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Why Have Your Manuscript Copy Edited?

If you have worked long and hard on a manuscript you likely are now eager to get it before a publisher. Obviously, your ultimate goal is to see the fruits of your labor in print. However, if you really are serious about enjoying professional writing success in one area or another, there is a vital step that you must consider taking before you ship your valuable manuscript off to a publisher of one type or another. Before you take this significant step, you must consider having your manuscript copy edited by a professional.

Of course, if you are like any diligent writer, you have spent your own time looking over your manuscript for errors and the like. You may be wondering what additional benefit actually can be derived by engaging the services of a professional copy editor to review and revise your work. Through this article you are provided with an overview as to why you should consider engaging the services of a professional copy editor to assist you with your manuscript.

 

Understanding the Work of a Professional Copy Editor

Your immediate reaction to retaining or engaging the services of a professional copy editor simply may be: I can do this myself.

The reality is that you do need to take the time to edit your own copy. As a professional writer, as a writer that strongly desires to be taken seriously, it truly is incumbent upon you to take the time to revise and edit your manuscript before you send it off to anyone else, including a copy editing pro.

However, even though you must be involved in the editing process yourself, you need to understand that simply because you are a capable writer does not mean that you have the training, experience and general know-how to edit appropriately your manuscript. The bottom line is that editing requires an entirely different skill set than what is involved in writing a manuscript in the first instance.

Perhaps thinking allegorically can be helpful in understanding the interrelationship between a writer and a pro editor. The writer is rather like the creative architect who designs an absolutely spectacular building. The editor takes the role of the skilled and trained contractor who ensures that the writer's vision flawlessly is executed without defects.

The truly professional and well trained copy editor obviously does tend to correcting problems pertaining to grammar, spelling and punctuation. However, these proofing tasks are not the only duties that the copy editor will deal with when it comes to your manuscript. A trained and experienced copy editor will also resolve many other issues that can crop up in even the most well written of manuscripts.

For example, continuity issues can occur without a writer even knowing about these problems. A continuity problem can best be understood by way of an example. Imagine for a moment that in your own manuscript you have introduced a minor character in the first chapter that is a “charming woman with blonde hair.” And, let us ponder for a moment the return of this character some two hundred pages later but on this occasion she has (and without explanation) “jet black hair.” One of the important tasks of a pro copy editor is to identify and work with the writer to correct these types of mistakes.

Beyond continuity and the other issues already mentioned, a competent, top notch editor will also work to ensure that geographic descriptions are appropriate, that actual facts that are asserted in a work of fiction ring true and so forth. In short, the professional copy editor serves as your final guardian against submitting to a publisher a manuscript that contains fatally flawed information and other mistakes. The bottom line is that if a manuscript does not end up with a publisher in the best possible form, that manuscript has a far less likely chance of ever seeing the light of day.

 

The Professional Editing Process

Many of the individual tasks that are part of an overall professional copy writing process have already been discussed in this article.  What is also important to understand is that each and every editor has a different means of undertaking his or her job.

For example, there are editors that take a multi-level approach to editing. These individuals initially will deal with matters of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Once they have ensured that the manuscript is in the best possible shape in regard to these issues, these editors will go through the manuscript yet again to deal with matters pertaining to continuity, factual accuracy and so forth.

What you need to keep most in mind when you hire a true professional copy editor is that you are engaging the services of an individual that provides far more than raw proofreading assistance. If you are only interested in a grammar, spelling and punctuation check, you likely can find a proofreader with some degree of ease. However, (and this is of vital importance) a proof reader will not be providing you with all of the vital services and assistance that you must have in order to ensure that your manuscript is in the best possible form for submission to a publisher.

In the end, the job of the professional copy editor is to partner with the writer to ensure that not only the obvious but also subtle defects that may exist in a manuscript are completely resolved before the work is sent to a publisher for consideration.

 

The Risks of Not Engaging a Copy Editor

There really is one absolute risk that you run as a writer when it comes to not engaging the expert assistance of a professional copy editor:

Your manuscript will not be published.

You absolutely must come to a clear understanding that the world of writing in the 21st century is extremely competitive. Therefore, it absolutely is incumbent upon you to create the best possible manuscript to submit for consideration to a publisher. Moreover, you have to appreciate that being able to write well is only part of the battle towards this laudable goal. You also need to write correctly on many levels.

In the end, by making the investment in a professional copy editing process you will be working to better ensure that your ultimate goal of seeing your manuscript published will become a reality rather than an unmet dream. Your manuscript will end up published and before readers rather than collecting dust in the back of a closet.

 

Finding a Reliable Copy Editor

If you have made the personal and professional commitment to engaging the services of a qualified copy editor, you may be wondering what you should look for when seeking this type of individual to provide you with editing services.

First, experience does count when it comes to copy editing. In many ways, when it comes to copy editing, an editor actually learns by doing. Therefore, you will be best served by engaging the services of a copy editor or a copy editing service that has a well established track record.

Second, deadlines are important in the world of writing. Therefore, as you go about seeking the assistance of a copy editing pro, you need to make absolutely certain that the editor you do select will be able to undertake the task of editing within the time frame that is available to you.

Third, you may also want to consider obtaining references. One of the best ways to gage future performance is to take a look at what an editor has been able to accomplish in the past.

Fourth, you need to make certain that an editor or editing service that you are considering utilizing has dealt with the type of manuscript that you have written in the past. This particularly is the case if your manuscript is something more technical. In some instances, depending on the nature of the manuscript, there may in fact be some specialized editing requirements that need to be taken into consideration.