I recently downloaded ‘Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies.’ (Yes, I am that desperate.) And while most of the book is geared towards people who are looking for a career as a copyeditor, (SO not my case at the moment) there are already two major findings that have stuck out in my mind.
First, apparently every publishing house has their own style guide—a guide to the house’s policies on grammar, punctuation and the rules of writing. I did NOT know this! How could I not know this? Looking up punctuation usage (hyphens anyone?) or spelling/grammar/capitalization rules on the internet can sometimes deliver confusing results. It would be nice to have ONE tried-and-true rule book I could go by. It looks like Random House has published one so I’m going to check into it.
Secondly- the author of CAPFD goes into the publishing process in great detail- naming all the possible people who could be working on your book before a contract is even proposed.
Here's the breakdown: An agent sends the manuscript to the acquisitions editor. If the acquisitions editor likes it, they might work with the author to prepare the book for acceptance by the publishing house. (aka revisions)
Then the manuscript goes to an internal editorial committee or board. The acquisitions editor makes a case for the book. If the board agrees, the book might be pushed on to a second internal/external group who dissect the work and decide if it’s ideal for their house list.
If they give the book the thumbs up, the acquisitions editor brings it back to the author who revises it according to the board’s wishes in order to prepare a final proposal.
They finally offer a contract.
The editor and author begin further revisions.
The book goes from the acquisitions editor to a managing editor who chooses a production editor—who begins the process of creating a print-ready book.
The production editor gives it to a copyeditor and a designer.
When the copyeditor is done it goes back to the acquisitions editor and author for further revisions.
Conclusion— If I’m expecting to ever make it as a published author, learning to look at my work subjectively and make real (as opposed to tweaking, rereading, adjusting, pruning, adding a little of this here- a little of that there) in depth, intelligent revisions that follow and effectively incorporate professional feedback is a must. Nobody is going to do it for me–no matter what step of the game I’m at. And it’s definitely, in my case, a skill that is being learned and honed over time.
I can’t imagine how hard it must be for authors that finally make it to that stage in the game and are confronted with having to change, re-write and resubmit their manuscript upteen times before the house makes it to a final product. Preeessuuure.
Of course, we’d all love to be there:)