The final stage of copy editing

YESSS!!!! I think the editing of The Beggar’s Opera is finally done!

The last stage of copy editing turned out to be a long (three hour) phone call with my copy editor. We went through the manuscript and discussed small tweaks that I’d either missed in the first round, or that he’d flagged earlier and I’d disagreed with. 

Copy editors, let me tell you, are persistent. If I ignored something that Alex wanted, he’d explain why he’d made the suggestion and try to change my mind, usually successfully. I used to teach Negotiations: I think there should be a course component on the skills involved in copy editing. Copy editors seem to be masters of the incremental gain, which takes a lot of diplomacy and finesse.

In some cases, the problem was something we could agree on but there was no easy solution to an awkward phrase and we simply let the sentence stand as it was. More often, however, we were able to work out better wording on the spot.

I was probably more forgiving than my copy editor was with respect to dialogue. I think it’s okay for characters to be grammatically imperfect or use metaphors that aren’t quite right.

Outside of dialogue, however, such things need to be accurate and so we had some back and forth, over my use of the metaphor, ‘sinking like a lead lure’ vs. his suggested ‘dropping like a lead sinker.’ Since I have  lead lures at my cottage (shaped like little fish) and managed to find a website where someone makes and sells them, my wording was left intact but you can see (and appreciate) the level of detail the copy editor can get into.

This final discussion took place a couple of days after I’d had my first root canal. Both were time-consuming, occasionally painful, but necessary. I wouldn’t want to do either of them again any time soon, but in both cases, the professionals involved were just that: professional, and highly skilled and tried to make things as painless as possible.

I’m still waiting on the jacket cover but will post that up as soon as I get a copy. Next step: from the publisher’s side, proofreading. And on mine, setting up an author’s website.

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