Reply to post: Re: So they force him to use Word hmm?

Brit Sci-Fi author Alastair Reynolds says MS Word 'drives me to distraction'

DrXym Silver badge

Re: So they force him to use Word hmm?

"I think you underestimate how much Word gets used as a format. Mr. Stross has written a lot on how the process works, and I don't think you're far wrong on why it gets used. Most of the cost of producing a novel from a manuscript is in the editing, and Word is the de facto standard. Microsoft have been destroying the alternatives in the word-processing market, and nobbling the process that sets standards, and there isn't a practical alternative for what the publishers have to do."

Exactly. There isn't a practical alternative. So moaning about Word seems to overlook the fact that there isn't anything much better. The publishers need a common tool for collaborative review and have settled on Word because it is ubiquitous and works relatively well.

And this is for review purposes when the manuscript is mostly in draft. It doesn't mean the author has to live their lives in Word. They could write in markdown for all it mattered or some ancient DOS word processor. Providing they submitted in a format that the editor could open. The likes of George RR Martin does exactly that. And it's not like someone can say "ah by George RR Martin can dictate his workflow because he's so famous" because he's been using it for years and before his fame.

Authors probably find the whole process of editing to be tedious. In a large book it probably does mean throwing a file back and forth many times. And perhaps Word isn't perfect for the job. But the alternatives are no better. The editor could send stacks of manuscript with red ink and postits. Or maybe they could maintain an exhaustive side document of issues and have the author reference it. But neither is particular good

As for ODT I did not mean to say the editor and author would be switching back and forth between it and .doc but that if another tool were better for the purpose then they could aggree to use that and then convert at the end. There isn't much that a format has to remember - basic structure and formatting. All the rest would be done during typesetting.

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