Publishing Behind the Scenes: Copyedits

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe my debut year is already over and we’re now into 2022, when my second book will release. Each step of the process makes it feel more real, like this past Friday, when my editor sent me the clean copyedited version of My Second Impression of You. It was so pretty I immediately read the first two chapters. I might have sat there and read the whole book again if I hadn’t had other things on my to-do list 😊.

For those who are unfamiliar, when I say the clean copyedited version, I mean that my editor sent back a document in which all of the comments and changes have been resolved and agreed upon by both me and my publisher. It’s still a Word document, so it’s not laid out and typeset yet, but it’s one step closer. After going back and forth with several rounds of the manuscript with in-line comments, it’s nice to read a clean copy.

So here’s where we are in the editing process:

✔️ Developmental edits

✔️ Line edits

✔️ Copyedits

⃞       Pass pages

The copyedited version is not final–we still have pass pages to go–but those will happen after the Advance Reading Copies go out. That’s why there are so many warnings on ARCs not to quote them as final–because things still get tweaked.

While developmental and line edits are just between me and my editor, copyedits bring new people into the process and thus a completely fresh look at the manuscript. At my publisher, that includes the internal production editor and a freelance copyeditor.

I sort of thought copyedits would be like another round of line edits, except with the copyeditor focusing on grammar and punctuation. Well, copyeditors do look at grammar and punctuation. Plus, they also make sure your book is in the correct style for your publishing house and not slipping into, say, Associated Press Style like you use for your PR clients… Anyway, I’m very grateful for the kind copyeditors who cite the correct style in the comments for me so I can learn it 😊. (Behold, all those who have suffered at the other end of my red pen are cackling with it’s your turn joy somewhere.)

But even that is just the beginning of what copyeditors do. Here’s what else happens during the copyediting process:

  1. Design memo and/or style sheet. A design memo lays out any different kinds of type that will be used in the book; for example, in Your Life Has Been Delayed there’s [HEADLINE HAND]. This notation is inserted into the Word document so that when it goes to layout, they know something’s changing in the text. The style sheet I received for My Second Impression of You included the design memo as well as a list of approved spelling for words, characters with their descriptions, and a chapter by chapter breakdown. I’m totally in love with this document!
  2. Fact checking! The copyeditor also fact checks and puts in links to references. As a writer who triple checks all of her information, I love that there’s another person still checking me again to ensure my information is correct.
  3. Fresh eyes. This is so important after the same two people have been over and over it multiple times. Because the copyeditor catches things like how the timeline isn’t lining up with the number of days that have passed (YLHBD) or that the surgeon said she’d be on vacation but is still there (MSIOY). In both manuscripts, the copyeditor made comments/asked questions that caused me to go through and make subtle tweaks throughout the whole book. A single comment about Jenny and chat rooms made me re-evaluate (again) how I was presenting her relationship with technology as a nineties teen. Often what I discover with these sorts of questions is that I just haven’t explained something fully enough yet. If the copyeditor asks, readers surely will too!
  4. Copyright infringement. Song lyrics. 😭😭😭 I get it. There are copyright laws. But my character’s in musical theater. She wants to sing! It’s fine. The copywriter was just doing their job. So I did my job. I wrote around it. But does that mean in some future event I can’t recreate what Maggie was meant to be singing in chapter eight while she’s hyped up on painkillers? Be prepared for me to demonstrate what I had to cut out…

So that’s the gist of copyedits. They turn me into a total word nerd. No regrets! Next up is pass pages. Let me know what questions you have about those or any other step of the process.

On another note, my latest newsletter is out today, and it includes a giveaway for a signed copy of YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN DELAYED. I’d love for you to sign up for my newsletter (it also includes the first character profile for MY SECOND IMPRESSION OF YOU!), but you are still welcome to enter the giveaway either way.

Stay tuned next week for my first review roundup of the year!

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