The copy edit is clean up work. Once the manuscript is complete you become more concerned with punctuation, grammar and style. Now is the time to make your information more readable.
There is nothing wrong with unpolished writing, but there is no excuse for not having it cleaned up by an editor. Hire a wordsmith, a grammarian, a picky English pro. Look for them in the Yellow Pages under “writing”. Ask for them in places where people work with words: check writing clubs, local colleges and ask at photocopy shops (or see the sidebar in this article). Interview several editors and get referrals from satisfied customers.
The editor returned the manuscript and the pages were filled with red marks. Attached was an apologetic note saying, “I am sorry for the mess but I thought you would want to know about the errors.” The author called the editor and thanked her. “I would much rather that you find the mistakes now than have my readers find them later.”
I trust my editors. To save time, I send the file attached to email rather than the manuscript on paper. That way I do not have to enter the corrections to the manuscript. The editor edits and corrects at the same time.
Each book presents a different challenge. Some require punctuation corrections while others demand a rewrite. According to Brenner Information Group, editors average sixty-one hours of work per book. Yes, editing is a rewording activity.
Your book is a member of your family. You want the very best for it. Give it a checkup and dress it well so you can be a proud parent.
Dan Poynter, the Voice of Self-Publishing, has written more than 100 books since 1969 including Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual. Dan is a past vice-president of the Publishers Marketing Association. For more help on book publishing and promoting, see http://ParaPub.com.