You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

5/16/2020 6:46 pm  #11

Re: The Current State of the Publishing Industry

The other place I'm noticing it a lot is in the content published on news media websites.  I guess there it's all about speed of publication and getting eyeballs on screens as fast as possible.  Actually having competent sub-editors to get the grammar, spelling and word choice correct seems to have gone by the wayside completely.

It's a strange world.  Let's keep it that way.

5/17/2020 1:53 pm  #12

Re: The Current State of the Publishing Industry

Unless you pay for it yourself, I don't think you are wrong, Surtac.

“The criminal is a creative artist; detectives are just critics.”
― Hannu Rajaniemi, The Quantum Thief
Joined Sep 2, 2009

6/13/2020 10:38 am  #13

Re: The Current State of the Publishing Industry

There are a number of editing modes, a thing most novice authors only learn when they start looking for "an edit" and bump up against one experienced enough to ask "What kind?" It is true that trad-pubs are putting less energy into line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. They are also capable of shocking screwups.

Some years back, I saw that Allen Barra (a very capable sportswriter) had written a book on Wyatt Earp. I figured I'd like Barra's take, so I ordered a used copy. Before I was halfway through, it was obvious someone had blown it. There were sections repeated, disjoined sections, a hot mess. I knew how to get in touch with Barra and did so, mentioning that I was planning to write a review but this did not compute. He explained the nightmare to me: someone at the publisher had mistakenly put an early draft into production. One may imagine his mortification.

Hiring one's own 'lancer doesn't necessarily solve the problem for the indie author. There are no barriers to any starving English major with gargantuan student loans from small but prestigious Duford College to hang out her shingle as an editor. I see this daily because I participate on a couple of editors' groups. A majority of the questions are about orthography, which means they anointed themselves editors without either knowing the rules or knowing how to look them up.

Proofreading isn't much better. It might or might not surprise you to learn that many who list themselves as proofers on hiring sites are simply running grammar and spell check, accepting all the changes, and accepting payment as if they did actual work. One of my clients took my advice and hired a proofreader, but got one of these. She had a number of glowing reviews (which tells you people know no better). Now, my client has a profound medievalist vocabulary--one powerful enough that I have to look up plenty of esoteric terms he uses. One of these was "gong farmer," which used to refer to the people who shoveled out the latrines at night (fun job). His proofer just changed all instances to "young farmer," ignoring the context of reek. Not that farming can't mean encounters with reek, of course, but it was clear she did not apply any brainpower. I was so disgusted I re-proofread his book myself. No charge, because I don't take money to proofread material I have edited; just felt I needed to step up for him, and even my impaired best would be a lot better than "ok imma run gramma check and spellcheck congrats 2 me i proofed."

Given that reality, I'm not shocked that consistency errors leak through because those are hard to catch. A copy editor (what most people think of as "an editor") probably would not. A line edit would catch it, I think: tone, style, and consistency. To me, the greater problem is thousands and thousands of people who can't write, don't know it, won't hear anyone tell them so, and who keep blowing off actual, competent editors until they get the message they most desire to hear: "omg your writing is great I can edit it no problem wont take very long because its mostly right so their u go." Since what they wanted was approval rather than growth, that's where they go.


6/15/2020 3:35 am  #14

Re: The Current State of the Publishing Industry

Interesting perspective, KelJ.  I had forgotten that you were / are in the trade.

As a follow-up question if I may, whose job is it to catch that sort of consistency error and at what stage of the publishing process?

It's a strange world.  Let's keep it that way.
     Thread Starter

6/16/2020 10:09 am  #15

Re: The Current State of the Publishing Industry

Surtac wrote:

Interesting perspective, KelJ.  I had forgotten that you were / are in the trade.

As a follow-up question if I may, whose job is it to catch that sort of consistency error and at what stage of the publishing process?

Here the verb tense is important, because the present tense implies that someone's actually bothering these days. I don't see much evidence of that; if someone is bothering, they seem not to be bothering in a competent fashion. The most responsive answer I can give is a long one.

I was never employed as an editor by an actual publisher, so I must suppose how it was. I reckon that houses had staff editors perform line edits (tone, style, and consistency), perhaps even substantive edits (everything's on the table). That would come after final submission and before publication. If the ms was too much of a train wreck to be ready for that, naturally, it probably wouldn't have been accepted in the first place.

I did write for an actual publisher. I think my acquisitions editors did most of the screening, as in: if I had missed the point, or had a general style compliance fail, or done something else stupid, they'd review it and send it back for rewriting. I don't think the acq-eds did the line/copy editing, but someone did based on what I saw in print. Over that time I saw some junior editors move up to acquisitions, so I suspect they tag-teamed projects and wrangled us 'lancers.

Nowadays I think it depends on the author and publisher. Big house, endcap author? Since the market has shown that the release will make guaranteed money no matter how lousy it is (Laurell K. Hamilton, take a bow), and since endcap authors can be touchy cash cows, I don't think publishers mess with them at all. A smaller house might invest some more effort, but I don't see much reason to believe big houses do much in the way of editing. Not even sure they proofread much. In some cases, I am certain the author no longer even does the writing, but farms it out to 'lancers on a job basis, maybe a chapter each, with a style guide and story outline. Maybe the author performs some light editing. Why should the author care? The gravy train keeps rolling. If Harry Turtledove were subjected to competent developmental editing, he'd probably get mad and find a new switching yard for his gravy train.

For years readers have been asking themselves: "What am I missing? This is garbage. It's a garbage plot carried to term through garbage writing. Even the proofreading is garbage. Am I just missing some Great Subtlety, or does this suck?" The readers aren't imagining things. It sucks.

If you want to see the slush piles they (would have) rejected, you become a freelance editor. My clients are people who want to improve, generally intend to self-publish, and have decided I'm the one to help. I could make more money if I didn't ask them the first question, which is: is this a commercial or vanity project? Oh, absolutely, it's commercial, they nearly all insist. Great, what's your marketing plan? Crickets. The reason I ask the question is because if they don't have a marketing plan, it's not going to recoup the cost of my services, and I feel ethically bound to point that out. Not that I mind working on vanity projects; rather, I think it's reprehensible to lead someone to think they will make money when one knows they won't.


Board footera

Contact the Guild