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« Working at Philosophy, Part 2.5: How We Talk about Philosophy and Leaving It | Main | Ways to improve philosophical engagement? »

02/18/2016

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Marcus Arvan

Hi Axel: I'm really glad you wrote on this.

As someone who recently went through the copyediting stage of a book for the very first time, my experience was that it is far more complex and labor-intensive than I ever would have imagined.

First, as you note, the expected turnaround times are very short--in my case, 48 hours for a sample chapter, and one week for the entire book. This may not sound too bad, but in the middle of a semester? It can be really tough, requiring "all-nighters." Plus, as you note, you may have to go through 2 or 3 rounds of proofs, which can take several weeks of intensive work...again, in the middle of a semester.

Second, as you note, errors can creep in at the copyediting stage, and copyeditors can unilaterally change things throughout the entire manuscript, requiring one to change every instance of a change *back* to what it initially was. However, although I found this frustrating, I actually found it beneficial on the whole, as it required me to read the entire manuscript incredibly carefully over and over again, just to make sure everything was right. I might not have been so careful had the copyeditors not changed things!

Finally, sometimes the copyeditors caught a confusing sentence here or there that I had simply missed, and simply having to go through the entire manuscript again and again enabled me to make minor (but, in my view, important) changes, changing punctuation here or there to make it read more clearly, and, in a few cases, entire sentence revisions to correct a potentially embarrassing matter of philosophical substance.

I should also add that I think it is important to be gracious to copyeditors, even if they make mistakes. Editing a long manuscript correctly is very difficult, especially for people who aren't specialists.

Steve

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29567.The_History_of_the_Siege_of_Lisbon

Pendaran Roberts

Being an early career researcher I am still learning how to copy edit well. My last paper I did three rounds of proofs and had 4 others read it. But there was still an error or two, maybe more I don't know about. It's tough and stressful. The copyeditors also insert additional errors that you need to catch in addition. I think aiming for perfect is too time consuming and tiring and not worth it. You just don't want many errors. That's my goal from now on. So basically, yes you should proofread carefully. But don't stress out over it. It's the content that really matters.

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