Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Manuscript Doctor

Editing another writer’s work might not seem to be a lot of fun – but it can be. It all depends on the quality of the original material, of course.

For the past few weeks I have been working on a couple of manuscripts that have both given me a lot of pleasure, largely because their authors have given me pretty much a free hand to dress them up for submission.

This is a very different matter from merely correcting spelling and grammatical errors which is often considered, wrongly in my view, to be the sole function of an editor.

Frequently one sees advertisements from “editors” quoting a per page figure for their efforts. Certainly I give an average number for the work on my website but this can bear no real relationship to the final figure, for which I will quote after viewing the manuscript. Makes more sense to me.

If you’ve taken the trouble to make your work as pluperfect as possible, it seems a useless exercise to pay someone for the pleasure of just looking at your pages – and then charging you for it. And, since you ask, do they really “edit” or only perform a mechanical academic exercise, i before e except after c and no split infinitives (although there are times when splitting the infinitive, unlike splitting the atom, is desirable)?

So I prefer to regard myself as a silent collaborator more than an editor, one who works alongside the real author to, perhaps, add a few touches to an otherwise generally satisfactory manuscript. Finally, and an important point, to format the material for presentation to an agent or publisher.

And I enjoy doing it.


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1:16 pm  

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