To use a crude analogy, copyediting is like makeup and a copyeditor is like a makeup artist. If you are beautiful, makeup can make you look more beautiful; if you are not-so-beautiful, makeup can make you look presentable. Same is the case with copyediting. A good copyediting can make even a badly written text presentable.
Unfortunately, however, this analogy cannot begin to explain the real importance of copyediting. A copyeditor can be a writer’s sounding board, his filter of thought through which he would communicate with the world, his first critic and his last guide in the final process of writing.
Writing is a lonely job, and the end goal of a writer is to reach out to a larger public. Yet, it is a dangerous because once a book reaches the readers a writer cannot take back whatever he had written.
This makes the copyeditor’s job all the more difficult. Besides correcting the grammar and language, a copyeditor’s job demands extreme empathy, both for the author in question and his prospective readers. A copyeditor must understand what the author is trying to convey and he must understand what the audience would like to read.
So, apart from a keen eye on the language, a copyeditor must also have a deep faculty for comprehension. He should not only understand the subject in question, he should also understand how the subject can be best presented.
A copyeditor’s job is not just to prefect the presentation, the language, the grammar, the nuances; he should also be able to fine-tune the raw voice of the author.
In this sense, a copyeditor is no less than a vocal instructor. The singer is gifted with the singing voice, but it is vocal instructors who will help the singer fine-tune the voice to make it song-worthy.