By the copyediting stage of a manuscript, I'm thoroughly sick and tired of editing. No offense to authors, but as the acquisitions/development editor, after a manuscript has received a thorough macro edit and a substantive/content edit, I'm ready to move on--waaaayyyy on. At this stage looking for errors reminds me of a scientist in a lab searching for a virus under the microscope.
The next step of the editorial process is copyediting. Copyeditors are a different breed. They are detail people. They love searching for misplaced commas, punctuation errors, and misspelled words. They scour through each word of a manuscript as though looking for a flaw in a near flawless diamond.
Just as our macro and substantive editors use the Chicago Manual of Style and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, so do our copyeditors and proofreaders. [More on proofreaders in another blog post.] As an author you'll never out-edit a copyeditor. I can't, and I've been at this for **muffle, muffle** years. Of course, when I was a newspaper editor, I used AP style (Associated Press) and in my master's program, MLA was the style guide of choice.
Learn to love copyeditors because if a reader finds an ambiguous or wrong word choice, you'll hear about it. Some readers love finding errors in books so they can write and tell you how much smarter they are than you. In the South we seethe on the inside, smile, and say, "Bless their darlin' hearts." In the North an editor or author might yell, "Get a life!" Either works for me.
Remember, folks, this is a two-way conversation, so if anything strikes a chord, let me know about it in the comments section. In the meantime, think about the title of Richard Carlson's book that made its debut in 1996: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and it's all small stuff.