Friday, March 23, 2007

ZEPHYR Copyedits Redux

Edits are due on Monday, which means a Sunday-night latest deadline.

Looming, of course, the way deadlines do.

The way the whole editing process works goes something like this -- once the book is accepted and all the contract details ironed out, the editor takes a look to see that the thing generally makes sense. During this substantive phase, he or she (in my case, he) is looking at the forest, not the trees. (Though the truth is, he will likely make a few tree-ish observations, scraping a little moss here and trimming a few branches there, just because he is fond of horticulture. He is _born_ to horticulture. His blood runs sap. One must just accept these things as given and move on.)

The work is then sent back to the author who takes a deep breath, surveys the forest and either pronounces it good or runs away and throws self into nearest lake. Either way, for a book to emerge at the end, the author must ultimately send the manuscript back to the editor with changes made or, at the very least, discussions entered into.

The next step is the one this particular book and I are in at present, both of us having survived the substantive edit remarkably intact. The copy editor (generally, though not always, a different soul from the substantive editor ) examines the trees right down to the leaf (and in some cases, to the cellular level) to ensure not only that every i is dotted and t crossed, but that the formatting is consistent and correct throughout. This latter is because the next step sees the budding book move into the design phase and the designers like to have all the pesky formatting issues clearly established by the copy editors well before-hand.

This particular book has been quite a challenge for any number of reasons. The story does not develop in a linear fashion, and yet must still make sense as it unfolds. The format of the book is unconventional, certainly compared to my earlier books. The biggest design challenge we've had, in terms of text, anyway, in the earlier work was to include, in SECRET OF LIGHT, a copy of Leonardo's classic mirror-writing signature. MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK, by contrast, is filled with memos, post-it notes, journal entries, correspondence written on various styles of letterhead, report cards, missing person's reports and so on.

More on this and other Zephyr-related vagaries soon. I have edits to finish...


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