This week, I started on the first major post-submission production task for the History of the Renaissance World: going through the copy edits.

That’s the copy-edited manuscript. All form edits (em-dashes instead of en-dashes, typesetting indications, footnote formatting, etc.) are entered onto the paper copy in red pencil. So are spelling corrections, notes about consistency, and queries about anything that seems unclear or contradictory. The queries are all written on blue post-it notes and attached to the page where the query occurs. You can see them, if you look carefully.

I have to review each mark, approve each change, and answer each query. In pencil. On 900 pages of manuscript.

To make this more complicated, I have two other copies of the manuscript to review at the same time. One of them contains my editor’s suggestions and comments. Usually, I get those earlier on and work through the book one more time before it goes to into copyediting. But apparently this didn’t fit into the book production schedule, this time around. So I’m simultaneously incorporating in changes that he asked for, plus any corrections that I got back from my outside fact-checker. Here’s what my desk looks like: from right to left, copy-edited manuscript, editorial copy of manuscript, fact-checker copy of manuscript, and time lines, which have to be compared to the final edited text for consistency.

And then there are the notes and the works cited. No room on the table for those…

I have two weeks to finish this. I am skeptical.

Also, I don’t enjoy it. If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can watch me live-tweet my exasperation. (Or wait til Sunday, when the week’s copyediting tweets will appear as a blog post.)

Showing 3 comments
  • Matt Colflesh

    Good heavens!

  • Kelly

    Poor Susan..And when I handed my son his paper back today with red marks all over for him to edit, he asked, “Do I still get full credit for this?” I’ll tell him / show him your situation. He will feel better, I’m sure.

  • J.

    I apologize if my question is stupid, but wouldn’t the task be much easier the 21st century way, i.e. if your editors submitted any queries and corrections via Track Changes in MS Word?
    I feel your pain – I sometimes have to process corrections made to my translations, albeit on a much smaller scale. Not exactly enjoyable if the editor is a jerk.
    Who has the final say? If you don’t like a suggestion, can you simply shoot it down?

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