Amy Hill Hearth's Blog: One Author's Life - Posts Tagged "book-publishing"
My desk is cleared so I can concentrate. My pencil is sharpened. The instructions are positioned so I can refer to them. I am about to read a copyeditor's notes about my novel. The copyeditor's job is to make sure that my book conforms to "style rules." My publisher uses the classic Chicago style rules. If you started out in the newspaper business, as I did, the Chicago rules make you want to pull out your own hair. They are quite different from the A.P. (Associated Press) style rules which newspaper reporters live by.(Example: In a newspaper story, a man is said to be 40 years old but in a book, he is forty.) There are electronic programs for this type of editing, of course, but my publisher still sends the manuscript back to the author with marks in green pencil made by an actual human being. Some day, no doubt, I will no longer need my red pencil - the color used by the author to make corresponding scribbles and notes. But for now, I think it's grand.
Publishing is a business in which everything has to be explained to you, or so it seems. Even if you go to workshops or get an MFA, and have the best training in the world, you're going to make mistakes. Last month, for example, I went to a book signing for a debut novelist and realized she was signing her books in the wrong place - on the inside cover, the way kids do in high school. This was the second time lately that I've seen a new author do this. It was one of those "your slip is showing moments." You hate to be the one to tell the person, but you know that if it were you, you'd want to know. Therefore, I had to say something. When it was my turn to have her sign a book I said, "Wait," in what I hoped was a half-whisper. "Don't sign it there. You should really sign it here." She handed the book to me, puzzled, and I turned it to the title page. "Sign here under your name," I said, hoping the people behind me didn't overhear. She took my advice and thanked me quietly, with a wide-eyed, "Oh my God, I'm so glad you told me," kind of look. I wondered why she hadn't noticed that other authors nearly always sign on the title page, and I was puzzled that the staff at the book store didn't say anything to her. But that's the way it is in book publishing - someone has to tell you everything, and not everyone will.