|your copy editor knows her trains|
Because (you may reason), after all, my editor has already gone through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, right? She/he has already taken it apart and turned it inside out. She/He sent me a ten-page letter telling me what revisions were needed. I spent weeks whipping this baby into shape. What else is there to do?
Plenty. See, your editor is a big-picture kind of reader. She thinks in terms of plot, characters, conflict, theme. Does your timeline make sense? Is the hero acting consistently? Is the writing overdone or underdone? Different editors have different strengths and focus on various points according to the author and the work itself. But generally, they're looking at the forest.
So someone has to look at the trees--each tree. Okay, each leaf, really.
Enter the copy editor.
The copy editor will, of course, check your grammar. If she's a good copy editor, she'll catch on to your little quirks and leave them alone because it's part of your "style." If she's really good, she'll catch on but then also see where you violate your own rules and call you on it. Outside of those constrictions, she'll help your text conform to the publishing-house style book (for instance, The Chicago Manual of Style, plus the publisher's own quirky decisions as to spelling and punctuation). She's also responsible for:
- keeping track of the plot's chronology and timeline
- making sure that when Rodrigo sips red wine on page 14, he hasn't suddenly switched to brandy on page 15
- checking trademark names (it's Coca-Cola, not Coco Cola)
- seeing if Starbucks actually serves a drink called a Whippacino (they don't)
- verifying that Stella isn't using an iPhone in 2005 (the first was released in 2007)
- finding out if the no. 5 train stops at 51st Street (no, it's an express)
- knowing when peanut butter was invented
- consistency, consistency, consistency (in spelling, character names, plotting, etc.)
So yes--your book needs yet another pair of eyes. And yes, you will be grateful for it.