Billable Hours

I am a single-minded editing freak. I can’t help myself. It’s an obsession. Also, it makes me happy.

So when I get emails from readers pointing out typos in my books, I take it personally. The fact that that typo got in there is my fault, one way or another. A friendly reader recently emailed highlighting a typo in THE SECRET POWER OF MIDDLE CHILDREN, and asked if there were other mistakes she should know about before she continued reading her expensive hardcover copy.

Um. Yes. There are. Additional typos. Sorry.

It’s pretty amazing that those suckers find their way in there given how many beady eyes peruse each manuscript:

  1. the writer
  2. the agent
  3. often, but not always, a freelance editor
  4. the purchasing editor
  5. the line editor and/or copy editor
  6. the writer, at least twice again
  7. proofreader(s)

I read each manuscript about ten times. I will catch an extra space, a repetitious word, the wrong bullet, that stray semi-colon. But, damn those tenacious suckers! Entire words in the wrong place. A date mixed up. Spelling mistakes are rare, but other errors slip through anyway.

When I am editing a client’s work, I mull over word choice for hours on end. Long after I’ve been paid, I still put in hour after hour, worrying about getting the bio just right, or polishing the flap copy, or tweaking the press release. I’m done; it’s not my book; my hours are up. Often I’ve already been paid. But this work is still a refection on me. I really want to get it right.

I can’t help it. I’m freaky that way.

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