What is a Copy Editor Anyway and Why Do I Need One?

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On the left is mom, also known as my copy editor. In the middle is grandma, her copy editor (sorry for the bad photo - the waiter at grandma’s 90th birthday brunch took it ;) ). Grandma is probably the best, most particular copy editor I know, always tapping her knowledge of Latin and expertise at diagramming sentences. To this day, she’ll call me to bemoan grammar or spelling errors she found in The Washington Post, which she reads cover to cover every day. So I’ve been taught to treasure effective writing, and I'm about to argue that everyone should, even if they have to hire help to achieve this.

Copy Editing

But what is a copy editor anyway, and why do you need one?

Basically a copy editor is someone who looks over your copy (text) and fixes any glitches in grammar, syntax, punctuation and organization. No matter how well you write - no matter how many A’s you earned in high school or college English - you are going to make mistakes. A good second pair of eyes is invaluable to making sure those mistakes don’t end up in your final product.

For instance, what if you accidentally type the wrong version of your/you're, to/too or their/they're in your blog post? Such errors won't be caught by autocorrect; they may even be caused by your spelling program. You'll look ignorant regardless. A copy editor will catch these mistakes. Sometimes you do know the right word to use, but you are just tired, busy or in a rush. It doesn’t matter - that’s why you need an experienced second pair of eyes, even if you have to pay to get them.

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Editing

Good editors go further than copy editors. They will strengthen your text. They will tighten your work and make it easier to read, more understandable. They can suggest fresh wording that better articulates what you are trying to say. Like copy editors, they will catch simple mistakes you don’t want lurking in the final draft.

Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting represents a different process. Ghostwriting is basically where someone writes your blog or book or bio for you, aiming to capture your words, voice and tone. This is an awesome option for someone who wants to have a blog, but isn’t comfortable with writing or doesn’t enjoy it!

Someone once said to me, “‘If you outsource your website, your photo editing or your logo, why wouldn’t you outsource your writing, if that’s not your specialty?” Yep. I'm happy to ghostwrite for folks because my longest and most enduring training has been as a writer. It began with my English-teaching grandmother and continued through years of tutelage by my journalist mother, besides mentoring by other teachers and professional editors. So, not surprisingly, that’s where the majority of my professional experience lies.

So, if you are struggling with writing your blog, or if you feel like your existing text lacks punch and connection, I would love to work with you to make it stronger. Let’s chat!