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Penny

 

With typical efficiency and determination she taught herself copy-editing from Judith Butcher's invaluable guide and doing the job. She quickly became better with her linguist insights into language use, and was an impressive project manager and editor, enough to convince Macmillan that she was worth employing and hanging on to.

No matter how many years experience mounted up, she remained unconvinced of her natural and learned talents and continued to feel insecure no matter how many authors thanked her for a wonderful job. Her personal, friendly style endeared her to many; no standing on dignity for Penny, she started every job with a first person introduction and continued that way, even with those few academics who tried to remain aloof. She won them all round eventually. Many included her in their acknowledgements, an unusual step, as copy editors are the unsung heroines of the publishing industry; doing all the work but getting none of the glory which is reserved for commissioning editors.

Her astonishing ability to copy edit as many as five books at the same time, never missing deadlines, and juggling between subjects as they slowly changed from raw manuscript to finished printer ready files was inherited from her Celtic forebears who were renowned for their memory, which enabled them to recount their history despite no written language. She saved many an author from some glaring mistakes and the publisher from embarrassment, though much went unseen and unremarked. Macmillan eventually appointed her Editorial Consultant, but it didn't mean any more money!

Many authors have commented on her friendly and unstuffy approach, her sharp mind and skill with language, and some say that an email from her was always a delight. She brought a humanity and care to the job which went far beyond what was expected or paid for, her dedication to each and every author and title was absolute, and even if she had to rap a few knuckles occasionally, it was always with humour and care, never abrasive, even when an author just 'knew' they were right. She did not allow herself to be bullied, and was skilled at letting people know what they needed to do with patient tenacity. Sometimes real friendships were forged, and on subsequent books reinforced, working methods fitting in seamlessly again. For some, a warm comfort zone for understandably tense authors who could relax knowing someone dependable was in charge and would look after them. She couldn't possibly have been as valued as she deserved, but employers of freelances are rarely aware of the service they receive. Just don't mention the minimum wage to a copy editor.

The music playing is 'Waves' by Mr Probz.