When we do outreach, one of the things we hear over and over about many independent books is how they are distinguished by SLOPPILY EDITED COPY. It’s more than a bit player in the rogues gallery cast that helps keep the indie press (and especially self-publishing) so stigmatized.
Keep in mind: The Unabomber Manifesto was pretty clean copy when it hit the newspaper, and that was written by a maniac. Definitely cleaner than more than a few self-published works I’ve seen. Your work’s important. If you want its message to get through to your audience, it’s time to befriend a copy editor.
We at Codorus figured out pretty quickly that we didn’t want to go at this all alone. We have people who are great at design, marketing, character and plot development, and yes, copy editing. And we’re all friends.
Just to illustrate how important it is, “Don’t Be Cruel” by Mike Argento went through three copy editors, one of whom was his very talented wife, Cine, who also shot his author pic. Again, FRIEND. Your copy editor might be living in your house.
In the everyone-needs-an-editor department, each one caught things the others didn’t. Mostly small. Like Kaczynski, Argento wrote clean ;). But, Devil’s in the details (if not Dover). So’s the sheen of quality.
Find a friend who is a great copy editor, get their help, and you’ll be beak and wing above the flock of indie and self-publishers. The folks who are members of the American Copy Editors Society are some of the best on the planet. If you don’t have a friend, check with them. Or put an ad on MediaBistro. At the very least, run your spellcheck.
Remember, the Unabomber is setting the bar high. Don’t look crazier than him.
In fitting tribute, and as a little taste of “Don’t Be Cruel,” set for December release, here are copy editor extraordinaire Ted Palik’s edits on “DBC.” It’s the funniest set of copy edits in Codorus history. Hope you enjoy … wl
- 1: Spunkmeyer lit ’em up (apostrophe facing wrong way) Jell-O is a trademark.
- 7: hard-ons.’ ” (need space between single closing quote and double quotes)
- 11: stepbrother
- 13: need a “the” — day of the week it was pingpong-ball gods
- 14: re-creating (hyphen needed)
- 16: should be … when he went to investigate, sted we Road Runner — 2 words in this context
- 17: able to ace constitutional law (word missing)
- 21: With an I (word missing)
- 26: able to squeeze (word missing) Nicolas Cage (no h)
- 27: cash flow? (need question mark?)
- 28: 401(k)
- 32: hard-ons.’ ” (need space between single and double quotes)
- 34: ” … sorts of shit … ” (word missing) trees, not tress
- 36: underwhelmed (one word) The King, be consistent ’70s-era kitchen (apost. facing wrong way)
- 37: “a lot of money” (word missing)
- 42: “Hi,’ ” (need space between single and double quotes)
- 43: dancers’ dressing room, not dancer’s dressing room
- 46: fathers (no apost. needed) a thing (word missing)
- 47: in passage about Ted Bundy — he didn’t seem like a serial killer — otherwise it doesn’t make sense Cortez’s conquest
- 50: into the past.’ ” (space needed)
- 57: back into the hallway (need word into)
- 60: fridge, (no apost. needed)
- 61: … scene, the river (space needed between comma and the)
- 63: The King; be consistent
- 64: needed to find a place (word missing)
- 72: getaway is one word
- 81: Polamalu, not PolamanuFuck if I know,’ ” (space needed between single and boujle quotes)
- 83: and inserted it into the hole (missing word)
- 92: brung ’em (apst. facing wrong way) brung ’em here (apost. facing worong way)
- 96: lie low ’80s (apst. facing wrong way)
- 97: plugged ’em up (apost. facing wrong way) up to the Hatfield brothers (word missing) say good,’ ” (need space)
- 98: self-defense (need hyphen)” … Return to Sender.’ ” (need space between single and double quotes)
- 100: Big Butts.’ ” (need space between singhle and double quotes)
- 103: dash should be unbroken in sentence about The Shaggs.
- 105: fix paragraph “Eddie picked up on it”
- 106: lose extra towards fucking arm.’ ” (need space between quotes)
- 115: sandwiches. . (why extra period?)
- 116: stepson is one word was a little nervous (word missing)
- 117: I’ll get ’em.” (apost. facing wrong way)
- 118: lose single quotes around Life
- 124: makeup is one word
- 125 : King.’ ” space needed)
- 127: “bust my balls.’ ” space needed between quote marks) Jell-O. altar
- 130: close extra space before the word syphilis
- 134: I’ll be back … (word missing)
- 135: U.S. attorney, use lower case when referring to a single U.S. attorney
- 136: “Don’t be cruel.’ ” (space needed)
- 137: Polamalu (spelled wrong)
- 145: fix paragraphing
- 147: buzzkill is one word
- 148: straightforward is one word
- 149: worst-case scenario (hyphen needed)
- 153: TomTom
- 155: Beretta
- 156: close quotes: “like a gunshot.”TomTom
- 158: lose redundant Elvis and
- 159: his eyes had sunkBeretta
- 157: FedEx is one word
- 181: fix paragraphing
- 188: too many Afters Herodotus?? I thought it was Hesiod? (p. 35)
- 188: Akbar el Hussein, not al Hussein (it was el earlier, on page 88) multimillion