5 Things to Do Before You Send Your Book To A Copy Editor



Because what we do can be mystifying to authors, manuscripts come to us in all shapes and sizes. Over the years I’ve had books that are damn near perfect, and others that needed a lot of TLC to bring them up to publishable standard. Some come to me at the development stage, while others just need a quick tidy up.

For this little article we’re going to look at the copy editing stage – the bit in the middle, after the developmental edit and before the final proofread.

By the time you are ready to send your book to a copy editor (or copy-editor, or copyeditor … see things are never straightforward), you should have a structurally sound manuscript that just needs the spelling, punctuation, grammar, style and word usage fixed. Think of your copy editor as a word doctor – we can see what’s wrong and fix it for you.

Before you send your manuscript to your copy editor there are some things that will help us both, and may save you some cash in the process.

woman reading book

  1. Get someone else to read the book for you.

It’s not absolutely necessary, but a reader’s reaction to your book will give you some hints on how others will see it. Get someone who you know will be honest – you don’t want someone who is afraid to tell you the truth or who will stroke your ego unnecessarily. Engage a beta reader or have an editor critique it for you. Real reviewers won’t be afraid to tell it like it is, so get someone who will do the same for you before you give your book up to the paying public.

There’s no point in sending a book to be copy edited if it’s going to need rewritten in whole or in parts. Copy editors do not rewrite so you’d just be throwing money to the wind.

Editors Highlighted Section of Book

  1. Address the areas your beta readers have flagged.

These may be structural (such as a flawed plot or a character changing appearance halfway through the book) or technical (the grammar, spelling etc.). It may mean you have to go back to the drawing board and rewrite a section, give a flagging plot a poke or sort out the spelling and grammatical mistakes, but you should fix what you can, then go back and have the book read again.

Do what you can yourself before hiring a copy editor: it will save them time and save you money.


  1. Send the book to a structural or developmental editor if it’s needed.

Not every book will need a structural edit, but some really do. This is the most time-consuming type of editing, and will help you shape the structure and progression of your manuscript. It looks at the bigger picture, the story, voice and point of view.

You can’t fix the small things in a copy edit unless the big things have been sorted out.

correcting a manuscript

  1. Sort out the spelling and grammatical errors you can see.

It may sound obvious, but put your manuscript through a spellcheck. This won’t fix everything, but it will tidy up the writing. Remove double spaces after a full stop. Use Word’s style function. Take time over your work and don’t be in a rush to get it up on Amazon or wherever you want to make it available.

Fix what you can before hiring a copy editor, do what you can do to help yourself.

Woman Reading a Diary

  1. Read it through one last time.

Does your manuscript look professional and read how you want it to? Are you completely happy with it? Are you prepared for your editor’s comments and suggestions?

Only when you are happy with it should you send your manuscript to your copy editor. They will flag up issues – when you are close to your writing there will always be issues that are brought to light by a pair of professional eyes.

Don’t send something that is unfinished.

big tick, correct

By making sure that you’ve done the best you can for your work, you will be ready for a professional copy edit. Working closely with your copy editor will help you create a book you can be proud of, and you’ll be one step closer to those five-star reviews every author wants to see.


6 Comments on “5 Things to Do Before You Send Your Book To A Copy Editor

  1. “Only when you are happy with it should you send your manuscript to your copy editor.” Sing it, sister! And if for some reason you can’t be happy with your manuscript, and least don’t blame the editor for your unhappiness.

  2. The double spaces after a full stop. See – I can’t stop doing them because that’s how I learned to type under the SCOTVEC rules back in the 80s. However, I have overcome this problem by simply typing as normal and then carrying out a search (double space) and replace (single space) and lo! the tech fixes it for me. Except in blog comments, of course. Then I show myself up to be ridiculously old-hat lol!

    • See I learned that too back then, and hated it so I embrace the one space with open arms. But yes, find and replace is your friend. 😄

  3. Pingback: Indexing for Authors: Overview Part 1 - Potomac Indexing, LLC

  4. Pingback: What to do after you think your manuscript is ready | The Proof Angel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: