Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category


Heavy Petting

April 2, 2015

It’s true, copy editors are not all just a bunch of stuffy would-be writers taking out the frustrations of failed ambitions on those who would surpass them. Perhaps even more surprising is the note from Emmy Favilla explaining that hanging out with a roomful of paid professional pedants is actually “really, really fun, in case you were wondering”.

When the American Copy Editors Society gathered in Pittsburgh last month for its three-day annual conference, Ms. Favilla and her BuzzFeed colleagues decided to ask the obvious question haunting news websites and high school yearbooks across the nation: “What’s your grammar or word pet peeve?”

I had not known “impact” was so problematic, then again I sympathize. While I had, in fact, noticed far too much impacting going on in the bowels of American political rhetoric, it had not occurred to me that “impact as a verb” was giving editors such pains. Using “transition” as a verb is what brings the urge to set fire to a manuscript, newspaper, or even the unfortunate web browser whose job includes reminding me how many paid professional writers can’t actually write.

Meanwhile, some ACES conference members seem to think it is time to, “Accept the singular they!” There is a subtext to the debate about split infinitives, and is it finally time to do away with whom? With whom, is it time to do away? Never mind.

Picking a favorite, of course, is another yearbookish exercise, and in truth I am torn. She who notes the problem with “would of”? Or the point about “try and”? And there is always a question of efficiency; do we need the “reasons why”, or are the “reasons” sufficient to explain why?

PITTSBURGH, PA, March, 2015: At the annual conference for the American Copy Editors Society, an attendee holds a sign explaining her pet peeve: "Using en, em dashes, and hyphens interchangeably".  (Photo: Emmy Favilla/BuzzFeed)In the end, though, there can be only one, or something silly like that. And in this case that would go to one of the most obscure but functionally explicable declines in contemporary writing: “Using en, em dashes and hyphens interchageably”.

There is a reason for this outcome. Just like there is a reason why the four-dot ellipsis is disappearing, just as with style sheets now advising a single space after a full stop. These are not evolutions of the language brought about by need and function; rather, they are marketplace limitations.

The reason we are to omit the second blank space after a full stop? Software.

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eBook Perils?

March 12, 2013

It is not exactly the sort of thing that makes a lot of friends, but it’s worth taking a moment to remind that not all contracts are great and wonderful harbingers of a writer’s salvation. Or, as John Scalzi puts it: “Dear writers: This is a horrendously bad deal and if you are ever offered something like it, you should run away as fast as your legs or other conveyances will carry you.”


And, of course, there is always something of an update.

Rule #1: Don’t panic.

Rule #2: It’s Scalzi, so, you know … whatever.

Rule #3: There is no rule three.

And, in truth, I’m wondering how electronic books are going to work with Google glasses. Makes the morning commute that much more scary, eh? I guess the big thing is to make sure the publisher isn’t dumping liability onto the writers, there. You know, because we just can’t wait for the first headline about twenty-two teenagers on a church youth outing perishing in horrendous flames after the minivan they were all packed into was forced off the road by someone who didn’t see all the plot twists of War and Peace coming as he read his way to work.

Okay, now I’m just reaching. But, you know … whatever.