A Book Copyeditor’s Well-trained Eye

Is it essential that you send your book manuscript to a professional copyeditor before you attempt to self-publish or contact an agent?

Absolutely. The message that you want to convey through your book would be distorted, tarnished, or even ruined if readers discover that the text is riddled with errors.

The solution: hire a topnotch copyeditor to polish your words so they sparkle in the sunlight. In the twinkling of a well-trained eye, a skilled editor can zero in on misplaced modifiers, dangling participles, all-too-common mistakes involving its and it’s (and even the nonexistent word its’), to and too, and other hare-raising/hair-raising errors.

A Good Copyeditor’s Skill Set

Making suggestions for more logical placement of paragraphs and sentences? All within a good copyeditor’s purview. Calling attention to inconsistencies of verb tense, mood, and tone? All part of an experienced copyeditor’s arsenal of skills. Noting places to tighten or expand the text or substitute a synonym for an overused word, remarking about a redundancy, questioning the accuracy of a fact, nudging the author to clarify an unclear concept? All in a day’s work for a talented copyeditor.

Skilled editors say that mistakes “leap off the page” at them. And potential readers will “leap off the couch” to convey their enthusiasm for your book, which so obviously has been carefully copyedited, to other readers.

Unintended Consequences of Unedited Copy
Unedited words can result in dire, although sometimes amusing, consequences:

  • A misheard cliche can creep into the copy: “We will stand on the toes of those who have gone before us.”
  • One missing lowercase “l” can spell catastrophe: “For Pubic School Educators.”
  • One missing zero can lead to a potential lawsuit: The text says $25,000., but should say $250,000.

Making Your Book as Perfect as Possible
Authors can find copyeditors through professional organizations — here in the Bay Area, through BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association) and BAEF (Bay Area Editors’ Forum), through consulting and marketing organizations, directories that list editorial professionals, ads in magazines targeted toward writers, and by Googling “copyeditor.”

Hiring a good copyeditor to make your book’s content shipshape is a great investment in its eventual success. The message that you’ve workod on for so long will be conveyed beautifully to your readers — and that’s not editorial spin!

Linda Jay Geldens is a true publishing professional who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the past two years, she has copyedited more than 60 book manuscripts. Genres: business, novels, memoirs, spirituality, academic topics, science fiction. She is also a promotional writer of profiles, feature stories, Web site text, and blog posts. LindaJay@aol.com , www.LindaJayGeldens.com


  1. Jill Klaskin Press says

    Take it from someone who will not submit anything to a publisher or agent until Linda Jay has proofed it…she is the BEST!