Monday, December 29, 2014

Who's laughing now, Mr. Bond?

Right now I am making last-minute changes to my manuscript before the editorial staff at Dundurn takes a knife to it. The experience reminds me of how peculiar it is to be on this side of the writing and editorial process.

As a high school teacher-librarian, I'm used to advising students on research skills, documentation, avoiding plagiarism, formatting, grammar & syntax... And though it all seems so obvious in my day job, I'm finding it a lot trickier when it comes to my own stuff. For instance:

  • documentation is hard! The Works Cited runs to forty sources and I'm going crazy trying to figure out how to list old books reproduced by Google Books or reprinted three times by three different publishers in three different formats...
  • I thought footnotes were dead! I haven't taught them since MLA 6th edition and I have mercilessly made fun of the one teacher who wanted me to explain them to students (sorry Kenzie!) But of course, a book for the general public needs notes, not parenthetical references, and so I have had to fight my way through a couple of hundred obscure and complicated references (see previous point) with page numbers. And they have to be correct!
  • does Chicago Style mean that it comes with onion rings? After mercilessly making fun of the one teacher who ever enquired about it (sorry Andy!), I should have predicted that Dundurn would live and die by the 1026 pages of the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. It's not just a way of formatting text -- it's a religion. There is no matter of faith or etiquette which Chicago Style has not examined and settled. I am a late -- but earnest -- convert.
  • who knew academic dishonesty was so easy? Can't find the page number for the endnote? Well, it was probably around page 134... Not sure where that little factoid for the caption came from? Don't bother citing it -- no-one will notice or ask... Don't have time to get right down to the primary sources? Just paraphrase the second or tertiary sources -- it'll probably be fine... The temptation to cut corners is all but irresistible in the face of deadlines and lack of expertise. I never thought that I would have to struggle so hard to keep on the straight and narrow. Must stay strong! I don't want to go to the Big House!

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