“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” I said to Lisa. “For maybe the first time I’ve been saved by a copy editor who wasn’t you.”
This drew her attention. Lisa is, you see, a remarkable copy editor, having made her living doing that for a number of years before turning to the darkside of Corporate America like me. She also has a rule that I am not allowed to send something out the door that she hasn’t seen.
“Tell me more.”
So I told her about the remarkable Robin Carson, one of the editors at OnSpec who found in my “Operation Hercules” manuscript a major, major error that for some incredibly strange reason I did not see myself. No, I won’t say what it was. That would miss the point, now, wouldn’t it? But suffice to say we’re not talking about a typo. It was a factual error. Robin caught it, researched it, and provided me a great reply that helped me go fix it. Now no one will ever know the error I made, unless I talk about it in public, which I probably will sometime because, well, because that’s just me. I tend to be fairly transparent about these things in the end.
But I digress.
“That’s not something I would have caught,” Lisa said when I described the issue. “Because I know you and I would have trusted you to get that right. If it were someone else I would have done just what he did.” If I needed any more proof that he had done good, that would have been it. To me, a testimonial from Lisa is golden.
Robin also made several polite suggestions for a word choice here and there–a majority of which I took, and he provided a comment about the base story structure that for a moment I thought was more than a bit cheeky. But five minutes and a dose of humility later I saw it for what it was–a really insightful perspective on how stories work, or at least where this one was a little weak. I mean, it would have been fine, really. Most copy editors would probably have just let it go. But Robin took his time to “get it” and then took his time to find professional words that would catch my thoughts in the right way.
Copy editors are your friends, and a great copy editor is something special. I know this because,as I said, I’ve lived with one for a considerable chunk of my life. Unfortunately, they rarely get any good press. It’s a thankless job, afterall. Literally the only time a copy editor is noted is when something went awry–and even then it’s sometimes not their fault, they just get left holding the bag.
So here’s my attempt to even the score in the harsh world out there.
Thanks, Robin. Great job.