Post: What happens in the copy-editing process?


Before we address the topic of this blog, there’s something you should know: It is always—as in, always-100%-of-the-time, a bad idea to submit a manuscript for publishing consideration without first sending it through a thorough (and preferably professional) copy-editing process. Sadly, many writers do just that, only to receive polite rejection letters and be left feeling disappointed.

Assuming that you understand the critical importance of copy-editing as an integral component of the publishing process, let’s talk about what the process entails. You might only need one full edit for your manuscript or (which is far more common) your story might go through several rounds of editing and revision before it is ready to submit to a publisher.

Grammar gurus descend upon your work during the copy-editing process

One of the reasons authors are advised and encouraged to have someone else edit their work is that writers often gloss over grammar, punctuation and other writing mechanics errors. If you have spelled a word wrong, double spaced by accident, forgot a period at the end of a sentence or misused a verb, an experienced copy editor will notice. That’s a good thing. 

Copy editors will also be the first to spot a subject and verb that are not in agreement. For example, if you write that “The boy run through the woods,” your editor will add a notation advising you to revise the sentence to have subject and verb agreement, which would be “The boy runs through the woods,” or “The boy ran through the woods.” 

Copy-editors are super fact checkers

If you write historical fiction or are writing a biography, it’s important to get your facts straight. During the copy-editing process, your editing team will follow up on any statement that includes dates, names or events that actually occurred in real life. You wouldn’t want to give your readers misinformation. And, when the goal is to refine your manuscript so that it’s publishable, you need to have your facts correct. 

If you write that D-day occurred on June 10, 1944, readers who are well-versed on WWII issues will spot the mistake right away. A thorough copy-editing process helps spot errors and ensures that the information presented throughout your book is true. 

Tone, voice, style, flow, and more

A copy editor helps refine sentence structure. Publishers won’t accept manuscripts that don’t flow well. The copy-editing process assesses every line, ensuring that the voice, tone, style and flow of the story works well. Editors will also let you know if you have succeeded in developing your plot and characters. 

The copy-editing process not only increases your chances of having a publisher accept your manuscript, it can help you improve your writing skills, as well.