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January 28, 2010


Lil Gluckstern

I really enjoyed your post. I too "pick up and tidy" for the cleaners. it just seems to be the right thing to do, in addition to which, my stuff is in my piles, not theirs. I liked your writing about your copy editing. As an avid reader, I always find errors jarring to the eye, and continuity. And I do wonder about the cavalier quality toward the editing. However, I know to err is human. I look forward to reading your new book.


Yay!!! A new Meg book to look forward to. Woot!!

Kristina L.

I'm looking forward to the new book! Storks... hmm, sounds like maybe Meg and Michael are expecting?

As a person who sends a lot of work-related e-mails, I try to at least follow the basics of grammar and spelling. I think it looks more professional and better educated.


Ohboyohboyohboy, can't wait until July! *does the Snoopy happy dance*

I don't think making a manuscript as perfect as possible is "cleaning for the cleaners" at all. It's taking pride in one's work. We wouldn't send our kids out the door in ripped or dirty clothes - our books are our children, too, and we want them to make a good impression.

As a reader I don't mind the occasional typo. But some books are littered with them, and there are a couple of mystery series I've abandoned because the errors are so exasperating that I can't enjoy the story. Good writing makes a good story even more enjoyable, and this reader appreciates the effort that goes into well-written books.


I'm always appalled when my writing students turn in assignment filled with atrocious grammatical mistakes, and it happens way too often. I don't mean the odd spelling error or typo, I mean work that is sometimes almost unreadable. But I feel torn about it — I'm paid to teach craft, not grammar. But how can I not tell them what Donna has said here? That the cleaner manuscript will always get the nod before the one that screams of incompetence and indifference, by virtue of its errors. Occasionally, someone will be embarrassed by how careless they've become and vow to change. But most of them argue with me that grammar isn't important anymore, that they can't possibly remember that stuff, that someone else can fix it later, etc. I always wonder if anyone of them make a connection between the rejections they receive and their sloppy standards.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Oh, Donna, I am SO careful with copyediting! I actually enjoy it, and it's so--binary, you know? It's either wrong or right, and we can make it right--one of the few things in the universe that works that way.

And I also clean up for the cleaning people. And since you are my role model for wise and savvy, I am happy to hear you do it, too. Whew.

Can't wait for the new book!

Elaine Viets

I worry about copyediting, Donna, but I'm a former proofreader. I appreciate books that are as typo-free as possible. Such a pleasure to read.


I'm with Elaine (and you, Donna); as a-once-upon-a-time editor, there's a rational quality to editing that is very satisfying. Sure, there may be questions about that comma placement, but there's a finite range of possible correct answers. It's another chance to make the book as good as one possibly can.

I always think of the discussion we had about picking up for the cleaners: it facilitates their wet work.

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