In case this is your first time stopping by, I've been journaling my experience as a newbie author going through the publishing process for my debut YA novel, The Gift of Poseidon. You've stumbled upon Part 3: Line Edits and Copy Edits. Now, have a seat and no talking...
Are exactly how they sound. The editor goes through your manuscript line by line, checking for voice, style, wording, consistency. Probably more, but this is what I noticed in my own sacrificial offering...er, manuscript. The editor circles things and draws lines through them and writes notes in the margins that say, "Cut, ok? Dragging down the dialogue" or "This doesn't sound like something he'd say" or "Ew! Gross! Cut, ok?" (Truly. I blushed for days on this one.)
And yes, I said she wrote in the margin. I'm told that some editors like to use a program similar to theTrack Changes function in Word. You can just accept or decline the changes. My editor chose to print the MS, write all over it, and ship it to me. Which was the coolest thing ever. I used her notes and suggestions to revise the MS and emailed it back to her. As for the MS she shipped to me, scrawled-on and bleeding, I kept it as a keepsake. After all, this is the last time I'll ever go through this for the first time. :)
Copy edits are the technical stage of editing. Again, the freshly line-edited MS was shipped to me, but this time, I was told NOT to change the MS and email it back. This time, I was to make notes as to what I wanted to keep or decline, and send only the notes back.
Though the copyeditor put me on Front Street a few times about my grammar, most of what came into question was related to my world-building. For instance, whether or not a certain word should be capitalized when it referred to an aspect of the Syrena world I created (Syrena are mermaids). She set up a style guide for my writing, meaning that if my character said, "like" instead of "as if", then that character needed to say this consistently throughout the MS.
Also, the copyeditor questioned whether or not to use italics, hypens, ellipsis. And when I say questioned, I mean she broke out the Merriam Webster and bladowed me with it. But sometimes, I didn't give a crap what the good ole' MW said. Sometimes I made up my own word, like, "fwopping" for instance, and I was going to keep it. Which is okay. Because that's what copyediting is for. :)
Now for the confession. I had a mini-meltdown during copyedits. I know, I DO know, how crazy it sounds to get emotional during the comma, period, semi-colon phase of editing. I mean, offing some punctuation isn't really a tear-jerking kind of activity. What happened was that I began to doubt myself and my ability. Not that I've never done that before (I'm a writer, remember?), but the thing is, when the MS is done with copyedits, it goes STRAIGHT TO ARCs. Book form. To you, the reader. Which means no more changes. Which means this is my last chance to impress you, to hook you, to protect myself from the evil book reviewers you are (well, you know, COULD be). And it scared the hello kitty out of me. There is a permanence about copyediting that makes it emotional. You'll see what I mean when you come to that bridge in your own journey.
But to end on a positive note, did I mention I got to see the copyright page??? Complete with ISBN???