Thursday, 23 October 2014

Book Marks: In Praise Of Copy Editors, Book-Ban Boosts

Author Holly Robinson "can't believe all the mistakes I made in this book -- even after eight or nine revisions, two of which were done in collaboration with my savvy, brilliant editor."

Among these:

"I crossed out 'Tuesday' because later you say it's Wednesday."

"She's fifty-nine here and fifty-eight on page 102. Which one?"

"If he Googles the land line, why is she answering the call on her cell phone?"


So here's her shout-out to all copy editors, "publishing's unsung heroes".

In China, book ban rumours are boosting authors, thanks in part to social media. A Weibo user was reported as saying:

"These days, smothering someone is as good as crowning that person—previously unnoticed but now many people are interested in his views and works. A 'smothering' order is a reading list."

Among those allegedly blacklisted are "prominent liberal economist" Mao Yushi, newspaper columnist Xu Zhiyuan, Chinese-American historian Yu Ying-shih and media personality Leung Man-tao.

Now, it's not certain whether these writers are officially banned, but over there, as in other places, an imminent sweep of banned titles tend to generate an unusual demand for them as soon-to-be-gone collectibles - which sort of defeats the purpose of such bans in the first place.

Rob Spillman at Salon wonders why Hugh Howey (Wool) keeps defending Amazon.

In a spectacular bit of short-sightedness, Howey complained to the Times that independent bookstores "blacklist my books."

So, let me get this straight—you would like your books, which are published by the company whose avowed goal is to eliminate brick and mortar stores of any kind, to be carried in the same brick and mortar stores your publisher is trying to destroy?

Spillman also chides Howey for apparently trying (not very well) to pull the wool over some eyes:

In an article in today's New York Times, Howey defended Amazon and characterized Ursula Le Guin's statement that Hachette's tactics amount to censorship as "mostly lying."

Mostly lying? That’s the equivalent of "a little pregnant."

Howey's defense of Amazon is perhaps understandable when you know that it played a role in his break-out book. Still....

Meanwhile, Spillman discusses Amazon and the impacts of its business model on publishing with author Joe Konrath ("who has self-published 24 novels (three of them No. 1 Amazon sellers), hundreds of stories, and has sold over 3 million copies of his books"), who seems to be on Amazon's side.

But, as writer Emily Gould notes, "neither 'side' is exactly easy for authors and readers to be on."

My stand on Amazon should be clear. Even if the future sides with Bezos's behemoth and its ilk, no one entity should be allowed to direct the evolution of bookselling and publishing.

In The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead mentioned Neil Gaiman's 2013 lecture at the Barbican in London, where he once said there was no such thing as "a bad book for children" ...

...adding that it was "snobbery and ... foolishness" to suggest that a certain author or particular genre might be a baleful influence upon young reading minds—be it comic books or the works of R. L. Stine.

Well-meaning adults, he continued, can easily kill a child's love of reading: "Stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian 'improving' literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant."

Taking Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books as an example, Rebecca Mead thinks that any book that that a child "avidly" embraces can be the start of his or her lifelong love of reading. But...

...What if the strenuous accessibility of "Percy Jackson's Greek Gods" proves so alluring to young readers that it seduces them in the opposite direction from that which Gaiman’s words presuppose — away from an engagement with more immediately difficult incarnations of the classics, Greek and otherwise? What if instead of urging them on to more challenging adventures on other, potentially perilous literary shores, it makes young readers hungry only for more of the palatable same?

A notebook by photographer, surgeon and zoologist George Murray Levick who was in the ill-fated Scott South Pole expedition was apparently thawed out of the Antarctic ice by climate change.

"After conservation work by the trust in New Zealand the notebook, a Wellcome Photographic Exposure Record and Diary 1910 according to the cover, is remarkably legible, with Levick's name written in the opening pages," The Guardian reported.

Other than some of his observations on the sex lives of penguins (SNRK), the notebook also contained "lists of dates, subjects and exposure details for images he took at Cape Adare – but fascinating to historians as many can be cross-referenced with images now in the Scott Polar Research Institute collection at Cambridge."

What you read in the news gets cut. But what gets cut and why?

When commissioning news stories, desk editors invariably ask for more words than they need, and writers invariably file more words than they were asked to. This is just common sense: it's better for a story to be too long than too short, because cutting it down is much quicker than padding it out.

...desk editors and subeditors generally find themselves with an article that's anything from 5% to 500% too long for the allocated space.


  • In case you missed it, the Court of Appeal upheld the ban on Kim Quek's March to Putrajaya. Sad, but the so-called march to Putrajaya is on hold sampai tak tahu bila anyway.
  • The UK publishes more books per capita than any other country. But it's only the third leading publisher in the world in terms of number of titles published after China and the US, according to the International Publishers Association.
  • Is Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree coming to cinemas?
  • Douchebag: where did this insult come from and how to (sort of) apply it.


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