For the second time during my stint as a copyeditor, one of my literary publications-to-be is being copyedited. It is a funny experience. I went over each change with an eagle eye. I was curious what the author would catch (one brand name that I’ve been spelling wrong for years and a lead/led mistake…oops).
There were two places where she changed the punctuation for clarity. I thought I was writing a list, but she thought it would be better if I wrote “First element—second element and third element.” Left to my druthers, I would have kept it as “First element, second element, and third element,” but I could see that the grammar was a little awkward and her change didn’t actually alter the meaning of the sentence. So I accepted the change.
The second change was a comma where I would not have added a comma. The instructions from the managing editor was to accept the changes I wanted and reject the changes I didn’t. But of course that’s not what I want to do. I want to ask the copyeditor why she put a comma there. I could see how adding two commas might make sense, but one?
But I can’t really justify the conversation. The managing editor is probably not getting paid, neither is the copyeditor. The copyediting is competent. I just want a little shop talk.
What is it like being copyedited?