Monday, April 20, 2009

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem: Interview with Copy Editor, Jennifer Walker

Jennifer Walker was the copy editor for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. She not only did a terrific job of catching the silly errors that I missed even after many revisions and critiques. In addition, she noticed a few bad habits that I'm now watching. She's made me a better writer. More about Jen at:

How did you get to be a copy editor?

After editing my own work and that of my coworkers, friends and family for several years, doing a lot of studying to remind myself of grammar rules and working with my mentor, who has been an editor at several different levels for several years, someone passed along an ad from Swimming Kangaroo Books saying they were hiring copy editors. I applied and took their test, and was informed a short time later that I was one of the top two scorers on the test. I was offered the job, and I have been working there ever since.

What's the difference between copy editing and content editing?

The content editor examines the manuscript for errors or areas of development related to plot, dialogue, characterization, continuity and style. This is a more high-level approach than what the copy editor does.

The copy editor is one of the last people to look at the manuscript before it goes to print (there are still proofers who come after). The copy editor is primarily responsible for correcting any mechanical errors, such as grammar, punctuation, spacing and spelling. The copy editor is also another set of eyes to catch continuity errors or point of view shifts previous editors did not catch--after all, we're all human and things slip by us!

What do you enjoy about it?

My name is Jennifer, and I'm a grammar nerd. I like gaining a better understanding of grammar through my work, and it improves my own writing as well. I am in the process of editing my first book for the third time after several months' break from it, and I'm finding a lot of things I did not before. By contrast, its sequel, which I wrote this year during National Novel Writing Month, is much cleaner.

What are your editing pet peeves?

Authors who argue with me! Just kidding... I would have to say my pet peeves are sentences that are so long I can't follow them and a point of view that shifts back and forth so fast I feel like I'm reading a tennis match.

Tell us about editing Magic, Mensa and Mayhem—any funny stories you want to share?

I have to say, MM&M, as I resorted to calling it because I could never remember what the Ms were or what order they were in, was the most enjoyable manuscript I've ever edited. It had remarkably few errors, was well written and hilarious. My husband kept demanding to know what had me laughing out loud, so I would have to read him passages. I swear...I didn't say that to kiss up. It was actually that good, and I'm picky!

Vern wants you to feed his ego, so tell us what you thought of him and the book in general.

I think Vern and Grace are wonderful, rich characters. I love the relationship they have--respect and affection in their purest forms. Fun interactions between characters are what draw me into books, and that's one of the things I loved about MM&M. By the time you finish, you feel like you know these "people" and want to live next door to them. Well, not all of them--just Vern and Grace.

1 comment:

Jennifer Walker said...

Thank you so much for the interview and your kind words! My very best wishes for success with MM&M!