As I work through the copyedited manuscript of my new novel, I am once more amazed by the number of people it takes to produce a book. There's the writer, of course; there's the agent, who makes the sale and negotiates the contract; there's the editor, whose vision and guidance has everything to do with how the book turns out and is marketed; and there is the copyeditor.
I don't think I could ever do that job. I saw, inadvertently, a copyeditor's invoice once, and the money was not generous for the knowledge and ingenuity a good copyeditor applies to a manuscript. In the current novel, for example, a copyeditor I've never met has saved me from two historical errors and one vocabulary misstep, at least five logic mistakes, and some inconsistencies I haven't yet counted. I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite before I turn in a book, and I have a bit of a reputation for clean manuscripts, according to my agent, so I think my books are probably closer to error-free than some other authors, and still this person has done in-depth fact checking and conscious reading to be sure everything in the book hangs together.
Copyeditors, like authors, come in different stripes. I've had one or two who had a few grammar issues, for example. But I tremble to think of one of my books making it to print without the sharp eye of these careful and punctilious readers. A novel, as someone brilliant said, is a work of a certain length, with flaws. I thank my copyeditors for reducing those flaws!