Experiments in Publishing Pt.2: Dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s

Having now finished editing The Anthropocene Hymnal, I can certainly say that I have learned a lot about the editing process. Anyone who writes a blog or owns a website will be familiar with editing their own work. I am prone to making typos, so I always try to remember to run my text through a language check tool before hitting publish. It doesn’t matter how many times I read through my own work, if my brain knows how it should sound, it assumes the text is right. If you do notice typos in my work I invite you to tell me (politely please!) in the comments section of the offending post.

Proofreading

I find it much easier to proofread other people’s work than my own. I am far more likely to spot errors if I don’t know what to expect from the text I am reading. That said, my contributing authors made very few typos as far as I could see (far fewer than I could expect myself to make!) So after doing my own proofread, I sent all proofs to the authors to make their final checks. The finished manuscript will be subject to further proofreading by some very kind volunteers who will be the first to read the text of the anthology.

Punctuation, etc

Checking for typos is one thing, but what about the finer points of presentation about which there is no real consensus in poetry? After writing ‘Capitalisation Controversy,’ I became sensitive to the fact that some poets capitalise at the start of each line, and others don’t. I was in the former category until I started to take notice of this, and now my eyes stick on my line-heading capitals, so I have done away with them.

Until I started work on the anthology, it did not occur to me that every poet has their own particular approach to capitalisation. Some capitalise every word of a title, for example. Others only capitalise nouns, or proper nouns. Others prefer not to use capitals at all, including at the start of stanzas or new sentences within a poem.

Rather than try to standardise the entire manuscript, I preferred to respect individual authorial practice within each poem. If I thought a particular author had misplaced a capital, for example, where I would not expect it in their work, I corrected according to their standard practice and offered this up in the proof. Overall, I looked for consistency within each poem, rather than across the anthology as a whole. I’ve explained this here just to illustrate the kind of sensitivity required of an editor of a multi-author anthology.

Order of poems

Though such editorial standards as detailed above are important, even more important to me was the correct ordering of the poems within the manuscript. The Anthropocene Hymnal is meant to tell a story and carry a message. Certain poems sat well together, one leading naturally into the next. In this way, an overarching order emerged. This order then needed some final tweaks just to make sure the finished sound was exactly right.

Rest assured, the collection has been very carefully curated. I read and re-read each poem until I was familiar not just with the words, but with the sound of the words, and how these sounds sang together through the anthology as a whole. I like to imagine that in this way, compiling a poetry anthology is something like compiling an album of music. Remember that this is a hymnal after all.

Finishing Touches

The manuscript is now with a book designer to give a polished, professional look to the finished product. I am extremely grateful to artist and poet Kerfe Roig for providing the cover art.

Stay tuned for further details including cover reveal, release date, and details of contributors. I am excited and privileged to be able to share my publishing journey with you.

Ingrid

33 thoughts on “Experiments in Publishing Pt.2: Dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s

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  1. I’ve quite recently found a writing partner who is invaluable. We proof each other. Not everything – it would be unfair to ask someone to proof all the crap I write – but I’d recommend that approach to anybody.

  2. I Enjoyed This And Your Flashback To Your Competition Entry. My Word, We’re They Brutal And Judgemental – But, I Suppose That’s Quite Literally Their Job – What Ever Happened To Artistic License? Hehe

  3. Yes, we should recognise as an editor and publisher not just a blogger. It helps us to use our writing in a better way. The you for discussing the errors and typos issues while publishing our work. 👍

  4. Oh Claudia ..I am terrible at editing and proofreading my own articles… And having worked with my book editor/proofreader here in Geelong … I learnt so much in those 2 months of co-editing my manuscript with her … and I agree that the editing process is indeed an arduous one… Well Done ingrid, and I am so looking forward to your finished anthology ..

    1. Thank you Ivor: luckily my contributors were good at editing their own work, which made my job a lot easier. I look forward to sharing the finished book 😊

  5. I totally relate to having to go over every word with a fine tooth comb only to find I missed more. Drives me crazy and then to take on others work as well… whoa..
    Love hearing about the process and you following your inspiration and dream to put it in print. Can’t wait to read it Ingrid… soooo exciting 💖💖❣️❣️❤️❤️🤣

    1. Thank you Cindy, I am excited too 🤩🥰😍 it’s my 5th baby (after 2 boys, cat and husband 🤣)

      1. You’re sooo welcome.
        This one will be easier to raise once it’s done🤣🤣🤣❣️
        Power to the poetry and you❣️❣️❣️❣️❣️

  6. Super excited to see everything coming together, Ingrid! I LOVE that you respected the style of each poem and left it as is.

    For me, I fluctuate in the use of capitals. Often I will capitalize every line, but sometimes I like to capitalize only after a period, which sometimes means going into a new line with a lowercase letter. Other times I write absolutely in the lowercase, save the opening sentence. With titles, though, I am partial to capitalizing every word . . .

  7. Very interesting and informative, Ingrid! <3 Having done a fair amount of proofreading, I find that I, too, have more trouble finding errors in my own work than in what others have written. I don't recall ever seeing errors in your writing. <3 I respect your approach to editing poetry. Poetry breaks rules. How would you edit E E Cummings?

    Take care!

  8. My husband is a professional editor, and I asked him a fiddly question about punctuation earlier today and got three answers – one for when it’s in technical/nonfiction writing, one for fiction and “if it’s poetry, all bets are off”. 😀
    Editing other people’s poetry must be really tricky! Congratulations on getting it done.

    1. I think “all bets are off” is the correct response! Because sometimes the punctuation can be part of the poetry-you don’t want to mess with it in such cases!

  9. Capitalisation and proper punctuation in poetry is something that I have struggled with all my life. I never found one rule that fits everywhere. So I just stopped caring. I use punctuation wherever I feel like is necessary.
    Hope you get published soon ♥♥

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