The Death of Editing

Following a link from Tom Knapp, I took a look at Darcy Richardson’s book Others: Third-Party Politics From the Nation’s Founding to the Rise and Fall of the Greenback-Labor Party via Amazon’s “look inside” feature, and found a chapter titled – in gigantic, hard-to-miss font – “Spoilers: Third-Party Candidates Wreck Havoc on the Two-Party System.”

Admittedly, the publisher is iUniverse, so one doesn’t really expect a big budget for proofreading. Still, this wreaks to high heaven ….

14 Responses to The Death of Editing

  1. Alex Knapp December 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    Isn’t iUniverse a vanity press? I would imagine that there isn’t any proofreading at all…

    • Roderick December 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

      Apparently they have an optional editing service, but it looks pretty expensive. (Ignore the word “FREE” at the top and look at the actual price at the bottom — which looks cheap until you multiple it by, say, 80,000 words.)

      • Roderick December 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

        Oh well, I see they have cheaper versions. But one could do a lot better than even the so-called cheap price by just offering a starving grad student $100 to go through the manuscript.

        • Daniel Coleman December 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

          To add to my point below, I should point out that they may well have paid a starving grad student $100 to go through it. Even something like this is often missed. You get what you pay for.

        • Roderick December 5, 2009 at 12:16 pm #

          True — but their editing service might do so as well, and at a higher price.

  2. Thomas L. Knapp December 3, 2009 at 4:40 pm #


    One thing I found surprising in my reading of the first four volumes of Others was how few typos there were. Not just fewer than one would expect to find in most “vanity” press publications, but fewer, over the course of four long volumes, than I typically come across in a single paperback novel from a “real” publisher.


  3. Daniel Coleman December 3, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    Editing is expensive, and the publishing business has only become less profitable over time as books become more plentiful and easier to produce. It can be very difficult for companies to hire copyeditors, much less full-blown editors who help shape and revise works to be published.

  4. Darcy G Richardson December 3, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    I’ve cringed at that chapter heading for five-and-a-half years, hoping against hope that nobody would point it out, and then along comes Roderick…

    • Roderick December 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

      If it’s any comfort, the index to my anarchism anthology has separate entries for Hermann Hoppe and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

  5. MBH December 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    Didn’t the literary world already bury the author? Tough times for them.

  6. P.M.Lawrence December 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    I cringe when I read that something “wreaked” havoc. What hath Man wrought? “Wreak” is an irregular form of “work”, so if you want it regular you might as well go all the way and have “worked”.

    • Roderick December 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

      I’ve heard this denied.

      • P.M.Lawrence December 6, 2009 at 12:37 am #

        They have committed a vulgar error, overlooking double etymology (the way “Mary” derives both from Hebrew “Miriam” and from its nearest Latin equivalent, “Maria”, the feminine form of “Marius”). While “wreak” can indeed derive from a word meaning “avenge”, it can also derive (as here) from a word meaning “work”, as in “wrought iron” where clearly vengeance has nothing to do with it. People who think of wreaking havoc as having something to do with vengefulness completely misunderstand havoc, no doubt from only being able to imagine themselves wreaking havoc that way. Actually, havoc could be and was a tactic applied quite rationally and dispassionately, involving damaging infrastructure to the point where the enemy had a choice of coming out to fight under unfavourable conditions or dying piecemeal later for want of what was destroyed; no vengeance is necessary.

        • P.M.Lawrence December 6, 2009 at 12:44 am #

          Ah, I see that their further notes are consistent with knowing about the double etymology, though they haven’t thought it through that “wreak” is itself something that brought together – back formed – the work and avenge senses, giving “wreak” as “work”. But they are on balance wrong about “wreaked havoc”, since “wrought” is the appropriate one here (like whether you should use “hanged” or “hung” as the past of “hang” – it depends on the kind of hanging).

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