I have now officially gone through the copy editing stage of publication, and I have this to say - copy editors rock!
For those curious about publication, here's how my copy edit process worked.
1. You're done making the changes your editor asked you to make on your manuscript. Congratulations! You send it to your editor and she sends it off to the copy editor. My book went out as a Word file (NOT .docx, by the way, folks seem to hate that format) set up to mark all changes and add comments. The file still showed all my editor's comments/changes and my edits thereafter.
2. Super Copy Editor goes over ever single word in the manuscript, using his/her Mind Boggling Grammar Knowledge and Special Punctuation Insight, making changes (which were marked in the Word file), asking questions about inconsistencies, and so on.
In my case, he/she also made something called a "style sheet" which listed the different kinds of marks used on the file and their meaning. The style sheet also contained all the unusual or unique terms I used in the book, alphabetically, along with queries about any inconsistencies, as well as a list of all the characters in the book, along with their distinguishing characteristics. This list has become incredibly useful as I write Book 2 in the series.
Thank you, Super Copy Editor!
3. The copy editor sends the file back to my editor, who forwards it to me with instructions to make changes so that they are marked, and not to delete any other marks or comments. Also, please save the file as .doc or as the earlier form of Word, not the most recent Word, which is the evil .docx.
4. I go over the manuscript on my computer, checking every change. As I soon realize that Super Copy Editor (hereafter referred to as SCE) fricking knows his/her business, I give up studying every added or deleted comma and concentrate on the queries.
In my case, because I'm writing fantasy, I made up a lot of terms to fit my world buillding. For example, Otherkin contains an organization called the Tribunal. At some points I referred to it as a singular entity, at other times as a plural one. SCE asked me to choose. Singular it is!
At other, awesome points in the file, SCE corrected my spelling of Pepe LePew (note that both the L and the P in his last name are capitalized), and asked me very politely if perhaps I'd like to choose a different word here because I'd used the same word in the previous sentence. Yes, please and thank you!
I also changed a couple of things in my acknowledgements, opined on where I'd like the epigraph to show up, and weighed in on whether or not I'd like a break in the text when a time break happened in the story. (Yes, please.)
Behold the fabulousness of the SCE! They respect your work enough to want to make it as correct, readable, and entertaining as possible, without intruding on your vision as a writer.
5. I also went over the style sheet, corrected one description of one character and answered several queries, highlighting those changes in yellow. Then I sent the file back to my editor.
All of this was surprisingly fun. I know I'm a bit of a word nerd, but it was fascinating to look at my book from this kind of distance, to make sure the world inside it was as consistent and correct as I could possibly make it.
I have to say - I'm a little nervous about this post because it probably needs to be copy edited. Alas, when it comes to the blog, I'm on my own.
Hey, we all make mistakes...
The SCE gives you a chance to look like you're PERFECT.
Well, at least when it comes to spelling and grammar. The actual writing is all you. And if you're a writer, you know that "stuf" is never perfect. But making it as good as possible is part of the job. So the Super Copy Editor is your friend. Embrace him/her and your book will be all the better for it.