January 24, 2008
A small word
There are lots of phases of a book. Authors are involved in some, and not the others. (It's more complicated than I'm implying too, there's galleys and other stuff, emails and conversations and probably whole long parts of it that I'm not involved in and thankfully know nothing about since they would probably only make me more anxious.) Also, there's all the parts with contracts and agents and money. (If you're interested in the money and author part, read this.) This is just a peek at what it looks like from here, there's other stuff.
The writing, naturally, is an authors job. You propose what you would like to write, then they say yes or no (or negotiate) and then the writer sits down to do the deed. (The proposal may be really formal, or not. When I submitted my first proposal I used this book as a guide (it worked too) but now that the publisher is pretty sure I have good ideas, I can just tell the editor what I'm thinking.) As the writing phase passes, depending on the writer or the publishers policy, the author is babysat to varying degrees. Sometimes the publisher asks the writer to submit the writing in chunks (this is so they know that you're really working and your book isn't crap) and sometimes, if you have experience in actually handing in books on time that aren't total crap, and your publisher is the type, they leave you entirely alone and you just hand it in on the deadline. (There may be one or two phone calls from your editor broached as kind enquiry about your well being, "just calling to see how you are, it's been ages" sorts of phone calls, but these are really "I'm calling to get some sense that you're actually working on a book and have not gone barking mad, become an alcoholic or are otherwise endangering the odds that I will get that manuscript" calls. When these calls happen, both the author and the editor pretend that they are 100% unconcerned about anything. They are both lying.) This is the last time that the author will have absolute control over any part of making a book. The finished work is called a manuscript, if you are the editor and publisher, and "My Precious", if you are the author.
The author sends the book to the editor. The editor reads it. The editor then makes decisions and forms opinions about the whole rest of the writers life and whether it is worth living. When they are ready to tell the author about these opinions and decisions, they call them. (The time that elapses before that phone call comes is so unbelievably awful that it makes the time that I fell asleep on a dock in Bala and got a sunburn so bad that I couldn't wear clothes for four days seem like a spa day.) Once the editor has called the author (who cries, either from relief or shock) they begin the process of editing. The editor marks up the manuscript with words that rip your soul open like "unclear" or "wordy" or "will you ever, ever learn to pay attention to its and it's, or are you stunned as a bat?" (Well. They don't say that. They just underline it, but I know what they are implying with their red pen.) Then they send it back to the author and they have a couple of discussions about how it's not wordy, those words are vital and if you take out even one of them the integrity of the whole thing washes down the toilet - which the editor endures politely until you are worn down and take the words out yourself.
The publisher starts having meetings. Authors don't really go to them, so I don't know what gets said. They claim that this is when they make decisions about design, layout and title, but they might be just talking about what pains in the arse authors are. (That's my theory.) At some publishing houses authors are "consulted" on this stuff, in others they are not. Generally speaking, publishers decide on the cover and the title, although they consider the feedback of the people in sales a great deal. Unless you are dealing with a special sort of publisher - authors are not going to win any debates at this point. I can't speak for all authors, but I know that I find the lack of control at this point pretty much excruciating. At least twice before there is a final cover and title, I cry out of sheer helplessness...(and that's saying something, because although I do tend to over-invest in things, I am not normally a crier.) The author will probably be shown several covers between now an publication, so it's best not to flip out over the first couple. It's changing anyway. (This doesn't stop the bad and soon to change cover from being on Amazon.)
While the publisher is thinking about the cover and the title and stuff like that, the manuscript has gone to a copy-editor. This person edits your work for the five C's. (They make sure the work is clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent.) Sometimes at this point it comes back to the author, sometimes it just goes to the next step. Sometimes if the author sees it at this point they have a seizure for no reason.
The work goes to the layout and design people, and they make it pretty. They make actual "pages" or "spreads" of how the book will look when it's a real thing. Now the work is called " A proof" or "The Pages" and these are proof-read (by a proof reader) and then sent to the author, who heaves a sigh of relief because they think that this part should be called The Proof because the author finally has fairly good proof that the publisher is actually going to go through with this. This stack of paper is the last time that the author will see their words. The last time that they can make changes (but not too many - or the publisher is unhappy). The last time they can check for mistakes. The last time before the publisher turns it into a real book.
That's what I'm doing today.
This is this book. (There it is. The cover that won't be the cover, I think.) I can't tell you how horrible I think it is that it is both on my coffee table and up on Amazon. It feels a little like a promise you aren't sure you can keep. Like "Are you sure you want to sell something that isn't even a book yet? Are you sure?". I am painstakingly going over it with a fine tooth comb, checking for mistakes, thinking over the editing job one more time and deciding if it is ready to go into the world. This part makes me nauseous. Totally nauseous. If I make a mistake now (or if the editor, the copy editor or the proofreader made or missed a mistake that I don't find) an error will be in the book forever that a whole bunch of you will email me about, probably for the rest of my life. 50 years from now there will be one beat up copy of this book in the Toronto Public Library and some knitter who hasn't even been born yet will take it out, read it, and then send me an email about the dumbass mistake on page 7 and how I should have fixed it. (Excuse me. I just made myself dizzy with my own vision.) It's a lot of pressure. Horrible actually, and although I love being a writer, I hate this part with a stinking and unholy passion. I have tried tempering it with sock knitting....
But my mood is still bleak and worried. (Perhaps I should go back to leaf knitting. At least that was only endless, not scary.) The only comfort a writer has at this point (and who knows, perhaps there are writers who LOVE this part. If there are, and they are sober, I'd love to hear from them.) the only thing that is a glorious and shining revenge and compensation is the word
Stet is a really fantastic latin word. It means "let it stand" and if you write it near a change an editor, copy editor or proofreader has made, it means "Put. It. Back". I love it, for though it is a word of enormous import, power and dominion, it is very fast to write.
After all of the arguments a writer will lose during all of the phases of publication, after all of the negotiations, all of the compromises, all of the discussion and polite persuasion.... It is the authors final weapon, the last line of defence.....and I adore it with the full force of my being. Stet means "I wrote arse and I mean arse". Stet means, "Yeah it's a run on sentence, but maybe I like run on sentences". Stet means "the serial comma is not a law, and you and your comma fetish can back right off." Stet. It is a final, brief and dignified return of control to an author, and you should try writing or saying it to feel the real power in it. (Ever time I write it I cannot help but think of all the things I would STET if I could. Not just on a manuscript either. Curfews for a teenager? STET. The way I told you to pick up your socks? STET. What I said about that boy that you only think you like? STET.)
Stet. Let it stand. The word that cannot be argued with. Damn straight.
(PS. I know that the fact that I wrote "Stet Please" diminishes my claim to the inherent strength of the word. I'm Canadian. I can't help it.)
Posted by Stephanie at January 24, 2008 3:57 PM
Wow, my head hurts from reading all of those steps, especially when your books are so fun to read. Keep on writing!
I never heard of Stet before! If only! Thank you thank you thank you for explaining what it's like to be a writer. My dad had to pull me off the walls and tell me not to let a copy editor run over me when she changed my grammatical sentence to an ungrammatical one, common usage but wrong. Stet. I didn't know the word, but I got the idea across--they changed it back.
I like it. I am totally using it from now on.
Stet. We are having cereal for supper.
Even if it is complete trash we will still buy because you wrote it Steph.
And trust me, it won't be any kind of trash.
Eagerly awaiting it.
The -40C windchills can end anytime. And so can the relationship troubles. Stet.
"Stet Please" - you are soooo Canadian. And we love you. Hang in there!!
I totally understand the "please". I would do it too.
Dude, I'm in awe of anyone who can write coherently, let alone as humourously as you can. You and Franklin - making a living doing things I can only dream about doing.
STET. STET. STET. It's always been one of my favorites and as for those serial comma adherents....
At least it's not corporate editing, which in my experience always has much more to do with ego than actual content. It's a good thing that the AP shredded my ego before I actually made it to the corporate world.
Good luck with the editing. I know I can't wait to read it :-) I didn't see when the book was due out on amazon . . .
"Stet Please" -- perfect!
Can't wait to see the cover.
I've made my living as a copyeditor and proofreader for a decade now, and just in the past six months I've begun training as a substantive (author's) editor. Among the copyediting and mucky, in-the-trenches, substantive stuff, I've come to LOVE my proofreading work. It's like a vacation! It's like playing! It's such a rest for ye olde brain.
Short version: this post really made me smile. I can imagine why it's agony for you, but thank you.
After all that and trying to put myself in your shoes, I also would have put "Stet Please" (I'm also Canadian... damn our politeness!).
I have a STET story that make one of my colleagues chuckle with me. I work at a university and sone summer I had a young college student working for me. I was making up our School calendar, marking faculty meetings, exam dates, School lectures, that sort of thing. I had written "Lecture: Joe Schmo, 6 pm, Auditorium" on the calendar. In reviewing the calendar with my colleague we realized I had Joe on the wrong date, so I crossed it out. Minutes later we heard that Joe could, indeed, lecture on the original date, so I wrote STET next to the text I had crossed out, and gave the papers to my young student to input the changes (which were many) to the calendar. I got it back from her a bit later, and this particular entry was changed to "Lecture: Joe STET, 6 pm, Auditorium". I explained the use of the word STET to my student, and privately my colleague and I STILL chuckle about Joe STET...it seemed funny at the time...is this one of those times when you really had to be there????
I'm absolutely excited,I can faster order than you can write!
On November 30,I have pre-ordered your book here in Germany from Amazon.They say,delivery date is around April,30.Ok,that can also mean August,18 or something like that...But I'm a patient person,I can sit and wait and knit.....
Best wishes from Germany!
As a Graphic Designer, I too love 'Stet' as it means I get to completely ignore whatever change that is that will screw up the rag/rest of the page layout.
But I have yet to ever come across a 'Stet Please.' Just knowing that exists on proofs out there in the world makes me smile...
From now on STET is my favorite word. What other word can convey such meaning in one short syllable? (Well, I can think of a few others, but they are not for a PG-rated blog such as this one.)
Heck, I would probably have said Please also -- I don't think it's just a Canadian thing.
"arse" is awfully Canadian too - can you write, "STET, you arse!" No, probably not.
Anyway, the description on Amazon sounds like this is going to be yet another fun book. YAY for you!
I just ordered your latest book, even though it's still on your coffee table being proof-read! Keep up the good work.
STET Please - only in Canada...only in Canada.
Something else we'd do:
STET thank you.
Thank you for the insight into the birth of a book. Loved reading it. I am going to start using the word "stet" now for everything that I don't want to hear about or change.
I could never be a writer, I would have nervous breakdowns and end up weighing 10,000 pounds from all the lattes and chocolate.
But a reader? THAT I can be. Looking forward to the next book, even if there are typos. ;)
Part of my job is to proof catalog spreads before they go to press. When I started this job, I had never done anything like this before and one of the proof readers finally came over and said, "stop writing 'OK', you need to write 'STET' instead." And then proceeded to explain it to me. This is definitely not something they teach in public school these days...
But, I digress, STET is one of those wonderful little words that packs a big punch. Good luck on the proofing!
I accidentally stumbled on your new book on Amazon last week and immediately pre-ordered it. Good luck going through the final phases!
I used to be a web medical editor. The title was copy editor, but it was a bit more involved than that, and part of the job was to hit "publish" when I was sure the thing was ready to go out onto the web. And even with the ability to go in and make edits (it was the web, after all) still, the agonies that would occur before hitting that button. I know what you mean about the nausea.
Thank you for confirming everything I suspected and or experienced with publishing...I knew not of STET. I think I love it.
A very educational post! It's interesting to learn about the process.
STET seems like a very valuable word that needs to be integrated into my vocabulary as well. I love how you added "please" to that, too! "I hereby demand that you leave this as it is...please."
Yes, I love STET also.
Don't worry about the cover - no matter what it looks like, I will always pre-order your books on Amazon!
I get to do the editing thing from both sides - I edit press releases for one of our magazines and write them for another. I like to hope that the ruthless editing makes me a better writer but I'm not sure.
laughing out loud in my cubicle. again.
Question: I am currently reading The Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting, and I noticed that it's "color" and not "colour". I love seeing that extra u in words (I secretly wish I were Canadian), and I wonder where the decision to leave the u out comes from? Is that the author's choice? the publisher's? Does customs take the u out when the book comes over the border?
Latin is a beautiful language. I did a stint of proofreading and editing as part of a brief job in college, translating a professor's horrible hand written manuscript into English in a computer. It just confirmed to my mind that no one in any part of the writing business (except maybe those big names that get huge advances or something) gets paid enough for what is a very hard job, like parenting or teaching.
And if you're a dork like me, STET is a particularly useful word to know if you do crossword puzzles. Look for it!
I can't wait for your new book!!! Thanks for writing it.
I've been in those publisher's meetings. You definitely don't want to be there. Not unless things like typesetting, production schedules, and distribution yank your chain Also, knitting is generally not allowed, so why bother?
"Stet" is the publishing world's version of "no punchbacks."
I love that Amazon has bundled your not-yet-published book as a "Better Together" with Mason-Dixon's ditto not published book (they don't even have a pretend cover yet). I picture you three terrific knitter-writers happily copy-editing together on Planet Optimism. Sweet!
Why easy when one can go for the complicated... it sounds like so much work, valuable really good and well appreciated work (ey, english is my 2nd language...) made tricky. But please, keep going and keep giving us so much to think and laugh about! You are very good, leaves or not...
Delightful AND informative! LOL. I'm a technical writer, so I do understand the pain of getting your work back bleeding with red marks. Can't wait for your next book.
I think I'm going to start using stet a lot in my daily life; particularly with the children and the husband. Suggestions & requests be damned - STET!
I wonder if you wrote "STET you arse" you could give the publisher a heart attack?
I love STET. A very useful word.
I would like to know about the "money and author part" but when I clicked on the link, it unfortunately went nowhere. ??? One reads about authors getting huge advances to write books ... is this true or does it depend on whether your name is, say, Stephen King or Joan Didion or Stephanie Pearl-McPhee? I can't wait to read your book!
I really need to stop reading about what it takes to get a book published and actually write the darned thing (which has nothing to do with knitting so no competition *grin*).
Note to self: Write your novel. STET
BTW, no pressure, but I just put the new book-to-be on my wish list... birthday's in April. kai, thanx! ;)
it can be worse. No truly. I wrote several technical books, but with a "folksy" sort of writing style, so that the newbies out there wouldn't run screaming from the technical jargon. The copy editor, in a mistaken attempt to "fix" my book, rewrote all the idiomatic English into proper grammar. Which I then had to rewrite back. And THEN I got to be my own proofreader (NEVER EVER DO THIS).
I sympathize. I too love the word STET. It should win the word of the year award.
I'm jealous though -- you got your proofs spiral bound. We had sheets and sheets of unattached paper (think 250+ page book). One slip and I was sorting for hours.
I love that I learn something almost every time I come visit your blog.
Enjoy the rest of the process (as much as you can)! I'm going to enjoy pre-ordering your yet-to-be-published book. Whee!
Thanks for the description of your end of getting a book published. I'm a librarian and didn't know how complex it was. And also, the socks are gorgeous. I love the leaf on the toe and the texture of the leg. Carry on. BCA
...And yet you still have time to blog here?
Stet on, sister.
Perversely, this post only inspires me want to try my hand at authorship. Having been on the publishing side many times, I think, it can't be that bad, can it? I'm sure the gods will punish me for that thought.
Great post. Thanks,
That "stet" is gonna come in soooooo handy. Once again, you've educated the (knitting) world...Oh, and, not to be mean or anything, but if you need any back-up on that proposed cover, call me...Even though we'd all buy it anyway, it's just so not good.
Wow, thanks so much for the run-down... Sounds like a lot of stress (I know it is because my mother-in-law is a writer too) but worth it in the end to get your words out there. :) I'm sure this new book will be welcomed with open arms just like the others by all your adoring fans!
I know STET from my college days but no longer communicate with anyone who also knows the word. However, I'm much happier now that I am an ex-writer. It's good that people like you still want to do it.
Wow. Just -- wow! Thanks for putting yourself through all of that...we love you!
I think you should be on the cover of your book. Maybe in a wise looking yoga pose, with knitting!
I'm a proof-reader as well (and in love with STET) -- I'm pretty sure I've never seen a spelling mistake in your books. Except, of course, that they do tend to have American spellings. Urgh.
Carry on, you're doing great.
Our family has code words. Chip means Do not interrupt me on the phone. PPA means Please Pay Attention (because I'm about to lose it if you do not). I may have to work STET in somehow.
BTW, I found it just a bit ironic that this post seemed to have more typo's than usual...or was that STET in action?
I'm with Jane. As another graphic designer, I love being able to ignore anything that has "stet" next to it. It just means I'll be done making changes that much sooner. I love a writer who wants things to stand as-is. TMK
I have thought from time to time that I would like to be a writer, but after reading your description af what one goes through besides the actual writing of the book....well...lets just say there wont be any books from me for a while, LOL! I also tried to follow your link for the author and money site and received the "internet explorer cant display this page" message. On my way now to pre order your new book
Your post today made my husband very happy and it made him laugh a lot. He is a retired art teacher and he and a fellow art teacher wrote a book on drawing and design for art teachers. It soon became an art book for the general public titled DRAWING COURSE 101 (not their title) with a funky cover (not their idea) and several note worthy changes. It was their first book and he almost went mad during the editing process. He says that if he had read today's blog during this period in his life he would have felt a lot better. BUT....the thing that drove him the most crazy was during the writing process when the little "paper clip" help guy would pop up and snore when he waited too longs between thoughts in his mind and thoughts on the computer. I finally told him: "You know you can turn the damn guy off."
So, that whole (wonderful and hilarious, by the way) explanation was really just to let us know that that cover is not your fault, right?
My honey went to school with author C.E. Murphy, and I read her blog fairly often. One of her recent books had a run in with a copy editor who didn't seem to understand her writing style. She said she had never used STET so much.
Hopefully, that is not the case for you.
I like it. Think I can use it in journal articles to shut-up referees that didn't read carefully in the first place?
Hah. Take that.
i love seeing the author side of the book. i am a book designer, working on the production end at the moment. from the compositor's view, we love all those changes, the wars of different colored pens on the page, author's changes, AAs, editors, EAs, and then there are the printer's errors, PEs. someone counts all of them, and the publisher gets charged for all those changes, except the PEs. Add in the illegible handwriting of some editors and the fact that much of the typesetting is now being done in india, where english is definately not the first language! it's amazing that anything readable is ever produced! does that make you feel any better?!
"STET, dammit" works, too. But I think you have to be American.
May I agree with you on the cover? I don't like it either. You can tell 'em. — And I used to have a job which involved a lot of proofreading, some of it in Spanish which I can barely speak two words of. Whew. I think I know a bit of what you are going through.
Great description of the writing process. I don't think I have the stomach for all that. However, I laughed outloud when I read STET please. Even before I read the description under it. So commanding, but in a polite way!
agreed on the cover...not cool.
needs more harlot-y-ness.
thanks for all the hard word work!
I'm so glad it's on your coffee table and one step closer to mine. :)
Congrats you are SO close to finished!
Okay...I spent 12 years in book publishing before I "retired" and I can honestly say that I never ever before saw a please following a STET. Usually STETS come in screaming block letters with fifty underscores.
Oh...and in those meetings? Yeah, sometimes we absolutely would talk about what an ass an author was. Sorry. But only when they really were asses.
I love STET, but hey, I'm also a big fan of the serial comma. I may also be a bit of a dork, because when you mentioned the serial comma, I pulled out my copy of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" to confirm that the serial comma is in fact the same thing as the Oxford comma. :P
Congratulations on making it this far! I am absolutely with you about the glory that is STET. I teach my students about STET first thing every semester; they love it. Hang in there -- you're almost done!!
That was fantastic! I'm an editor by day (day after day) and you've really captured it well: the zeal, the hunt for the mistakes (hunted and eraticated so that you look magnificent in print, of course), the blood-thirsty nature of the red pen. I know that colour of ink frightens the hell out of everyone who reads comments in manuscripts, but it does show up better than, say, black.
Don't worry, this phase will pass. And your book will be published (hopefully with a different cover...although that one did make me laugh aloud at work).
You're almost there. Just hold on a little while longer.
Rachel up there: I got my pages loose, too. I took them to a copy shop, where they spiral bound them for the whopping price of $1.13. Drove my tech editor nuts, I found out later, because she had to tear the pages back out. Oops. But it made my life so much easier, and she seemed to forgive me when I explained my deep fear of losing a page.
LOL, at STET please. With a butter tart on the side.
While the 50years future reader may write you about the mistake, please (yes! please!) remember the reader who will cuddle with the book, dog ear it and recommend it to all their friends too. They usually don't write the emails - but they should.
I heartily agree with few previous writers: 1) please be on the cover of your book, what could be better - there is no close second place. 2) Canadian spellings are very nice.
Thank you so much for your vision and discipline at all this. I ordered copies of your books :)
Happy, happy, joy, joy! I just preordered your book from Amazon and am sure I'll buy at least one more copy ay my LYS/bookstore.
Just wondering what it takes to have a post posted on this blog. I sent two very funny (if i do say so myself!) photos of the progression of knitting with what heretofore should be named "the penis of Barcelona" yarn and neither have shown up on the site. Not that I was expecting fame, or fanfare, but it was funny, darn it!
Hurrah for the nearly completed book!
I've been on both sides of the publishing process. I like proofs- the thing is done and out of my hands. What I don't like about them is authors who don't get around to doing them and I have to find the page numbers of some article in some obscure journal and clean up the reference section. Copyediting is fun too- the power! A good way to live one's punctuation or grammar fetish.
Oh- to Sarah, a few comments above- no you can't use STET to reply to reviewer/referee comments- need to balance cheeky with groveling.
As a copy editor, I have to say I have never seen anybody write "STET please" before. How polite!
However, the serial comma IS a law, at least according to the style manual I use, and no amount of politeness would ever, ever make me let you break it. :-)
Anyway, to cheer myself up before going to work this morning, I opened up "Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much" to a random page, which happened to be the one about how to liven up a yarn shop by saying loudly "Circular needles are so stupid."
I laughed out loud. Thank you for your blog, your humor, your generosity. Those things matter so much more than its or it's!!!!!
Canadians don't have the monopoly on irrational politeness. Say hello to Midwest nice. Dammit.
Ahh, Presbytera - I am thinking that EFFN STET is more American :-)
Stephanie - once again - awesome post. Don't stop - STET on!
Yeah, that cover is kinda...well, let's just say kinda. It could be better, although I've seen worse.
I like the title, though!
STET please....I like it.
I am going to use it too, first chance I get.
Whats wrong with commas? My English teacher crowned me Sherry, Comma Splice Queen. You mean it isn't a compliment?
STET...STET....STET...going upstairs now to lurk around my hubby and find a reason to say "STET PLEASE" Then leave the room.
I've been a typesetter and a proofreader in my time... I know from STET. Your "please" is all caps. They'll know exactly what you mean.
Your forgot Phase 6, after the book has come out and before the first review. It is during this time that your fingernails disappear for no good reason at all, as well as anything resembling a consumable food in your home, and people eating chocolate anywhere for a two mile radius are subject to being tackled and mugged.
I like STET. I'm gonna remember that. But then, I self-publish--the one thing worse than having an army of people who DON'T love you (as my volunteer editing army does) but who still think their tinkering improves you, is knowing that whatever dumbassed mistakes are there on page seven, or sixteen, or two-hundred and twelve are yours.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, that mistake is mine. I am the idiot who can't get its and it's straight, and I have a serious 'that' addiction, why do you ask? Is it any of your business? I know you BOUGHT the book, but I've been telling people in an open forum that I'm a dumbass for years--did you expect there not to be an error on pages seven, sixteen, and two-hundred and twelve? No, no, I see your point. I really don't deserve to live, thank you, I'll remember that next time I open my computer. Thank you--and don't forget to check out my next project!!!"
Steph, I'm so excited about your new book. I look forward to reading it, and I also look forward to the excuse to buy another copy of your second book, as I have loaned it out to another English teacher as an example of superlative essays. As a VERY good friend just told me, "It does not sucketh, neither does it bore!" STET:-)
I too am a professional writer, but I write technical documentation that everyone avoids reading if it is at all humanly possible. It keeps me off the street.
I am also a professional editor, and I too love STET, although I have been known to mean by it "I have done my best to rewrite this into a coherent English sentence, but since you wrote complete undecipherable gibberish, I cannot." I have never written STET Please. I am not Canadian. Please forgive me.
Because I am a professional editor with intractable blue-pencil twitch (please forgive me again), and because you did bring it up, I will try this one more time, even though I know I should get a grip.
"Its" is a possessive pronoun. Like its fellows "my," "your," "his," and "her," it lacks an apostrophe.
"It's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has." Like its fellows "I'm," "you're," "he's," and "she's," it has an apostrophe.
If you pretend you speak a language such as French, where every noun has gender, you can substitute a form of "he" or "she" (whichever you prefer -- I'm not suggesting that you actually learn which nouns are which in French or any other foreign language) for "it," and know whether to put the apostrophe in.
So, "it's not wordy" --> "she's not wordy." Perfect. The apostrophe stays.
"The sock is beautiful; I love it's tiny leaf" --> "The sock is beautiful; I love her tiny leaf." Oops. "Her" does not have an apostrophe. Make it "its."
Now that link works. Thank you for including that most illuminating information. I had no idea. A writing career is NOT for the faint of heart! I have a new and enduring respect for all the writers out there.
Ah, I love the term STET. These days my graphic design / typesetting / pre-press clients are mostly dissertation writers whose prose I get to review in a "last-eyes" technical edit, and I've gotten to midwife a couple hundred of the beasties over the last several years. Yes, this makes me a fan of the serial comma, though to the most egregiously grammar-conflicted I may gently point out that Strunk's original Elements of Style is available free online at Bartleby: http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk.html .
It's the ones who never bother to open the style manual that make me want to go out in the back yard and throw rocks, because a dissertation is about the fussiest of formatting a person encounters in life (unless they go in for writing legal briefs) and no one can make it up and get it right, much less consistent. Breathe light and easy and rejoice with the relatively much simpler tasks before you. (yeah, I'm a Minnesotan: "It could be worse" don't-cha know.)
This work has also given me the chance to develop a cheerful eye for personal writers' voices coming through on the page, and I love your writing style to bits. Thanks for what you do!
On galleys bleeding with red ink: at some point in newspaper layout work in the 1970s, I started editing in green. Much kinder to the eyes and heart; editing as pruning or weeding in a garden.
It's also Visible, which is the most-desired thing.
lovely to hear from other writers, editors, and folks in the biz of getting ideas into print! Thanks for this post, Stephanie.
Well, I've been on both sides of the STET fence: I've written three books (and proofed 'em, God help me), and now I'm a managing editor who rips into other people's copy and enforces evil things like the serial comma and "en dashes in number series." I know exactly what you mean about the terror one feels when doing that final proofread of a manuscript -- and in fact, that's one of the main reasons I refuse to read my own books now. What if I were to discover some really obvious blooper?
This post really took me back! Thanks, and best of luck!
How timely. I've spent most of my work day watching and listening while two asst. superintendents and the superintendent of the school district I work for battle back and forth over meeting minutes that I "wrote." (All three are female, surprised?) It seems as though the two asst. supers are editing each other's sections and neither one likes the other's proposed changes. The superintendent likes the minutes exactly how I wrote 'em. Maybe I should have her write STET in giant letters across the three pages!
Your blog is so much fun--thank you for sharing your life and your knitting. As a sister dork, and a nice Midwesterner, I think we should celebrate our pleasantness to be around and consider the fate of the high school beauty queens/"in" people. The ones I know are kind of sad now that they can't spend all day wiggling their spandex and using up mascara. Their old boyfriends are selling cars. WE, on the other hand, are inventing new worlds and cornering the sweatpants market! Winter does this to me. I'm looking forward to the fruit of your book labor (labour?).
It might not be the cover eventually, but I can tell you that it was the cover on display at TNNA...
My 2 cents: I was a self-employed typesetter for 20 years, a conscientious one. It may have been the lack of spell-check in that fancy equipment that cost well over $100,000, but I had to proof it all, the client proofed it, his mother proofed it, all of us twice, and ... YOU LEARN TO ACCEPT that it is the nature of the published beast to STILL contain some mistake, somewhere in that copy. Don't think that this has changed, even WITH spell check! My advice is: resolve to sing a happy little tune when you trash that email complaining about some mistake in your book. Be free of guilt and completely unconcerned. No one is going to die because of a misplaced apostrophe, a misspelling, a run-on sentence, etc. Not them, not you!
I suppose that April Fool's Day publishing date makes it all the more weird.
Thanks Stephanie... that is a really great explanation of the process.
Don't worry. 50 years from now email won't exist.
I'm a production manager, responsible for taking manuscripts and producing books, and can appreciate what a bemusing process this seems to many authors. I think publishers could make publication more transparent as we've nothing to hide: ultimately the author and publisher wants a clear, correct, concise, comprehensive, consistent and coherent book that will reflect well on both and most importantly will sell well. Thank you for sharing your view from The Other Side.
Stet PLEASE...I love it, and I don't know about anyone else around the world, but some Australians (like me) would definitely say please.
Although I think the fact that your PLEASE was in allcaps makes it fairly emphatic. It's definitely not a wimpy little lower case please.
Okay, I'll be the rude, impatient person and ask what we really all want to know. How soon can we expect you to haul yourself around the planet for signings? And when can we start clamoring (and bribing) for our favorite cities to be on the list?
Maybe it would work on tweens too. Get word.. thanks for the laugh.
SO looking forward to your book! The cover, not so much. Love your blog. Thanks for the inspiration, the chuckles and stuff I didn't even know I'd be interested in but you make it interesting. (edit THAT sentence) :D
Hee, I think "Stet PLEASE" also seems very Minnesotan. I'm a fan of the serial comma, though. I can about imagine why you placed that stet there, though. Some of the people doesn't make a generalization that people might. Tell them you have pointy sticks if they don't listen to you.
I ordered THE BOOK the other day and wondered at the cover. Glad to hear it is still under consideration! It is very interesting to learn about the publishing process from one who is going through it. Thanks for sharing it with The Blog.
To Lucia at 5:20pm:
Yes, please do get a grip.
oh no . . . i am a production artist by day, and i have to wade through all the markups and stets to do corrections, so i can tell you that i'm always quietly pleased when someone says STET, please or STET, thanks
it's just a little thing, but once in a while you make a PA smile, i can assure you.
I too love STET.
And, how about the fact that Amazon says your new book is coming out in HARDCOVER! That's pretty spiffy.
As Mothers and Wives, I think we should all have STET privileges.
I also can't help but wondering, when reading how many people read your work, how many of them have started knitting? I bet lots.
I am going to teach this word 'stet' to my knitters for when they make mistakes that aren't really bad (I would never advise them to leave a bad mistake in) and that they really are okay with, they can say 'stet!' and get on with their lives. I have sent this link to my son, an aspiring writer; what a great lesson! I don't know how you had the nerve to make it this far in the process. I can't imagine getting past the first step! Submitting a proposal - having the nerve to present one, and then - what if it's accepted! egad! too much pressure. I am very much looking forward to reading this new book, and am glad you have 'stet' to fall back on. The socks look nice too!
Once again I am reminded of the torture involved in getting a book from your heart and brain and onto the shelves of our bookstores. And you do that with humor also.
As usual, I got quite a chuckle from your blog today. But not for the usual reason. My other favorite blogger, Susan Albert, wrote an the same theme today. Different thoughts, same subject, and both very educational. Thanks for reminding us that what you do really takes a lot of time and work. And you both do it vey well. Thanks for all the peeks into your livingroom, and all the humor and frustration that you let us see.
We in the frozen north need all the help we can get.
I am sooo looking forward to reading your new book Stephanie! And I don't know about anyone else, but I don't care what the cover looks like - so long that your words are between them!
The second sock looks beautiful!
That sounds painful. Good luck.
At least your hair looks more controlled on this cover...just kidding!!
Sweet, you taught me a new and valuable word. "Stet." I like it.
BTW, I will proofread for yarn. Just in case you ever need such services...
I don't think you'll need to worry about getting an e-mail in fifty years about a mistake. By then, e-mails will probably be obsolete! Can't wait to get my copy (no matter what the cover looks like).
I just love you, you know that. Right?
Why is it more expensive at amazon ca rather than amazon.com.... is it an american publication ?
Hurray, a new book! And a new and wonderful word!
STET I love it and plan to use it -- often. Not totally crazy about the cover, but I'll buy the book and read it anyway cause I love your work, and I would NEVER judge a book by it's cover. congratulations on your great accomplishment!
"the serial comma is not a law, and you and your comma fetish can back right off."
How much do I love you for this statement alone?
I have a degree in English, yet I have this discussion (which I feel very passionate about) with people All. The. Time. Many of whom you'd think would know better. So, yes: STET your lack of serial comma. Oxford can kiss my arse.
Um, yeah, insert witty, knitting-related comment here. *shifty glance*
So sweetly, politely Canadian!
STET PLEASE . . .
I love it. (Now if you had put in multiple exclamation points, that would have been passive-aggressive, but as it is, it's emphatic yet courteous.)
I liked Lucia's explanation of its vs. it's actually (I do believe, Presbytera, that Steph's post today sounds like she'd rather not have more boo-boos than unavoidable in her manuscripts, and also that Lucia was offering tips in a spirit of helpfulness). Me, I remember that an apostrophe is taking the place of a letter (or a few) in a contraction like it's or aren't or I'd, so when I write it's, I mentally substitute it is and make sure I got it right. But when the ideas flow quickly, sometimes the its and it's fall by the wayside. That's OK. That's what they pay editors to do. If they didn't find any mistakes, they would have to go absolutely crazy 'correcting' any number of things that aren't mistakes, like "Some of the people", and that would be a lot worse.
(Not to be confused with STAT, which I get to use a lot more often than STET. Not that I can use it -- to any effect -- on my preteen daughter, but I can try either or both, I guess.)
I also love the three little dots that belong with STET.
I love putting them under things, even though I don't have a publisher (yet).
Yes, I am geek enough to write STET to MYSELF.
Wow. Maybe in some circles that could be considered certifiable...
Congratulations on The Proofs/The Proof
from one who used to put them into pretty pages (gosh, that was almost as fun as knitting, come to think of it!)
I very much enjoyed this post!!! So interesting to learn what really goes into writing a book. Thanks so much for sharing it with us! And for writing us another new book!!!!! Hang in there, it will all be over soon!
Yes, that cover on Amazon totally sucks. Can't wait to see something more like your last few covers. Please, God!!
I'm not sure which I laughed at more, your 'STET Please', or Presbytera's 'STET dammit'.
Thanks for the insights into book publishing. I like learning "behind the scenes" things. Like STET!
Must also agree with the cover - it looks like a cheap greeting card to me. And having worked for a cheap greeting card company I know of which I speak! Your other covers have all been good, I'm sure they can improve this one. Can't wait to read it :)
we are all writers on this blog
and then we are published
google your owm name
there you are for all to
see and you get to say
oh my goodness did i write that
your editorial review is just fine
I hope that your editor or whoever has power over that cover reads this. It is HIDEOUS. If I bought the book (which I want to), I would replace the cover immediately. I would rip it from the book so that I did not have to look at it. Seriously.
It's always interesting to hear the author's side of things. I am a scientific journal managing editor and though the material I am editing is very different from what you write, I can imagine that getting the writing in print is equally as important to my authors as it is to you. It is something that I could never do myself and for which I hold authors in the highest esteem.
Oh, and serial commas should be law.
And I have great sympathy on its/it's. Even though I know *perfectly well* what the usage is supposed to be, I often type the wrong thing. My usual excuse is, 'I'm a good speller, but a lousy typist'. But I'll mis-type any sound-alike words; there/they're/their, where/ware, here/hear. It's as if I have one 'primary spelling' for a given sound, and it takes extra effort to substitute a less commonly encountered one, even though I have no trouble telling which is correct.
And Andrea? The publisher is American, so they have to use 'color' instead of 'colour'. Otherwise Canada charges VAT on all those extra 'u's.
I have to agree with you about the cover. I'm not a huge fan. It's not super consistant with other covers you've done and covers from the publishers. Thanks for letting me voice my opinion.
But I love Canadians. I want to be a Canadian. Nuff said.
Omigosh, I am totally using "Stet, you arse!" at the first possible opportunity.
STET is awesome. And you're totally right. "People who get..." is WAY WAY better than "Some of the people who get..."
And I don't even know what the sentence is about... hah...
ps--> also awesome, apparently... ellipsis marks...
I love "STET" also but I generally use it, when I have marked out something I wrote and have now totally re-written it. Then, I come to my senses and realize it was much better in my first version, so I mark out the new version and say STET!
Wow. Just wow. You are incredible for going through all those stressful steps, succeeding at publishing incredibly delightful books, and then writing a humorous blog entry about the whole process. I know it's not fun for you, but thanks for making it funny for us. =)
Stet sounds like a wonderful word. I'm glad you enjoy using it! =)
In another life, I was an editor for a legal publisher and I have been proof reader, copy editor and editor among many other things...of course, they paid me to do all of those...I would pay you to let me edit your book...I love all your books (you can tell it's been a while since I worked for a publisher because I now love "..." instead of "real" punctuation). ;-)
Glad to see that everyone else already dissed the cover. Insist on something more dignified. your book is worth it. And thank you for hanging in there through the whole process. Nobody sends in midwives to help with book birth.
You certainly understand the publishing process. And though I've been a copy editor for 40+ years, I've never heard of the five C's. Thanks. Stet is an interesting word, esp. when I've pointed out that someone's aged 7 years in 10 calendar years and the author writes Stet. But, but ... Time for an executive decision (a phone call wouldn't have helped in this instance). The Very Good Thing for You in all this is that your publisher still goes through all the stages, including proofreading (much undervalued), and wants to get it right. Increasingly, this attitude is pushed aside in the name of speed (read: money), and what can result is a book about Woodlawn Cemetery, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (yep, the Central Park one), in which Oldstead is so misspelled throughout. You care; your publisher and editor care; life is good.
Oh, honey. I've been (and still am, even though they call me a supervisor) an editor in my department. I felt every frustration with each word, and I giggled. Yes, I did, because it's all true. I have several quotes written on cards in my cube. This is the one that everyone points to and reads aloud, "Editing is the same as quarreling with writers - same thing exactly." Harold Ross.
Isn't it hard enough to write a book without all these goings on after you have done so ? Thanks for the insight into it all. That is quite an education. The cover of the book is ""ok""but I had an email sent me and it had just the hands of serveral generations and a poem about what our hands do for us all our lives. Absolutely beautiful. It made me think that a picture of just your hands with the knitting in them might make a great cover. It's an idea . Good luck .
Just wondering, is the new book really hardcover? The price listed seemed more in line with paper.... If this is indeed your first hardcover, congratulations!
As far as what should be on the cover: I remember a few months back, when you had just returned home from a tour, you posted a picture of yourself sitting on the steps in the green sweater you had just finished, coffee cup in hand, looking very relaxed and happy. That photo should definitely be on the cover.
I used to be a proofreader. It really sucks. We only did wine lists and menus. If I was doing something interesting like a book on knitting, I might have liked the job a little better.
STET Please. It makes me proud to be Canadian. It makes me grin and grin and grin. Thank you for STET Please. psssst: relax. it's going to be ok. perhaps a shot of something screech-like is in order?
A wealth of information re: authoring for my eager little eyes - I had no idea. Thank you.
But it was the "Please" that sent me rolling to the floor. Viva La Harlot!
I don't care for the cover either. I don't want to hurt your feelings but I think the hair they gave the "character Stephanie) doesn't do you justice.
A real picture of you makes knitters stop and say"Hey, a new Steph book." We don't know that person on the cover.
1. I always think of Roseanne Roseannadanna when I see "Stet." It's like a big bunch of illegible scribbled edits followed by a sqeaky little "Oh. Never mind." (In my world the person editing and the person "stet-ing" are usually one and the same.)
2. Does that make this the bookbookbookbookbookbook? Can't wait!
I'm just dying to ask this:
How long (in general, I know all your books are different lengths)is the first manuscript in terms of word processed pages? I'm guessing it's different than what is type-faced, justified, headed, and illustrated in the final version. Good luck in your process. I teach writing and we always say it's a never ending process. Our students SO don't buy that though.
And the future emailer: tell them if there are typos in copies of Shakespeare (and there are!)then they should just take it down a notch or two and enjoy the rest of the book.
LOSE THE COVER....it's one of the worst I've seen in the past year..maybe forever.
Fine writing should not be COVER(ED)up with that.
Oh my gosh STET. I'm a proofreader during my day job. STET and I have spent many lonely hours together as some editor makes changes and I say "no, that's grammatically incorrect...STET."
Thank you for your humorous commentary :-D Enjoy the rest of the book.
That cover has got to be a mock-up. It's incredibly ugly.
But I like the serial comma.
Ah, STET. Now you're playing my song. That's one of the few things I really miss from my editing life; in fact, I briefly considered getting a STET tattoo. People may try to change me, but...STET! I'm fine the way I am, thankyouverymuch.
And the panic and nausea...does it help you to know that people at the publishing house have it too?
I must admit, you are right about that cover. Please tell them they must change it.
I must say that Phase Two sounds a hell of a lot like what I do when grading students' papers. Sometimes I'd really like to just write, "You are an idiot and your parents are wasting their money!!!" But I refrain and write AWK instead. Sometimes it's bad enough that when I get a good paper I actually cry tears of joy. You should assume that your publishing people cry those same tears of joy upon receiving another delightful manuscript from you!
I worked as an editor for awhile. I never used please after STET. No wonder they thought I was a bitch! ;)
Oh my goodness. In my foray into the publishing world, I never learned about STET. I'll have to remember that for the next book :)
I have to commend you on the whole process - especially the churning out of manuscripts (or rather, many many "my preciouses" - what is the plural of precious anyway? Preciousii?) And I really appreciate your laying it all out about how it works in the Real Publishing World (as opposed to the I Am the Publisher world)
By the way, nice sock :D and it totally cracks me up that you wrote Stet PLEASE instead of STET Please :)
Wow. Cool! I learned two new words today - STET and fissiparous.
I'd never heard either of them. :)
Even though I'm certain we would have violent disagreements about Serial Commas, I do love that word. STET. STET. STET.
So, my question is why writers don't just use STET the very first time the editor suggests a change they don't like? :) Wouldn't that make for less bickering and heartache?? Of course, then the book might not turn out as good, but at least they would have gotten their way.
I realize that everyone is telling to change what you already explained you can't. I'm telling you to tell your publisher to read the comments.
A thumbnail of your book turned up my list of recommended books, and I didn't even click on it to learn more about it because the cover was so infantile. Powers that be, we're adults and many of us are professionals, please rethink that cover.
STET is a great word. I think Southerners (those of us from the Sounthern US) would totally say STET please,too, or at least my mother would have wanted me to.
Thanks for the great inside view of the whole book birthing process, and your daily blog. I check it each day at work (lunch time).
I'm sorry about the cover, I certainly hope it will not be the final. When did they hire the 5 year old for cover artwork?
I'm with Presbytera! "Stet, dammit" is much more forceful than "Stet, please." Reminds me of the old Captain Kangaroo shows when he often talked about "Please" and "Thank You" being magic words. Believe me, "Dammit!" is MUCH more effective magic (along with a few other words.)
Being an aspiring young writer your blog today has been very informative. Thanks for the link to the financial end of it all. One of my new hobies is collecting all the information possible on becoming an author. This is helpful in fortifying my determination of what I am going to be up against in wanting to become an author. I really appreciate your perspective on things. You always make me laugh, not matter how mundane (the toilet seat) what you write about is.
Well, hell, if the stet doesn't get them to put the words back, the please wshould guilt them into it! :) (Looking forward to the book!)
Carpe diem. Finish proofreading that sucker STAT and then knit.
Oh well. I had to try.
Thanks for that enlightening post. I cannot thank you enough, actually. I just decided to submit a book proposal....
The secret joy of ghostwriting. All screwups attributed elsewhere.
(Late to the party again...)
My favorite "STET" story (is it E.B. White who tells it?) is of the newspaper editor who was getting married. His telegram of congratulation from the print room read, in its entirety, "STET."
In all my years of working professionally, freelance, and amateur-status as an editor, I have never once seen anyone write "STET PLEASE."
I would be overjoyed to work with you any time. I promise to be gentle and use non-red ink. :)
And I was taught that it was a Harvard comma. Makes it sound more, I don't know, educated. I agree with you on the cover, but I'd buy it no matter what it looked like.
I can't wait for the book. I promise to overlook any typo and just enjoy the brilliance.
Oh I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to think/state that STET!
so, you know that book I have been thinking about writing for-evah ? ... I think I just forgot it. plot gone, idea gone. erased by irrational, irrepressible fear of the dreaded big E (editors)...
(only joking - but perhaps I'm not)
It helps that you share your process - makes it all so much more real!
Hope to see you at Madrona next month.
Is Norma your proof reader?
STET. I do like it. :)
You guys really freak out about those little mistakes and stuff? I love finding typos in books.
It's a nice random reminder that this fine piece of literature I'm reading was given to me by another human. Makes it even more fun.
(Though I have to admit that when my ex boyfriend spelled his main character's name wrong I laughed my ass off at him. Loudly and for longer than necessary. But, like, the whole story sucked and he deserved it anyways.)
Does anyone except me have a real problem with Amazon offering Stephanie's as-yet-unpublished knitting book AT A DISCOUNT before it's even been printed???????
That drives me nuts!
How dare they?
All the blood, sweat, and tears, all the energy, and they are 'discounting' it before they've even seen what it is! The same thing is happening to those lovely 'Mason Dixon' ladies and I can't stand it! It's so rude!
I plan to vote with my feet and visit the bookstore!
Is that supposed to be your hair on the cover? Gak! If they try to keep it on the final version, we could all go to all the bookstores and paste stickers over it that say "Blame the Artist!"
As far as book revisions. I have a memory of receiving back the edits on a book and feeling very pleased, as I thumbed through the pages, that my editor wasn't asking me to change hardly a word. Then I got to one of my favourite chapters in the book and across it was written something like: "this chapter has absolutely no relevance to anything else in the entire manuscript and must be expunged in entirety" or words to that effect. Instead of the torture of a thousand cuts, they just went and hacked off a limb. Crush me! The hardest part, the thing that I still remember is that, when I reread the thing through, my precious chapter, my lovely prose, my witty observations... The editor was right: it didn't belong in that book. It needed to be cut. I hate it when the other guy is right.
Doesn't it weird you out to see your book in a public library? If I ever publish a book I would get really, really weirded out by that. I don't know why, I just would...
And I think stet may just be my new favorite word. =D
HOLY EFFING GODS WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME ABOUT STET BEFORE?
There was this whole thing about a project that was "shortened" for space and totally lost its clarity and we had to beg SEVERAL times for it to be restored and had I known the magic word they would have known that we REALLY MEANT IT the first time.
*weeps with relief*
dear STET-phanie --
having been a newspaper copy editor for 40+ years (and still in the trenches) i greatly admire your "canadian nice" (similar to minnesota nice) sense of restraint. stet please? i love it.
my experience has been that the best writers are the ones most willing to listen to suggestions, but also most able to explain why when they deviate from standard style. (and on the flip side, the writers whose arses one routinely saves several times per story are the ones who will immediately go into attack mode if you can't reach them on deadline and misinterpret their bad writing. obviously, you fall into the first category.)
i do hope that the cover on amazon is merely a "placeholder" for the real thing. (or, given your publication date, an april fool's joke by a graphic artist who has a lovely cover to show you once the joke has run its course.)
if i were in toronto, i'd read proofs for you for free, an offer i would make to no more than one or two other beings.
but knowing that your new book is due out 4/1, i now have two things to look forward to that month . . . and publishers are much better about complying with the calendar than weather patterns are.
I'm only familiar with your voice - and I mean your *actual* voice - on an occasional basis. This was one of a handful of blog posts that actually read to me in your tone and cadence. I could even feel the laugh pauses, waiting for the crowd to quiet. There's a speaking engagement here, right here, in this post. Tie a bow on it, and have your agent start pumping you to book house events.
And only you, darling, would quell your anxiety with *that* sock.
I loved this post and I feel your pain. After my books were published, I felt like I wanted to crawl away and hide somewhere forever. I would cringe at my Amazon sales numbers, wondering how in the world so many people could be taken in by my pretending to be a writer. I loved the people who were kind enough to reassure me that they loved my books--so that's what I want to do for you. We love your books. Relax, Stephanie. Mistakes? So what. You're a superhero to us and you're entitled. Don't let the mistakes inhibit you one bit. We love you.
I first learned STET in high school as editor of the newspaper. They used linotypes then. I lived with it as editor of the law review in law school. I've had many occasions over the years to use it though I ended up a lawyer. We use printers too. I've never seen "STET PLEASE." I laughed my head off. On a bitterly cold day from hell, it was a much needed laugh.
My two cents on the its vs. it's posts that have been going on for days. I am sure Steph knows the difference. I know I know the difference. Computers are a blessing, but those kinds of typos crop up in my e-mails and posts and they do for all others, Steph included. Spell check won't catch it and we don't proof our posts in the fool proof way, with two people holding galleys, one reading aloud, punctuation and all, and the other wielding the red pen. So, I think it would be nice if folks would lighten up about that. She's only slipped a couple of times and which of us can say we have not done that on the computer?
Oh, how I love STET. Particularly when overzealous marketing managers who think they're writers (and art directors too, but I digress) and change sentences with *absolutely nothing wrong* to *horribly grammatically incorrect*...
Um. Sorry. Got a little carried away. I swear, folks, not all editors (most of whom are writers too) are humorless. Perfect grammar or otherwise, a good editor recognizes good writing (like Stephanie's) when they see it.
Anyway...while I fall firmly in the defense of the serial comma, I also recognize that it's a matter of style (in my world, Chicago vs. AP). So rock on with your bad-arse self, and use one fewer comma per sentence than some of us prefer: you are the Yarn Harlot, and it is YOUR DAMN BOOK.
Except for that extra "and" after my first parenthetical. See? Human, I swear.
Thanks for the perspective.
I'm a graphic artist/typesetter, so partway through, things became familiar.
But I have friends who are professional writers, and they've encouraged me to write, so I think I will.
As a typesetter, though, my most frequent "mistake" is spelling things correctly. I've even had people say, "Oh, look at that! The dictionary has it misspelled!"
It sounds like an exciting, if nervewracking adventure. Please continue writing!
This propably isn't going to help you right now, but your books are international. ;) I live in Helsinki, Finland and there are copies of your books available at local bookstores.
This might not come as a surprise to you though, as knitters are everywhere. :)
Allow me to introduce you to another term that vanquishes editors. "Term of Art". That means "You may think it's wrong but that's the way we say it and you mess with it at your peril". I wrote my first NASA publication in 1976, followed by about thirty more, and I could reduce senior editors to whimpering by saying "Oh, that's a term of art. You can't change it."
I am so excited for this book! *anticipates*
When I worked with a fairly well-known science fiction/fantasy author, we went out and got her two stamps... STET and STET Dammit. I know that you're too polite to use the latter, but I know that you'd at least enjoy imagining it. =)
STET is also used by lawyers to mean "I changed my mind and then changed it back again" when they edit their letters/contracts/court documents and then hand them to their long-suffering secretaries for typing.
(Yes, I am a long-suffering legal secretary. Why do you ask?)
Hey, I'm part Canadian by ancestry and as a UNB grad (1976). I do appreciate all the Canadianisms. Aren't stets those things they put on the front of Norwegian sweaters?
Well, my secret plan to write a book on the same topic is now shaking in it's proverbial boots! Since I'm a psychotherapist, it might need to be something more on the lines of, The Knitting Cure: If You Think You are Psycho, and hanging by a thread... etc.
Thanks for that: it was really informative. I do occasionally in my job have to edit, sorry! (but only academic stuff) and it was good to have your very funny overview.
Remember: it will pass. Don't forget to breathe. And pick out reward yarn/pattern for when it's all over!
More pearls of wisdom from the amazing Yarn Harlot - will you come to London this time, PLEASE (stet?)
Wow, I've only used STET to undo my own edits. This use opens up a whole new world. And the cover/not cover? Really, not so much. I am a Graph Paper Knitter, and I like my cover art crisp, or at least stylized. The suggested cover gives the probable content short shrift. Your understanding of knitters and knitting is finely articulated, and so should your book covers be.
Thank you for this insightful post into the publishing industry. I've only ever used stet on my own edits when I've edited something, and then realized that it made more sense the way it was. :)
As someone who would like to write herself (just what, I'm not sure yet), I find these posts helpful and interesting. And it brings a greater appreciation for when I read the final version of your book. And I don't think I've ever found a mistake in them. There are other major authors whose books always have spelling, capitalization and grammar mistakes when published though.
Oh thank you for explaining what the steps are from you side. I've got no interest in even attempting to write a book but have always been quite curious what the writing life is like from an author's view.
I love STET!
Thanks for explaining "stet" - had heard it but didn't really "get" it. And I loved your publishing-a-book process: informative *and* funny!
So this is what I can look forward to if I can actually finish my book proposal, eh? Thanks for the reminder. I'm going to go hide under my desk.
I love STET. I first learned it when I was an ad dept. secretary. Then I moved on to word processing specialist. That was in the days before spell-check, and oh lordy, the proofing we did! I must confess I did enjoy scribbling the delete symbol, especially when proofing a senior VP's writing. [eg] (WP rules trumped VPs. I loved it.) I *didn't* enjoy reading things backwards on really important copy, though. Gahh, the poor eyeballs...
What's really fun, though, are the differences between standard and journalistic style. When someone gets on you about the serial commas, Steph? Tell 'em you're using the opposing stylebook. Switch at will. It might provide some much-needed comic relief during the process.
(And while I'm all for correctness in its place, blogs such as this are supposed to be *fun*; not a job. Stephanie obviously has plenty of editors for her on-the-job writing. Letting her relax and enjoy herself without nitpicking on her own blog would be a kindness.)
As a professional proofreader, I just wanted to let you know that we like the word stet as well. Especially when you make a change that make a sentence grammatically correct, or fix an embarrassing spelling mistake, and then the client decides they want to change it back to the way it was.
You. Personally. With wit and humor, brought me back to knitting after years of thinking I was bad at it. With the availability of help on the 'net, I got to trying different stuff and found out I can do it! I love it! I hope that knowing your STET-ing in the face of marketing types and other myriad faceless minions of commerce has inspired so many makes it worth the anguish.
Rock on, Steph!
Firstly, I love your blog and own all your books!
Secondly, with each reprint errors noticed/reported from the previous books get edited out, so chances are in 50 years the version published will be the perfect book! I try to not buy any book, especially cookbooks or craft books until at least the first reprint.
Thirdly, Americans are the only English-speaking race who use the serial comma. I personally (as an Australian editor-in-training) think it is extremely unneccesary! But I know anything you write will be supremely entertaining, extraneous commas or no :)
1.) Oh my god, my life summed up in one post, except my sunburn was at a local pond and still was a spa by comparison.
2.) I think I missed out on step five. I had pages for about five seconds. Barely got past my name on the title page. I did not, however, miss the step where the book is on Amazon, everyone wants it, it's arriving the first week of December, and suddenly is delayed until January. That was awesome. Just awesome.I think I crawled into a wine bottle and stayed there for a month. They wonder why authors drink. HAH.
3.) "STET, please" is my new favorite phrase. I am going to use it liberally in my future, I can feel it.
As a writer and occasional editor of non-writers myself, I think "STET, please" is a beautiful thing - much nicer than "Oh, for crying out loud..." My personal favorite is TK - content to come.
As an editor and writer, I'm all too familiar with “stet” and the chore/joy of explaining a few choice editing marks to the uninitiated. :)
Another thing I like to point out is that when multiple hands are touching a draft...well, of all the lovely colors that would make your marks stand out on the page against the printed text and the two (or three or four or more) hands also marking up the text, why, oh why, use black? It blends after a few hundred pages, and it disappears when faxed/photocopied. When I worked regularly with such drafts, my boss used red, the graphic designer used green, I used purple, and the (insert many expletives here) client(s) used black. In making final changes, red or purple *always* trumped green or black.
I love stet and ibid (history major). Please -- me too. I got yelled at when I was a waitress because I'd always say the order and finish with "please." The cook thought I wanted to add cheese to every order. Sometimes polite is bad.
Wouldn't inherently Canadian be "Sorry but STET" where "sorry" actually means "that was a dumbass edit but I don't want you to know I think its a dumbass edit so I'm going to apologize so you can't be mad about it"?
Hmmm... if I had any aspirations te being a writer, I think you've quashed them. I'm just too lazy for all that angst.
My mom works for a journal and while she is VERY competent at grammer etc., they outsource her work to INDIA for copy editing. She says it's comical as it comes back with stereotypical "Indian" phraseology edited into her textbook perfect English. I wonder if she knows the word STET??
Your dedication to your public is overwhelming. We appreciate you.
Great blog! I am a managing editor and I found your POV as an author funny, refreshing, and very true! We *do* complain about the authors in our meetings. ;o) Unless of course you're one of those authors who turns in a manuscript on time and does not over-use STET. Then we sing your praises. :o)
Fascinating! I'm an author too, but get this: I'm too cowardly/uninformed/inexperienced to know what to do with my stories (childhood fantasy, &c). I may look up those books Amazon recommends that "other readers also bought...." The bottom line, of course, is that *there's a new Yarn Harlot book in the offing*! I guess I can wait (have I any choice?) but I DO love delicious Anticipation.
What a fascinating view of "the other side!" I am a production editor--making sure all manner of things are done to a manuscript to make it a real live book, most of which you the author would rather not know about--and though I will admit to my fair share of author-bashing, this post has made me feel ... well, sympathy. Congratulations to you. I wonder if you would find it at all amusing to read one of our vent sessions. I am sure you are a perfectly reasonable, normal human being, but I assure you, many, many authors make me want to stab myself in both eyes with a red pencil--just so I don't have to see their butchered English and arrogant, misinformed comments anymore. Le sigh.
That said, I happen to know that you can construct sentences, so none of that negative stuff applies to you. Congrats on your new book!
Rock on with the STET, Steph. But, speaking as a grammar geek of the first order, the serial comma is serious business. I will, however, debate the merits of the FINAL serial comma. I.e., do you have to write "run, jump, and throw" or can you write "run, jump and throw"? I feel there is some wiggle room there. Glad the gut wrenching is almost over.
Ah yes, sounds like a fun day--in my world it is called "the time bomb", 24 hours to read through 200 pages and find all the misspellings and more importantly wrong numbers. I don't write wonderful things that entertain people--I write science/financially filled reports, which do nothing but help somebody else decide how to make money (sigh--I'm getting a little depressed). My only consolation is I always know what the cover will look like--same as the last cover, except with different words--boring boring boring. I hope you've sent that baby on its way--did I spell "its" properly? :)
As someone who has worked in the publishing industry for 7 years, I have to tell you that your explanation is really fantastic. I'd love to share this with my new authors as a guide for what to expect from someone who has been there. Let me know if that would be okay.
Some things are so freakish it is clear that the universe is conspiring to...well, I don't know what... but....
Early yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, I was proofing a survey with a colleague and an (Asian) graduate student. The student asked many questions because 1) English is not her first language and 2) my colleague has dreadful handwriting. The grad student stopped at a line and said to my colleague, "What is this word?" and my colleague answered "STET", that she had accidentally crossed out a word she meant to keep. I had never heard it before, so we all walked away delighted to have learned a new "word".
Not two hours later, I read your post...and forwarded the link to my colleague who was equally astounded. So what's the universe trying to tell us?
It's so kind of you to go through all this aggravation for us. I feel confident that I can speak for the Blog Collective when I write "We appreciate it!"
Looking forward to the new book, however the final cover & title turn out. :)
I just tried to pre-order your book and got an error message. If only stet would work on computers....
If it's any consolation, none of us want to be in all those meetings you mention. Don't think of it as ~~ you don't *get* to go the meeting. Think of it as ~~ you don't *have* to go to the meeting. Lucky authors.
Thank You, Thank You, THANK YOU!!!
Thank you for struggling through the muck to make this happen, and all the times before. I am just so happy you love writing enough to deal with the difficulties that follow just getting the words on a page. I do enjoy your writing so much. Not to mention the laughing! :o)
Thank you for showing me what lies ahead. My panic attacks are coming every four minutes now. Should I call the midwife?
Now, I know you're using the meek tone of voice when you say "please" in that little statement, but, it's entirely possible that the editor, who reads it, will hear the parental tone of voice. You know, the tone that brooks no argument. And yet, you said "Please." Just like any good Canuck.
Knit on through this crisis, too, Lovey. It'll be over soon and then you will have a new book to be justifiably proud of!
now see, i too would have said "stet, please."
not because i'm canadian, but because i'm southern. *smiles!*
incidentally, i'm ALSO a southerner who may be relocating to canada sometime in the next year due to a potential job change by my partner. *makes the OMG SCARY! face*
frequently, your descriptions of "canadian" politeness slide right home with me and my definition of traditional southern charm. and while i'm in no way the traditional southern woman, (being a single bisexual 29 year old, living a poly alternative lifestyle) i seem to have gotten the charm in spades. i swear. no matter what people's views on ANYTHING are, they always seem to want to talk to me, and say how "nice" i am. i sometimes wonder how i manage to come off as "nice" when all i have really wanted to do all evening is stab their eyeballs out with my aluminum 3.25s...
i think except for the y'alls, (and my love for basketball and indifference to hockey) i'll fit right in, hm? plus, i knit now! i've made three scarves, some wristbands. some footie slipper things (not great, but passable) and a ton of little stuff (including a knitted cthulhu that my Sir keeps on His desk at work. )
i'm starting on a piece with an actually must-follow pattern a teddy bear like Mr. Bean's teddy in cotton for my best friend's as yet unborn babe... her first.
so, um... yay for knitting! i'm trying my first real, actual, out of sock yarn on little DPNs, really really made to wear on a foot sock soon.
it's not my first sock ever. my actual first sock was.. horrible. knitted in a colorway of acrylic cheapo yarn called "camouflage" (black, dark green and a lighter green in a rotation too quick for anything BUT hiding from deer on a 4-wheeler oh. and cthulhu) and big enough to be a christmas stocking.
and hey, what's wrong with that? i finished it in early november. not wanting to totally waste my time/effort (and having succumbed to knitter's denial halfway through the mangled attempt at a short-row heel) i knitted a little loop for it, and that's what it was. my dad's present, an antique pitch-pipe, fit perfect in the toe, and it was a great gift all around. *sigh* except my dad is so enamoured with it that he has the hideous thing hung up in his office.
"my little girl made that!" he says. "it's a sock!!" and i am mortified, both that he has to identify it when he beams with pride, and that my pitiful excuse for a sock is prominently displayed where his buddies go.
do you ever look at work that you've done in the past that you've gifted to someone, and want to take it back, and say, "oh god! let me have that! i'll fix it for you!"? does that happen to you? needless to say, i've become MUCH more particular about the things i give as gifts... *sigh*
I've just received a copy of my first book from the publisher, and ... well, I did cry. Never got to see proofs, because I had to be out of town, my publisher resigned just before it went to print etc etc. I'm over the shock of such a very green cover now, but I spent most of my day flinging myself around in despair. It sounds like very bad behaviour, and I just knew no-one around would understand (they all thought the cover looked fine!) So anyway, it's a relief to read that someone as experienced at the book thing as the Yarn Harlot also goes through agonies during book production. I hope it's over really soon, and that all your STET commands are obeyed.
I solemnly swear to only buy NEW copies of your books.
You said, "The only comfort a writer has at this point (and who knows, perhaps there are writers who LOVE this part. If there are, and they are sober, I'd love to hear from them.)".
There definitely are writers who LOVE that part, but they aren't sober (ergo, they LOVE that part) so you most likely won't be hearing from them. Although, you could always join them ...
You are surrounded by such a swarm of loyal, loving, and even adoring fans that you most likely have nothing to even worry your pretty little head about.
Good luck with it all,
I have copies of all your books and I just put the new one on my amazon wish list. However, I have a question: is there a good sweater pattern book for women with big bosoms? Wooly or chunky on me is laughable. Anything that hangs loose looks like I could possibly be pregnant. What Not to Wear suggests things that pull in gently under the breast, but I haven't found patterns for handknits like this. I'm not particularly big all over, just in the chest. Any suggestions?
For Laura @ 12:28 pm: Check out Big Girl Knits by Jillian Moreno and Amy Singer. They indicate on the designs whether they're most flattering to bosom, belly and/or butt. You may find something you like in there!
I love STET! As a copy editor at a largish Midwestern (U.S.) newspaper, I find great uses for it. And please know that copy editors only have your best interests in mind and in no way want to become the owner of "My Precious." (Notice the U.S. punctuation...) And I am thankful that my work happens on a daily basis and does not include the agonizingly long waits book publishing incurs! Write on, Stephanie, write on!
"STET Please" makes you sounds like a lady. (You already are).
It just makes the copy editors know that they're working with a knitter. Not just another author.
Very enlightening! I too love the power of STET (I write and edit a lot in my job). Just wish I could tell my boss to STET more often when she wants to change my writing!! STET Power!! Rock on. And I am very much looking forward to the new book -- LOVE the title, I can only imagine the content, but I know it will reflect the genious that is the Yarn Harlot.
Translated: Those are my last pair of knitting scissors and I have grown tired of finding them under a stack of construction paper, at the bottom of the crayon jar, and in your sock drawer.
I love, love, love.... STET Please......
I'm a writer and an editor...on either side it makes me smile!
While you are biting your nails and worrying about the book, I have faith and have just pre-ordered it on Chapters.
I love STET!!!! I use it all the time as I work in the catalog industry and am always proofing something.
I always write in in CAPS. STET STET STET
Maybe I'll start adding exclamation points....
STET! STET! STET!
Then they'll know I mean it!
i am a writer by day--technical manuals that no one ever reads but it pays the bills. i have editors and they do what editors do: re-write everything. i make the majority of their changes but i do dearly love to write STET on some edit. because as much as i inwardly curse and sometimes rage, "no damnit, i meant it that way!" STET seems ever so firm yet polite.
looking forward to the next book.
In my "abundant spare time" I've done substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading but I've never seen The Process from the author's viewpoint. Wonderful, and thank you. The author whose book I edited has been chewing his nails (via email) and now I understand why.
Lucia, thank you for: "The sock is beautiful; I love it's tiny leaf" --> "The sock is beautiful; I love her tiny leaf." Oops. "Her" does not have an apostrophe. Make it "its."
In my day job I am on the staff of a university graduate program and among other things I post writing tips and hints for our students. They are IT specialists and graduate-level writing presents its challenges. I think your hint will be the one that works.
How much would it take to get you to explain the book-making process to all of my authors???
I edit text books, and you're the first author I know of who seems to actually understand who sees what and when and what kind of changes they're allowed to make at what point in the process (yes, I swear I'm really an editor!).
Although lots of people make changes that they're not supposed to make - that's why STET is one of my favorites too! The copyeditors and proofreaders are ALWAYS getting things wrong, and it drives me CRAZY! Don't be afraid to use STET with force (and red pen!) - don't bottle it up inside - Let it out!!!
While you are undeniably a goddess in all respects (especially knitting and writing about knitting), you are wrong about the serial comma. If it isn't a law, it should be.
How else are you going to know what color John's socks are if John has red and green, blue and yellow and orange socks? If you use the serial comma, all is made clear! Either John has red and green, blue, and orange and yellow socks; or John has red and green, blue and orange, and yellow socks.
See? There's a difference! It goes without saying, of course, that it also cues for that nice little breathy pause before ooming to the end of the list.
So I click on the "this book" link to be taken to Amazon to see the cover. (I like it, btw.) And I scroll down... and I scroll down... and I see an SPM 2009 CALENDAR? So I click on the calendar and it's offered in a "better with" package with the new BOOK?
I should just buy stock in Amazon now.
I totally feel you, Stephanie! I just sent my final proofs back to my publisher, and I have minor panic attacks thinking I missed something.
Plus, Amazon still has my book listed as "by Chronicle Books LLC Staff", which makes me think they'll dump me as author at the last minute, even though that's completely irrational!
Here's mine, by the way: http://tinyurl.com/33q973
Good luck with the edits!
I ordered your book and the calendar. I wondered when you would create a calendar. The delivery date is in June. That's a long time to sit on the mailbox.
There it is again. The clean house. I'm just convinced you are a neat freak. This is like the 4th picture that proves it...
LOL - I'm getting married in April, and as I was flipping through the wedding books I came across some possible things to engrave on the inside of the band... lovely things like the wedding date, initials, bible verses, bits of poetry... but my favorite was, "Put it back on." But now, I think that I might talk my sweetie into engraving "Stet" on our rings. ;)
Thankfully for the rest of us you are willing to endure all those steps which just sound horrendous to me. But then again, I can't write well to save my life!
As a Latin teacher and knitter (see my ID?), I appreciate all plugs for the usefulness of my dear dead language. I was also an intrepid school newspaper editor back in HS (a 4-page weekly!) and I learned STET before I actually learned Latin.
May have to quote you in class tomorrow.
Tell you what. You wind and I'll snort your sock yarn cakes. Then we can toss back some fiery adult beverages to round out the event.
Beautiful yarn ya got there.