I am an editor, proofreader, copy editor and copywriter. Confusing, right? Basically, I clean up the mistakes you have in anything written, so you do not look dopey, and your ideas come across clearly once these things are published. Companies refer to this as copy editing.
I edit websites, proofread important emails, contracts, presentations, legal documents, reports, mailers, scripts, books, etc. For example, suppose you have a hearing aid company. In that case, you not only want to make sure you are using the correct version of “hear” instead of “here,” you may consider adding subtitles to any company-used videos.
Editors have little consistency in the terms they use to describe their services. But, copy editing is the most common label used in the business world (Copy editing has a different definition for authors, which I will describe later in this blog post).
Copy editors are the most critical hire you can make to ensure your reputation among your customers, clients and managers stays strong.
The “Ugly” of Not Hiring a Copy Editor
I’m sure you’ve had an experience where you sent an important piece of work out, and then you realized once it was too late that something printed was exponentially erroneous. The type of mistake that makes you want to take an early lunch and disappear for a while.
In one of my proofreading wins, I caught a huge mistake in a product’s packaging that would have cost the company over $100,000 to fix. Thankfully, I’ve had mostly winners, and I won’t admit my biggest mistakes.
One of my first internships in college was working for the Sports department of the Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC affiliate station. The MLB All-Star game was being played in Arlington that summer, and they sent the other intern to interview the players when they got off their planes at the airport. They sent him because he was not only older than me, but he loved baseball more than I did. This intern was a faithful fan of Cal Ripken, Jr., which was a big deal that summer because Ripken was closing in on winning “The Streak,” trying to beat Lou Gehrig by playing in more consecutive major league games. When he caught Ripken getting into his car at the airport, he was able to ask him what his thoughts were about playing at his home field as a Texas Ranger. Unfortunately, I think this intern was just too nervous and practiced his questions way too much because he knew Ripken played for the Orioles. The camera caught Ripken’s answer and twerked face of confusion. Thankfully, we just played it on repeat back at the office and not on the air.
What Do I Get When Hiring a Copy Editor?
When you hire a copy editor, whether full-time or as a contractor, you will not only make sure your work looks professional and clean, but you will also get your time back. So many people say the most significant advantage of a copy editor is not only peace of mind but the time they do not have to spend making sure their work is clean of mistakes. Also, it is hard to see your own mistakes, so it is best to hire someone else to look over the work.
Copy editors perform duties such as:
- Correct any mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Rewrite the text to make ideas clear, concise and readable
- Suggest formatting changes to increase reader engagement
- Verify facts and information are correct and links send readers to the right page
- The writing style is consistent and matches the intended audience.
Unless the client provides a style guide, most copy editors use the AP (Associated Press) style guide, the most common writing style used by journalists. This style guide goes beyond typical grammar rules to cover issues such as, when do you write out a number or use the numeral?
Although a full-time copy editor is helpful at specific companies, it does not make sense for most organizations. Hiring a freelance copy editor gives you the freedom to use them only when you need their help.
Should I Hire a Copy Editor or a Proofreader?
Hiring a proofreader is best when you are confident with the content style and length. It is also helpful for short-form writing such as advertisements and packaging.
A copy editor will give you a more considerable value if you want a fresh take on stale content or writing style. The editor will suggest rewording and make the writing more concise and easier to understand. An editor can also reword text to match the tone of the message.
Example of a proofread (only spelling, grammar and punctuation changes):
Example of a copy edit:
Copy Editing for Authors
Line editing is another term that describes copy editing services for books. Authors hire line editing services to make sure readers flow smoothly through the book, and the author clearly states the intention throughout. Usually, line editing includes proofreading and correcting any awkward language or apparent errors.
The most significant advantage of hiring a line editor or copy editor for your manuscript is the editing service’s value. The editor will look at every word, sentence and paragraph to make sure everything lines up correctly and clearly.
However, every line editor will define their services differently, so be sure you know what you are paying for before hiring a copy editor. For example, my line editing includes proofreading and the following services:
- Line-by-line suggestions on rewording or rephrasing (if needed)
- Dialogue review. Is the dialogue authentic and used correctly in the story?
- Character names and descriptions are appropriate
- Chapters are correctly sequenced and match the table of contents
- Check for time consistency and any copyright issues.
- Viewpoint and tenses are correct and consistent
- Word choice is engaging and harmonious with the story and character’s style/ period
- Check for a natural flow and avoiding repetition
I mentioned at the beginning that I am a copywriter, which is another confusing term in editing. A copywriter writes original content for a company. Businesses employ copywriters to write blog posts, catalogs, product descriptions, websites and more. They are responsible for understanding the company’s goals, deliverables and timeline.
Copywriters research ideas, write and edit their content. A company can have the copy writer’s work proofread by someone else, but most companies have the copywriter proofread and edit their work.
Making mistakes is essential to learning how to do something better the next time. However, in business, errors give potential customers the impression that you are not professional enough to handle their business, or the products are low quality. There is often no room for mistakes.
Hiring a copy editor is not a full-time position for most companies. However, you can contract a freelance editor like myself to handle one-time projects or be on-call for any last-minute revisions. I even get hired to copy edit for individuals, similar to any other service you would hire out to look good, such as a hairstylist or house cleaner.
I would love to have a conversation with you to learn more about how I can save you time and help increase your sales by professionally editing your writing. Please reach out to me to continue the conversation.