Frequently Asked Questions: Editing
What does an editor do?
An editor works with written content of all sorts: websites, marketing materials, business letters, academic papers, magazines, books, newspapers, et cetera. Many editors specialize not only in the types of content they work with but also in the style of editing they prefer. Editiors can be categorized into two major groups: the Big Picture editor—developmental or substantive (heavy editing), and the Nitty-Gritty Details editor—copyediting, line editing, and proofreading (light editing). Any written content should ideally have both types of editing, and ideally the Big Picture and Nitty-Gritty editors should be different people.
Why do I need an editor?
An editor is the reader’s advocate. They provide an objective set of eyes that determine if the writer has met the assigned goals of the piece. For writers—whether they are a professional, a hobbyist, or a student—it is often difficult to separate one’s self from the work to judge it clearly. As a writer, I know what I meant to say but I may not always hit the mark. The editor is the stand-in for the reader and lets the writer know if what was in his or her head is now accurately reflected in the written work.
Editors see things that can become invisible to a writer who is intimately involved in the work. For new and seasoned writers alike, it can feel like torture to delete words you’ve worked so hard to write. But even the most experienced and talented writers need a tweak here and there. Editors step in to check things like organization, flow, and word choice; they reorder or remove sentences, paragraphs, or words that are unnecessary or simply don’t work. Editors may also check simple things like spelling, punctuation, grammar, and adherence to the particular style required.
An editor provides the necessary distance and objectivity to make the writing as tight and clear as possible.
What is the difference between an editor and a writing coach?
A developmental or substantive editor can act in many ways like a coach. Both work with clients to develop and write content or solve writing problems once they arise. A coach also listens carefully to the goals of the writer and helps resolve any blocks to the writing process along the way.
Writing can be a solitary and intimidating process. A coach provides technical help with the process and a compassionate presence that makes it less daunting. Talking through ideas with a coach will often help crystalize the writer’s thoughts in a non-judgmental setting.
What can I expect from you as a writing coach?
Since I’ve worked both as a writer and an editor, I know what the writer experiences when being edited. I am a compassionate listener who believes that anyone can communicate effectively in writing if given the right set of tools and encouragement.
Writing effectively is an essential life skill no matter what job or career one has. Not everyone has the talent or desire to be a best-selling author, but everyone has the ability to write clearly to meet a specific goal. As a writing coach, I work one-on-one with writers or students to help you meet your individual writing goal.
Do you work with graduate students?
I particularly enjoy working with graduate students who are preparing papers, theses, or dissertations. My goals with graduate students are:
- to ensure they don’t get stymied by writer’s block
- to help them narrow the focus of their paper so they can write more accurately
- to help them prepare a proper outline and timeline to ensure the work is presented on time
- to give them the tools to become more confident and effective writers no matter their discipline or career path
I have special coaching rates for graduate students because I believe that everyone should achieve his or her educational goals; it’s my way of paying-it-forward.
Can’t I learn this for free online?
Most likely you can find the information you need to write a better sentence, or press release, or thesis paper. You can also find editing websites that will do specific forms of editing for a specific rate. What is unique about what I offer is the individual attention that helps writers understand why they’ve made an error in things like structure or syntax or grammar or flow so that they can apply the lessons learned to future writing assignments. Everyone is a writer. I help you find your inner writer that has been masked by fear, embarrassment, or lack of confidence.
Can’t my Word program find all my errors?
Word’s review and references functions are a great first pass on your draft but they operate by a set of rules that may or may not apply to your particular piece. Even the spell check feature isn’t always correct. For example: their and there could be spelled correctly but used incorrectly. So use those features to check your work, but be attentive to the accuracy of the suggestions.
The English language has an amazing number of exceptions to the rules. A computer program to check for them is a great and useful tool but is not a substitute for a second set of human eyes attached to a brain that can question content, format, and clarity.
How much does an editor cost?
Many variables factor into the cost and most editors need to see a sample of the work to get an idea about what needs to be done. An inexperienced writer has different needs than an experienced one. To get an idea of rates, the Editorial Freelancers Association has put together a chart of standard rates but rates vary based on location, experience, and training of the editor.
To learn more about me, feel free to email me at Barbara AT Angels20 DOT com so we can set up a time to talk.