New authors often wonder why it takes so long for their manuscript to become the lovely, published book they always imagined. Having freelanced in the publishing industry, let me give you a little insight.
After acquisitions and editorial have their go at the manuscript, it is assigned an editor. After he polishes the work, it next goes to a copyeditor. It is her job to check the work of the editor, ask questions on style and formatting, and produce a style sheet and/or word list. From there, the fun begins. The next stop is the proof reader, who uses the style sheet and word list to polish even further.
After that, the author gets involved. This is usually the time for the page proofs. It is often the last chance an author has to make any corrections, or to address any issues which may have come up in the editing and formatting. Of course, once the author makes his changes, it is back to the editor and may end up in the hands of yet another proof reader for a final check.
And, while all this is going on there are other processes going on -- cover and back cover art, interior drawings or photographs are inserted, back material and indicies are created, marketing starts their work, and the list goes on and on.
The tasks involved are important, to make your manuscript the best it can be. And, believe me, I know all too well. I have done both copyediting and proof reading. Both require attention to detail, a different set of skills for each task, guidelines must be adhered to (think, The Chicago Manual of Style), and the ability to work quickly, efficiently, and always with a deadline looming.
So, when you submit your manuscript for publication, remember all the unsung hands that make your work the best it can be. The people behind the scenes share in your success, but their names do not appear in the credits. They do it for the love of the work. I know, because that's why I do it.