Most people outside of the media or literary worlds haven’t ever made use of an editor before (although they really should – not that I’m biased or anything…). But let’s say you’ve decided you do want someone to look over what you’ve written – to check that it flows well, that you haven’t left out too much information, or included too much, and to check that it’s all present and correct from a language point of view.
Here are five tips for working with an editor.
1 Don’t worry that it isn’t perfect – that’s why you’ve hired the editor. Just get it as final as you can, and leave the rest to them.
2 Provide them with the raw copy – if you send them something all laid out and almost ready to go, chances are you’ll be laying that document out again. The changes they are likely to make could restructure the document entirely, or delete large chunks of text, and that will disrupt your layout.
3 Provide the text in MS Word – that’s the most common word processing software used in South Africa – not in Excel, PowerPoint, and especially not in PDF form.
4 Try to let go of your baby – editors really do have your best interests at heart. They want your document to be as good as it can be, and people are precious about their writing, so sometimes their feedback can sting. But remember that this is their area of expertise, and they are trained to see gaps and repetitions and to ask difficult questions.
5 It will help the editor if you brief them well. Tell them what the document’s purpose is, who the audience is, and what your concerns about it are. Tell them if there’s anything that is something of a sacred cow, and can’t be changed too much. A good brief makes all the difference.