Roanoke Revealed

What is it Wednesday? Copy Editing.

What is it Wednesday? Copy Editing.

Editing is a curious term that fosters confusion. Part of the reason is because it means different things depending on the context – and the person.

Some providers call themselves editors when what they actually offer is proofreading.

Many view editing as reorganizing material and adding notes on what seems to be missing.

Still others take on the task as a copywriter (there’s a difference between copywriting and copyright), charged with affecting reader response.

In the book industry there are different kinds of editors that have specified roles. Developmental editors look at what works and what doesn’t and offer comments on what should be eliminated, added or reorganized in a manuscript text. A copy or manuscript editor looks at style standards (Chicago, AP, etc.), corrects errors, verifies facts in non-fiction or confirms consistency in fiction. A proofreader checks grammar and spelling.

Clear as mud, right?

Basically, what an editor does is look at something existing with the charge of making it shine as cleaner, clearer, tighter, more compelling and/or less confusing content.

Why hire an editor?

Few small business owners or not-for-profit directors employ editors. More should. Freelancers can work on an as-needed basis, are affordable and can make a considerable difference in how you are perceived. Those who specialize in business marketing or donor relations (and are good at it) understand what works to move people to a positive decision. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective coupled with a keen understanding of how to effectively work words can mean the difference between missing goals and exceeding them.

There are many ways you can engage an editor to help you achieve your revenue aims. A good editor can help you with everything from speeches, media articles and website copy to personal letters, proposals, reports and grant applications. Just about anything that involves the written word can benefit from a talented set of eyes focused on making you look better.

If you’re a small business owner, your ideal editor should be someone who understands marketing and asks questions (or does research) to determine your ideal customer mindset. That person should be able to maintain your voice (whether that’s you, your company or your cause) with suggested revisions so it still sounds like you. Smart and talented editors also look at copy critically with an eye toward making changes that help improve your bottom line.

Note what questions are asked by your prospective editor in an initial interview. That will tell you a lot about how he or she thinks. It will also give you clues about whether your would-be hire operates as an advocate or is merely looking to get paid for a job. There’s a big difference between the two.

Once you decide to give a good editor a try, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. It’s a relief and huge time saver when you have someone at the ready to review what you (or an employee) wrote before it goes public. Are you ready to get grinning?

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