The editing process has several phases. Once the manuscript has been accepted, there’s a close read for plot and its problems. The details have to be right. Right? In our case, we’re working from a Word file and ping-ponging it back and forth, wrangling the plot, smoothing this and that. In some ways, this is almost a negotiation as to how the story goes. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s a great and healthy process.
From there, the Word file goes into copy editing mode, words fixed, commas removed, inserted, spellings agreed upon, word choice debated, that sort of thing, and a very good final cut is made through that process.
Then, the book is “layed out” and the publisher produces what’s called a “dummy copy” or as I’ve been calling it a “flight copy.” I looked up the term “flight copy” and I can’t find a single reason as to why I’m using it, except that somewhere, someone probably feels “dummy” is somehow derogatory to someone somewhere and has thus recommended the replacement. Of course, I could be wrong. It could be that I drink too much and have misheard the term entirely.
Anyhow, in this phase, we go through the book again, looking for things that are wrong, but it’s changed slightly. Yes, grammar and spelling are still high on the list, but we’re looking for bad page breaks, widows and orphans, layout and typesetting problems. It’s a comprehensive review, end to end, top to bottom. It’s different, too, because instead of working with the electronic file, directly, we’re now working with hardcopy.
Now I asked a friend, Diana, to help me. She’s an excellent editor. She’s also a bibliophile and a bookbinder. Did I mention that she also knows Latin? She’s kind of god-like in this way. She went through the story, too. And she marked up anything she thought we might want to examine. The picture I’ve included here is the result of her work.
From here, it goes to Bitingduck’s copy editor who will do the same thing, I’d guess, and at the end of it all, we’re hoping for perfect copy. Ok. Nearly perfect. As Jay Nadeau, Bitingduck’s Editor-in-chief, says, “a good book is well edited.” And this, my friends, is getting to be one well-edited book.