Hats off to copy editors everywhere!

May 30, 2012

Copy editor n. a person who edits copy, esp. to correct grammatical, stylistic, or punctuation errors.

I write the quarterly newsletter for a regional library system in central Alberta. Every three months I gather news, stories, tips, and photos from our library world, and lay them all out in a 16-page spread. And every three months, I think, this time by golly, I’ll catch all boo-boos before my colleagues get the thing for copy-editing. Despite my best efforts, they find an endless parade of faux pas. Things like: remove the space between “Training” and the colon; replace the colon with an “at” so the sentence works better; change “We’re routing for you!” to “We’re rooting for you!”

You get the point. It turns out that librarians have this tremendous attention to detail, a deep respect for words, and a burning desire to get things right. (I’m sure I need a copy editor for this post.)

Which brings me to my novel. We’ve just wrapped up the copy-edits for The Shore Girl. I’d been aiming for perfection, but my fearless copy editor found more than a few corrections, missing commas, incorrectly formatted em dashes, and clunky phrases. I love him for that. I’m enormously grateful for the hours he devoted to pouring over my manuscript, studying each word, serving as the last defense between my work and my reader.

Copy editors are superheroes – is that one word or two? If I were stranded on a desert island, I’d bring one along to fight against copy crimes. Brad Pitt could come, too, I suppose, but he’d be the sidekick.

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