Thursday, July 22, 2010

What are copy edits?




I've heard the term copy edits before, but never really knew what it meant. Here's what copy edits mean when you are working with 4RV Publishing.

When the designer lays out the manuscript, the text does what it wants. It sometimes leaves things called "orphans". These are lonely little words left at the ends of paragraphs. It has never occurred to me until now to notice these when I read books.


Another thing that happens is names get hyphenated at the ends of lines. So the designer must go through and highlight all these annoying words that mess up the look of the page, and send them to the writer. The writer must come up with another way to say that sentence or paragraph so it behaves.

This can sometimes be painful when the PERFECT sentence must be changed to avoid a nasty orphan. But it is also another chance to change anything that you thought was perfect at the time, but months later, sounds sort of lame.  So this is a good thing. I'm loving this whole process.

Except when you suddenly notice that all the spelling is Canadian, and the publisher wants it American. Panic sets in when you realize that you don't really know all the words that are different and you google it and see that there are A LOT of words that we spell differently!  I may have to send the senior editor some chocolates.

19 comments:

Jonathon Arntson said...

This is cool to watch. Remember to stay in the zone.

Lizann Flatt said...

I love copy editing! But then again, that's my background. Have fun. Generally watch out for double l's (don't double for American spellings so traveled not travelled), the famous 'u' we Cdns love and such. I like my Canadian Oxford Dictionary because it gives both US and Cdn spellings (but then again I have 2 Canadian dictionaries, a US dictionary, and a British leaning dictionary).

Janet Johnson said...

So fun to see. Congrats again on your book! It must be exciting . . . except when panic mode hits . . . but surely the excitement outweighs that stuff. Right?

Tara McClendon said...

This sounds like fun, and what a huge step toward seeing the finished product--your book in hand.

Larissa said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that! Soooo interesting!

Medeia Sharif said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'm getting ideas of what to expect. I'm still learning this stuff.

Janet said...

That's interesting! I guess I'm having a look at what is ahead for me.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing what it is. I didn't know exactly. Funny how so many words are spelled differently.

Congrats on getting this far.

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome! And cool. I always thought copy edits were last minute line editing/proof reading. But what you say makes sense. :)

Paul Greci said...

Cool. Thanks for the specifics.

Susan Fields said...

Are there really that many words we spell differently? I've never noticed that in your posts. Thanks for explaining this process to us - I learned something new. :)

Heather Kelly said...

Terry--this is fascinating. Thanks for the glimpse into this stage!!

reberto.alberto said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Yes, copy editing really is it's own process. I, too, love this part of the ride. I guess as writers we love working with words. Thanks for sharing this! : )

Catherine A. Winn said...

I knew about orphans but I had absolutley no idea they made the author have to rewrite the whole sentence. Keeping us informed like this is an education, thank you,I'm loving it.

beth said...

Oooo! How cool! Are those "first pass pages" there?

I love how the graphic's on the front!!

Good luck with the spelling...eek!

My name is PJ. said...

This was very interesting to me, Terry!

Mindy said...

well I definitely learned something today...thanks for sharing Terry Lynn

Kiki Hamilton said...

That's really interesting Terry. I'm waiting for my copy edits too, and to tell you the truth I didn't *really* know what they were. Soon, I'll see how big of a mess I've got! :D