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Sending the author a copy of the style sheet is excellent advice that I always follow when working directly with an author. Surprisingly, though, when the client is a publishing house and not the author, the publisher's staff members often neglect to send a copy of the style sheet along to the author. That omission always complicates things.

Jennifer Boudinot

I had an author once tell me that he had several editor friends look at his book that I had edited, and they had unanimously agreed that "no one uses serial commas." I spent over an hour on the phone explaining that no, we would not be re-editing the entire manuscript to take the serial commas out, along with all the other parts of our house style he didn't like. (I also suggested that, if he was interested in BOOK editing, he should check out the Chicago Manual....) As a freelancer, I rarely take on book editing projects anymore, because I dealt with very few authors who truly appreciated editing. Most others acted like, in removing the errors and inconsistencies, I had ruined their work.

Christie Harkin

I've had an almost opposite problem. In the final stages of a book edit, the author has had friends read it who told him, "It's perfect the way it is." I was still not satisfied with the way certain passages were written. But since "everyone else was OK with it," I had a hard time getting the author to finish polishing his work.

Adrienne Montgomerie

When I learned that there are other, correct ways to edit a single piece (not just my way), I felt a great sense of professional maturity.

There are style guides and style sheets, to be sure, but editing is largely an art. There are many correct versions.

The advice we give authors about taking their edits professionally goes double for editors. Carol's advice in this post is grand.

And I 100% agree that it is very aggravating when inexperienced laymen are given more credit for their (editorial) opinion than is given to a seasoned professional. I'm somewhat relieved that even the best of us experience this second-guessing.

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I have found that when I work directly with authors, many don't care about style. If they have a question, I let them know that books of this sort follow CMS and that CMS recommends that we do it this particular way. That is usually a good enough answer for the authors.

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