note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press
How fast do you read?
How about fifty pages in fifteen minutes? That is a pace with which I cannot compete, but Kyla Vaughan–an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin, Madison–consistently reads at that pace, and in the past year, she read 392 books, averaging more than 7 per week! Even when I shift from editor mode to just-enjoy-the-story mode, I cannot read that fast.
An exercise my Practicum in Publishing students will complete in a few weeks is to time how long it takes to read a chapter from the manuscripts they’re working from, and then to time themselves again when they are editing those same pages. In this fashion, they can mark an estimate for how many hours they need to block out in order to read and edit their manuscript projects. From my days as a freelance editor and from experience in teaching students to edit, I know that this exercise is an essential beginning to bidding out a job or completing a project by end of semester.
The students think they are ready, and I know they are eager to begin, but we have some preparatory work to do. For example, in the upcoming weeks, they must become proficient at several tasks. Among those tasks are to:
- practice awareness. Based on terminology coined by Karen Judd, editor and author, students will learn to attend to cognitive aspects of reading. Some readers are naturally observant, noticing and remembering where on a page some detail of a story appeared; catching that a name was spelled one way in an early chapter and another way in a subsequent chapter; watching for red flags of a factual nature. My students must double-down on being aware and observant.
- become familiar with The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. My publishing mentor, Mary Ann Blochowiak (long-time editor for The Chronicles of Oklahoma), tasked me with reading the first one hundred pages of the CMOS many years ago. This exercise formed my understanding of how books are published, physically and in accord with standards of practice. The reading assignment is a gift I pay forward to my students. Students will also be tasked with learning how to consult CMOS when formatting a manuscript for publication and when searching for guidance in matters of copyright, editing, punctuation, and proofreading. (Really, it’s all fun!)
- learn to use standard proofreaders’ marks. As in all matters for book publishing, we rely upon the guidance of The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. Using the CMOS Proofreaders’ Marks, we’ll practice posting carets, circling and underlining, and implementing various curlicues.
- build a style sheet. We’ll draft a style sheet together for practice, and then students will be able to devise style sheets built upon their specific manuscript projects. Style sheets are records of the choices we make when editing. They are documents made to ensure the book interior is consistent throughout.
This short list hardly encompasses all the actions students will take, but you can see they are in for some close reading in the coming weeks. As we carefully scrutinize every sentence, this will not be the year to set any book-reading records, but it is the semester to dive deep into the process of transforming a manuscript into a book.
Article about Kyla Vaughan: “Need a New Year’s Resolution? Read a book a day. This undergrad did.” by Doug Erickson, University of Wisconsin–Madison, January 14, 2022.
Karen Judd. Copyediting: A Practical Guide. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 2001.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017.
Paul Legler. Half the Terrible Things. North Dakota State University Press, 2020.