Now’s your chance

red pencil

Remember Merrill Perlman, the New York Times copy queen who did a loooooong Q&A last year? Well, she’s just started another one: Talk to the Newsroom: Director of Copy Desks Merrill Perlman. So now’s your chance to have those burning editorial questions finally doused. One of my esteemed former colleagues at St. Martin’s has a question right on the first page:

A Vanishing Breed?

Q. I’m a managing editor at St. Martin’s Press in New York City. We are having more and more trouble finding literate freelance copy editors and proofreaders — people who know the basics of punctuation, spelling, grammar, something of what the English language can or can’t do, perhaps enough knowledge of a major European language to add an accent or make a past participle agree with a noun. Are newspapers experiencing the same problem, and if so, how are you dealing with it?
— Robert Cloud

A. You’re right, Mr. Cloud, it’s harder to find people who know what good copy editors need to know. You can argue that English usage has gone downhill, or you can argue that English is changing, but a better answer, I suspect, is plus ça change. . . .

Note that although Ms. Perlman is, of course, answering many general questions about copy editing, her primary field of expertise is newspaper style, and the Times‘s flavor thereof in particular. Should you have questions relating specifically to U.S. trade book style, you might want to ask the wonderfully salty Chicago Manual answeristas instead.

Photo: colour me red by :: Rick :: / Rick Truter; some rights reserved.

Who you gonna call? home page, February 19,  2008: Brother’s Keeper

I’ve been swooning over Matthew Woodson’s work at for months, so when a story landed on my desk that actually involved a ghost, I knew whom I wanted to ask to illustrate it.

I love the simultaneous attacking/comforting embrace of this ghost, as well as the little details like the texture of his hair and the pattern of the living boy’s sweater vest. In fact, I like it so much that I printed it out large and stuck it on the wall behind my desk. You can see an uncropped, larger version of the image on the story page: Brother’s Keeper (scroll to the bottom).

I’ve already asked Matthew to do another drawing for us, so watch this space . . .

A window into our world

Women at Work

On Monday my bossfriend, Joanna Smith-Rakoff, explained to Bookslut what it is that we do all day at the mysterious place where we work.

What would you say a normal day at Nextbook is like?

Our days vary somewhat greatly and they’re different for different members of the staff. Let’s see: In the morning, we generally spend some time making sure that the day’s feature is ready to go, which means coordinating with our art director, India Amos, to see if art is ready. Having someone give the story a final proofread. Perhaps asking one of our assistants to add links into the story. Sometimes we’re running behind and desperately trying to come up with a hed and dek (or heds and deks, if we’re doing a package, or running more than one story); so we’ll email a few choices around, or gather at someone’s desk to brainstorm. At the same time, our assistants will be surfing the Web, choosing stories for that day’s Filter, then checking in with Sara Ivry, the senior editor who oversees it, about those stories. They’ll then write up the Filter and sit down with Sara to edit it.

On Tuesdays, we have our story meetings at lunchtime—we order lunch in, which is nice—during which we check in about various pieces in the works, bat around new ideas, suggest new writers, present pitches from writers, and sometimes discuss larger plans and initiatives. Often these meetings are long—two hours, sometimes more—because we really help each other shape story ideas (which is necessary, being that we never just say, “Okay, let’s do a review of the new Philip Roth novel”).

Hey! That’s me!
Continue reading “A window into our world”

Pulchritudinous penmanship

“1860 Warsaw 1? by Zeva Oelbaum, 2006

We posted a lovely gallery today at yeshiva students’ scribblings on their textbooks’ endpapers, photographed by Zeva Oelbaum: Biblical Marginalia. Click the “View Gallery” link under Eve M. Kahn’s byline to see the slideshow.

I guess they didn’t have that rule that one of my schools did, which if I recall correctly was that if you marked up your school-issued textbook, you had to pay for a new one.

Shown above: 1860 Warsaw 1 by Zeva Oelbaum, 2006.

Rhinestones and Pickles home page, January 7, 2008

Tuesday’s story by Jessica Apple about her wacky-wonderful grandma required a wacky-wonderful illustration. And who better to do that, I thought, than Martha Rich, whose daily paintings at Freedom Wig are so . . . well . . . you just have to go look at them. I’d been wanting to hire Martha for months, but this was the first story to come up that I thought really needed her.

See the whole painting and read the story on the site: Repeating History.

I confess that I Botoxed the wrinkles on the woman’s face a bit—we received word that Bashy, the subject of the story, was in very poor health, so I thought a more tender representation was in order (though I’m sure this looks nothing like her, anyway—I didn’t ask for any reference photos).

If you’re in L.A., go see Martha’s show at La Luz de Jesus gallery. It’s up until January 27. And if anybody wants to buy me Good Girl Pie, I’d appreciate it.

Toast the new year with bubbly!

Happy New Year!

Here at my office, we’re celebrating with fizz, per tradition: our first story of 2008 is about seltzer. home page, January 2, 2008: Seltzer

Today’s illustration is by the delightful Vanessa Davis. I had to crop her drawing closely to fit it on our home page—and, of course, there’s that nasty brown stripe with the type over it—so do visit the story to see the complete piece: Eli Miller’s Seltzer Delivery Service.
Continue reading “Toast the new year with bubbly!”

All illustration, all the time home page, December 4, 2007: Hanukkah 1

Happy Hanukkah!

I hope you’re not getting sick of all these posts about illustrations, because I’ve got a whole week’s worth to crow about, and not a whole lot else. is publishing a story about Hanukkah on each day of the holiday, and we decided to (a) get each one of them illustrated, and (b) have an image of a menorah (or, more specifically, a Hanukiah, as I learned yesterday—thank god for Wikipedia) on the home page, which will change each day as a new story is posted. Continue reading “All illustration, all the time”

Hot Hahn home page, 11/30/2007: Hot Rabbis

Through the magic of technology, even though I am "on vacation" I can happily inform you that today Nextbook posted this hot new illustration by Samantha Hahn, proprietress of the blog Maquette and frequent guest on Moldawer in the Morning, the Moldawer in question being her husband. Do go look at the version on the story page, as it differs from that on the home page in several ways (not least being its not having type slapped on top of it): The Girls’ Guide to Hot Rabbis and Tattooed Chefs.

If all goes as planned, Samantha’s second illustration for Nextbook will appear on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled.