Why a copy editor is esential for your writing project.

I am currently on the island that is “book written, now edit.” It’s a lonely inhospitable place, but all writers go there at some stage in a book’s life.

I have seven books like that, yes, seven. Three fantasy, three young adult and one adult crime thriller. They are all in various stages of editing and readiness from bare bones first write up to ninth draft after two beta readers.

So, why on earth would I give my precious manuscript to a complete stranger to rip to pieces, again?

It is quite simple, no one can edit and proof read their own work objectively, you need fresh eyes and that is where your beta readers come in. But I have found that my work still needs a strangers view, one who has no vested interest in me, my writing or anything. The cold steel of a new pair of eyes.

I am in the middle of going through my Copy Editor’s comments on my longest work, a 140,000 words fantasy that is/was at 8th draft before they got it. There are big black pen marks on EVERY PAGE, every page! Can you believe that?

It is astounding quit how many mistakes that the writer does not see in their own work. I have found big trends, very big trends and this is both good and a relief because one simple fix does about 30% of the comments. I won’t make that mistake again. I would say that there are about 5 things that I have done, and will have done on all of the other 6 books that make up about 90% of the errors.

It is simply a question of attending to every comment, line by line and in the process find where words savings and cuts can still be made, this is the 9th draft remember.

I have also decided that the longest chapter that weighs in at a hefty 9500 words can be cut. I will be using an NLP technique for that and will post that in the next few days. It deserves its own post. The strange thing is that I have always known deep down that this long chapter can be cut, is too long, but yet I haven’t done it yet. I am ready now, I wasn’t before. – Work that one out!

So, my Copy Editor has done me a huge service and I can now progress my writing wiser and with a better understanding of my flaws so that hopefully I can stop them before they spread like the plague through my future work.

It really does pay to have a complete stranger, an experienced copy editor and not just any old stranger, look at your work. It will be worth it even though you may end up with 2 weeks work and a blinding headache. Trust me, attending to line by line corrections is tough. On 140,000 words it is really tough, but I wrote it, I can fix it and the finished product will be better and hopefully more attractive to an agent or publisher.


About purpleandrew

Andrew, recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome is a 54 year old former geologist always had short hair, suited & booted for work. That all changed when the credit crunch hit. Now a complimentary therapist, hospital radio presenter, and writer. Andrew writes crime thrillers, Young Adult, and fantasy books as well as blogging about writing and other stuff that he feels strongly about.
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2 Responses to Why a copy editor is esential for your writing project.

  1. Your career and mine are similar. Manuscripts written and not ready for publishing. I stopped at this blog about editing. I’ve had no success getting anyone interested in publishing anything I’ve written. No one I knew was willing or able to help.
    A friend did edit, and she’s very good. I learned I was making the same mistakes. I since have learned not to make those mistakes [repetitions, favorite phrases, parallel sentence structures]. But I’m enough of a fool to know I’m making other mistakes.
    The move to do some of that editing myself made me a better writer. I didn’t like it at the time, but I also didn’t want to be embarrassed by not learning from previous mistakes. So my manuscripts are cleaner today.
    I was frustrated that nothing was up. I finally got seven fiction books on the iBookstore, same name.
    I have one history and a collection of short works. They range from 42,000 words (love story, spy novel) to 200,000 words (Berkeley 1968-1973). Within a year I could put a lot more online.
    In the next year I will prepare some of them, but once again I cannot stress enough how it is important to edit your own work to make it the best you can. It may seem you’re returning to your fifth grade English class, but sometimes viewing writing from a fundamental side brings a new perspective. And you, not an editor has to do that.
    Happy Thanksgiving

    • purpleandrew says:

      thanks for the comment.

      I have recently given a 140,000 novel to a copy editor and boy was I surprised by what I got back. I found that about 90% of my mistakes and errors are in 5 or 6 things that I keep on doing over and over. It took me 40 plus hours to go through and correct. I have learned such a great deal from that exercise and now have 6 other books to go through and correct. But it has made me a better writer.
      Keep writing!

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