Friday, May 1, 2009

Copyeditor Blues...

Oi... I've been doing battle with a copyeditor over the past few days. Maybe I'll find the strength to post a few of the... um... corrections she has tried to introduce into my text, but I wouldn't count on it if I were you.

One thing that has my ire up, though, is a disagreement with her about the scope of the second conjunct in the instruction to "confine [my] corrections to typesetter's errors and serious errors of fact." Serious errors of fact? Is there an error of fact that's not serious?

11 comments:

729 said...

It sounds like your copyeditor may be one of the people who don't realize Steven Colbert is ironic! (I'm taking frivolous errors of fact to go with "truthiness.")

PA said...

I once had a copy editor replace

"remove one's hand from a source of tissue damage"

with

"amputate one's hand".

Platowe said...

Error of fact: there are probably quite a few assholes who think they can edit.

Serious error of fact: there are a few assholes who think they can edit.

Fact: there are quite many assholes who think they can edit.

Superfact: all assholes who think they can edit are employable.

The Brooks Blog said...

This is terrible news. On the one hand, copy-editing (correctly) is so important. On the other hand, the risk is always that it will be done badly and -- instead of improving your work -- it gets worse than it was to begin with. I do hope you can sort this one out!

English Jerk said...

An acquaintance of mine recently published a poem in a magazine, and weirdly they insisted on fact-checking it. The fact-checker then managed to introduce an error into the poem about something quite straightforward (the number of rivers in a country), and it went to press that way. The fact-checker's source? Wikipedia.

But I suppose I should be pleased that some magazines at least take the trouble to try to check their facts. Most newspapers don't bother any more, having entirely given up the pretence that they're anything but the public relations arm of the war machine.

729 said...

Hey English Jerk--good to see you back!

Your account of a poem being fact-checked, and fact-checked through Wikipedia, seems somehow like a Borges story.

English Jerk said...

729:

You're quite right. It really ought to have been a Borges story, though (1) the rivers in question would then need to have passed through a fictional country with an unpronounceable name and (2) I would then have felt obliged to re-write the story word-by-word from scratch, perfectly reproducing the first fine passion of his (imaginary?) admiration for Dilthey. So I'm lucky that in truth it's just a brute datum of editorial clodishness

Glaucon said...

There was a nice piece in a recent New Yorker by John McPhee about fact-checking.

But poetry? Doesn't there need to be a word-to-world direction of fit for fact-checking to make sense? Perhaps I should hire someone to fact-check my dreams...

729 said...

English Jerk:

A "brute datum of editorial clodishness"...that's just beautiful!

(Not the datum itself--just the phrase!)

English Jerk said...

Thanks, 729!

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