23. Getting Good Grammar

Posted By matthew on Mar 18, 2016

Getting Good Grammar – Copy-Editing:

So you’ve survived the editing process and the book is finished. But before you reach for that bottle of prosecco you stashed away, there’s one more hoop to jump through (briefly described in my earlier blog #8), copy-editing.

Your publisher sends the manuscript away to a professional, who applies their remarkable expertise to finding and correcting all the errors in grammar, punctuation and continuity you thought you’d already spotted. And there will be loads. I’ve been through this twice now, and we’re talking thousands! (I’m starting to think my ancient GSE English isn’t quite up to snuff). Almost all are tiny punctuation tweaks, missing or superfluous spaces, changing said he in into he said or the other way around, italics, exclamations, putting spaces in ellipsis, changing en-rule to em-rule or the other way around, all according to your publisher’s house style.

[Quick tip: If you haven’t already, ask your editor for a copy of your their ‘House Style’ document – I wish I had sooner.]

The script you receive back will have all these changes digitally tracked for you to go through one-by-one, accepting or rejecting. Most of the tiny tweaks will be accepted, but there are enough you may not agree with to require concentration throughout, and occasional comments or questions will send you off checking, researching or altering the text. It takes hours, and hours, and hours, meaning, if you have a day job and kids like me – days! Your copy-editor will have a deadline and may press you, but manage their expectations from the start and take the time to do this properly. It’s important. And be grateful – these people are good!


The script will go back and forth between you two or three times until each and every item is settled and, sometime usually around midnight, you press send on email and that’s it – your book really is very, very nearly finished.

I tend this think this is worth a drink, but I usually need to go to bed instead.

Writing Tired

This where I am with Stark Book 2. I’ll get the page proofs (see blog #8 again) in a week or two, then bound proofs, and those will be my last chances to change anything. Somewhere out there people are discussing jacket art options, so I’ll soon be able to show you what it looks like – and what it’s called!