Saturday, March 12, 2011

Copy Editing: "But Ma! It Looks so Easy!"

New authors are often shocked when they discover that the final proofing process is often the hardest part of the publishing experience. You have to keep in mind that you sometimes have between 50,000 and 100,000 words and phrases -- and these words all have to be correct. Let's break that down: that's 100,000 words spelled right and grammatically correct. Oh! And don't forget the right style needs to be applied. Are you suddenly cringing? Copy editors are often the lowest paid editor on the rung. A truly gifted copy editor is priceless. A thorough copy editor not only knows her grammar rules backwards and forwards, she also knows something super critical. She knows when she doesn't know -- and she looks it up. I've now worked with several authors who have come up for air after the final proofing process to admit it was harder than writing the actual book. So, next time you spot a minor error in a book, give the poor copy editor a break before you decide to pull out your baton and bash her on the head -- especially if it's a 300-page book. I always say before you cast the first stone, you try doing it ... perfectly! Then we'll talk!!

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