Reading time: About 1 minute
This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world for material to help other writers. Today I discuss the question: will copy editing change your manuscript?
When I wrote my first book, I assumed my professional editor wouldn’t have that much work to do.
After all, I’m a professional editor. Plus, I had a dozen beta readers, many of them professional writers, comb through my manuscript, looking for nits.
Imagine my surprise when I received back a document that was bleeding red ink.
Although initially shocked, I was delighted. I knew the edits would only make my book stronger. And I was even happier when the same thing happened with my second book, Your Happy First Draft.
Such a situation — a plethora of edits — is entirely normal, according to Jeanette the writer in a post on the website DIY-MFA.
Here are some telling statistics she cites from books she recently edited:
72,500-word nonfiction book…
- 3,319 insertions
- 2,993 deletions
- 70 formatting changes
- 50 comments
That’s 1 change per every 11 words. The author of this manuscript is a successful businessperson who runs multiple companies. I would consider them a decent writer.
46,500-word nonfiction book…
- 954 insertions
- 719 deletions
- 83 formatting changes
- 2 comments
That’s 1 change per every 26 words. This writer is a marketer, and I would consider them a very good writer.
A 128,000-word historical fiction novel…
- 1,178 insertions
- 1,098 deletions
- 420 formatting changes
- 8 comments
That’s 1 change per every 47 words. This writer is also a professional editor.
A 63,000-word nonfiction book…
- 820 insertions
- 682 deletions
- 96 formatting changes
- 11 comments
That’s 1 change per every 39 words. This author is the founder and CEO of a successful company. This was their fourth published book.
An 82,000-word thriller…
- 937 insertions
- 983 deletions
- 130 formatting changes
- 8 comments
That’s 1 change per every 40 words. This author is very good, and this was a light copyedit.
Don’t ask the question, will copy editing change your manuscript? Instead, consider yourself lucky to have all those errors highlighted, and to have the chance to correct them.