The Voice of the Copy Editor-by Donna

Everything is new when going through the publishing process for the first time, but the copy editing stage was one step I knew little about.  Having experienced it now for the second time, I thought I'd share some of it with you.
My first reaction (after opening the manuscript to finally look, fortified by at least one glass of wine) is one of total humility. I've worked on this document now for months, even years, (with multiple readers and lots of input) and there are STILL mistakes -- grammar, punctuation, formatting, continuity.  It's daunting.  The second reaction, that follows very quickly after the first, is GRATITUDE.  Thank GOD for copy editors.
So what exactly does a copy editor do?  Well here are some examples.
Fact checking:
The copy editor comments,
"A little unclear whether this is the case, but if she started walking off when they were still standing in front of Urban Outfitters, she would already be on Pearl and wouldn’t be turning onto it. (Urban is on Pearl Street.)
She google mapped it?  And she's right, of course.
The manuscript reads, "Raylene walks back to her bed, flops down on her stomach across the purple flowered bedspread, and watches me cautiously. Somehow she manages to keep her mouth zipped shut."

The copy editor comments,
" could be a purple bedspread with a flower pattern (versus a bedspread with purple flowers on it)

Ummmm.. Yeah.  I pick the first one?

And this is what every page of the manuscript looks like:

A screenshot of one page of copy edits

"Track changes" is critical at this stage
I feel incredibly lucky to have a talented copy editor review my manuscript at this stage, but I also don't want the voice of the copy editor in my mind while I'm still drafting.  It would be completely stifling to me. 

Is she on Pearl or Walnut?  Is the bedspread flowered or purple? or both?  GAHHHHH!

That's why it's perfect timing to have this kind of attention to detail (and another fresh pair of reader eyes) on my "finished" manuscript at this stage of the process. 

The odds are I will probably never meet this person who so meticulously reviewed my manuscript.  So, here's to copy editors everywhere!

Thank you for bringing your talents to my finished book.



Although the manuscript may bleed red when the copy editor is done with their part, the story will flow so much more fluidly because of their wonderful efforts. Adding a virtual glass of Moscato to the toast :-)

Oh my goodness! Hahaha. This'll be an interesting experience when I finally get around to it. Thank you for sharing!

My book is with the copy editor right now, and I am cautiously excited to see what gets flagged! Thanks for the great post. :)

Really cool to see what the pages look like after the copyeditors have had their way!

Thanks for sharing. Very cool to have such good eyes on your ms!

I'm so glad you shared this process with us. Thanks, Donna!

I'm afraid of copy editors. I think they have supernatural powers. How else can they notice EVERY LITTLE THING? :)

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