Fiona Avery made me cry

In a very good way.

I’ve been very lucky in having a lot of authors express their thanks to me for my work on their books, but Fiona’s is particularly wonderful for suggesting that copyeditors and other “invisibles” in the process deserve recognition for their contributions. For those who don’t click links, here’s some of what she said:

I also wanted to say, in all seriousness, that copy-editors like Deanna are rare and appreciated by their authors. I strongly feel there should be some professional recognition of copy-editing and other technical work offered at awards like the Hugos and Nebulas, and at World Fantasy Convention where professionals gather annually to discuss the year’s business. There is no reason under the sky why a copy-editor should not be singled out for meticulous attention to detail, and going above and beyond the call of duty. And there are other technical staff who also deserve recognition, but at the moment I especially want to point out that a good copy-editor deserves notice.

Deanna would be someone I’d vote for every year for her work on manuscripts. Now, let me explain the extent to which she cares about the work in front of her. Without Deanna, my novel would have contained more historical mistakes, because not only did she review my spelling and punctuation, but she looked up every calendar date, recorded battle, all castle specs, every city, each plausible distance in kilometers, and every important person throughout several encyclopedias. We were in constant contact, and as I had lost my novel notes from five years prior, she made the work shine with her attention to detail — where I simply could not. It was Deanna’s work with my novel that rebuilt my missing notes file from five years before. This is not an exception to the rule; this is how Deanna works. On everything.

I appreciate this enormously, because I’ve honestly always tried to do my very best on every project I take, and it becomes difficult after so many years in the same job to stay motivated sometimes. Thank-yous from authors are always wonderful, but recognition from the industry as a whole–this industry I’ve been involved in so deeply for the last decade and a half–would be…well, it makes me tear up to think about it. It would mean more to me than I could say.

So that was a wonderful way to start off the day.

Be sure to check out Fiona’s wonderful historical novel The Crown Rose. It’s gotten wonderful reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

6 thoughts on “Fiona Avery made me cry”

  1. Well, I’m all for recognition for our kind. However, I feel our work is by its nature somewhat invisible. It’s kind of up to the author what to do about it. And many authors don’t even know who we are, which protects us when they get hostile (rare in both our cases, I’m sure, but we know it does happen that authors get angry at or even seriously abusive toward their copy editors).

    We’re supposed to make the book look good. What the reader can’t know is how the book started out. Was it really together, and we just corrected a few misspellings and put in a few commas? Or did we make major changes, and write page after page of complex queries? Only we, the author, and the publishing staff know. And that is how it should be.

    I recently copy edited a book that was a mess. I didn’t think it was very good. But I did my job and whipped it into shape. I caught several important permissions issues. The author apparently loved what I did and wants to put me in the acknowledgments. I’m fine with that. But does she want the world to know what a mess her MS. was before I covered it with chicken scratchings? I don’t think so.

  2. I’m going to vote her in for that award, Paul, right now! You’re a doll and thanks for picking up on this where I left off. I’m going to blog about your blog on this award, today!

  3. Robert: But it would be nice to have an award that’s largely decided on by pros, and that’s what the World Fantasy Award is.

    As your story shows, if you’re good enough, people do know your name, because they ask for it so that they can request you for their subsequent books or put you in the acknowledgments.

  4. Well I do not know anything about copy editing and happen to be a terrible speller anyways, but YAY for you! Job well done and the satisfaction that someone really appreciates the work you do, what more can you ask for?

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