Thought I’d pass along this well-written opinion piece posted on CNN a couple of days ago (Why ‘Amercia’ needs copy editors, by Merrill Perlman). It’s not that Ms. Perlman’s op-ed position is particularly controversial, but she calls attention to a part of the publishing process that is being increasingly discarded – copy editing. There are plenty of funny examples of mistakes that a good copy editor might have caught before publication.
Although her focus is on the news media and blogging, the warnings apply even more so to indie writers. After all, while a news agency might be able to correct an embarrassing error in seconds after it is discovered, a mistake an indie writer sells in the form of a physical book is there for life. I shudder thinking that I could have sold readers a book that used the word “lightening” instead of “lightning.” (If you missed my earlier article on this, The lightening that would have struck twice, and you’re unfamiliar of the definition of the word “lightening” as a noun, go look it up. You’ll appreciate my relief that one of my beta readers caught it).
As Indie writers, most of us will swear by the need to thoroughly edit our work. But there are many who restrict their editing to themselves, and close friends and family. This may work for some, but how many of us really have someone in our inner circles that are skilled enough and detail-oriented enough to pass as a true copy editor? For The Prince of Graves, I had wonderful feedback and corrections from beta-readers, but it took a copy editor to really tighten up the story.
So read this piece, and consider the lessons. Anyone else have good stories where copy editing saved you from embarrassment?