True, hiring an editor won’t zap the zit smack-dab in the middle of your forehead.
But it can clear the most unsightly blemishes from your business writing, and by extension, boost your credibility and reputation.
Whether you’re a content writer or copywriter, your business writing can benefit from the eagle eye of a freelance copy editor for the reasons below.
Hiring an Editor Prevents Embarrassments
Pity the trend-setting technology blogger who extols the virtues of “nose cancelling headphones.” His readers will soon believe that a beloved body part is under threat of extinction.
Send your condolences to the copywriter who claims, “The striped eyelet skirt and wedge heels make a perfect summer pear.” “We’re not in the business of growing fruit,” the copy manager will reprimand him.
Empathize with the e-book author who writes, “Use my writing tips, and your copy will kill friends!” One measly comma could have spared innocent lives (and a writing career).
Mistakes like these aren’t funny when they’re yours.
They speak poorly of your professionalism. Worse yet, they can alter your intended meaning, prevent you from getting published, or make you the talk of Twitter for days on end.
A copy editor can stop embarrassing errors in their tracks and help you preserve your professionalism.
Hiring an Editor Banishes Blunders that a Spellchecker Can’t
Too many business writers rely on the red squiggly lines in their word processor to keep them from committing crimes against English.
But did you know that even sophisticated spelling and grammar checkers can miss obvious errors?
Below are examples of mistakes that a spelling and grammar check in Google Docs doesn’t currently flag as faux pas:
- The crowd was a gas. A copy editor can flag words that are valid but inappropriate or illogical in certain contexts. Here, the writer probably meant “aghast” instead of “a gas.”
- He had killed the air to the throne. No one can snuff out incorrectly used homophones like a copy editor, who will know you meant “heir” rather than “air.”
- How long will it take you to diffuse the bomb? The same goes for oft-confused near-homophones. An editor can tell you that you need to “defuse” the bomb rather than “diffuse” it—and right in the nick of time, too!
- I stopped visiting the mall all together. Are you sure you didn’t mean “altogether?” You can count on a copy editor to clear up confusing compound words.
- It’s no mansion, but its home, isn’t it? A copy editor feels right at home distinguishing between possessives and contractions. So, she’ll tell you that “its home” should be “it’s home.”
- In CONCLUSION, you need an editor. Your copy editor will let you know if you accidentally hit the caps lock key in the final paragraph of your text.
A copy editor can correct the above errors and more because she has the advantage of understanding your intent.
If she doesn’t know your intent, she will ask you the questions needed to identify it and then pinpoint the words that best communicate it to improve the quality of your writing.
Hiring an Editor Ensures Accuracy
Playing fast and loose with the facts can injure the reputation of writers or even put publishers in a legal bind. So, it’s advantageous to keep them straight to the extent possible.
Hiring an editor can help ensure accuracy in:
- Math: Is a 10 percent discount on a $50 pair of shoes really $10? If basic math in your content doesn’t add up, your copy editor may query you.
- Names, places, events, and dates: If you claim that Abraham Lincoln was spotted behind the dugout at the first World Series, your editor may tell you that he passed away 38 years earlier.
- Superlatives: Was last night’s game really the lowest-scoring game in NFL history? Did the politician’s tweet really get the most likes in Twitter history? An editor may flag dubious superlatives such as “most,” “fewest,” “highest,” or “lowest” to help you avoid exaggerating or understating data.
- Quotes: Correctly attributing quotations is “elementary, my dear Watson,” as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes never said. The real quote, your freelance editor may sleuth out, is attributed to P.G. Wodehouse.
- Suspect claims: If your statements sound too outlandish to be true, an editor may ask for supporting evidence.
Over time, an editor can cement your reputation as a truth-teller. This will build trust between you and your readers, which can boost your credibility and readership.
Hiring a Freelance Copy Editor Reduces Wordiness
Gold-bearing rock isn’t much to look at because crude materials conceal the precious metal at its core.
Similarly, the original draft of your writing probably contains nuggets of wisdom, but redundancies, cliches, and extraneous words may hide them.
A copy editor acts as a chisel, whittling away at word bloat to reveal the shining substance of your writing that your readers crave.
Hiring an Editor Ensures Objectivity
Most barbers don’t cut their own hair. And most dentists don’t clean their own teeth.
It’s hard to be precise when you’re straining to reach the back of your own head or teeth, and even more so to be objective when you’re personally invested in the customer.
Editing your own writing with no oversight from a third party is ill-advised for the same reasons.
It’s all too easy for a writer to fall in love with his or her own words. After bringing it into being, your writing becomes akin to a child who can do wrong in your eyes.
You need another pair of eyes to examine your copy—eyes that aren’t blinded by your personal stake in the words or your individual biases.
And who better to take on the task than a copy editor? Because a copy editor doesn’t have the close personal bond with your writing that you do, she is in the perfect position to make the additions and deletions needed to improve it.
The result is content that is more accurate and impartial.
Hiring an Editor Makes Content Reader-Friendly
Imagine that your friend calls you for help with setting up his Internet connection.
Because you’re a networking whiz, you start with how to set up a WiFi network. But your friend has no clue how to install a router, so he gets stuck.
Similarly, if you write as though your readers have the same level of knowledge on a subject as you do, and they don’t, you may not be able to successfully convey your desired message to them.
A freelance copy editor is removed enough from the subject matter that she can act as an effective advocate for the reader. When needed, she can help distill complex concepts into layman’s terms so that your writing fulfills its obligation to its audience.
A Freelance Copy Editor Reads Deeply
Reading is a necessary step in the revision stage of the writing process. But how carefully do you read when you edit your own work?
If you skim the text, you may be missing critical errors or failing to catch omissions.
Copy editors read every piece of content that crosses their desks with the voraciousness of a child reading Harry Potter for the first time and the skepticism of a detective.
They pore over every line of text with enthusiasm and care, leaving no word unexamined. The result is word-perfect copy that your readers can’t help but eat up.
Hiring an Editor Lets You Focus on Writing
A writer’s mission is to write. And while good writing necessarily entails revision and rewriting, when you get bogged down by dictionaries and grammar rules, you spend less time writing and more time analyzing. The result is often copy that is more impressive in style than it is in substance.
When you hire a copy editor, you don’t have to fret over whether to use a colon or semicolon or worry about the occasional comma splice.
A copy editor will use her nuanced understanding of the English language to whip your words into shape. This way, you can spend more of your time crafting copy that delivers a powerful message.
A Freelance Copy Editor Can Preserve Your Voice
Copy editing isn’t about removing all traces of a writer from the writing.
In fact, a good copy editor will do her best to help you maintain your writing voice, which is the singular style that sets your work apart.
Ensuring consistency in language and tone are a few ways that a copy editor helps preserve or even amplify your writing voice so that the final edit bears your personal stamp.
Hiring an Editor Can Save You Money
Small typos have cost reputable organizations big bucks.
Macy’s wasn’t pleased when a $1,500 necklace sold for only $47 due to a typo in a store catalog.
NASA made a multimillion-dollar mistake when an omitted hyphen in the code used to set the flight path of the Mariner 1 reportedly led to the aborted launch of the spacecraft.
If these errors can happen to behemoth corporations, they can happen to you.
If you don’t have the budget for a costly mistake, you simply can’t afford not to hire a copy editor.