Copy-editing Overview

“Write drunk, edit sober”— Ernest Hemingway

Today, Lianne Slavin, the Managing Production Editor at MUP (Manchester University Press), taught the session. She discussed the key roles of a copy-editor.

They will usually look at the book after copious amounts of editing has already been applied. This is where the target market is considered and to ensure all plot lines are fulfilled and is usually taken care of by the commissioning editors. For academic publishers, this will take place as part of the peer review process.

Occasionally, they may spot errors other that the commissioning editors may have missed. Publishers might then have to review their fee and pay them more to help eliminate these errors.

Because copy-editors are usually freelance, they can either contact the author directly to liaise with them about their manuscript, or all forms of communication will be directed through the publisher, it depends on the publisher and what their preferred method is. Any queries are usually put on to the editor’s list of quires, they will also follow the publisher’s style sheet, or sometimes, follow the style of the author.

We also looked at some proof-mark symbols, some of them where easy to understand, such as the one below, while other symbols did not look to me like they would mean anything. Would would definitely need some practice if I were to use these on a manuscript.

the little red hen


Review and Changing Dynamics

publicChanges are slowly taking place so publishers need to be prepared when things starts to create an impact.

Below is a snippet from one of Tony’s emails:


Today, I learnt more about how academic publishers are different to trade. For example, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and Open Access are making it difficult for publishers as they they want open access materials to be available to the public, free of charge. This means someone, such as a publisher, the author, a crowd source or a body will have to provide funding if a book is to be produced. Funding would be given to those who make an impact, but this would be difficult to measure, which we discussed in class. As a negative impact isn’t necessarily a good impact, is it?

Access for funding used to be based on the number of students within a university where as the journals and monographs are now being assessed, which may not be fair as this is more likely to result in the same universities being given more funding. People are also more likely to take on smaller projects and it may prejudice women who may want to take maternity leave.

Also, if books become free for the public, then they have to be funded in other ways. Consequently, poor, inaccurate work is more likely to reach the public who may deem this to be well-written and true.

(We also spent 10 minutes at the start of the class analysing the Interactive textbooks survey we made a couple of weeks ago. It appeared that most people would rather have interactive quiz’s embedded into the textbooks and the price varied from £20- 100 depending on the subject.)

Author Contracts

‘A contract is… a legal document that binds two parties. It must be fair to both.’- William Germano (2001).

In the first half of the class we looked at the difference between an academic contract and a trade contract. In a trade contract,  film rights would be important to mention, however it is not usually important for academic publishers.

We looked at some emails between the commissioning editor, Tony, and the authors. Some authors ask for help from societies, who usually advise them to go through and question the contract line by line. However, one must understand that it is a general contract they have been given, so not everything will apply to the individual. it became clear from reading these emails that both the publisher and the author sometimes haggle to find a balance and reasoning that is right for them both before the contract is signed.

In the second half of the class, we looked at times where the contract was challenged and the responses that were provided which gave us a real insight to what it would be like when faced with those sort of challenges. There were also emails shown to us about authors falling out and not being able to finish the manuscript and an author plagiarising work after the book has been put in to print. These are all serious things to consider for any publisher and it was good to see how this would be looked at from a legal perspective.


Clark’s Publishing Agreements: a Book of Precedents by Lynette Owen is a useful book to look at when considering the Law in publishing. This was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury Professional,  Online, p.93

Germano, William. (2001), Getting It Published, University of Chicago Press

Demand Driven Acquisition and Market Research

This week I went in early to learn more about Profit and Loss sheets because those things are confusing to beginners! After I understood that, or rather, we ran out of time, the lesson begun with our homework task.

We had to choose a book and decide what to say to buyers to persuade them to sell it to bookshops. For this, I learned that information given to a buyer should only be a could of paragraphs in length and include information that has not already been provided- This is something I did not know before doing the task.

Demand Driven Acquisition 

Soo… What is Demand Driven Acquisition? After a bit of research and discussing it in class, I now know that it is a method which provides students and staff with access to more resources, whilst maximising the Library’s expenditure. This benefits the libraries and the consumers, but publishers worry that they will be losing money as less libraries will be ordering and buying books right away. More information about this can be found at: [Accessed: 03/11/15] [Accessed: 03/11/15] [Accessed: 03/11/15]

Market Research

In the second half of the lesson, we focused on market research and its importance. We discussed the difference between quantitative and qualitative data and then, in groups, produced a questionnaire on Survey Monkey. This was aimed at students, as most of the class chose to aim it at lecturers. It’s focus was to gather their responses to enhanced e-textbooks which is a generally unexplored area amongst academic publishers, but an avenue that could potentially take off in the future.