So I’m sitting here, typing up the last sentence of my blog post. My coffee is already gone but I don’t care, I’m at the finish line and ready to post. The research has been done, I have a somewhat witty opening line, and the conclusion ties things up neatly. Then, it happens. You know, it. My partner looks over my shoulder to see what I’m writing and makes a comment. Now, any writer knows what this comment is. This is that one comment that makes you look over your work all over again. It’s frustrating, and you want to glare at the person who makes it – and, let’s be honest, you do glare. They apologize and walk away as you look over your work for what feels like the 10th time.
However, at some point you realize that they were absolutely right.
And that, my friends, is why you need a copy editor.
How Important Is a Copy Editor?
I know it feels like your work is ready, but you need a fresh set of eyes because it’s really easy to miss something. Spelling. Grammar. Making sure your work is consistent and flows well. When I write something, I read it over a few times to make sure it’s ready, but even after the words become imprinted on my brain, when I submit it into my supervisor I get a nice email that says, “Good job, but…”
Liam Green of Brafton discussed the results of a survey done back in 2002 by Stanford University. After surveying 1,600 American and European Internet users, they found that spelling mistakes and sloppy appearances in content made brands look unfavorable. This was 12 years ago, and with the Internet and social media being such a high focus now, those standards have increased tenfold. Heck, according to Danielle Prager of Rival IQ, some people can’t even hashtag properly. And that’s just hashtagging. But there are a bunch of articles out there about how annoying it is when people abuse hashtags, so you can only imagine how people feel when an entire blog post is littered with mistakes.
What Kind of Editor Do You Need?
There are several different kinds of editors out there, but I’m going to speak personally on this topic. I can wax on, wax off about copy editors, beta readers, proof-readers and things like that, but here’s the truth: you need an honest editor. Frankly, you need an editor who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. Do not send your work to that friend who loves everything you do. This is because they’re going to tell you what you want to hear: that your work is amazing, you’re a writing god or goddess, and it left them speechless from the gloriousness of it all. And as writers, we all know that we have that friend in our group, but we know that’s not what we need. Your editor needs to be the honest friend, family member or partner, or whoever you have access to. Frankly, your editor needs to be someone who isn’t afraid to hurt your feelings.
For example: my partner.
I have a few books published, but before I even considered sending them to a publisher, I had her read over the entire manuscript. You know what she did with my first book? Had me rework the entire ending. The whole thing. I was so glad to be done writing this thing, had reread it multiple times, and when I gave it to her she said, “You need to change this, this doesn’t fit.” Now, was I glaring so hard at the back of her head that I could smell her hair catching on fire? You betcha! But in the end, after I took a deep breath, I
realized that she was absolutely right. It was hard to hear, and frustrating to look at the manuscript again and change such a big part of it, but she was right.
Now, that was just my partner. When the book was accepted for publication, my editor actually found something else that she felt needed to be changed, and that was, again, a big change. But, as the website Scribendi says, let them edit. In fact, they lay out – in nifty bullet points – how the editing process works and why it’s so vital. A good copy editor will:
- Check spelling and grammar
- Make sure the overall point of your work is clear
- Try and figure out how it can be improved and be more concise
- Try and figure out if the tone fits your audience
The most important thing to take away from all of this is to realize that the copy editor is there to help. It may feel like they’re out to destroy your work, but the copy editor is your friend and is there to make your work stronger.
So try your best to keep your glaring down to a minimum.