.” Adding “Copy Editor” to the title just gives you a heads up on what I’m going to be diva-ish and self-absorbed about. So you can skip it.

    The bottom line for me is that if I’m careful never to offend anybody, I’ll never write another word. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care that you had a lousy time on this blog, I do. It just means I have to think harder about where to draw the boundaries for the things I post here. Like maybe posting Rants is not a good idea.

    So I just put a poll up on Rants to see what people think. Since this is a very-audience driven blog, I’ll go along with whatever the poll says.

    1. I want rants. They amuse me. I’m also a fan not a potential writer, not because I don’t want to be but because I have no talent and no attention span. I enjoy seeing where you’re coming from before I get the novel. It hightens my anticipation, not the other way around. I hate to be low class and all, but it seems to me like someone needs to pull the stick on out and loosen up. I agree that blogs can come back and bite you. One of my favorite blog authors was fired over her blog being dicey, but she turned it around and now lives off of it. To me, a blog is rather like an on-line diary open for comments. It is full of personal feelings and observations. When you have to watch every word for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, it loses its appeal. Jenny was bitching about something that pissed her off. (There I go being low class again.) It happens. If you are such a person that you do not understand the need to vent and rant, then perhaps the Internet is not the proper place for you. Try PBS. I understand they are always family friendly and dedicated to appeasing all parties. I also think you’d like Antique Roadshow. Give it a try and leave the blogs alone because blogs basically live on emotions, and those can get messy.

  65. Jenny wrote: That’s what a Rant is, somebody saying, “This is what’s bugging ME, this is something that has pushed ME over the edge, this is not a well-reasoned argument or an attempt to solve a problem, this is ME being MAD AS HELL.”

    Exactly. Crusie, I love your rants. Sometimes I disagree (NOT this time, this time you’ve got ample cause — even though you’re wrong about insure/ensure) and sometimes I think WTF? but I always love them. Because so few people are willing to say what they mean, say it intelligently, and then stand behind it.

    And what the hell good is a decent rant if all your friends don’t rush in and say “poor baby” and “off with her head” and “you get ’em, babe” and the like. I don’t think it’s a matter of people needing to calm down. That kind of reaction to a rant is EXPECTED. It’s a time for over-the-top commiseration, not to be taken too seriously. No person in their right mind wants to listen to calm reason and soothing noises in mid-rant. Where’s the catharsis in that? Geez. Not like we were taking up a collection to build an actual gallows.

    This particular rant, completely apart from the fact it was a delight to read such a well-done rant, was educational for me: as a writer, I am more wary yet have gained insight to a process I haven’t yet experienced; as a reader, I am more appreciative. Much more.

    I think part of the defensiveness here is a recognition of your power — actual power in the publishing world and the power of your voice. What you say has weight. Doesn’t mean you should be prohibited from speaking your mind and expressing honest emotion.

    I say keep on ranting. Right after you finish those damn copy edits.

    1. Oh, hey, not defending “ensure” — FTR, I’d never use that word in a work of fiction. Probably I’d say “make sure.” Just saying it’s not the same. The ghost of my English teacher father would rise up and smite smote glare pointedly at me if I said it was.

      1. LOL! ‘strue! My journalism teacher taught me, if you are in doubt about a usage, and don’t want to look it up, write around it! Just like BCB did. (Although, Jenny likes her usage, is not in doubt about it, and has a dictionary to back her up.) Personally, I’d go for a different verb, but if I read it in a Crusie, I don’t think I’d be bothered at all. (Well, at least not before this discussion, LOL! And give me three months, and I’ll have forgotten all about the insure/ensure distinction when reading.) (tangentially, did anyone see the 9 Chickweed Lane comic this week where the Almighty is getting punished by having a triple negative spewed out at him! LOL! Language is something many of us are passionate about, and like religion, there is some difference of opinion with no obliging Grammar God to hand down the 10 Commandments (or Holy Style Book)).

  66. Jenny, I’m all with you here. The last editor I worked with was like your copy editor — he missed errors that were there, and put in new ones. Like changing “Procrustean” to “Protean,” because he didn’t know what “Procrustean” meant and didn’t bother to look it up. I stopped writing for his magazine, especially after I noticed from the “Corrections” column that he was doing the same thing to other writers.

    As for the people who are complaining about your tone, my goodness. I agree completely with your belief that it’s your blog, you’re entitled to rant, you labeled it a rant, you didn’t name the copyeditor, you didn’t try to get her fired by complaining to your editor. It’s a pain in the ass and a waste of your time to have to correct the editors that she is paid, however badly, to correct.

  67. Long time reader, first time (or near it? I don’t remember) poster.

    I definitely think you should continue with the rants. Your blog is not a novel, an essay, a collection you’re editing, or any other of your published works–it is closest to being a journal of sorts and *is* a collection of your thoughts and opinions, all of which are subjective and therefore debatable. Some readers will agree and some will not, and some may decide never to read this again and some may be able to separate some opinions from others.

    I read a review column and a political column written by one of my favorite science fiction writers–I may sometimes disagree with his reviews, and many times strongly disagree with his politics, but I find his columns valuable because I respect his intelligence, thought processes, and opinions, even when I disagree with them. You are the same type of writer. As BCB said, “so few people are willing to say what they mean, say it intelligently, and then stand behind it.” Please continue to be one of these people. I truly believe that is a service to others.

  68. I love your rants. They help me feel sane. When I worked with a customer for two hours, only to have her return over $200 of merchandise 15 minutes after she bought it, with the explaination that she’d forgotten that the home for which she bought it was going to be BULLDOZED, I could not advise her, as I would have liked, to supervised the tear-down personally…from the inside. Therefore, I ranted to my co-workers. And my friends. And here (I hope you’ll forgive me, Jenny — I know it’s not my home). My point is, when you cannot direct your feelings to the source of your annoyance, they’ve got to come out somewhere. And some of us appreciate finding out that we’re not alone in the grinding frustration that life can yield.

    All of that extra work would make me lose my ever-lovin’ mind. I appreciate you protecting the integrity of your book. I like the more familier tone your books have. Stilted, formal writing reminds me that I’m reading a story; it pulls me right out. And usually makes me want to hurl the book because it feels like a long lesson on proper writing, instead of the cozy escape I wanted.

    (Jenny, if you feel that my post is too self-indulgent with the inclusion of my own work-rant, please feel free to delete it with no worries. It’s 2:17 am, and my judgement may be off.)

  69. 1. Everyone is entitled to a Diva Day (and as far as Divas go, Jenny is a very reasonable one, I think).

    2. Many of us here are writers and wanna-be writers, and this kind of post is absolutely fascinating. How are these things handled? Cool, you can just stet it if you love it.

    3. Jenny, you may lose sales because of this blog, but you also gain sales. If it weren’t for the internet, I probably would have read Bet Me, and that would be it — because where I live, there aren’t a bunch of Crusies on the bookshelves (unless you’ve been translated into the local language, and I don’t know about it). I come back regularly for the very interesting posts, and when you talk about a book, I know it’s something I need to pre-order on Amazon. And being part of a blog like this, I have a certain investment — I need to have the book, so I can talk about it with everyone here (-:. Blogs create excitement, and they create a community.

    Can’t please all of the people all of the time. But it looks like this post was pretty good for 79 percent of the people, as of this writing. Which isn’t a bad percentage (-:.

  70. Jenny, one of the things I like about your blog is that it’s got roughly the same voice as your books. That includes the rants. Your books aren’t polite and mild; I don’t want argh to be either.

    I actively avoid the websites of a couple of my other favourite authors, because they’re totally different from their books. Something about those websites’ tone, voice, sense of priority, something, just jars. If I read one of their books after reading their website, it feels all wrong.

  71. Well, as usual, I’m late to the party. I like your rants. Hell, you know I’d read your grocery list! Don’t stop ranting, it’s you and we love you.

    Oh, and since Sunshine is away at college for the summer let me know if you need help painting trim. I’ve got LOADS of time!! (And then you can finish copy editing your book and maybe we’ll get it sooner! lol)

  72. A rant is just that – a rant. Everyone is allowed one once in a while and it *is* your blog. They don’t bother me a bit 🙂

    I wish the author of the book I’m currently about to stop reading had had a better copy editor. The author, who shall remain nameless, favors ending incredulous realizations with the ?! If it were just one character I might just ignore it, but it’s annoying when they are all doing it.

  73. Chelle, just for the record some of us have read Jenny’s grocery list. It’s the truth.LOL

  74. “A blog owner has the right to say whatever she wants, and a visitor has the right to never come back if she doesn’t like it.”

    Amen, Lani.

  75. I would have read “insure” as a typo a copy editor should have changed to “ensure”. To me they are absolutely different.
    And I would have thought “oblivious of” was an error too; I think I’ve only ever heard/read “oblivious to”. At first I thought they too would be different usages but I couldn’t come up with an “oblivious of” example that sounded right.
    But yeah, she’s doing way too much messing with her voice–not just your characters’ but yours. And you know (I trust) how we all feel about your voice.
    As to someone being upset because of this. . . . I come to Argh when I need a break and yes, I expect to LOL or at least be tickled by a turn of phrase, or a book recommendation, or just the voice in your posts no matter how random the topic. I think the randomness is a big part of the appeal! Will it be about a current WIP? A cover? A blurb? The dogs? Snow? Ceilings? Travel? Food? Flying pigs? Granddaughters? Plus, what a fantastically participative comment section! And you join the discussions and reason things out and we all share opinions. This is a fabulous community.

  76. A rant is a rant. Not just your blog but anyone’s blog. I call up my sister and sometimes my college roommate and do the exact same thing. But I think it’s more civilized to do it the way you’re doing it. I can’t always rant to my sister about family and I can’t rant to my college roommate about mutual friends because sometimes I am going to be angry and hurtful. If I blogged to the outside world, no one would know who I was talking about.

    So no, I don’t think you went over the line.

    Now back to the original subject. I have been a proofreader and a CE and this person is not doing their job correctly.

  77. (and somehow I just screwed up completely!)

    back to the last post…

    I was a proofreader and a CE for over fifteen years and this person is not doing their job correctly. My professor taught us that any time you had to make the same correction more than three times, you queried the author. You asked them why and you cited your arguments on the other side.

    Example: Ms. Crusie, I noticed you use ensure and insure interchangeably. My OED says they are not synomyms. Are you using a different reference?

    Ms. Crusie to CE: Yes. Don’t change it.

    And you do it that way because CEs are underpaid and they are cheaper than the author. YOU DON”T MAKE MORE WORK FOR THE AUTHOR. It is the author’s book and the author gets final say for anything that’s questionable.

    The author does not get to use their for there. That’s wrong. But anything that’s style, author’s call.

    Now, in the CE’s defense. This is not an easy job. There are writers who think their every word is gospel and I wasn’t even editing fiction. The CE speaks for the reader who is coming new to this book. The CE points out what is rough or confusing or misspelled.

    The most important thing for both writer and CE is does it make the book better?

    For all of you who are thinking that on your first book, you too will get a stet stamp, think again. A good copy editor/proofreader keeps you from making a fool of yourself. She doesn’t let you send someone to the Episcopal chapel in England. He doesn’t let you use faze for phase (or insure for ensure 🙂 ).

    She lets you know that the puppy in chapter two is now a kitten in chapter twelve. Or that George became Gerard somewhere around page 116.

    Jenny, quick question. Do the copyeditors work on digital or hard copy? Are these changes possibly a universal replace? I’m thinking of the “as” to “so”

  78. Good old paper copy with a red pencil, Bridget. And I do the same.
    Don’t even think about a universal replace. I had to go lie down when I read that.

    1. Poor baby.

      No, sorry, I was trying to see how the CE did it, if she had accidentally done a search & replace as for so, it would explain a lot. Which would mean she didn’t mean to make you crazy for 144 pages.

      I think your idea about the post its is the best idea. I’m so sorry you have to go through this.

  79. Thank you for posting this. I am currently studying to become (hopefully) some kind of editor and copy-editing has me a little confused. It’s great to see the other side of the arguement. When you have teachers yelling at you about verb use and author voice but have no actual feedback it hurts. I love your work – and your rants – and wil just have to strive to be an editor who pays attention to what is important.
    Thank you Jenny.

  80. Eek! Anyone who’d change “Maybe he wasn’t as harmless as they’d thought” to
    “Maybe he wasn’t so harmless as they’d thought” has a complete tin ear and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a bestselling fiction writer’s manuscript!

  81. Jenny, I love your rants! Of course I like ranting too. I rant, get it out of my system and get on with my life. It gets me settled down faster if I vent the steam. And yours are always good entertainment for me. I’d read a whole blog of just rants if I thought my blood pressure could handle it.

    To all of the readers who are so sure that insure and ensure have distinct meanings, I challenge you to find where it says so in an American dictionary. I’ve looked it up and asked other people multiple times and never got any clarity before the comments in this blog post. Most people I know use them interchangably and, due to the Ensure vitamin drink for seniors, usually choose insure. Until reading this post, I had never spoken to anyone who thought there was a difference, and I’ve asked. Of course now that one knows, one would have to choose correctly or go with “make sure” as someone wisely suggested. So to get it right: insure is to buy a policy against potential harm and ensure is to make sure something happens?

    Finally, to all you copy editors out there: please tell all the other copy editors that adverse does not equal averse. I am averse to the copy editors’ adverse changes to characters’ voices. Roughly 50% of the romance novels using adverse use it incorrectly and it tweaks my very last nerve. I’ll just stay right away from effect and affect, which engineers can’t seem to get right to save their lives or their assertions. Feel free to copy edit this entry at will because I’m sure it’s a nightmare.

  82. It’s a living language. It used to be that ain’t was proper English. And double, triple or quaduple negative meant HELL, NO! And was standard English.

    But on the other hand, before the printing press, it was not uncommon to see the same word spelled several different ways. So may be printing presses and copy editors and prissy rule makers aren’t always such a bad thing.

  83. I have learned so much about writing and publishing thanks to Jenny and her reader/writers. Please refrain from any thought of censoring!

  84. Back in the dark ages (as opposed to the Dark Ages), when I worked in corporate America, I taught an editing course for managers. The first lesson was how NOT to edit, i.e., you don’t need to make it sound like you wrote it. Ahem. I threatened them with having to write their own version of anything they made frivilous (speaking kindly) edits to. It took some of them a while to realize that they didn’t have time to be managers and write everyone’s letters, reports, memos etc., too.
    In fiction, dialogue is sacred. It shows character, as you so rightly commented. It’s hard for some people to realize that. Always has been, always will be. But is this St. Martin’s??? What are they thinking?

  85. Wow,now I can breath easier knowing I can tell the editor to shove off if they change my book too much,lol.Love you Jenny I’m glad to see someone stand up for what they want and not for what others want.And p.s. if you ever need me to throw a monkey at someone I am here for you. 😉

  86. I think you should inform the copy editor that it’s YOUR book and YOUR writing. BTW the word army is used when speaking about armies in general, even by military people; but when speaking about a specific military force, like the one they are in, it is ALWAYS the Army with a capital ‘A’ is it is now a pronoun – and it doesn’t matter which country’s military force is under discussion.

    You may also wish to tell her that the Chicago style manual is the style in Chicago, but that is NOT the style all over the world. I’ve noticed that different countries and regions have style variations, even within the USA. A writer from Maine has a different style to a Californian or a Texan writer.

    After reading this I’m not so sure I want to go from being a small time author in electronic format to a big time author in print, as I’m not sure I could handle such hassles.

  87. No idea who you are or what you write, and as an editor of 30 years I agree with most of what your rant covers, but a copyeditor who changes your “insure” to “ensure” when it’s necessary is doing you a favor.


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