When I came into this staff position at the beginning of the semester, I was so excited to read submissions and to correct grammar (I’m kind of weird like that). Like most big jobs in life, however, there turned out to be a whole lot more to copy-editing than correcting someone’s grammar. If you are considering a job in copy-editing, or were wondering about what happens to your short-story submissions after they get accepted, you came to the right place! (Note: Mochila Review actually has two copy-editors; therefore, your work gets read extra times!)
- I read the entire piece in its entirety without a pen in my hand. This allows me to appreciate the piece as a whole, rather than in individual parts.
- I still do not touch a pen as I take the piece to the staff, and we have a round table about what works, what doesn’t work, and if the piece is acceptable as a whole. During this time, I jot down any notes that other staffers have about the piece, so that when it comes time to edit it, I already know what other staffers think.
- Once a piece is submitted, I go through the entire piece and start at the basics. Below are the things I look at on a surface level:
- Is the submission title in bold on the front page?
- Are there any large breaks in between the paragraph that signify a change in plot? If there are, we often put asterisks in the spaces to make the readers more aware of the change.
- Are all new paragraphs indented?
- I move onto looking at the piece in detail. As I begin to re-read the submission, I keep these things in my mind:
- Are all titles of journals, movies, books, etc. italicized?
- Are all abbreviations spelled out?
- Are the numbers one through nine spelled out, instead of numerical?
- Are all proper names capitalized?
- Is the grammar correct?
- Matt (the other copy-editor) and I then compare notes, and make a master-copy of the copy-edits to a submission.
- These edits get sent to Marianne (Editor-in-Chief) and Chris (Managing Editor) for approval.
I hope that makes you feel better about the process after your submission gets accepted. It is really fun, albeit a little time consuming, but worth it to read all the submissions people are sending us. Don’t forget: the Undergraduate MoRe Prize contest ends December 1st!
Good luck and keep writing,
Copy-editor of Mochila Review.