I just e-mailed the electronic “typescript” files of my manuscript back to the copy-editors, having spent most of January going through it line by line and either excepting or rejecting their changes, or just rewriting the damn sentence from scratch (the latter happened a couple of times). Generally I think I’m a fine writer, but apparently I don’t know my “thats” from my “whiches” and I abuse commas and scare quotes. Oh, and I use “like” when I should use “such as,” though sometimes I really meant “like” — I think my editor got used to correcting most of them and automatically over-corrected ones that didn’t need it. But man, medieval subjects throw the copy-editors off. My subject includes texts with generic names as character names — similar to referring to the Wife of Bath as simply the Wife, for instance, only this wasn’t about her specifically — and my editor made them all lowercase! Ack! About halfway through she realized that these were indeed character names and stopped. And one time, I wrote something along the lines of “this story was also popular in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Persian romance” (I’m making up the “Persian romance” part for the purposes of this illustration) and she changed it to “French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Persian romance.” Now why would she do that? Those sentences say two different things! And her version makes it sound like the whole list of languages modifies “romance,” which it shouldn’t. Moreover, how does she know the texts I’m talking about aren’t in Latin?
But, whatever. Those kinds of mistakes, though tedious, were easy to fix with a “stet” or, if there were some changes that were OK, going back in and changing it myself. That’s the beauty of the electronic file — “Track Changes” kept track of who changed what without having to sqeeze things in between lines. And more often than not, even if she changed a sentence in a way that changed the meaning, it was a sentence that needed rewriting anyway.
My experience definitely wasn’t as stressful as Anne of Fernham‘s experience, and both of our books were edited by the same Indian company hired by the same publisher. Perhaps I got lucky, or maybe my series gets the sharper editors simply because the medieval stuff is tricky. I don’t know, but keep your fingers crossed that they know what to do with the special characters, and that my “yoghs” actually look like yoghs and not the 3’s I put in as placeholders!