This week I reviewed the copy edits from my upcoming Samhain Horror novella, Blood Red Roses. Finishing the process, there are two insights I want to share with other authors, especially indies.
1. You need a copy editor.
You don’t think you do. Hell, I don’t think I do. But every manuscript I get back from my publisher proves me wrong. And I don’t mean you need one for minor typos, though you do. The copy editor is the master of mechanics, the one who, day after day, works with the grammatical nuances of our mother tongue. We butcher these details in our everyday speech, and as a result, like a toxic spill, those shortcuts leech in and contaminate the wellspring of our writing. With each line edit, I curse myself for mishandling the language, for forgetting one of English’s equivalents to baseball’s infield fly rule. Then I vow to never repeat that Freshman Comp mistake again. But I do.
2. The copy edit phase is cool.
You say you hate it. The fun, broad strokes of creativity you loved to wield in your first draft are already painted. This is just scut work. More than likely, by now you’ve shepherded the story through three drafts plus, and you are much more excited about whatever new project simmers on the front burner.
But this is the chance for detail. The editing process also raises questions of continuity, of clarity. Did you really mean this? Didn’t your character previously say that? With a bit of your earlier unbridled enthusiasm banked, you can take a final, detailed look at those passages in question, and go break out the dusty thesaurus for the perfect word. Look at this as one last polish, the brush of the dust speck off the hood before you roll a classic car before the judges. Here you have final say on the finished product, something many movie directors and rock stars don’t have. Enjoy it!
That’s all. Back to that new story that has captured my imagination.
Can’t wait to see the copy edits.