Be Kind to Copy Editors Day

Copy editors take a lot of grief. I know. I’ve been doing this job for ten years. And now that I’ve written and published a book, I can honestly say that I have experienced the editorial process from all angles.

I know how it feels to have your work marked up and to see changes made to your text. I know it can be frustrating, especially if you disagree with the changes or do not like the suggestions.

But here’s the thing, copy editors are not out to ruin your text. They aren’t trying to make you angry. They aren’t just moving commas around for the fun of it.

A copy editor’s job is to make sure your manuscript adheres to house style. They make corrections based on a style guide provided by the publisher. Writers are usually given this style guide as well, so really, there should be no surprises.

But invariably, when I receive an author’s corrections to the copy-edited version of a text, it is rife with indignation and sometimes outright spite and anger.

And there’s no need for it. I understand that you are attached to your text, but you must also understand that I am just doing my job, which is to conform your text to standards set by the publisher. I did not make up those standards. I do make mistakes, and I appreciate being notified of them. I’m not perfect, and I strive to make your text (and mine) as clean as I can, which is the same goal you, the writer, should have.

So please, before you insert that snide remark about how the copy editor royally screwed up the book, remember that you are writing to a human who put many hours into doing their job, which is to help your text meet someone else’s standards.

One thought on “Be Kind to Copy Editors Day

  1. Yep! Well said, Jennifer. Like most writing (copyediting being a form of marginalia), it can be tough and it can be great, when one gets inner satisfaction of solving a problem with a manuscript and especially on those occasions when an author or production editor gives appreciative feedback. It’s nice to read the work of another editor turned writer.

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