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As a freelance copy editor Penny started with exceptional natural talent for the work and learned on the job with the help of Judith Butcher's invaluable guide, and a bookcase of reference works was soon accumulated, she never did anything by half. Proofreading and editing for charities and local NGOs at first, then for commercial projects and publishers. It's a testament to her ability to learn fast and her phenomenal memory that within a year she not only mastered the technical intricacies of the job to a standard acceptable to a major academic publisher, but was a breathe of fresh air to many authors, who were so impressed with her professionalism and friendly and helpful advice, that they asked for her when their next book came to be produced, many insisting they had to have Penny. Despite this she remained largely unconvinced of her natural talents, and was forever on edge at the thought of missing something vital or letting anyone down. As a result she never did.

She project managed each book assiduously, picking up not just problems with the text, but checking illustrations and their permissions were all as they should be, and covering for hiccups that inevitably occur. Dates were checked forwards and backwards and references to parts of the text all had to check out once the title had been typeset. Copy editing is not as simple as just editing copy, it was her consumate skill which made it appear so.

Eventually she was made an Editorial Consultant at Palgrave-Macmillan, though the money stayed the same. She was able to juggle three books simultaneously through the production process, and sometimes this rose to four without anything being missed. She rarely turned a title down, until it became impossible to increase the pace any more; a victim of her own dedication to precision, her friendliness and easy working relationship, as these acknowledgements show.

Below are some thanks copied from authors' acknowledgements pages in books which Penny copy-edited. Rarely are copy editors mentioned in this way, they are usually the hidden backroom workers who ensure the production process between manuscript and printed book is smooth and stress free. With Penny, it always was.

 

‘I am also deeply grateful to Penny Simmons, who has been the best of copy editors, for her swift, dilligent and intelligent work.’
Julian WolfreysTransgression; Identity, Space, Time.

‘Penny Simmons deserves credit and gratitude for her excellent copyediting work.’
Neil Thompson  - People Skills

‘I am very grateful to Penny Simmons not only for her excellent copyediting
work, but also for the very helpful and supportive way she has been involved in this project.’
Neil Thompson  - Practising Social Work

‘Many thanks to Penny Simmons, my sympatico copy editor,out among the deer, ravens and foxes of Glasgow’s edges.’
Petra Kuppers – Disability Culture and Community Performance

‘Last, we thank Penny Simmons for her enthusiastic and text-enhancing copy reading and editing’
Alexandra Carter and Rachel Fensham – Dancing Naturally 

‘Penny Simmons has provided wonderfully prompt and careful production support for which we are very grateful indeed’.
Susan Bennett
and Mary Polito – Performing Environments  

‘A big thanks also goes to Penny Simmons for her razor-sharp and good-humored copy editing’.
Laura Levin  –
Performing Ground.

‘Special thanks to our brilliant copy editor, Penny Simmons.’
Leslie Hill & Helen Paris Performing Proximity.

‘I must also thank ... my copy editor, Penny Simmons, for her sensitive and careful work.’ 
Alberto Fernandez Carbajal
Compromise and Resistance in Post-Colonial Writing.

‘We would also like to express our gratitude to Penny Simmons as an excellent copy editor.’
Christa Hamerle & Oswald Uberegger
Gender and the First World War

‘I’m very grateful to Penny Simmons for her eagle eye’.
Kara Reilly –
Theatre, Performance and Analogue Technology

‘[...] and last but not least ... Penny Simmons for her cheerful and helpful emails through the last phase of editing.’
Duška Radosavljevic
Theatre-Making

‘Penny Simmons, who was essential to the successful completion of the project.’
Josephine Machon Immersive Theatres

'I must also once again express my thanks to Penny Simmons for her excellent copyediting work and her friendly and helpful way of relating to authors.'
Neil Thompson –
Anti-Discriminatory Practice

'Peter and Penny Simmons of Password Publishing have been more than just helpful and professional with words and fonts and meanings.'
Mary Earnshaw
A Wake of Vultures

'I am deeply indebted to the book's copy editor, Penny Simmons, for her care, engagement, efficiency and support during the production period.'
Nicola ShaughnessyApplying Performance: Live Art, Socially Engaged Theatre and Affective Practice

'Penny Simmons, our copy editor, who has been outstandingly efficient'
Judith Milner, ‎Steve Myers
Working With Violence: Policies and Practices in Risk Assessment and Management

'I enjoyed working with Penny Simmons and thank her for very thoughtful copy editing.'
Vicky Angelaki
The Plays of Martin Crimp: Making Theatre Strange

'Thanks to Penny Simmons for efficient and thoughtful copy-editing'
Gregory McCullochThe Life of the Mind: An Essay on Phenomenological Externalism

'And Im grateful to my copyeditor, Penny Simmons, for her light-hearted and level-headed approach to such a daunting project.'
Les EssifAmerican Unculture in French Drama: Homo Americanus and the Post-1960 French Resistance

'We might have lost our minds were it not for the keen eye and delightfully sharp wit of our talented copy editor Penny Simmons.'
Shannon Rose Riley and Lynette Hunter Mapping Landscapes for Performance as Research: Scholarly Acts and Creative Cartographies

 

The music playing is 'Gregorian Chants' by Enigma.