Develop a good working relationship with your copy editor

The Secret To A Great Working Relationship With Your Copy Editor

As a writer, the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with your copy editor. Why do I say this?


I Am Both a Copy Editor and Writer


I’ve worked with many writers over the years who’ve written everything from books to magazine and newspaper articles. I’ve worked both as an editor and a copy editor. (To read more about what I edit, click here.)


I work as a writer myself.


However, no matter how hard I try to edit my own work, a fresh pair of eyes on it always picks up something I may have missed. It’s usually so small – a ‘from’ that becomes a ‘form’ or a man named ‘Brian’ who mysteriously changes his name to ‘Brain’ – however in the reader’s eyes it turns your work into something worthless because they think that you are so careless that you haven’t even bothered to do a spellcheck. (The spellchecker on Word has evolved over the years and does, to some extent, check context but it is not sophisticated enough to pick out these unfortunate irregularities.)


Treat Your Copy Editor As Valuable


Granted, your copy editor does check things like typos and grammatical errors. However, this doesn’t mean that you can treat them like a human spellchecker or forget how to write because you think that the copy editor will fix it.


Copy editors are professionals who’ve studied for many years and have practised their craft for countless hours to get where they are today. According to the Professional Editors’ Guild, a copy editor strives:


 ” … to produce work of the highest possible standard, shall accept full responsibility for my work and shall draw the attention of my client/employer to any unresolved problems.”



If the copy editor undertakes to perform to the best of their ability, as can be seen from the above, it is up to you – the copy editing client – to make us feel proud of the work that we do. We must feel that we are not merely performing a mechanical job that a machine imbued with artificial intelligence can do.


So, before you submit to your copy editor, please do the little things to polish your work. First thing: run a spellcheck! It’s in your interest as the less time we spend on fixing obvious errors – that a spellcheck could pick up – the more time we can spend on making your work the best it can be.