What I Learned From Copyediting

So I just finished reviewing my copyedits from Orbit.  They were great.  Whoever did the copyedits was super thorough, which I really, really appreciate.  I did learn a few things for next time, however.  And I will share them with you, mostly because if I write them anywhere else, I will lose them.  I lose everything for I am a bit batty.

Anyway, here is what I learned from copyediting:

1) I am 30, and in my day (which in MLA years makes me about 400), one was supposed to put two spaces after a period (or full stop for my British readers).  Now it’s only one.  I should have known that.

2) I’m still not certain what to do with ellipses but they seem to involve four, suddenly, and to be tightly spaced.  I’ll have to watch and see what they do with them in the final copy.

3) In future, I need to make a firm decision about what to capitalize and what not to capitalize and be more careful about consistency.  I had capitalized all of my supernatural names, which was dumb, so I made some lower case but not all and . . . disaster ensued.  

4) Never, ever, quote song lyrics.  This was my big gaff.  In academia, we have a very generous fair use policy.  You can quote pretty much anything, at great length, as long as you attribute it properly.  But apparently the music industry sues the pants off anyone who even breathes in a way that might sound at all like an actual lyric.  So I was busy rewriting those scenes, and will never quote lyrics again.  

5) I have also learned I have to learn the Chicago Style Guide.  Dagnabbit.

This is what I learned reviewing my copyedits.  Thanks!

15 thoughts on “What I Learned From Copyediting”

  1. Great points, Nicole! I didn't know that about song lyrics either, and am in the middle of a scene where I use them. Can you still use them if you get permission from the artist?

  2. I've only ever done one space between sentences. Hate it when people do two; it's so wasteful!

    But I'm a strange sort, so don't listen to me 😉

  3. Nancy: I think it's more complicated than that, because the lyrics are normally owned by the actual record company? That said, I have NO IDEA what the actual legal stuff is. All I know is that it was treated like a no-go issue by BOTH my agent and Orbit. And I also know that the author is the one who get sued, not the publisher. So i think it's basically a just don't do it scenario, unless it's only a single lyric or two.

    Tez: I'm old! And old-fashioned! I was taught two! I'm doing it even now!

  4. I have, for the entirety of my typing life, put two spaces after a period. See? Just did it. Three times now.

  5. Okay. That was way funnier in the comment box where it looked like two spaces, as opposed to your blog format where it… is no longer funny.

  6. 1) The new edition of the MLA Style Manual has gotten rid of the two spaces after periods/full-stops. The "old" way is called English spacing, while the new is called French spacing. Damn French. I think a lot of motivation behind the change must be the internet: HTML doesn't recognize more than one space no matter how many you write in a row. Purists who prefer English spacing couldn't insert , but instead resorted to nbsp; — which is just plain ugly.

    2) Ellipses are weird. I think four means that it's also at the end of a sentence. The tight spacing is not for you to worry about (I imagine) as it'll be changed by the typesetter (I imagine).

    5) At least the Chicago Style Manual is a beautiful orange colour. 🙂

  7. Haha, another funny thing about HTML is that you can't use angle brackets. Whoops, I forgot that. Here's my final sentence from point (1) above:

    Purists who prefer English spacing couldn’t insert "[space][space]", but instead resorted to "[space][ampersand]nbsp;" — which is just plain ugly.

  8. hey – licensing music is, well, my job. if you really want to use something, maybe i can give you a hand trying to get it cleared!

  9. JC: Can I call it "freedom spacing"?

    Erik: Thanks for the offer, but I just took it all out to be safe. Me no likey getting sued. Plus I totally want to make out with the artist in question, so that would totally scupper my plans if he sued me. Suing is not appropriate foreplay. And he and I have a date with destiny. Oh yes. A date with destiny.

    And did everyone enjoy my use of the freedom spacing? Thanks.

  10. Oh the single space thing drives me CRAZY. I was taught years and years ago when I learned to type that you put two spaces. It is inherent and automatic and I find it much easier to read with two spaces. Whenever I turn in a manuscript, I'll just have to do a search and replace to make it single.

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