Tuesday 19 April 2022

Some subtleties in editing

 Correcting, Proof, Paper, Correction, Correct, Mistake

Quite an intimate relationship can build up between author and editor. Indeed, often when we’ve offered writers a second book deal they’ll ask if they can work with the same editor again. Okay, so it might be “better the devil you know” or “ear of the unknown” that motivates them but I rather suspect it is because they have found a way to work together and that the editor understands the author’s motivations.

We tend to keep the same editor for the main edits and then find another for a final proof read. Our authors also proof read. It’s probably not possible to spot everything if you are as close to the text as the writer and their first editor are.

The first edits consists of an overall read to see whether the text has an acceptable shape and that any story and characters are quite clear. In this initial stage the editor may even pick the writer up on some frequently occurring faults. The second stage is a line edit where the editor looks for clichés, odd expressions, odd paragraphing, a character’s words not ringing true or not being in their voice, etc. At this point there may be some negotiation about some expression that may seem unusual. This may be to do with the voice of the piece. Anyway editors only make suggestions. They do not dictate. Often it’s a case of seeing that something isn’t working and inviting the writer to suggest something else. The third edit picks up on grammatical, spelling, formatting, punctuation mistakes and remaining awkward expression that isn’t part of the narrator’s voice.  

That third edit differs form a proof read which should only be looking for typos and spelling, punctuation and formatting mistakes that have not been caught in the other processes.

There can often be a problem between proof-read and the third edit. We ‘ve had a couple of instances recently where the proof-reader had tried to edit out some of the subtleties that have been agreed between the writer and editor. I’m also currently proof-reading a text and there are some things I feel tempted to edit. I have to remind myself that that conversation has already been had between the editor and the author.

I was very surprised when someone recently reviewed one of our books and said privately to me that they were surprised at how many mistakes there were in the text. I really panicked. What, after three edits, two proof-reads and two technical proof-reads? I revisited the text and found one typo.

It came down to us using a different house style from the one that the reader was used to. They were also applying something as a hard and fast rule where there is actually a choice e.g. some words can be made up of two words stuck together, kept as two words or hyphenated. This particular reviewer, who also works an editor, was confusing also when words such a mother and father are spelt with uppercase or with lower case. I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that another style guide will suggest something different.           

Wednesday 6 April 2022

The Best of CafeLit 10


How we came to publish this one

We publish a Best of CaféLit book every year. This time we invited those writers who had appeared in The Best of CaféLit 9 to select the stories for this volume. This time we asked authors to pick their favourite story other than their own, for each month they had a story published, if they had two stories in one month that could pick two stories etc. .   

The title

We used to use the year the stories were first published as part of the title. However  the book comes out during the year after the stories have originally been published on the site so it looks a little odd for example to talk about The Best of CaféLit 2020 in August 2021. So now we just give the book a sequential number  We’ve actually just made the selection for The Best of CafeLit 2011. More about that later.         

Some notes about the process

All CaféLit stories are edited as they go on to the site. This is just a copy edit / proof read. They have to be up to a certain standard before we accept them. Once the “camera ready” text has been produced, contributors are invited to check their work and we proof-read it twice in house.  

The cover

The cover is branded. It’s the same picture every year though our designer varies the colour.

Some notes about style

There is a variety of submissions. Some are dark. Some are light-hearted. Some are longer. Some are shorter. We have a few poems as well.

Who we think the reader is

Ideally, this is the reader who want to sit down with a cuppa at around 4 p.m. Some of the stories are seasonal so may speak to a certain mood. On the site we publish Halloween stories around Halloween time and Christmas ones around Christmas. There is no accounting for when you’ll read various stories in the Best of volumes.


This book as not yet covered all of its costs but it has almost covered the money already laid out. The editor and designer have not yet taken a fee or wage for their work on the book. It has almost covered its actual costs.       

What else

We are pleased to have this within our collection.


Review copies

It’s always great if you can buy the book and give us a review. Just click on the image to be taken to Amazon. If you would like to review and you are strapped for cash, just get in touch for a free PDF or mobi-file.