‘If novelists are a bit like small children running busily around a room trying to stick forks into electrical sockets (just ask any editor), copyeditors would be the people chasing after us with endless vigilance, forever smacking the silverware out of our hands just before we electrocute ourselves. It's inconceivable to me that there could be anyone who does this better than Deanna. There are hundreds of novels on the shelves right now that are finer things because of her attention, and two of them are mine.’ — Scott Lynch
‘'I can't compliment Deanna Hoak's work because I hardly ever encounter it. A word here, a touch-up there, always rendered with concern for the author's voice and vision. But somehow, just like an auto detailer who lovingly attends to a used car by simply and unobtrusively taking out the stress fractures and rock chips, the result is something that has been worked on but looks simultaneously brand-new and untouched. A true artistic achievement.’ — Alan Dean Foster
‘Deanna came so highly recommended as a copy editor, that it was hard to believe she could live up to her star billing, but we quickly found out that she deserved all the praise accorded her. Of course she has the technical skill, to which she adds an ability to sense what the author wants ... what he doesn't want .... when he needs some help ... when to leave things alone. She is personable, professional, and sooooo easy to work with. We both hope she will get the recognition that (or should we say 'which'? Deanna would know!) she deserves.’ — Stephen Lawhead and Alice Lawhead
This year's World Fantasy Convention takes place in Saratoga Springs, New York, on the 1st to 4th of November. I'm hoping to persuade those of you who’ve bought memberships this year, or to either of the last two World Fantasy Conventions, to use your nominations and, later, votes in the World Fantasy Awards to honour one particular person. And thus, an entire group of people.
Deanna Hoak is a freelance copyeditor specialising in fantasy and science fiction. She's widely acknowledged as the leading light in her field. She is highly valued by those authors with whom she's worked. SF and fantasy novels Deanna has copyedited have been finalists for (and have sometimes won) the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke, Locus, Philip K. Dick, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy awards.
Authors whose books she has copyedited include... deep breath here... Toni Anzetti (Ann Tonsor Zeddies), Fiona Avery, Steven Barnes, Stephen Baxter, Michael Blumlein, Keith Brooke, James Clemens, Storm Constantine, Josh Conviser, John Darnton, Tobias Druitt, Jeanne DuPrau, David and Leigh Eddings, David Louis Edelman, Charles Coleman Finlay, Gaelen Foley, Alan Dean Foster, Judith French, Janeane Garofalo, Kathleen O’Neal Gear, W. Michael Gear, Barbara Hambly, Tara K. Harper, Nalo Hopkinson, Greg Keyes, Jay Lake, Scott Lynch, Scott Mackay, Wil McCarthy, Ian McDonald, China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, Kim Newman, Cherie Priest, Chris Roberson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, R. A. Salvatore, Charles Saunders, Martin Sketchley, Dean Wesley Smith, Jenna Solitaire, Wen Spencer, Ben Stiller, Matt Stover, N. Lee Wood and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. (Phew.) And that’s not by any means a complete list.
The copyediting process is fascinating, and little understood, even by those of us who most benefit from it. Here's Deanna's take on what she does, from which I think one gets a flavour of why her work in particular is deserving of recognition:
I have no personal or professional association with Deanna. (Although she is, in a rather abashed way, aware of my efforts on her behalf.) But from attending conventions over the last few years, I’ve come to realise that she’s someone who’s taken her craft to a higher level.
It was during one particular convention bar conversation that a group of us were shocked to realise that while we — as editors, writers and artists — were enjoying the possibility of being nominated for all sorts of different awards... there was almost nothing the brand leader in Deanna's line of work could aspire to. There is no Hugo Award for copyediting. However, as we worked out a few days later, there is an award which, though it’s never been used for this purpose, Deanna can win.
The only honour in the SF and fantasy world for which Deanna is eligible is the World Fantasy Awards category: Special Award — Professional.
I think it's important to recognise Deanna with it, and I also think it’s important to thus create a precedent. Because the skills of such ‘back room’ workers in the publishing industry, the likes of whom are recognised with their own awards in other media, are sorely neglected in our field.
So please, I ask this of you, use your ballots accordingly in the World Fantasy Awards, and —
Nominate Deanna Hoak for Special Award – Professional.
Oh, and get your ballot in by June 30th!
Thanks very much for reading.
More quotes in support of Deanna:
‘Deanna Hoak's work in the field, as a copy editor, as a writer, as a reader, and as a critic, is unparalleled. She did a fantastic job on the copy edit on my Tor novel, Mainspring, catching an unbelievable number of details I had completely glossed over. At the same time, she reached out to me at one point to ask me a personal question about the deaths of some secondary characters. Their fate had bothered her as a reader, and so, once she was done with the assignment from my editors at Tor, she wanted to ask me in that capacity what I'd intended. That kind of engagement across so many levels is rare. Deanna accomplishes it with grace and wit and a keen eye for the work we all do.’ — Jay Lake
‘In the months leading up to the publication of my first novel, I was preparing for the Proverbial Bad Copy Editing Experience. You know, the experience where your transcendent prose is mangled beyond repair, your metaphors are scrambled, and your characters' names are shortened to two syllables to fit in with some pinhead's idea of marketability. But surprisingly, I got exactly the opposite when Deanna Hoak copy edited my book. During the copy editing process, she became both my biggest advocate and my biggest critic. Deanna found the flaws that the Muse had left in. She went beyond mere fact- and grammar-checking and provided me with several concrete suggestions to improve the quality of the book. And she remained in constant contact with me over instant messaging throughout the entire thing. Thanks to Deanna, my book received the thorough, professional, intelligent treatment I had been hoping for.’ — David Louis Edelman
‘Deanna Hoak is one of the unsung heroes of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and it's high time that people started to sing about her. A more careful, thorough, and attentive copy editor you won't find, and many is the book that's benefited from her Midas touch.’ — Chris Roberson
‘Deanna Hoak is a masterful copy editor. She worked with me on my first book and her contribution was invaluable. She was able to address both the smallest details in my prose and the larger themes of my novel with equal facility and attention. Her efforts made Echelon a far better book. Beyond that, she has an energy that's contagious. I value Deanna both for the quality of her work and as a great friend.’ — Josh Conviser
‘Deanna is a phenomenon. I was astounded by how much she puts into each job from the first time we worked together. Well above and beyond what was expected. She's one of the people whose work is invisible but indispensable, and it's high time she gets recognized for the treasure she is.’ — Lou Anders, Editorial Director, Pyr Books
'I've worked with Deanna Hoak over the course of five books (my "Banned and the Banished" series). Being a new author at the time, I had heard horror stories of copy editors, so when it came time for final edits, I didn't know what to expect. But I was happy to discover that not only was Deanna extremely brilliant, but she had a keen eye for details that had escaped everyone else. But best of all, she recognized that she was dealing with a new author, and like a mother with a child, she took me by the hand and guided me through the process with barely a scratch. And even now with seventeen books under my belt, I still have fond memories of "my first"...copy editor, that is.' — James Clemens (James Rollins), author of Shadowfall and Hinterland.
'Deanna turned the ms. around in the exact amount of time she said she would, and edits in such a way that the author's voice remains, which is so hard to come by. After the final edit she even took the time to discuss the ms. in detail on the telephone. She is a great writer herself, which lends itself to her editing skills. Love her.' — Vinnie Penn.
'My only reservation in writing to praise Deanna’s abilities is that the more people hear how great she is, the harder it will be for her to spare the time to copyedit books for me. Deanna is an SF&F editor’s dream.' — Liz Gorinsky, Associate Editor, Tor Books.
'Deanna is not only the best copyeditor I've ever worked with (and I've worked with dozens), but actually the only copyeditor I trust implicitly, to leave my text better than she found it. Usually the copy editing process is an exercise in frustration - for every valid correction I'll typically write "stet" 10-15 times, for stuff the copyeditor either doesn't get, doesn't "hear", or wants to impose his/her own style on. Deanna has an eerie knack for absorbing an author's style and marking the places that don't match it. The actual errors, in other words. Oddly enough, she has also been known to correct my science when I punch the numbers incorrectly, an editorial feat she shares with Analog's Stan Schmidt, and basically no one else.' — Wil McCarthy.
'It's a truism of the 9 to 5 world that good work goes unnoted while the boss and the customers only single out bad work. More or less the same happens in speculative fiction publishing. We even have a sort of horror subgenre based on the reported misdeeds of editors, agents, copyeditors, and writers themselves. Competent people with a high degree of professionalism aren't praised nearly enough. One of these is Deanna Hoak, the copyeditor for my novel coming out from Pyr in July 2007. She did an impressive job. Deanna's work was astute, meticulous, and fair. She posed excellent questions when the MSS was unclear, and when it was perfectly clear but merrily contradicted itself. So she caught scads of typos and worse. As John Gardner says in The Art of Fiction, a writer's mistake can abruptly and unpleasantly snap the reader out of the "vivid and continuous fictional dream". That's not, not, not what I want for my novel, and at a number of points where it won't happen, I'll have Deanna to thank.' — Alexis Glynn Latner.
Here’s Fiona Avery on why Deanna deserves this win:
And Deanna’s website can be found at:
If you’re someone who’s worked with Deanna, and/or would like to offer your own support for her nomination, please feel free to leave a comment. We’ll also be adding more quotes to the page as they come in, and updating with any news.