Polished Prose: Why Everyone Needs An Editor—Even You!
In 1994, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt starred in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, and I was introduced to the work of Anne Rice. I had never read anything like it, and I was completely captivated by her imaginative plot lines and distinctive voice. I was a raving fan, and The Tale of the Body Thief (the fourth book in the Chronicles) still stands out in my mind as one of my favorites.
But as each successive book was published, I became less and less interested. By the time Blood and Gold, the eighth book in the saga, was published in 2001, I couldn’t make it through her books, try as I might. The plot lagged, points were belabored and the story was lost in excessive description. It was unreadable.
My favorite author became someone I no longer read.
Last year, I picked up Pandora and tried again. I read the whole thing out of principle, but it was a slog. Vittorio The Vampire is still collecting dust on my shelf.
What changed? Anne Rice refused to have her work edited.
What Is Content Editing—And Why Should You Care?
If fans can lose interest in a best-selling novelist, then everyday readers can certainly lose interest in business content that’s anything less than superior. This is why a professional content editor can be your creative BFF.
Content editors take poorly executed concepts or weakly worded text and turn them into professionally polished pieces that properly represent your brand. In short, content editors turn meh into magic.Content editors turn meh into magic. #contentediting #contentmarketing #contentmattersPolished Prose: Why Everyone Needs An Editor—Even You! Click To Tweet
Many people think of editing as correcting tacky typos, grammar gaffes and syntax screw-ups. “Just run it through Grammarly and publish!” is a common sentiment. While using a grammar tool is beneficial, it’s not enough. Content editors move beyond the copy editing process and look at what’s written from a holistic point of view.
Visualize content editing like a funnel. At the widest part, content editors begin with the big picture, a 30,000-foot view. While keeping the informational needs of the intended audience in mind as well as the company’s goals for the article, they evaluate the overall readability of the piece.
Content editors also keep brand messaging and voice in mind, making sure pieces are educational over salesy. And they’re sticklers for consistency, both within individual content pieces as well as how these pieces fit into all of a company’s published content as a whole.
As the funnel narrows, content editors get more granular in their evaluation, looking at everything from subhead style to sentence structure and transitions between paragraphs. They also streamline the content by eliminating excess words that don’t move the story forward.
At the narrowest part of the funnel, content editors assess individual words so they propel the article forward and make an impact on readers.
What’s distilled down is pure, delicious copy that not only addresses a need or solves a problem for ideal clients but also communicates effectively, achieves the desired goals, and builds a brand’s reputation and expertise in their field.
Having a content editor on your team ensures that everything your company publishes—from blog posts and marketing campaigns to annual reports and strategic plans—not only adheres to established brand and style guidelines but also properly and professionally represents your brand image to internal and external audiences.Having a content editor on your team ensures that everything your company publishes represents your brand image properly and professionally. #contentediting #contentmarketing #contentmatters Click To Tweet
Editing = Love
Writing is a personal pursuit, one that many put their heart and soul into. It can be tough to have your words critiqued. That’s natural! And we’ve all been there. But editing isn’t personal. It’s not a criticism of anyone’s thoughts, ideas or opinions. Rather, it’s polish applied to make the content shine. And that’s the rub.
Editors are tasked with being a good steward of their client’s brand, and their role is to guide the communication to be the best that it can be. This includes delivering a solid message in the standard that readers expect.
When a content editor gets out the proverbial red pen and starts marking up the work, it always improves. That’s the power of having a content editor. The process creates stronger editorial because the content editor brings a unique perspective, objective viewpoint and specialized skill to the piece.
Editing is done out of love. Love for good storytelling, love for the English language and how it can be used more effectively, love for the client’s organization and what it represents, and also love for the writer because all editors want their writers to excel.Editing is done out of love. Love for good storytelling, love for the English language and also love for the writer because all editors want their writers to excel. #contentediting #contentmarketing #contentmatters Click To Tweet
H2 Edit Or Regret It: Content Editing Polishes Your Prose
In 2003, Anne Rice published Blood Canticle. As with all books, there were both positive and negative reviews on Amazon. She replied to one reviewer with a spirited retort:
“I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status. For me, novel writing is a virtuoso performance. It is not a collaborative art.”
Read the entire diatribe here.
When writing, the author must decide who they are writing for. Based on her comments, my perception is that Ms. Rice was writing for herself first and her audience second. She had reached a level in her career where she felt compromise was unnecessary, and she had the financial wherewithal to write exactly what she pleased whether it sold or not.
For most, especially businesses that want to connect with customers, this isn’t the case. Writing must be done for the audience first. Instead of crafting messages you want to say, flip it around to create messages customers need to hear. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s essential for creating content that resonates with your audience.Instead of crafting messages you want to say, flip it around and create messages customers need to hear. A subtle difference but essential for creating content that resonates. #contentediting #contentmarketing #contentmatters Click To Tweet
As Stephen King penned in On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, “Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Just because something is meaningful to you doesn’t mean the audience feels the same way. And if they don’t, this content should be edited out.
The right content editor can help you see how others will interpret your work. Readers don’t know the back story. They have a different point of view and a different set of experiences. Writers are often too close to the work to see any flaw with flow, logic or pace. It’s the content editor’s job to objectively suggest where content can be improved so readers—and potential customers—get the most out of the piece.
Another anecdote King shares in On Writing: “I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: ‘Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.’”
Agreed. That 10% reduction can make the work 100% better.
Takeaway: Content matters. Every piece of content you create can either positively or negatively impact your brand value and reputation. Working with a content editor helps make sure your content resonates with those who matter most: your customers.Polished Prose: Why Everyone Needs An Editor—Even You! contentediting #contentmarketing #contentmatters Click To Tweet
What’s Next: Content editing is included in all content programs that we write from scratch, and we also provide content editing services for clients who create content in-house and would like a professional review. Working with Content Matters Media is easy. Contact us here to get started.
Feedback: What is your content production process like? How do you edit content before hitting “publish?” Do you use a checklist? Have you worked with a professional content editor before? If so, what was your experience like? We’d love to learn more about what has and hasn’t worked for you. Send us a message here and let’s get the conversation going.
Like this? Please share it on social media so others can benefit, too. Thanks!