Today’s post was written by professional copyeditor, Joan Rogers.

When authors are deciding whether to purchase copyediting services, the question is sometimes asked: “Will my book be perfect when you’re done?”

The answer is no, it won’t be perfect. But it will be greatly improved. Authors who see my copyediting samples are often amazed that a small, randomly selected portion of text – a thousand words or fewer – will have dozens of style errors. This doesn’t mean that the author isn’t a good writer; storytelling, pacing, dialogue, and character development are skills and talents separate from knowing the exact usage of a semicolon. But it is the case that technical and style errors can be distracting to a reader. In the case of nonfiction, errors can undermine the writer’s authority, particularly if the text is educational or informational.

Is it possible to achieve a perfect book? Probably not. It’s useful for writers to know that a once-through edit will not catch all errors. This is true regardless of the editing service used; when a book is published with a traditional publisher, it usually goes to a copyeditor, and then to a proofreader. Even with this, extant errors are common in published books; I saw several in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, one of the major releases in literary fiction last year.

I work on a large number of manuscripts that have already been edited once by professional editors prior to being submitted to me, and I still find errors. This is not because the original editor didn’t do a good job; it’s reflective of the fact that editing and proofreading are two parts of a process.

Joan Rogers ABOUT JOAN ROGERS:
Joan Rogers has provided services as an Author Representative and Editor for Outskirts Press since 2008. She studied at Oberlin College Conservatory. She also edits for several academic and scientific researchers at UC Berkeley, as well as for a nationally known journalist. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.