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Sunday, March 11, 2018

40 Days of questions, and a good copy edit is a must

cj Sez: Daylight Savings Time is here. Did you remember to Spring Forward one hour? I did then forgot to actually do it (sigh).

I wonder how many of my Lyrical Pens visitors have been, like me, the beneficiaries of author and editor Ramona De Felice Long’s 40 days of questions.  Instead of fasting for Lent, Ramona, my Sisters in Crime/Guppy mate, pledged to ask three thought-provoking questions (writing tasks) every day for 40 days.

I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. Only a few more days to go. I’ve saved them all as reminders and cues while I’m writing.

The next time you’re on Facebook, slip over to Ramona’s site and ask to friend her. You can reach her on Facebook at  or at her website:

Speaking of editors, do you ever open a book, read a few chapters (or even a few lines), and then put it down because of errata gremlins, i.e.; those typos, misspellings, and factual errors that drive a pedantic like me crazy. One or two will make me shake my head and pause. More than that and the book becomes a give-away.

It used to be that indie books were the worst. They tended to be poorly edited and poorly written. Now, I find errors in books by established authors and big publishing houses who should know better. Perhaps the problem comes down to the time it takes to do a detailed copy edit vs. getting the book on the market.

Self-published books are so often done on such a shoestring (cost-wise) that the author can't afford to hire a copy editor. Unfortunately, I have come across some who simply don’t want to go through the process.

Speaking from experience, self-edits and beta readers do not, will not, and cannot catch everything that a good copy editor will. You do not, however, need to hire a copy editor for your first draft…nor your second or third or however many drafts it takes to get your story told.  Don’t presume that because you’ve typed “The End,” your manuscript is ready to publish. It’s probably months away from publication. It needs fresh eyes. That’s when you should consider hiring a copy editor.

What does a copy editor do, you ask? Besides checking spelling and correcting grammar and punctuation, copy editors review the manuscript for proper word usage and syntax. They make sure the author has maintained a logical and consistent flow of style, and they polish the story structure. 

Personally I want my manuscript to be the best I can make it. I read the document on the computer screen, and then I print a few pages. Because the text looks different when printed, It makes it easier to find the missing comma, period, or quotation mark that was missed on numerous computer-screen read-throughs. Sometimes, I make a copy of the printed page. Copying changes the size of the font once again, and I will (too often) find something else to correct. When you’ve gotten this far, read it out loud. Your mind won’t self-correct what isn't on the page when the text is read out loud. 

It’s a personal and financial consideration for each author, but please consider hiring an editor if you can afford it. Caveat: Expect that if your manuscript is accepted by a publisher, their punctuation rules and style manual for how they want their publication to look may differ from your copy editor’s input, and there could be more changes needed. But don’t think of your copy editor dollars as being wasted. They got your story accepted.
Got any horror or triumphant stories to share? Lyrical Pens would love to read them.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

And now some verbiage from my sponsors:
PIECES ANTHOLOGY…I’m thrilled to have two stories included in this collection of short stories and poems by more than 20 authors from the Gulf Coast of Alabama, including USA TODAY best-selling authors Carolyn Haines and Craig A. Price Jr. The anthology is available at
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  1. I'm enjoying Ramona's 40 days, too, and keeping all the questions and all my replies. How did she come up with all that?

    1. cj Sez: I think she's a genius writer/editor. I also think some of these are questions great editors ask when reviewing a manuscript. Hope all is well with you, and thanks for stopping by.


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