The Copy -Edit Blues


You’ll grow to love your copy-editor. It may take a little time as you work through the corrections and comments tracked down the side of your manuscript, but eventually you will realise how important they are.

It is rather deflating to open a document and notice a page of red tracking changes on the right hand side. A glaring pointer to misplaced commas, typos that had slipped through and comments pointing out continuity errors and suggestions to improve the understanding or readability of a sentence. And then the joy of discovering a page of pristine black and white text, free of the red errata markers.

I decided to tackle the least daunting task first. Clicking my way through, accepting the punctuation corrections and then going back through to address the comments. (Can you imagine how long this would have taken before the computer??) It certainly started out as a fairly straightforward process, but as I moved through my manuscript, I became quite emotional, and a little defensive. I’d spent so long writing this book. I’d listened to Tess, my main character talking to me, telling me about her life, her feelings and here was a copy-editor changing and commenting on my work? Arrgh! But I wrestled myself back into a box, talked myself down from the tree and spoke to my editor, Anne Reilly.

‘Do I have to accept all the comments and changes?’ I asked nervously.

‘No, of course not. It’s your name on the cover,’ she replied.

‘That’s right.’ I reminded myself. My name on the cover. Arrrgh!! Again. But a different Arrrgh! this time. This was the realisation that yes, this was actually happening. I am having my book published. I’d finally moved from beyond the surreal, is this actually happening to me stage?,  to the wow, this is actually happening, bring on stress-inducing terror of making it as perfect as I could, stage.

So, I moved through the comments, paring back, rewriting where necessary and rejecting what I felt I needed to. Now, with the benefit of some sleep and a few days distance, it wasn’t a huge amount of work, but there was one scene I rewrote completely. Perhaps a few pages doesn’t sound so much, but at this stage it took some courage to take a deep breath, admit I could do better and start it again.

It was a fortnight of stress. Of working through my emotional reactions to the process, of bringing objectivity and new inspiration to a project I’ve been working on for a few years. That’s not so easy. Not for me.

I made my deadline with an A++ for reliability and delivery from my editor. And now I’m back in waiting mode. there’s a lot of waiting in the publishing process. There is other work to do and the pleasure and responsibility of writing my Acknowledgements and an Author’s note.  I haven’t heard any screams of torment reverberating across Sydney Harbour from my publisher’s office – I’ll let you know if I do!

Next up, the copy is sent to the typesetter and my next delivery will be the pages. And then off to the printers.

I’m nearly there. The Wardrobe Girl will be available from the beginning of March in bookstores and as an e-book.

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2 thoughts on “The Copy -Edit Blues

  1. It gets easier!! I’m always mortified at how much improvement my text can handle…. oh dear…. I think it must be harder when you write fiction though, than the factual books I do. It’s good to follow through this process with you, keep the posts coming!

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