I’ve been learning a lot from copy editor notes.
I’ve learned I really don’t have a handle on when to hyphenate or not hyphenate words made from two or more words. E.g. well-worn or well worn or wellworn. I’ll admit I go by the guess-and-by-golly-method, which means if I type it as one word and MS Word grammar checker says hyphenate, I do. If it says two words, I do that. If I hyphenate and it warns I shouldn’t, I follow the directions to delete the hyphen or make two words. Not an infallible method! Instead I should use the publisher’s dictionary of choice: Webster’s.
Then there’s the Oxford comma. Yep, I’m not so consistent with that. The copy editor also removed commas from phrases such as “oh, yes” to become “oh yes.” She added them in other places—I’m still learning the whys.
Copy edits included deletions of unnecessary “good-bye”s and the like. Duplicate words were changed appropriately. In other paragraphs, punctuation or word changes seem more style related and so I asked questions. The copy editor told me that most publishing houses use the Chicago Manual of Style, not AP. So now I know where to go to find answers.
Some copy edits are simply expert proofing. I am so grateful for the catches of missing words or wrong tense or missing or extra letters. It’s amazing how many there were!
A number of people seem to believe editors are not important. But so much would have been wrong in my book without these copy edits.
In the kidlit writing world, I’ve heard the phrase “join the conversation” over and over, so I’ve been very surprised to see in the adult Christian fiction and romantic suspense worlds that conversation isn’t happening much. Or at least not what I’ve seen so far in Facebook groups and twitter. More often people seem to be banging away about their own books. (The group for my publisher’s authors is an exception!)
I joined one Christian fiction group and followed the instructions to send a post about a lesson I’d learned. Two weeks later, I got an automated notice that my post was rejected because the moderator hadn’t approved it. So I’m guessing she didn’t ever read it. I’d also sent a question directly to the list moderator and got no answer in the same time period.
Conversation about writing, marketing, promoting, etc. is not only an educational process for those involved, but it’s a source of encouragement. Sometimes I’m the one answering a question; sometimes I’m the one asking a question. But the talking is so valuable. Plus, I’ve made friends because of these conversations.
I’m wondering if the conversation is happening elsewhere. And if so, where? Or if it sadly isn’t happening at all.
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.