Regardless, getting copy edits back is not something to fear or dread. They are the greatest gift. First of all, they are corrections MADE FOR YOU. You don't have to go through your MS for the thousandth time and find the things you missed the first 999 times. For example, you know what I spelled wrong about a dozen times in my MS -- interview. I left out the second "i." I never caught it. My editor never caught it. Can you imagine the embarassment we'd have felt if a copy editor hadn't seen it?
I've taken some pictures below so that you can see what copy edits look like. My pictures aren't too specific because I don't want to violate any agreement I have with my publisher. I took some close-up shots of different things so you can get an idea of what they look like.
1. The Edited Manuscript
This is what you can expect to receive when you get your MS back -- the MS, obviously, and a letter of some sort explaining the expectations for you, the author. In my case, I needed to go through all changes and either check them off (approve them) or write STET. STET is editor's speak for "keep as is." Authors should never write on the copy edited MS in pen -- this version will go back to the editor for the typesetting and final changes.
2. Editorial Marks
In my case, there were two different copy editors going over the MS -- they used red and green pens so I could tell them apart. My editor also went back through with a couple of comments/requests -- she wrote in pencil.
3. Copy Editor's marks/Author's Response
This is a pretty basic example of how the copy editor will "code" questions to the author -- with an "AU." In this case, it was a suggested word change, which I agreed with.
To be honest, I pretty much agreed with all the changes the copy editors and my editor made. When they asked for options, I put on large, lined sticky notes and listed some different alternatives. I never wrote STET. I didn't need to.
For the most part, I am comfortable knowing that my work is now better for having been edited. I know that isn't everyone's experience. What about you?