Jun. 6th, 2011

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I probably ought to title this post "Lather, Rinse, Repeat" because I feel like I've SBD'd about this a million times.  And yet I'm doing it again.

Copy editing.

Or content editing.

Whichever it is.  

Dear NY Publishers, please pay attention to the words appearing in the books you want me to buy.  

In one recent European historical, really a historical fantasy (kudos to Growly Cub, who gave me that label) novel, the heroine contemplates buying a new pink dress in the shade of primrose, rather than ruby or poppy.  *sigh*  Although there are pink primroses (Asian), the commonly accepted usage is that primrose (as color) is yellow, like the European primrose.  This is like the usage of "rose" as a color -- there are a lot of different colored roses, but rose (color) is generally thought/used as a reddish pink.  Also, the pale pink implied is kind of inconsistent with ruby and poppy.  (My twitter complaint resulted in a long conversation about this yesterday, if you're interested.)

In an urban fantasy novel I read last week, a character howled.  Which is not a big deal...except in the last book of the series, readers were told that his vocal chords were so damaged that he would never howl again.  And that is NOT the first consistency error scattered in this author's books (hello, percentages that add up to more than 100% and clothing that switches from a sleeveless shirt to a sweatshirt within a single scene).
One of these authors is a Big Name Author, who presumably gets pretty good treatment from her publisher -- she's made them a lot of money.  The other author has a pretty well-respected editor in the industry.
I get that little things can slip through the editing process.  But if I noticed these things at first glance without even spending time *thinking* about them, then how much time did the editors spend actually thinking about the way sentences were constructed or the plot built?
Part of the problem is that I read for detail and my internal proofreader is always on the look-out -- it's a piece of my brain that I cannot turn off -- and can be easily distracted by minutiae.  
Both of these books were good, although I enjoyed one much more than the other.  Yet I still finished both feeling as if I'd been walking with pebbles in my shoes.


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