Thursday, July 25, 2013


By now, regular Proser readers* know that Melanie, Sheena, and I are publishing the novel we wrote together, because we’re crazy like that. We’re now at the point where we’ve shipped the novel out to beta readers. After that comes revisions, and then… the dreaded copyediting.  By far, the main complaint I hear about self-published novels isn’t the plot or the characters or the overall story. It’s about the grammar and the copyediting.

Why is copyediting so dreaded? One, because grammar is a pain, and two, have you looked up the rates for copyeditors? Some sites quote forty dollars an hour for minor edits. Forty dollars! Have we mentioned that our novel is over 100,000 words long (at the moment?).

So, guess who volunteered to do the copyediting.

It’s actually not so far off of an idea. I write and copyedit regulatory documents for a living. And let me tell you, I don’t get paid forty dollars an hour. Not even close. And I actually kind of enjoy messing with grammar. It’s almost… soothing. I mean, in a way, writing is all about the right side of your brain, creativity and chaos and art. And grammar is the opposite – all form and rules. As a naturally anxious person, rules can help calm me down. In other words, that paragraph above about copyediting rates wasn't shock. It was more like jealousy.

For the past few months, I’ve felt pretty confident about this whole thing. But now that the time approaches, I’ve started looking up copyediting tips.

It didn’t take long for me to get nervous.

I mean, I might do this for work, but fiction is much more stringent. And I might like grammar, but I'm not perfect. I mean, I’m never clear when I should be using ‘that’ or ‘who.’ Between and among are difficult as well, given that I just learned this week that the "between can only refer to two things" rule apparently isn’t quite correct. Why can I never keep straight the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs? And don’t even get me started on my confusion with lay/lie/laid. And while we’re on the subject, is copyedit one word or two??? (Word doesn't tag it as misspelled, Blogger does).

::takes many deep breaths::

All right, now I need to look at some owlet pictures in order to calm down:
Courtesy of Wikmedia Commons

 Courtesy of Wikmedia Commons

 Courtesy of Wikmedia Commons

Much better!  Well, it’s too late now to back out, so I better study up and be prepared for the challenge. I brought home my personal copy of Strunk and White. I’m going to check out a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style from the library. And I also found these helpful links:

And soon enough, Sheena and Melanie will be hearing delightful grammar questions from me, such as: serial commas, yes or no?

Wish us luck.

* Preaders? Rosers? Prosathons? Prozacs?


  1. I never knew Owlets were so soothing. :)

    My only advice is to read backwards sentence by sentence. I have to proofread that way. Otherwise, I get swept up in the story and don't see the mistakes.

    Best of luck!!

    1. You know, I heard that from another source, but in such a long novel, I'm vaguely concerned it'll make me go insane. But I'll give it a try!

  2. If serial commas are what I think they are, then YES! I can't wait to get to that stage. It still seems so dreadfully far away.

    1. The correct answer to the serial comma question is definitely 'yes.' :) It can avoid a lot of unfortunate confusion.

  3. I will defend the Oxford (serial) comma until the day I die. :)


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