The Life of a Copy-Editor
The Life of a Copy-Editor

When I came into this staff position at the beginning of the semester, I was so excited to read submissions and to correct grammar (I’m kind of weird like that). Like most big jobs in life, however, there turned out to be a whole lot more to copy-editing than correcting someone’s grammar. If you are considering a job in copy-editing, or were wondering about what happens to your short-story submissions after they get accepted, you came to the right place! (Note: Mochila Review actually has two copy-editors; therefore, your work gets read extra times!)


  1. I read the entire piece in its entirety without a pen in my hand. This allows me to appreciate the piece as a whole, rather than in individual parts.
  2. I still do not touch a pen as I take the piece to the staff, and we have a round table about what works, what doesn’t work, and if the piece is acceptable as a whole. During this time, I jot down any notes that other staffers have about the piece, so that when it comes time to edit it, I already know what other staffers think.
  3. Once a piece is submitted, I go through the entire piece and start at the basics. Below are the things I look at on a surface level:
    1. Is the submission title in bold on the front page?
    2. Are there any large breaks in between the paragraph that signify a change in plot? If there are, we often put asterisks in the spaces to make the readers more aware of the change.
    3. Are all new paragraphs indented?
  4. I move onto looking at the piece in detail. As I begin to re-read the submission, I keep these things in my mind:
    1. Are all titles of journals, movies, books, etc. italicized?
    2. Are all abbreviations spelled out?
    3. Are the numbers one through nine spelled out, instead of numerical?
    4. Are all proper names capitalized?
    5. Is the grammar correct?
  5. Matt (the other copy-editor) and I then compare notes, and make a master-copy of the copy-edits to a submission.
  6. These edits get sent to Marianne (Editor-in-Chief) and Chris (Managing Editor) for approval.


I hope that makes you feel better about the process after your submission gets accepted. It is really fun, albeit a little time consuming, but worth it to read all the submissions people are sending us. Don’t forget: the Undergraduate MoRe Prize contest ends December 1st!


Good luck and keep writing,


Casey Leslie

Copy-editor of Mochila Review.




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