In honor of USA’s election day, a vote.
I am in the process of going through the copy edited manuscript for COLD STEEL. This is part of the production process that takes a book from manuscript to printed (or formatted e-book) finished copy.
After I write and revise a novel, I send the revised manuscript to my editor. She (or he) reads through it and requests editorial changes. We discuss any questions I have, and based on his/her comments and our discussion, I revise again. Typically, s/he will read it through one more time, and I’ll make a second round of changes, although usually this round deals less with major revision and more with details and those last bits of scenes that need burnishing.
This finished, final version enters production. One of the first things that happens is that the manuscript is sent to a copy editor. The copy editor’s job is to read carefully for grammatical and punctuation errors, for typos, for consistency in naming and details (does the character have brown eyes on page 34 and hazel eyes on page 213?), and for adherence to house style (Oxford comma, yes or no?). As well, a good copy editor will catch more subtle inconsistencies as well as confusing or illogical passages and may ask for clarification of descriptions or scenes that don’t quite make sense or aren’t communicated clearly.
The copy edit is also the last place the writer can, if necessary, made changes straight into the manuscript without having to worry about changing the line or page length. Once the typesetting and layout of a printed book is complete, it is expensive to change the layout if there are significant changes. Changes made at the proofreading stage are, therefore, frowned upon. That is why it is so important to make use of the copy editing stage to do any final cleaning up and polishing.
I have just completed my first pass through the copy edited manuscript.
Some writers have horror stories about egregiously bad copy editors who did such a bad job on the manuscript that the poor writer had to spend days “stetting” (stet==to let stand [the original]), and that certainly does happen. In my case, I have a very good copy editor, and the book you read will be better for her/his work.
But that’s not my question. My question is for you, the readers.
A brief aside: What follows may constitute an extremely mild spoiler, so if you hate and loathe all spoilerish things, don’t read on. However, if you don’t mind, no worries.