Posted On February 3, 2016 by Print This Post

And Now a Word from the Copy Editor…Nan Reinhardt

Isn’t it amazing the people you connect with on Social Media? Nan Reinhardt is just one of those people – a copy editor AND a romance author! Who better to write a post for RU? =)

Image8As a romance author who began her life in publishing as a freelance nonfiction copy editor, I’m in the interesting position of seeing romance novels from both sides of the desk. One day, my writing may bring in enough income that I can do it full time, but right now, it’s important I maintain my editing clients. I’m fine with that because at this point in my career, I can be pickier about the projects I take on. Although I started out editing computer titles and college textbooks, I do mostly fiction editing now, and I adore this work because I learn so much about writing romantic fiction by editing it.

As an editor, I’m in the business of helping authors follow the rules of language, but in spite of the rules, I know that every writer has a personal style—their own special voice—and I don’t ever want to change an author’s voice. I want you to leave my service feeling enlightened, empowered, and excited about your book. Your writing is a part of you, it’s your heart, and you have to be passionate about it. But sometimes, what I have to tell you can be demoralizing, even though I never want any client to be demoralized by my edits. So here’s what you need to know about my job as your copy editor.

Whether I work for one of the big five romance publishers or for an indie author, I try to use a light hand when I copyedit romantic fiction. I don’t want to take apart your story or destroy your voice. When I work for a publishing house, like Avon or Kensington, I follow their house style guides, but no matter who the client is, I make sure that spelling, punctuation, syntax, usage, tense, and point of view are consistent. I keep an eye out for misused words, misspellings (of course!), and word echoes (words that are constantly repeated throughout the book).

I have a vast library of reference materials that includes The Chicago Manual of Style, 16 Edition, which is the style manual of choice for fiction publishers; Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and grammar guides, other usage dictionaries, thesauruses, foreign language dictionaries, and atlases and maps. I have to know where to find almost anything, so Google is my best friend. I look up everything—anything at all that doesn’t sound right to me—and I verify facts if an author includes them in her story.

I’ll put in a query if something doesn’t make sense, seems physically impossible (can the heroine’s body really bend that way or will she break!?), and if something pulls me out of the story. Recently, I queried a Regency romance author’s use of a modern term in the hero’s dialogue. I knew he wouldn’t have said that in 1820 because the word wasn’t even in use until 1976. It stopped me and took me out of the story.

Always be sure that you’re sending me your absolute best draft—that’s not the first one; it may not even be the second or third. Go over your manuscript several times before you call in a freelance copy editor. And know that I’m not a ghostwriter, don’t send me a partially finished manuscript or a hodgepodge of ideas and expect me to make it into a novel—I can’t do that for you. I can tell you where your plot is weak or your characters need more layers or your timeline has gone awry or you need to flesh out your dialogue, but I can’t fix those things for you. That’s rewriting and that’s not the copy editor’s job.

Be prepared for criticism. I’ve never sent back a manuscript without making any edits. Frankly, I’ve never sent one back where all I did was fix a couple of commas. But I always put in good comments as well as edits. If something makes me laugh out loud (and it was supposed to!), I let my author know. If something touches me deeply, I say so in a comment. I compliment fantastic imagery, beautiful sentences, and great word choices. But, I’ll also let you know if a word isn’t a great choice or you’ve head-hopped or spelled a character’s name three different ways. I’ll tell you if the route you’ve chosen for the hero’s mad dash to save the heroine is impossible (maps!) or if the heroine’s use of French profanity is correct.

As your copy editor, I’m on your side. Trust me to always be honest and to help you make your story the very best it can be. I’m your friend, I don’t want to tick you off or intimidate you or make you feel like a failure. After all, I’m a romance writer too and I’ve been through the copyediting process just like you. I love writers and I love romantic fiction, and I want to help you tell your love story with passion and intelligence.



The Women of Willow Bay:

Carrie, whose life is turned upside down when the man she never got over suddenly reappears.

Julie, a widow who is learning to rebuild her life with the help of a sexy younger man.

Sophie, a freelance editor who discovers that friends also make great lovers…

And coming Summer 2016:

Libby, who’s fighting to save her family farm from a devastatingly handsome and charming land developer.



RU Writers….is your copy editor your friend or foe? Or both?

Join us on Friday for Rose Scott!


Bio: Nan Reinhardt has been a copyeditor and proofreader for over 25 years, and currently works on romantic fiction titles for a variety of clients, including Avon Books, St. Martin’s Press, Kensington Books, Tule Publishing, and Entangled Publishing, as well as for many indie authors.

Nan is also writer of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last 20 years, she’s earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.

But writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver’s license!), and a member of Herman’s Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan’s audience! She’s still writing romance, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, menopausal woman who believes that love never ages, women only grow more interesting, and everybody needs a little sexy romance.

Visit Nan’s website at, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully…mostly. Nan also blogs every Tuesday at Word Wranglers, sharing the spotlight with four other romance authors.


Twitter: @NanReinhardt

Talk to Nan at:


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13 Responses to “And Now a Word from the Copy Editor…Nan Reinhardt”

  1. A great article! It’s hard to remember sometimes that CEs are our friends. Thanks for the reminder!

    Posted by Liz Flaherty | February 3, 2016, 11:00 am
  2. Thanks for reminding me that my CE is only trying to help.

    Posted by Heatherly Bell | February 3, 2016, 1:51 pm
  3. This is a really great post. I hope you become a regular at RU.

    Posted by Mercy | February 3, 2016, 4:44 pm
  4. Thank you, Mercy! I appreciate that and I’m so glad you came by. I’d love to be a regular at RU!

    Posted by Nan Reinhardt | February 3, 2016, 6:12 pm
  5. Hi Nan,

    I’m chuckling at your reference to things that are physically impossible because I’ve written characters with three arms.

    “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” is playing in my head. Thanks for a great post.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 3, 2016, 8:12 pm
  6. Sorry I’m so late! My dream would be to share my home with a couple of editors who could stand over my shoulder pointing out copy editing mistakes and story holes so I could fix them before the fifth or sixth rewrite.

    I can see how editing would help your own writing. I’ve judged a lot of RWA contests and I was surprised how things like “show vs. tell” are so much clearer when reading someone else’s story than when writing your own.
    It’s always so exciting to read a well-written entry – there are many I hope to see in full-length novels one of these days. My own writing skills improve with every contest I judge, but I’ve had to set boundaries on my time, too, or the judging can become a full time job.

    Thanks for a fascinating post!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | February 4, 2016, 11:48 am
    • So glad you came by, Becke! Judging can indeed become a full-time job! I’m reading RITA entries right now and I’ve been a judge for Golden Heart and for the Indiana RWA’s Golden Opportunity contest. My biggest problem is that I want to copyedit the entries, which I’m not supposed to do! Yikes!!

      Posted by Nan Reinhardt | February 5, 2016, 12:09 pm
  7. Nan,
    You sound like the perfect copy editor! And I note from your bio that you are mature. Sometimes my critique partners and I lament that only us of the more mature status can spell, use correct punctuation, etc. A shame.
    I’d love to hire you when I get my wip whipped into shape! Alas, it needs a lot of work yet.
    Thanks for the ‘lesson’.

    Posted by Sherry Weddle | February 5, 2016, 12:40 am
  8. Sherry, I’m always here, so when your WIP is ready for an editor, please contact me. 😉 I know that most of the writers my age once diagrammed sentences and spent time in grammar class–I don’t think they do that so much anymore. More emphasis on the creative process–also a good thing, but I think teaching the basics would be good, too! Thanks for coming by!

    Posted by Nan Reinhardt | February 5, 2016, 12:11 pm


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