The Editorial Process

Because BiblioBuffet has such enthusiastic contributors, communicating  with the writers is a joy at all times. But sometimes it can become even more . . .

My dear sir,

You will find attached an edited copy of your delightful revenge comedy The Perpetual Vengeance of Piggledy-Poppet, although I must own that to say it has been “edited” is to overstate the case in a drastic way, since such alterations as occurred amounted to nothing more than the corralling of an errant comma or two, or the ruthless removal of the odd double-space. Nevertheless, I include the edited copy for your records and your approval, and hope that it meets with your clearly lofty literary standards.

And may I say on a personal note as one who—if not consigned precisely to an attic-room to drudge away the hours in pursuit of literary excellence, or at the least the literary passable—as was the character in your story, has still spent many an hour seated in an uncomfortable chair (the comfortable ones, you see, tend to cause me to fall asleep) in pursuit of the same, that I am very grateful to you, the author, for submitting a story which contained so many made up words of quite original spellings, causing my edition of the Chicago Manual of Style and my American Heritage Dictionary both to be reduced to a state of gibbering panic. I am certain that I have never had to look up so many non-existent words in so short a space of time, and for this feat, I think, you deserve some credit.

And while my unforgiving editor’s eye did detect a noticeable lessening of the Dickensian tone so pervasive in the early parts of the story as it progressed towards—as the French would say—its dénouement, I am forced to acknowledge that its metamorphoses into the cadences of the early American cinema was quite effective. The British will always have Dickens. But Americans will always have Hollywood.

Accordingly, I propose to submit this to our senior editor for publication upon the next Monday, unless you have further thoughts on the matter.

I remain,

Nicki Leone, Managing Editor


Dear Miss Leone,

Thank you for your missive of the 29th inst. I confirm that I am more than content with the piece in its newly-groomed state, and that I consider it fit to be viewed by that happy band of literary mavens who constitute your august readership.

Why’s Savoy Grill in red?

I remain, as ever,

Your loyal servant,

Mark Bastable


My dear sir,

My apologies. It is the prerogative of the editor, as you are no doubt well aware, to deface and otherwise destroy an author’s work in red pencil. Alas, in this age of slavery to technology, editors no longer have the pleasure of indulging their most vicious and unkind instincts in indelible colored lead or ink. We are forced, instead, to be content with the simple expedient of changing the color of the font, which I can assure you does not offer a tenth of the satisfaction as does the pen and pencil. But I make do without complaint, such is my generous and accommodating nature.

It is my practice to mark in red such words or phrases that raise a question in my mind as to their efficacy or appropriate use. And I may say that by the time I had read through your story it appeared quite colorful—so checkered was it with red words and phrases. But upon a second and third and even fourth reading (for I am most tireless in my dedication to discover what is wrong with my authors’ work), most of the questionable lines were duly resolved and accepted, and their color reverted back to their original black. In the case of the Savoy Grill I questioned, not the use of “Savoy,” but the use of “Grill,” which carried an anachronistic ring to my editor’s ear. But further research revealed its validity, so I have left it alone. I simply neglected, on this occasion, to correct its color of shame.  But rest assured that it will not appear so when it is published upon the Monday.

Your obedient servant,

Ms. Leone, The Managing Editor



Filed under BiblioBuffet

2 responses to “The Editorial Process

  1. What a great idea to start a blog for BiblioBuffet! Loved reading this post. Hilarious. Did you actually exchange these letters?

    Enjoyed the other two posts as well.

  2. Hi, Cynthia.

    Yes, these were actual e-mails between Nicki and Mark. I get copied on all e-mails so when I saw Nicki’s initial editorial comments to Mark I knew I had to post it.

    Mark is, as he puts it, “adept at being interestingly British for Americans.” He also has a wicked sense of humor, which we adore. Nicki is a brilliant content editor as well as a superb writer so when she decided to match his tone I knew others would enjoy it as much as I did.

    I am glad you liked it.

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