Thursday, February 22, 2007

More questions

The following questions are Ritchie's; a response from me follows each one.

(Q1) Do we hand in the test with our copyediting marks, the final revision with no copyediting marks, or both?

The first: you are being graded on the way you make and use your copyediting marks.

(Q2) The greeting says, "Hello again editors of literary journals." Are we to assume that this letter is a sent mass e-mail? Are we to treat greetings and salutations like headers, where we capitalize certain words?

Please see the back of the version of test 1 with my editing marks; it has, as I pointed out in class, a follow-up e-mail message from Dzanc Books. You will see by reading it who the intended audience for the text of test 2 is.

Actually, the salutation says, "Hello again, Editors of Literary Journals." I suggested to Davis and Moon Yun that they look online for guidelines for the composition of business letters. One of my main reasons for doing this was to get them to focus on the salutation, which is not in the correct form.

(Q3) Are contractions appropriate in business (or any formal) letters? For example, in the second paragraph, " we'll go about getting all of the above plans into motion...."

It depends on what is being asked and whom it is being asked of. A personal letter to you from the White House—or, say, a printed invitation to a formal wedding—would probably not have any contractions. In this case, I would say it's all right to use them.

(Q4) I did not understand what the author meant by "want[ing] to pick the brains of the people who have been out on the front lines." When you do not understand an author's meaning, do you still copyedit the sentence, or do you query the author about it's meaning? (I just deleted that part of the sentence because it sounded informal. Plus, if my assumptions are correct, then he is referring to the questions portion of the e-mail.)

First of all, please remember that possessive pronouns like its do not have apostrophes.

Secondly, yes, he is referring to the questions he wants people to answer. I would suggest you do your best to copyedit the passage and then add a query to the author.

(Q5) In "1. Library Subscriptions," the author writes, "group deal offerings to libraries." I am not sure what that means, would it be alright to say "by offering group deals to libraries." I found it difficult to revise this business letter because it required a bit of knowledge on literary journals, marketing, and subscriptions. I know the author is trying to promote his foundation by showing all the ways he can help literary journals, but I wish I still can't figure out what he's trying to say in some parts.

First of all, please note that alright should be all right.

Secondly, your revision sounds fine to me.

I think that the letter, as filled with personality and goodwill as it is, did not get the response the folks at Dzanc were hoping for because it is, as I said in class, (1) too informal for its intended audience and (2) unclear and imprecise in several places.

You will often be asked to copyedit material that you have no training in or formal knowledge of. That is one of copyediting's greatest challenges: to use your knowledge in a formal and logical way to serve the work and its readers. I was once a copyeditor for a research center at the UH, and I was able, after trying to overcome such fears as yours, to copyedit research reports, journal articles, and conference papers produced by scientists in water research. I don't doubt that you can do the same :)

(Q6) In "2. Event Planning," I copyedited the sentence to, "More and more book festivals are popping up every year; often, we know the organizers." Is the O of often supposed to be capitalized? Also, I wasn't sure what KIND of successes they've seen with these events, so I deleted that sentence.

Ack, no! Please don't ever capitalize the first word after a semicolon.

It's OK to delete the sentence, but I need to ask if my copyediting of that passage did not help you.

(Q7) 3. Readings. What are reading series? Is that just another term for reading nights? What variations is he talking about? Does he mean variations of those reading nights? Also, would you consider, "2 to 4 of their authors" and "three or four journals" as estimates? (I remember you said that you should spell out numbers if they are estimates or not critical to the meaning of the passage. Or would consistency rule, such that I should just spell out all the numbers?)

Reading series are series of readings. For example, the English department has a series of readings that are held at lunchtime and feature the work of poets in Hawai‘i. Because they are continuing and periodic, the readings constitute a series. Reading series can have different formats: one important writer reading his latest work; several writers published by one journal or press reading the work just published; two winners of a recent competition reading their award-winning work; and so forth.

And yes, please spell out the numbers in this case.

(Q8) 5. Advertising. Dzanc Books want to drive for lower rates, and help with layouts. Does that mean they want to market group rates, and help with advertisement layouts?

Yes; again, the hastily composed text will drive many people away—instead of toward—Dzanc.

(Q9) 7. Litblogs. For the first time, the author mentions Dan. Who is Dan? Do I ask the author who Dan (and Steve) is? Or do I just write, "Dan, the founder of Dzanc Books," AND query the author?

The latter is preferable, I think.

(Q10) 8. Anthology. Do they mean that they will be accepting nominations, from participating journals, for works to be put into the anthology?

Yes, from journals who work with them. Note the use of the restrictive clause: it is deliberate, i.e., meant to make it clear to everyone that only a certain group of editors and publishers will appear in the anthologies.

(Q11) Question # 16. Are they asking the renewal rate for their subscribers?

Yes, Dzanc wants to know how many subscribers, of the total number, renew their subscriptions.


LilyLuvsU said...

Thanks Ritchie for asking all those questions. Thanks Pat for such detailed answers. Since you clarified so many questions, does that mean it would be unnecessary to query the author on these issues?

Pat said...

Yes, if you are fairly confident that you understand what the author meant to say, you don't need to query him.