A Justifiable Digression on Commas
My editorial style can be symbolized by the comma. Such a small, common mark has such a major significance on meaning. Used appropriately and it’s hardly noticed; used gratuitously, it is distracting; used not at all, it is intolerable. The comma is the embodiment of grace. War is being waged over it.
At battle are the two leading arbiters of style in the English language: The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) versus the much more widely accepted Associated Press (AP) Style. Though they disgree, the two styles are more alike than different. Oh, but the comma, little brother to the apostrophe, road bump to so many fast talkers, how you have split American English in half!
The issue is the serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma. It is only one application of the overused comma but it is a significant one. CMOS (a graceless acronym to be sure, though not all acronyms are subject to the phonetic wonder of words) employs the serial comma before the final conjunction in a list or series.
“For lunch I ate apples, peanut butter and jelly.”
The CMOS would put a comma after peanut butter; AP would not. CMOS employs it for clarification; AP opts not to use it for expediency.
Here is the CMOS’s example of why the serial comma is imperative: “With gratitude to my parents, Mother Teresa and the pope.”
Surely the narrator’s parents are not Mother Teresa and the pope. Scandalous! I side with CMOS. This graphic illustrates it even better. If not for this major flaw, I’d prefer AP. As for the strippers, my preference is irrelevant.
Rates depend on project scope, revision process, delivery demands, and the exact nature of the client’s project needs.
Hourly rates range from $35-$55, depending on scope of project. I use the Editorial Freelancers Association editorial rates as a loose guide.
Per page rates are even more dependent on scope of project. The more work, the less each edited page will cost.
Per Project basis: As lead copyeditor for the award-winning anthology Hair Trigger, I get paid on a project basis because the scope and intensity of the annual is longstanding. A per project basis gets tricky as the demands of the client might change. This is why I strive for open and consistent communication with the client throughout the process, regardless of fee structure.
Schooled in both the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Style, I’ve been copy editing, proofreading, line editing, content editing, website editing, and critiquing book-length manuscripts since 2006. In addition to critiquing a dozen novels, I have been lead copy editor for several volumes of Hair Trigger, the CSPA award-winning anthology published by the Fiction Department at Columbia College Chicago.
I helped launch the Chicago Artists Resource as content editor and site developer. I’ve worked for a range of clients, ranging from templating Google ads for Vivaki to editing and producing training manuals for Fashion Fair Cosmetics. I offer a competitive rate dependent on the particular needs of the client. For more info, hit my minivan.
Edited Book List
Gospel Hollow by Jesse Jordan, Casperian Books, April 2012
“Rob’s edit of my manuscript was indispensable. Not only did he catch mistakes which had eluded numerous previous readings, his notes and insight led me to excising quite a bit of extraneous material, making the manuscript much more concise and explicit.”-Jesse Jordan, author
Hair Trigger volumes 31-35, Lead Copy Editor from 2008-current
The four-hundred page annual features creative nonfiction, fiction, plays, and hybrid forms. The editorial process includes everything from locating and finalizing author permissions to punctual delivery from the printer to the distributor. A copy editorial team of three weed through four dozen manuscripts and the book as a whole over the six-month production cycle.
“Rob Duffer has been invaluable as a copy editor, managing editor, fact checker, and writing consultant to our students for the department’s lit anthology, Hair Trigger. I can’t imagine how we would get the mag to bed on time without him. He has been able to jump into an editing job on a last-minute basis and save the day. Rob’s work has allowed the student’s writing to shine without unduly jumping in with “know-best” editorial interference. Many of the traditional and experimental pieces he has edited require a sensitive ear and an ability to intuit what young undergraduate creative-writing students are attempting to say, though they do not always fully articulate their meaning, and Rob has been able to work with them to get their stories fully onto the page.” Linda Naslund, Production Director