Sunday, September 19, 2010

Page Punishment

One of my first professional jobs out of school was at a small publishing house in Charlottesville, Virginia. I was an editorial assistant, which is an official sounding way to say you have the most boring job in the world. To make matters worse, we edited medical textbooks. And to make matters even worse than that, it paid a whopping $23,000 a year.

I won't bore you with the details. The long and the short of it is, I was awful at this job. It wasn't a good fit for me in the slightest. It did not benefit at all from my skill set (of which I had no understanding at all), and I was basically told after six grueling months (and an incident where I accidentally deleted a ten page section of text from an online textbook I was working on) that I would have no future in the publishing world. I remember feeling devastated, albeit not entirely surprised.

In all honesty, that was never the side of publishing I truly believed I should be on--I always wanted to be the one getting published. So, after tearfully allowing myself to be consoled by my parents, I decided to find my new path. And it's worked out for the best.

However, lately I have been haunted by people who apparently are just as shitty as I was at that job. Recently I read a memoir published by a rather large press. In 348 pages, I found eight unforgivable typos. Is it just me, or is this ridiculous? I kept thinking I would be so angry if I had poured my blood, sweat, and tears into a publishable piece to have it accepted, only to have some twit editorial assistant crap all over it with incompetence.

Hello, pot? This is the kettle calling....I know, I know. It would be karmic.

And then I had to take pause. I mean, if I were lucky enough to ever be published, should I just be happy it's happening and not look a gift horse in the mouth? Nope. It would piss me off.

Speaking of pissing me off...I recently checked a book out at the public library, and someone who apparently thinks he is an editor has been kind enough to make corrections with a pencil all throughout the book. Except this idiot is correcting things that are already correct, therefore highlighting why he (or she) should also never go into the publishing field.

The thing is, I understand grammar and spelling. I just can't handle the idiosyncracies outside of those things in the publishing biz. The deadlines, the solitude, the unnerving quietude. The fact that you use certain fonts and types for this and for that. There is minutiae that I can't force myself to care about.

Until some idiot with a pencil goes rogue in a library book.

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