Publication Process: Copy Edits

I have reached a ‘never-before’ stage on my books. The Golden City has come back from copy editing.

What does that mean? Well, my editor’s job was to look for things that needed to be changed at the macro level. You know….this plot point doesn’t make sense, why did character X do that?, and character Y is changing names.

But the copy editor is looking at a micro level. (Now, please note that the editor above does some micro level stuff, too, and every short fiction editor I’ve worked with does that was well, but the novel process seems to be more complicated.) My copy editor is checking punctuation, capitalization, word choice, etc…

On Friday I got the following:
A manuscript with all the changes done via Track Changes.
A Style Sheet.

Now the Style Sheet appears to have the following elements:
1) What style manuals they prefer.
2) A list of my idiosyncratic word and punctuation choices. (For example, they noted that I use ‘dryly’ rather than ‘drily’ and that I’m fond of serial commas.)
3) A list of Names, Places and Other Stuff That’s Important.

I’m supposed to, at this point, make any corrections to the Style Sheet that are needed, and go through all the corrections in the novel and note whether I want to reject/change them. If I don’t, I just leave them alone.

It’s interesting to do this because my copy-editor was reading this at a sentence level. That engenders certain mistakes. For example, in my altenate history, Portugal has split into two countries. They didn’t catch that, so every time I mention the country ‘Northern Portugal’ (like Northern Ireland), they correct that to northern Portugal.

In Portugal, it’s not unusual for family members not to use the same surname. Where I’ve done that, I see that they ‘corrected’ my error on the style sheet so that the family members all have the same name. Ouch!

And there are some interesting word choices. For example, where I have I only need a few, they changed it to I need only a few. While this is gramatically correct, it’s not natural in dialog. (I’ve actually run across 3 of the moving onlys so far.)

But this is a copy editor’s job. They’re looking for tiny things that break the rules. They’re working on consistency. They’re not there to consider the big picture.

So it will be an interesting step for me, learning how my copy editor wants things done. I can already tell that there are some things I will change in my next manuscript, in hopes of saving that poor person some headaches…

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