You Need an Editor!

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Oddly, I was looking over some notes I made about some of the books that I read last year - and the notes were pretty much limited to plots and characterizations - and I found that for Hijuelos' The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love I'd written "worst copy-editing ever!" which is undoubtedly an exaggeration, but I do now remember being annoyed and distracted from the text by the editing problems.

Does a book being lousily edited (especially in the copy-editing) detract from the strength of the story that is being told? Do you find yourself holding it against the author or the publishing house?

(Last year I copy-edited a novel for a friend of mine - it was about to be published by a vanity house and my friend said that they didn't do much in the way of copy-editing. Even with [what I thought was] attention to detail, there were problems with the final print [even after working with the proofs and all] - I have a lot more respect for copy-editors these days.)

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Monday, 2 February 2004 22:06 (sixteen years ago) link

I got extremely frustrated with a Heinlein book for its shoddy copyediting. Within a three page span, they managed to spell "tattoo" three different ways. There were periods in the middle of words. Commas at the ends of sentences. Quotation marks where they shouldn't be and not where they should. If I hadn't been forced to read the book, I definitely would have given up on it for that. (Probably should have anyway; what a waste of time that book was.)

Jessa (Jessa), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 16:48 (sixteen years ago) link

Which Heinlein was it, Jessa? (I quite like some of his works and detest others.)

Actually, this entire thread has had me thinking about one of Sedaris' stories, about when he and his siblings were young and they found a dirty paperback - Sedaris recreated some of the more interesting passages, including discussions about female "nopples" - delightful.

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Wednesday, 4 February 2004 06:53 (sixteen years ago) link

The worst copy-edited book i have ever read was Paul Morley's "Words and Music".

jed_ (jed), Wednesday, 4 February 2004 17:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Degas Must Have Loved a Dancer by Krista Madsen. Beautiful idea, weak execution. And the whole idea of using 2 instead of two/to/to-/too was incredibly lame. What, do you think you're Prince? Jesus.

Catty (Catty), Monday, 9 February 2004 12:30 (sixteen years ago) link

(The Heinlein book was "Stranger in a Strange Land," which I thought started out strong, but fell apart by the end.)

Jessa (Jessa), Monday, 9 February 2004 19:04 (sixteen years ago) link

Houellebecq's Platform (the h/c version) had the most typos of any book I can recall. I don't have it to hand to see if it was the same translator of Atomised, but I don't recall that book having as many.

David Joyner (David Joyner), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 22:23 (sixteen years ago) link

Jessa - I'm inclined to agree with you on Heinlein's Stranger, but I can see why it was so shocking when it was released. I like a lot of his working with different social constructs for relationships stuff, though it seems that he frequently got so caught-up in the ideas of the social constructs that he forgot about plot, character development, and so forth. But my favorites of his have to be those "young adult" classics, like Red Plantet and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel - they were my introduction to SciFi.

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Thursday, 19 February 2004 07:02 (sixteen years ago) link

'Hannibal' is the worst book I've ever had to read, more boring than a long flight in fact, but Harris's description of the Palazzo Vecchio as 'intensely medieval in appearance' is worthy of Garth Marenghi.

Snotty Moore, Wednesday, 25 February 2004 03:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Worst copy-edited book I've come across yet is Lowry's _Under the Volcano_, though I've got several that run a close second to it. I've put the editing details here ... it's just a sad thing to do to such a well-written story.

Pat Sheehan (Pat Sheehan), Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:31 (sixteen years ago) link

sixteen years pass...

I just came across this online:

In the fall of 1815, the Fifth Principal Meridian’s baseline was established by the late Joseph C. Brown.

pplains, Wednesday, 11 March 2020 18:16 (two months ago) link

Because, damn, I was wondering how Joe Brown was doing these days.

pplains, Wednesday, 11 March 2020 18:17 (two months ago) link

Breaking: The Roman Empire was established under the late Augustus Caesar.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 11 March 2020 18:19 (two months ago) link

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