How anal are you as an editor? (And no, google searchers, this blog post is not half as interesting as you think it is.) Will you go through a manuscript twenty-five times to make sure you caught every last mistake? Are you a slap-dash editor who does one pass and thinks she’s done? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine when you need to step away from the manuscript and send it in already or when you need to wade back in there and do another pass.
1. What kind of errors are left?
Are they errors that only a copyeditor with a PhD in medieval studies would catch? Turn it in already. Are they errors that a former English major or any editor worth her salt will notice? Do another pass, lazy ass.
2. How much are you being paid?
Back in my book maven days, one of my coworkers excused his sitting behind the counter reading a magazine by saying “They don’t pay me enough to work every second of the hour.” And that was the goddamned truth. Don’t skimp, but don’t work your fingers to the bone if you’re being paid not very much for a project. If you are being paid a lot for a project, take the time to do an extra good job. You should always deliver a good product, but be aware of your hours. It does not make good business sense to work for two dollars an hour.
3. Did you sleep?
I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t edit if you haven’t slept. You will never notice the errors you are missing. So if you’re trying to decide between staying up and finishing the job or going to sleep before 3 in the morning, go to sleep. Your work will improve.
4. Are you measuring your self-worth by this project?
If so, turn it in. One project does not encapsulate the whole of your editorial identity. And if you feel as if it does, then you need to cut the cord and turn it in. Now. Absolute perfectionism is the enemy of good business. If pursued, you will find yourself working for pennies an hour (see question 2). A little perfectionism, however, is very good for business.
When do you know that you are through?
*And I don’t fucking care if cakes are done and people are finished. This is called a colloquialism and is perfectly acceptable for blog post titles.