Tag Archives: editing advice

Before You Hire an Editor, Ask These Questions

Not all editors are created equal—and if you want to find the person who best fits your style, your disposition, and the parameters of your project, it’s important to do some due diligence.

This is true whether you’re hiring an editor for your company emails, your business brochure, or the novel you’ve been cranking out: You should vet potential editors before hiring them. You can start by interviewing a potential editor and asking these key questions.

The Right Questions for Your Potential Editor

What kind of experience do you have? You probably want someone who’s done professional editing work before, and on projects like your own. If you’re looking for someone to edit a business document, you may not want an editor who only works in fiction.

What kind of training do you have? Anyone can call themselves an editor—but you have every right to seek someone who has actual, formal training in this role.

What is your editorial style? What sort of notations can you expect to see? Will the editing be conceptual, developmental, or purely proofreading? How will your editor convey suggested edits to you? Will the editor offer an overall summary of your work?

What sort of consultation do you offer? You want to find an editor who will not only annotate your work, but also spend some time with you talking through the suggested revisions.

What is your goal as an editor? You want to find an editor whose mission is to make both the writer and the writing shine.

What is your turnaround? Get an idea of how long the editing process will take.

What are the deliverables? Will you receive a marked-up document? A document with “track changes” on? A more formal editorial letter?

What’s the fee? Naturally, you’ll want to ask about pricing on the front end of your arrangement.

Get an Editor Who Will Make Your Writing Shine

The bottom line: There are a lot of good editors out there, and it’s worth taking the time to locate the person whose style best fits your needs. These questions will point you in the right direction.

Grammar Chic’s editors are always happy to answer these questions and any other you might have. To ask us about the editing process, contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today. Reach us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Proofreading 101: 5 Things to Watch

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You may not have been an English major, and you may find the task of revising your own written work to be frankly tedious—but proofreading is a skill that no executive, entrepreneur, or professional person should be without. Just as it is important to have some basic skills in writing and in accounting, so too is it imperative for business owners to have a command of some proofreading basics.

There will be times, of course, when you must write something—your website content, a Facebook post, a company press release, or a blog entry, for instance. Even if you outsource all of the above to a professional writing company like Grammar Chic, Inc., you’ll at least need to know how to compose your own professional e-mails. And for any of these writing projects, any typos or stylistic errors you make are ultimately going to undermine your authority and distract from the message you’re trying to convey. In a very real way, a grammatical flub-up can ruin a social media post or a marketing message.

This is not to say that you have to suddenly develop an encyclopedic knowledge of English grammar, but you should at least get into the habit of re-reading everything you write, scouring it for any words, letters, or punctuation marks that need to be corrected.

What exactly should you be looking for? The list is long, but five basic categories are mentioned here:

  • Checking your spelling is always important—but relying on SpellCheck is insufficient. SpellCheck won’t always catch homophones, which are words that differ in meaning and spelling, but are pronounced the same way. For example, their, they’re, and there all sound alike, and as you type it can be easy to enter one when you mean one of the others—but this is an exceedingly amateurish mistake that makes it plain your work hasn’t been re-read or edited at all. Keep an eye out for these as you revise your work!
  • Run-on sentences. There are right ways and wrong ways to splice two sentences/clauses together. The right way is to use a conjunction like and or another way is to use a semicolon or comma. The wrong way is to simply jam them together without a transition of any kind. If you’re ever unsure, you might just err on the side of simplicity—ending one idea with a period, and then including the next idea as its own sentence. (So long as each sentence has a subject and a verb, you’re set!)
  • Formality. Depending on what you’re writing, contractions (like can’t, won’t, should’ve, or, well, you’re) may or may not be appropriate. They’re fine in a blog entry or on Facebook, but generally frowned upon in press releases or in more formal documents. As you read through your writing, be aware of whether you’ve used informalities, and whether or not it’s appropriate to do so. (Addressing the reader directly—you—is another informality to watch for.)
  • Subject/verb agreement. This one should be pretty easy to identify as you read back through your work; when the subject and verb do not agree, in number or in tense, it just sounds funny. Some examples: You always want to say the customer is first, not the customer are first and not the customers is first.
  • Finally, try to be aware of words that you may be overusing. You may really think your business is agile, but using the word agile in every sentence will make your writing tedious. Look up synonyms!

Of course, you may also wish to have a professional editing company you can call—and Grammar Chic is always available! Contact us today: Visit http://www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

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How to Edit Your Own Writing

One of the biggest challenges to any writer, outside of committing their work to paper, is finalizing it.  Indeed, with the popularity of self-publishing ever on the rise, it is the role of the editor that has suddenly been heralded.

Considering my own experience as both a writer and an editor, I agree that it can be incredibly challenging to fill these roles simultaneously.  Moreover, it’s something that I definitely don’t recommend doing.  If you are going to self-publish, I highly recommend enlisting the help of a third party to both edit and then proofread your work (and again, these two roles should not necessarily be held by the same person).  Having an extra set of eyes on your work is more or less a rule to live by, regardless of if you are a would-be author, a business pro, or even an academic submitting a thesis.  Simply put, you are too close to your work to do it all.

Editor Definition in English Dictionary.

Now, even with that disclaimer in place, there are some ways to edit your own writing, if only to improve the draft that you are working on while you wait to bring another person into the fold.  Here are some helpful tips:

  • Fight the urge to edit while you are still in the process of writing.  You have probably heard this before, but it’s important in the scheme of things.  Even though it’s probably hard to adhere to, I must urge you to not go back and rewrite or delete entire sentences and paragraphs on your first draft.  You are only making it harder on yourself if you do.  If you must edit while you write, stick to correcting typos or figuring out a new way to start a sentence to avoid repetition.
  • Take a break when you are done writing.  Much can be said about setting your work aside for a day or two or three before you start revising it yourself.  Of course, this means that you have to plan for extra time in your schedule (especially if you are on a deadline).  However, by doing this you are able to look at your work with fresh eyes and you will be able to identify where there are holes or inconsistencies, as well as if there are any other problems with flow or style.
  • Read the work in a different format.  What I mean by this is remove your work from the computer that you have been creating the piece on.  For something as simple as a blog post, this might mean printing it to read on paper, or even uploading it to a preview area on your blog so you can see what it would like in its final format.  For a manuscript, try converting the document to PDF and reading it on a tablet or e-reader.  When you do this you will be able to see problems that you weren’t aware of when it was in its native file.
  • Structure and content editing come first.  Many times a writer will begin their own editing process by polishing individual sentences, or line editing.  When you do this, you avoid the big picture.  Instead, consider your work and think about if there are parts of the piece that are too advanced for the story, go off on a tangent or even if there is something missing.  Ultimately, major changes need to happen before you begin line editing.
  • Realize you have to implement a chopping block.  The majority of writers out there have the tendency to say too much; therefore, a good target to go after when it comes to trimming down your work is 10 percent.  Look out for repeated points or thoughts and unnecessary phrases like, “It’s my opinion.” Another thing to look out for: adjectives that are not required to get the point across. For instance, “Sarah inquired softly” can be changed to, “Sarah whispered.”
  • Don’t rely too heavily on spell check.  Yes, run your work through spell check, but don’t expect this tool to catch everything.  A computer can’t tell the difference between homophones, or words that are spelled differently but sound the same, such as which and witch.  Also, always look out for words like effect vs. affect and there, their and they’re (a personal pet peeve of mine) while also realizing that sometimes Word might come up with some really crazy suggestions about its and it’s, which are not necessarily right.
  • Read slowly and aloud.  It’s incredibly difficult to proofread your own work and I will tell you that even professional editors and proofreaders are not immune to making mistakes.  A handy trick I employ when proofreading is to read aloud slowly when I am working on a final draft.  As adult readers, our brains have the ability to read ahead and work faster than our eyes.  This means that we are not necessarily reading every word that is on a page.  On the flip side, when you read aloud and process each word slowly, you are more apt to pick up on mistakes, as well as awkward, clumsy or repetitive words.  Case in point, I was working on a children’s book, each page had maybe three or four lines of text in a 20 point font or so.  Even though I had read this book several hundred times, I never realized that there was an extra word on one of the pages until a five year old, who was reading aloud, pointed it out to me!  Talk about from the mouths of babes!  So when proofreading, keep this lesson in mind: read like a five-year-old. I guarantee you will find your mistakes!

In closing, while editing your own writing is not necessarily easy, it is possible.  However, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of perfecting your work, I invite you to reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. for help.  Contact us at 803-831-7444 or visit www.grammarchic.net right now.

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