On Being A Copy-Editor, and A Publisher’s Worth

A couple of weeks ago I was sent out by the Hot Key team to make myself useful and learn the art of copy-editing with The Publishing Training Centre.

Although I was sad to be absent from the Hot Key office, the brilliantly named Book House (home of The Publishing Training Centre) is far from a bad place to spend three days. As you can see below, the building is beautiful, and it even has a Huguenot cemetery in the back garden!

The Publishing Training Centre runs various courses designed to make one a better publisher. I did Copy-Editing Skills with the marvellous Caroline Knight, and I thought it was great – everything moved at exactly the right pace, we covered a huge amount of stuff and I left feeling about a hundred times more confident about my grammar and editing skills – this is (I feel) especially impressive as during the first exercise I couldn’t even identify which was the typeset proof and which was the copy-edited manuscript.

HOWEVER I now can, and I can also draw you a very smart series of copy-editing symbols, if you’d like… I think the course also does a really great job of teaching you the value of copy-editing. A lot seems to be being written at the moment about whether publishers are useful to authors anymore (um, it’s a rather resounding YES from us!), and even the most negative of naysayers at least seem to concede that editors are kind of useful for proof-reading. Oh, and also sometimes checking content for repetition.

Well yes, I suppose that is quite a large part of what copy-editing is, and although I agree that it’s a really important part of publishing surely it’s not the only thing publishers are good for? Some commenters on these articles seem to suggest that publishing a book is just one mighty power struggle, and that self-publishing on the internet will finally wrest some of that power back from our evil publisher’s claws.

I do feel genuinely sorry for anyone who feels that they have been in a powerless relationship with a publisher, because that’s not how it’s supposed to work! Publishers are there to enable an author’s potential, not exploit and ignore them.  We have lots of first-time authors who (I would hope!) can verify that we at Hot Key are nothing but encouraging, lovely, cake-eating people who want their books to be as successful as they do.

But maybe that’s just me, and I suppose I am rather biased… Thoughts on a postcard please, or alternatively comment below.

*DISCLAIMER* any mistakes made in this blog post about copy-editing are of course COMPLETELY intentional and designed to test you.

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2 responses to “On Being A Copy-Editor, and A Publisher’s Worth

  1. You had me at cake 🙂

  2. I’s needz the coppz editer badly.

    Or, more seriously, most industries move away from one person doing everything to having specialisation. Being an author that does everything just seems to be a backward step, a return to cottage industry.

    If I could do everything better than a publisher I’d just assume they are bunch of monkeys and find a better one.

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