Sunday, December 28, 2008

Acquisitions vs. Editorial: An irresistible force meets an immovable object

Within a publishing company, Acquisitions brings the work in, and Editorial makes it worthy of publication. Many acquired works trigger the inherent conflict between the two operations that always lurks in the shadows.

Acquisitions is all about signing an author and locking up his work—on occasion regardless of whether his submitted manuscript adheres to the submission requirements or the terms of the contract. When the company accepts an inferior manuscript, it ends up paying a premium for the work, in terms of the extra—often substantial—Editorial costs.

I am currently working on such a manuscript. The author is a lawyer and has structured almost 700 endnotes according to The Uniform System of Citation (also known as “The Blue Book”), the style guide for legal writers. He did not, as agreed, write the notes according to The Chicago Manual of Style.

As a result, I have to, for example, make the following types of changes throughout: Blue Book: Alfred E. Newman, Snap, Crackle, and Pop, 32 U. Pa. L. Rev. 107 (1994); Chicago: Alfred E. Newman, “Snap, Crackle, and Pop,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review (1994) 32:107. That, to an order of magnitude.

The immovable object often gets dislodged.