I got copy edits for RUMP last week. Cool, huh? I thought so, until I opened the manuscript and stared at the first edit for about twenty minutes, completely baffled. The edit was for one word, which I happened to repeat twice in the first paragraph, which caused the copy editor to change the word to something else in order to avoid repetition, which caused my editor to change it back because she thought the change sounded awkward, but maybe I could come up with a solution, but any solution I came up with also sounded awkward, or caused me to repeat other words, and suddenly I felt like shouting naughty words. Lots of them. 

So I sent an email to my editor and she ended up calling me and we talked for fifteen minutes about this one word. In the end she said, “You can probably just move on and come back to this.”(Translation: You’re over-analyzing and you’re driving me crazy.)

And so I moved on, but I’ve since found plenty of other words to stress over, and I’ve decided that copy editing is not my favorite. I think my favorite part of writing lies somewhere in the middle, somewhere in the revision process where I start to see everything really come together, and I have the exhilarating feeling the the book is going to be something wonderful. Copy edits grind that joy to black dust and make you inhale it.

However, I have to appreciate the skill of my copy editor, who has picked out the slightest inconsistencies, like “Five pages ago you said there were two hens, three pages ago you killed one, but now you still say there are two hens.” Bless copy editors! I know some fifth grader would call me out on that! No joke!


  1. I think it’s encouraging to hear there is room for mistakes early on; I obsess so much over consistencies and yet I STILL miss things.

  2. Yes, and remember that this is something that has been through several rounds of revision with critique partners, my agent, and my editor, and still there are little things that have slipped through the cracks. Though, I’m proud to say, very few spelling or grammar errors (except apparently I need a review in proper comma usage.)

  3. I wish I was a copy editor. Then I could find all the problems in my stories before I send it out. But then…it might suck the joy out of reading.

  4. Hilarious to hear about the copy editor / editor struggle! Maybe you could let them duke it out…

    Usage of “which” vs. “that” kills me. If I had a nickel for each time I inadvertently mixed them up…

    Can’t wait to read the book!

  5. Jeff, it’s actually a relief when my editor disagrees with the copy editor. Then I don’t feel as bad when I disagree.

    • Robin

    • March 27, 2012

    • 8:43 pm

    “copy edits grind that joy into black powder and then make you inhale it” – oh my, have you tried chocolate yet? An enormous box of your favorite should come with copy edits

  6. I remember when I had my first professional editor. She pointed out that my leading male had three different hair colors. All dark, but all different. I felt like an idiot for not catching it.

  7. Ha! And that is why I would NEVER self-publish! :o)

    Best of luck! But keep in mind that some things, like the repeated word, are more of a personal preference and not something you have to tear your hair out over, especially if your editor doesn’t agree with her.

  8. I totally agree Myrna. My editor told me the copy editors are required to be very heavy-handed, and I have the right to disagree on just about anything. The problem, though, is that this particular edit was in the first paragraph, and so I’m going to be a little more anal about the perfection of that first paragraph, you know? So, tearing my hair out!

    • Lisa

    • March 29, 2012

    • 4:52 pm

    Umm… Is anyone going to ask Liesl what the one word was?

  9. Ha ha! Lisa, in an earlier draft of this post I actually did tell you the word at the end, and then deleted it before posting, partly because out of context, it sounds so silly that I would stress over this particular word. Besides, isn’t it so much fun to wonder? Anyone want to take a guess? Maybe I should do a blog post where I show you the first paragraph and see if anyone can guess the word!

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