For the last seven or eight days, I have been up to my ears in Sunborn again. The copyedited manuscript arrived for my review, and as usual, they wanted it done yesterday. In case you’re not familiar with the process, when a book manuscript goes into production, after it’s left the editor’s hands, it goes to a copy editor. This person does all the fine marking up for typesetting, plus proofing of all the fiddly little details, querying the author if something seems wrong or unclear, and checking spelling, hyphenations, commas, all the little stuff that can drive you crazy—and make the book look unprofessional if it’s missed or done wrong. Copy editors are absolutely essential to the bookmaking process, and a good copy editor is priceless to an author.
The problem is that the author then has to go over everything, approving or not approving of changes, and reconsidering every little comma and word choice, pulling his or her hair out over things that he thought (ha ha) had already been settled. It’s also a chance to make last-minute revisions if a passage doesn’t seem right. It’s my least favorite stage of writing a book, it’s excruciating, and it’s necessary to do it with great care. Usually by the time you get to this point, you’re sick to death of the book and the last thing you want to do is read it one more time. But you do. For one thing, even the best copy editor will make some changes you don’t like, and this is where you catch them and fix them.
Anyway, I did all that, and have just shipped it off to my editor. Now it goes back to the production department and off to typesetting. I’ll have to do it all one more time—when the page proofs come for checking. But for now, I can rest. Sleeeeeeep!
“You don’t know what it is to stay a whole day with your head in your hands trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word.” —Gustave Flaubert