I thought, I really thought, that I would be working on a new blog post about Daisy Low this week. Instead, and to my great surprise, on Wednesday Viking sent me the copy-edited version of the book manuscript. This is great news! It means the process is rolling along at a good clip. And Viking must mean to keep that up, as the deadline I have for returning the copy-edited version is 20 June–just days away…yikes!

So, what is a copy-edited version? This is what comes back to an author after a copy editor has gone through the manuscript with a fine-toothed grammatical comb. She looks for the places where I wrote “which” and should have written “that.” Or the places I put in a comma where I didn’t need one (and that seems to be my besetting sin in this manuscript).

In addition to fixing the grammar, the copy editor looks for consistency. She makes sure that I refer to people the same way every time I mention them–for example, that I don’t call someone Harry T. Grenfell and then Henry T. Grenfell and then H. T. Grenfell. She reads for clarity as well. If she can’t understand a point I’m making, there’s a good chance other readers will be confused, too. The copy editor catches other sorts of errors–any sorts of errors. It is SO much better to fix mistakes now than to have them appear in the book where they can’t be changed except in future editions.

In the best of all possible worlds, an excellent copy editor will engage in a kind of conversation with the author, and together, they’ll make the book better. Here’s what that looks like:

You can see our comments on the right, and you can see the changes in the text of the manuscript. You can also see that this all happens on the computer. For Alice, it was done on paper, and that was only a couple of years ago. This is an enormous change.

My copy editor at Viking/Penguin is the hard-working Victoria Klose, and I’d like to thank her for an exceptional job.  🙂

After the copy editing, the book manuscript moves one step closer to publication. For Viking, it will mean pouring the manuscript into the book format–and any number of other things I don’t really know about. The next time I’ll see it, I do know that the pages will appear more book-like. Viking is also working on a cover design.

Once I have completed my part of the copy editing conversation, I will return to the task of locating illustrations. I am trying to find photographs and drawings which will illuminate all aspects of Daisy’s life. Since I’m a biographer, I am partial to pictures of people who were important in her world. Are there any photographs of people, places, events, or things you think this book should really include? I’d love your input! Please leave a comment and let me know!