Job Deets

I mentioned last week that I had gotten a job. I know a little more now, so here are the details.

I’m working for a small publishing company called Pen-L. It’s run by Duke and Kimberly Pennell (hence the name). My job is proofreader, which is similar to copyeditor. I check grammar, spelling, punctuation, word usage, and consistency, and I verify facts and correct awkward sentences.

I’m considered an independent contractor rather than an employee. But I’m their only proofreader currently, and they need me to go through a book every two weeks, so I stay pretty busy.

Right now I’m almost done with my first manuscript, a Western. I’ve learned all kinds of new terms: “spondulicks” are money, a “long nine” is a type of cigar, and “horrification” is a real word that means just what it sounds like. I’ve also learned about Buffalo Bill and the Battle of Little Bighorn.

And I’ve had to figure out some odd little linguistic puzzles. For instance: if a character says “Course, that’s all in the past,” using “Course” to abbreviate “Of course,” should you put an apostrophe before the word or not? After all, you are technically cutting out letters, and it does sorta look right. Ultimately, though, I figured that words are added and removed all the time without sticking in apostrophes, so this should be no different. (A recent Chicago Q&A agreed with my choice. And yes, the Chicago Manual of Style has a monthly Q&A, and yes, I get an e-mail every time they do. This is my world now.)

Rather than a salary per se, I get a percentage of the sales of every book I edit, with no upper limit. So the more manuscripts I have under my belt, the more potential income I’ve got.

The other day, I told my friend Paul that I’ve finally achieved my dream – I’ve found a way to get paid for reading books and criticizing people. All jokes aside, I’m enjoying the work so far. It’s pretty close to what I thought it would be, and I seem to be doing reasonably well at it.

And yes, Ben, this does mean I’ll be even slower than before about copyediting your book. Just remember the old Stones song.

4 responses to “Job Deets

  1. Ah, yes, the monthly Chicago Q&A emails. Always entertaining and informative. I remember when somebody asked if it was permissable to end a sentence with both a question mark and an exclamation point. The answer was that this is only acceptable if you’re being physically assaulted while you’re writing the sentence. 🙂

    I also look forward to the weekly After Deadline blog posts at the New York Times website. They don’t follow the CMOS, of course, but I’ve learned a lot there:

    Oh, and I agree about the apostrophe question. Fun fact: in the 1920s, some books used an apostrophe to start the word “phone,” because of the elision of the “tele.” These days, even the New Yorker wouldn’t do that.

    • I added the After Deadline blog to my copyediting bookmarks.

      Chicago’s great, but sometimes they’re a little on the stuffy side. If you’re writing informally, what’s wrong with a question mark and an exclamation mark together?!?! 🙂 They’re also very grumpy about the singular “they.”

  2. Congratulations on the new job. We’ll have to celebrate next time you are in town or I am up in Findlay. Now I just have to figure out how to sweeten the deal to get you to finish Surreality. Hmmm … B5 cookie cake?

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