Confessions of a Bibliophile and Lexiophile: Copy Editing Turns Me On

Yes, I proudly claim my geeky word harlot status. I’m incredibly lucky in that a large part of my Wordslingeuse business is copy editing novels, novellas and short stories. I rock at it.
Why? Because I freakin’ LOVE it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it gets my engine revving.

Here’s why.
• When you really love something, you go above and beyond, and it doesn’t feel like work; it feels like play. PLAY FOR MONEY! When I copy edit, I want my authors and/or publishers to get the absolute best value for their time with me, so I fact check if I have a questions about something; I’ll take the time to look something up style-wise or grammatically if I’m uncertain about it. I don’t believe is doing something half-assed. (And authors: why would you WANT someone who does the bare minimum?) I stay within my job parameters and keep to my time schedule for a copy editing job, but I WORK IT.
• I get to look up naughty words and make sure sex scenes are grammatical. Yeah, I copy edit for a range of genres, but my main thrust (see what I did there?!) are the romance, fantasy and sci-fi genres. Because those are my favorite genres to read for pleasure. READING pleasure, you dirty minded people! So, dude — I get paid to contemplate and research whether (SUPER EXPLICIT SEX ACT) takes a hyphen or not. How fantastic is that?!
• I’m a research geek and a polymath. I learn SO much copy editing (and am probably on a terrorist watch list) because I’ll check for anachronisms and inaccuracies:
Would an 18th century person really say “Sure?”
How many clips does the protagonist’s gun hold?
Could the villain really make a bomb out of those common household items?
Are the hacker character’s mad hackin’ skillz really all that and a bag of chips?

It’s fascinating what I learn, and I thrive on it.
• I am a word whore. I adore words and language, I have a lot of them at my disposal, but with every story I edit, I DO have to look up how a certain words or phrases is hyphenated, or if a word is a compound, et cetera, depending on the dictionary the particular publisher or author prefers. I keep a list of the most fascinating ones. And looking up slang and words not included in standard dictionaries (yet) is great fun; I love for this.
• I groove on helping authors make their books better. I was an English prof, a high school English teacher and have always, always been a book slut (an inveterate reader, if you want me to get all fancy and use high-falutin’ words.) I love authors, I’m grateful for them, and I just really enjoy being a part of their process of creating and improving a story. And when a story that I helped with gets released, I feel a sincere rush of pleasure: “I helped make it better!”
• I work at my home office, surrounded by tech gear, fat juicy research books, listening to loud songs with explicit lyrics with my hair in a messy bun. And I set my own hours. And I play with words ALL DAY LONG. Heaven!
• And last, but not least, I thumb my nose at all the people who rolled their eyes and told me that choosing Latin as my foreign language requirement in high school and grad school was never going to be of any use. BITE ME; I USE IT ALL THE TIME!

So does this ring a bell? What’s your experience with any of the topics addressed above: I’d love to hear from authors, aspiring authors, writers, editors, copy editors, publishers, readers and lexiophiles (lovers of words.)


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