"Your story is only as good as your antagonist.* *So make sure your story actually has one."---Victor LaValle
Oof. My first real job was as a copyeditor, and I can verify that this type of officious, pedantic copyediting is far too common.
Wow, that's bad copyediting. Not all of us are like that, though. Honest.
"...what happens is that the book you treasured working on becomes a site of contention..."From a writer's point of view, that's so very sad.
Yikes. That's just... scary.Agree with Susan Adrian, though: that heavy-handed approach doesn't seem typical of copy editors I've worked with. (There have been challenges, but those seemed more like groping towards common ground than flat-out steamrollering.)Google sometimes isn't our friend!
It's the worst feeling. Especially when you're trying to convey something specific and they change one word, which changes everything.
I had an American Sign Language teacher once who told a story about interperting for a college professor who finger spelled his entire lecture (the equivalent of spelling out each word you say, letter by letter). After the lecture, he approached the prof with a massive WTF?The prof had once read a transcription of one of his own lectures as interperted by an interperter who chose the most basic, elementary words and concepts to represent his ideas. He sounded like a third grader, and so he finger spelled every word he wanted spoken for him until he got to know and trust an interperter.Stet! He was pretty brilliant.
Yikes. Sounds like such a situation could lead to lots of headaches.If an author were dealing with such a copy editor (rewriting instead of editing), at what point if any should the agent be brought in? I'm assuming that the agent wants to be involved at all steps of the process and to know what the author is dealing with, and that it probably varies by agent. Should the writer mostly try to take care of this him/herself, or approach the agent before responding to the copy edits, or...?
I had the same experience, only worse. A technical book was "copy edited" by a young man who was not in the profession and used a dictionary with limited words. Every time he couldn't find the word I had used, he substituted the nearest(and totally erroneous)equivalent. There's something wrong with a publisher who tolerates this.
I completely sympathize. I just got something back like that today for my sci-fi MS. Just GRRR!
I, too, had to suffer through a copyeditor's changes that, to me, seemed quite arbitrary. It was almost like he just did it because he could.But I let it go, since fighting would have probably meant I wouldn't see the article in print, and it wasn't that big a deal to me.However, I can see this writer's point.
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