How can I cut down on copyeditor queries?

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[4 minute read, plus 15m + 18m for downloadables]

I really feel for authors – here I am, churning out queries sometimes months, occasionally years, after they thought they were done with the text and it was all fine and ready to be published, and they were safe to move on to the next project. Some even express their embarrassment to me – that bits of text were added, bits were cut, and the references list wasn’t updated accordingly. Sometimes, it was just an utterly human glitch. There’s no need for embarrassment – if you were perfect, I’d be out of a job, for one thing!

However, if you want to pre-empt some of these queries, while you’ve still got all the materials to hand, and you’ve still got your mind on this topic, I’ve prepared a couple of documents you can download and keep handy on the kinds of checks you can make for yourself, depending on how much time you have available – with the biggest wins first.

That means the copyeditor will have more energy and time to spend on the text itself, and you won’t be driven round the bend trying to locate stuff so long after the event.

I’ve also included issues around quotations – oh, the missing pinpoints! So many authors find, when I raise the query, that the quotation wasn’t where they thought it was, either on the page, or even in that book, article or report… It’s that being human thing again. (But thanks for the job creation!)

We all try our hardest, but the gremlins sometimes take over. It’s why material to be published takes so many pairs of eyes – yours, the desk editor’s and/or the volume editor’s, the beta readers’ or anonymous reviewers’, mine, the typesetter’s and the proofreader’s. Even the indexer may pick up inconsistencies, way down the line.

We’ve all seen errors survive into publication, but don’t you feel more secure in what you’re reading, if they’re at a minimum?

So save future-you some time and aggravation when the copyeditor rolls up and follow my advice to reduce the number of queries you’ll have to sort out weeks, months, even years into the future.

There’s one download for references – by far the richest source for queries in the material I work on – divided up according to how much time you may have available, with the biggest wins first. And the second is for quotations, which throw out a fair few queries of their own, though not usually as many as the references do.

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