Saturday, December 20, 2008

Track Changes I

“The author doesn’t even want a hyphen touched.” “She’s published many books with us and doesn’t like her writing changed at all.” “Don’t make changes. Query everything.”

These and similar comments from acquisition editors often are included in the Manuscript Transmittal Form—the “marching orders” for the manuscript editor. They are not not to be taken literally; sprinkle the MTF with a grain of salt. Yes, editors must occasionally "switch gears" to accommodate (within reason) certain authors, while at the same time ensuring that the house editorial style is maintained, particularly in terms of formatting. Not all edits, however, are created equal. Take a look at this page:

Despite what the MTF might say, authors do not need to see format changes splattered all the way down the right side of every page, as above. It’s time consuming and distracting, perhaps resulting in the author missing important items tracked (such as author queries), requested approval for what the author might consider a substantive change, or a suggested rewrite/change.

In short, pages like the one above draw attention away from what's important and could give the author the impression that the editor has ignored the level of effort dictated by the MTF. They can, quite literally, have the author seeing red!