Copyediting – Proofreading Process (Part Five)

What a week! I can’t thank everyone enough for their contributions. I’m going to have to work hard at getting the comments and ideas summarized.

So you’ve finished copyediting – proofreading the manuscript, and it’s time to send it back to the author. This is usually when I think about the work I’ve done and have I done what the author asked of me. It’s a good time to pause and re-read ALL the comments. I ask myself:

  • Are the comments clear?
  • Are the comments consistent?
  • Have I introduced any errors?

If I am working on a computer copy of the document, I’ve asked the author not to touch their version until I’m done (I probably should have mentioned this in part one). With only one version active, the author can accept or reject changes without introducing new errors. Also, I figure if I’m going to spend the time editing, the author should wait for me and not create another version of the manuscript. It’s frustrating to have to repeat the editing process.

I usually summarize my detailed comments in an overview. I remember to tell the author what I liked about the story. This is important. Every writer needs to hear what he/she does well. It’s easy to focus on criticism, and my goal is to motivate the author to continue to write. I don’t want to de-motivate them because I made too many comments.

In the summary, I remind the author to do the following before shipping the manuscript to an agent, publisher or uploading it to an e-book site (if they are self-publishing):

  • accept or reject suggested changes
  • delete any remaining comments
  • turn off mark-up or track changes
  • remove bookmarks
  • check under properties that the title is correct

When you’re ready, ship the manuscript back to the author and see what he/she thinks. I’m usually nervous at this point. It’s an honour to read and work on another author’s manuscript, and I hope I’ve found a balance between being helpful and not being overly critical.

One final caution: I find it difficult to edit my own work. My eye reads what I think I wrote and not what I actually wrote. I do my best to correct my manuscript before I give it to someone else to edit, but I try to have a sense of humour and laugh at myself when errors are found. Nobody’s perfect ☺

Thanks again for reading . . .


12 thoughts on “Copyediting – Proofreading Process (Part Five)

  1. Thanks for the great tips, Kristina. I’m always surprised (and a little bit thrilled) when I find an error in a published novel. I found one in an Ian McEwan novel once and just last night I found an error in Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone: “that that” should have been “than that”–no spell checker will pick that up..Think of all the eyes that read that passage before it was published–you’re right that the eye reads what it thinks it should read.


    1. Jan, I get a little rush too when I find an error in a published novel. I makes me not feel so bad when I send out my manuscript with an error in it.
      Our crazy eyes should do a better job! Maybe I should get stronger reading glasses 🙂


      1. So I’m not the only one who does this! And for exactly that reason. A little mistake is like a chink it the armor of the published author. If they can fluff a pronoun, it allows me a little margin for error. 🙂


      2. Found “astonishmed” a little while ago, also in Cutting for Stone. A word processor spell checker should have caught that one.


        1. Jan, I wonder if astonishment was spelled incorrectly, and the spell checker found the error, but then human error stepped in and corrected it in an incorrect manner. Then the spell checker wasn’t run again.

          I guess this means when I finish a round of spell checking and correct mistakes, I should run the spell checker one final time, just to make sure I didn’t add a new error.

          Will the editing never end?


  2. Keeping a sense of humour is very important. It is huge! The whole idea behind the process is to make the manuscript better. Using a sense of humour helps push ego out of the way so that the final variation can sparkle.


    1. Garry, I know from working with you how true this is. And I know you know how to make a manuscript sparkle. Thanks for all your support over the last year. With a little laughter, it’s a fun process.


  3. I always feel so privileged and flattered when I’m asked to read or critique another writer that I am sure to let them know how much I love their story, and why. After all, if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be spending time with it. I don’t think that aspect can be reinforced too much in the polishing process since it’s a lot of work to revise and polish stories. I give everyone who goes through it a lot of credit.

    On that note, I should add that the copyediting/proofreading series of posts has been great. I’m sure it was a lot of work for you, but I appreciate it! (I’m wondering if there’s a way to keep the links up on the page so I can refer to them when I’m ready to proof my own manuscript?)


    1. Kirsten, Thanks for the lovely comments. Gave me my morning smile. I was thinking I would put up a separate page on the blog. First, I’m summarizing the comments. I think that will take me a few blogs. I’ve got 14 pages of comments (I had a lot from linked in). Once that’s done, I’ll get it organized and put in one place.


  4. Dear Kristina, I couldn’t find your email address. So I decided to write you here.
    You’ll probably notice since you’re subscribed to my blog. However, I wanted you to know that I chose you for the Liebster Blog Award. You can check it out on my latest blog post.
    You have a choice of accepting the award and passing it on to others on your blog or doing nothing and know that I chose you as one of my favorite blogs.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards


  5. Manuscripts are full of mistakes. You’re human. It’s normal. When you send your manuscript to a professional editor, there are things we look for. Grammar and spelling? Sure. But it goes beyond spellcheck. What about pacing? Are you writing too little here? Are you overwriting there? Are you explaining too much? Does the sequence of events make sense to anyone but you? Do you have three characters who could be one? Sometimes dialogue needs to be punched up and bad habits of passive voice identified. Niggles emerge through the editing process that need solving.


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