Building a Relationship with your Copyeditor

Having your manuscript professionally edited is not easy. Debut novelist Emma Rathbone recently blogged that having her book edited was 80 percent harder than she originally anticipated.

Copyediting is about more than adding a few commas and correcting rogue typos. It’s an arduous, involved process that demands both trust and communication. If you keep the following in mind while you and your editor work to perfect your manuscript, you will get the most out of the process (and maintain your sanity along the way).

1. Talk with your editor.

Open lines of communication are necessary to form an effective, dynamic relationship with your editor. She should feel comfortable asking you questions and you should be quick to answer them. If you and your editor are able to work through issues as a team during the editorial process, the marked up draft that she returns to you will be stronger and you will have less work to do as you address the proposed changes.

2. Trust your editor.

Know that your editor’s primary motivation is a flawless book. All too often the authors I work with act as if I am second guessing their expertise when I query a fact or request a citation. Keep in mind that your editor’s incentive is never to undermine your hard work. Rather, she is striving to create the best book possible. So when your editor makes suggestions, don’t take it personally.

3. Make the most of your editor’s skills.

The diverse skills your copyeditor has may surprise you. Copyeditors are more than just grammarians. As you build your relationship with your editor, rely on her to help you refine your writing style. Query her with passages you know need clarification. Ask her, when she has finished editing your manuscript, where there is room for improvement for future projects.

4. Thank your editor.

Your editor’s time is valuable and, no doubt, she spent many days (and probably many more late nights) combing your manuscript for dangling participles, split infinitives, and awkward transitions. As such, it is very important to thank your editor. If you are happy with the end result (and – if you follow the advice above – you should be!), be sure to thank your editor in your acknowledgements!


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