IVP - Addenda & Errata - The Joy of Excellence

October 1, 2007

The Joy of Excellence

I’ve just completed reviewing a revised manuscript. It is well written, well argued and so very “clean.” The author has taken on board the criticisms and recommendations of his reviewers, and a good manuscript is now even better. I’m enthusiastic enough to declare that there’s very little for our copyeditor to do other than perhaps address a few incidental issues of house style—though even on that score the manuscript seems very tidy. It is a joy to work with this level of quality in a manuscript. I want to hymn its glories to the blog-reading world!

But then a dark shadow arises from the recesses of my memory.

Scholars and future scholars, please do not listen to the advice I overheard repeated not so long ago. A certain scholar is said to have said that he only takes a manuscript up to about the ninety percent level. After that, well, it’s time for his editor or someone else to take it the rest of the way home. There is, after all, so much time invested in closing that gap between ninety and one hundred percent—entirely out of proportion to the rest of the increments in completing a manuscript—that he doesn’t find it a worthwhile use of his time. He’s a very busy and important man, after all.

Well, a pox on his house! Having seen, yea worked on, one or two of said scholar’s manuscripts (and overheard the groanings of another editor who was similarly employed), I simply pose the question: If that’s your approach, why should your editor trust the understructure of the ninety percent? Why indeed! A few years ago, crawling around on the underside of one of said scholar’s manuscripts and probing with my editorial crowbar, I found that there was dry rot in some floor joists, such that maketh the foot to fall through. Dry rot which I proceeded quietly to repair (perhaps laboring under a mistaken understanding of 1 Peter 4:8: “love covers a multitude of sins”). An effort which—yes, I know—was my own contribution to the problem I’m railing against today.

Now, perhaps I should be gratified by said scholar’s confidence in the editorial profession. Hey, he keeps us in business! But any editor will tell you that “business” is not hard to come by.

No, there can be no doubt: Editors love—and respect—clean, tight manuscripts and the authors who produce them! They even make us feel like we have time to blog.

Posted by Dan Reid at October 1, 2007 1:29 PM Bookmark and Share

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