The Joy of Editors

A second set of eyes is better than doing your own second-read. Rediscover the joy of having an editor review your work and ask a co-worker to edit your document.

Even those of us that write often need another person to proof-read our work. However, the more important the work, the more it’s worth paying for a professional editor. Professional editors are return their value, especially with public facing documents or documents that may bring in future income (like proposals) or prevent future loss (like disaster communications).

However, you don’t need to hire an editor for most of your daily business writing. Build a relationship with a co-worker or fellow staff member. Have that person proof-read your work. You’ll be amazed the errors a second person can pick up.

The Feeding and Care of Editors

Practically speaking, when you need an editor you will call upon a co-worker or friend. When it’s your work being edited, here are some recommendations

  1. Plan on more than twice as much time for editing.
    While the old saying —– 80% of the work is done in 20% of the time AND 20% of the work is done in 80% is a bit of an overstatement, you and your editor will need plenty of time. Editing tends to take longer than writing the document. When editing, pad your estimated time and be ready for questions and a second or third edit when the document is important.
  2. Keep the number of editors to a minimum.
    When possible, you should have only one editor. The more people that edit a document, the harder it will be and longer it will take for the writer to reconcile the changes. Each person editing a document will bring a different set of political and academic tools to the document. One editor ensures better continuity and more familiarity with the document.
  3. Know when to say “no”
    — as in, know when to say, “No more editing.” Or, know when the person you asked is not a good editor and you must say, “I am grateful for your editing time, but no, the editing didn’t work out.” There will be times that your co-worker is “too nit-picky” or creates more revisions than is practical for you – the writer to complete. Once in a while, your fellow editor will not get around to editing or won’t give you enough time.
Unfortunately, Microsoft Word’s intuition just isn’t the same as a real human editor. The best editors will skim your work and have a hunch at what can be changed. The best amateur editors tend to have “a hunch” about changes and work off their business instinct. And, since your communication is usually intended to be understood by humans, not computers, you want to connect with your real-audience.

Look around, grab your video chat or pick up the old-fashioned phone. Call a colleague. Discover the joy of an editor.