Oops, my Track Changes is showing

There must be something in the air – besides Christmas, that is – and it’s causing a spate of authors to forget that I can see everything they do to their files if they leave their Track Changes feature enabled. It’s like seeing someone’s sweater or shirt tag hanging out from their collar. I always want to tuck it in for them because for some silly reason it drives me buggy.

I don’t know about you, but there is NO WAY I’d ever want anyone seeing how crappy my original query/chapter was. I only want them thinking I’m naturally brilliant. When I open a query letter or chapters and see a sea of red cross-outs and blue edits, I feel like a literary Peeping Tom. Remember, you always want to be seen as a professional, so do yourself a favor and check your files over before you hit the Send button.

And in this same vein, make sure you know all the ins and outs of your word processing program. Can you imagine what I’m thinking if I ask you to fix the problem and you tell me you don’t know how? It’s like a surgeon telling his patient he doesn’t know what that sharp, pencil-shaped thing is. Your word process program is a part of you literary tackle box, and you need to understand how it works because this is how publishers go through the editing process.

It doesn’t matter what word processing program you use to write your book. For example, I have Open Office on my laptop. It works fine. However, I’ve noticed that it doesn’t read the “insert comment” balloons exactly the same, and it makes for some confusion. So when you get your book deal, buy yourself Word – and make sure you know how to use it.

The worst thing you can ever say to an editor? “I’m not sure how to do that/fix that.” No, no, no, no. One thing we don’t have time for is on-the-job-training. If you consider yourself a professional (and you should), then you need to act like one and know how to use all the tools of your trade. What we want to hear is, “Yah, I can do that.” Music to a black-hearted editor’s soul.

So remember:

  • Check your files to make sure Track Changes feature is turned off – and you’ve made all the appropriate accept/reject decisions
  • Save the file
  • Check it over again
  • Know how to use your Word or word processing program as well as the beagle knows how to make a pitcher of margaritas

Because, hey, I’m going to be tempted to tuck your tag back into your shirt.

10 Responses to Oops, my Track Changes is showing

  1. Melissa A says:

    I have *issues* with people who make their living — or try to make their living — writing, but who do not know how to use their tools.

    I can *almost* forgive people who use Word just for writing novels and stories. No, wait, I can’t. SERIOUSLY, how hard is it to learn the basics?

    * Automatic indents for paragraphs
    * STYLES instead of manual formatting
    * Hitting Enter repeatedly to get to the next page
    * Automatic page numbering

    And yes, approving changes to clean up the doc after using the track changes feature.

    Word is not rocket science. My opinion of peoples’ abilities and intelligence PLUMMETS when I have to read (or God forbid, clean up) docs that look like they were created by a one-fingered luddite.

    *cough* Sorry. Issues.

  2. Melissa A says:

    Oops — change my third bullet to “Using page break to move to the next page.” I listed the “bad” habit instead of the correct one. Mea culpa.

  3. You hit the nail on the head, Melissa. Word is NOT rocket science, and it shows a modicum of noobishness to bypass this important foundation.

  4. […] to Lynn Price at Behler Publications for inspiring today’s […]

  5. NinjaFingers says:

    I don’t even USE track changes…

  6. Chris says:

    Wow…I’ve done at least three of those things. Ouch. 🙂 Much to learn have I (Yoda speak)

  7. Bill Webb says:

    Never thought this could be an issue, that someone would have this turned on in a query. What for? The only people I know who use that feature are lawyers adn they have a reason. Still, it is curious so I went back and turned this on for my most recent MS and it ballooned to 117,000 pages! Or thereabouts. 🙂

    BTW. My wife engaged the track changes on me ever since we got marrired and so far she’s found nothing to track.

  8. Pelotard says:

    While I can testify that Word isn’t rocket science (because I’m a qualified rocket scientist), it is a significantly more advanced tool than even most professional users ever have reason to suspect. I know this since I’ve translated the bl**dy software, and then tried absolutely every instruction in the manual and Help file to see that it still worked. This included all the advanced switches for field codes, and quite a lot of macro programming.

    I’m not asking anyone to learn this, because there’s a real danger that they learn how to use text boxes. They should be banned, and anyone caught using them should have to try to fix the layout after having the text translated into Arabic. (It would have to be done outside the US since it definitely falls under “cruel and unusual”.)

  9. Bill, this invariably happens if an author has worked with an indie editor, who will use the Track Changes feature. The authors make their edits and forget to turn it off.

    Aw, Pelo, you’re no fun. I love text boxes. I used them quite a bit when I wrote Tackle Box – and we used them for WG to the Courtroom and Body Trauma. They’re useful little beggars in certain applications. But I inserted those during layout.

    Chris…sorry, dude, you don’t count ‘coz you and your book rock. You could have had it on Kleenex, and I would have still loved you.

  10. Pelotard says:

    Body Trauma – well, now, I can understand that. Especially if I had just seen someone use a text box.

    Word isn’t a very good tool for layout, anyway. It’s OK if you’re doing a newsletter or simple stuff, but there are better tools for serious layout jobs. Of course, they’re layout tools. Not so great for writing… hm, I feel a business plan coming up.

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