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Preparing Your Manuscript for Your Copy Editor Preparing Your Manuscript for Your Copy Editor

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What will you need to do on your end to get your writing ready to send to the copy editor you've hired?
Any writer who has had a book edited by a professional already knows this, so if you're in that category, you don't need to read any farther.
Or, maybe you should forward this to your friends who are writing a book for the first time and think it's a Type-Hit SpellCheck-Print It process.
And if you're a first-time author, trust your experienced friends when they tell you it takes an investment of work, time and money to get the end product ready for the market. NOTE: Professional copy editing comes well before publishing IF you want the printer/publisher to be oh-so-appreciative of being chosen to print your book.
But before you get to the printing stage, what will make your copy editor oh-so-appreciative?
~ Write the book, blog article, thesis, pamphlet, website, whatever. Sounds like a "duh" statement, but for books and dissertations, this is often a multi-month process. Occasionally, it's multi-years. So make a plan, think it through, do what it takes to keep yourself focused, and most of all, practice patience.
~ Print out the doc. 
~ Read the hard copy and mark it up, but don't make any changes on your computer.
~ Set it aside for about a month if it's a book or longer manuscript; a shorter time if the doc is short. No kidding -- no peeking!
~ Pick it up and start reading the hard copy. It will look foreign to you, which is a good thing. You are looking at it from the reader's perspective. Do you like what you're reading? Breathe and stay in reader mode.
~ Breathe some more and switch your brain to author mode.
~ Mark changes, corrections and additions. Scribble notes in the margin.
~ Set it aside for a week.
~ Pick it up and read it from the end, last chapter first.
~ Set a timer for 47 min. When it goes off, stop reading, put down the manuscript and take a 5-min. walk outside or around your home. Resume after 5 min., and set the timer for another 47 min.
~ Read it aloud, as though you're speaking to a crowd. When you get bored or tired, sing a few paragraphs. Or note where you got bored and see if it's more because the text needs revision than the fact that you've been reading aloud for 47 minutes non-stop.
~ Mark errors on the hard copy.
~ Then read it from the beginning, aloud, and mark errors on the hard copy.
~ Set it aside for a day.
~ Fire up your computer and make the corrections/changes/edits to the electronic copy.
~ Hit Ctrl S every time you make a change!!
~ Print it out and read it aloud again.
~ Note any changes needed.
~ Make the changes on your computer.
~ When you just can't stand to look at the doc one more time, send the electronic copy to the copy editor you've hired.
If you're willing to make an investment of this kind of time and energy, the copy editor will have to spend fewer hours on the doc, which translates to money you get to keep in your wallet.
When I receive a doc and it's obvious that the author put a lot of work and care into it, it's like receiving an unexpected gift. So appreciated.

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Friday, March 12, 2010  |  Permalink | 
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