Posted by: faultlessfinish | July 5, 2010

Ignorance is bliss…and error-laden writing…

The other day, a friend of mine asked exactly what I did as an editor. I explained that a typical editing job includes fixing grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors, rewriting and polishing sloppy or ambiguous sentences, and offering general suggestions for improvement. When editing fiction, tasks might also include offering suggestions for plot revision and character development. In short, editing makes work look polished and professional, and helps businesses or authors avoid embarrassing mistakes.

My friend was very interested, and exclaimed that she was surprised there was such a market for editors. “I can’t believe someone would pay for editing services.” Now, my friend is very well-educated (a business student) and a fairly competent writer. So her reaction makes sense. As an English major, I never would have paid for editing services in university. However, at the risk of sounding too confident, if I was given the chance to edit her student assignments, she would likely be surprised at the number of errors I would find.

Her reaction raises an important issue for freelancers though. Based on the number of professional documents that are released with multiple embarrassing errors, it is fair to assume that many people simply don’t consider the option of hiring an editor. Or perhaps they don’t know we exist. This is worth remembering when marketing yourself. Consider showing potential clients exactly what you can do for them by offering to do a free sample edit of a small excerpt of writing. Help them understand the benefits of hiring an editor and why it is worth their hard-earned money. Nothing looks more unprofessional than several grammatical or spelling errors.  And many people will lose respect for (or at least laugh at!) a company that produces shoddy-looking documents.

I am continuing to shamelessly promote myself at my serving job. People will almost always ask what my job as a freelancer entails, and I will explain what I do as an editor to anyone that will listen. And it has already paid off!

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