Everyone Needs an Editor (Even You)

I stumbled on this little gem—on the value of a good editor—the other day. The writer wonders why organizations don’t value editors but I don’t think that’s so hard to answer. Most people think they write well enough. I’m not being a smart-aleck here.

Some years ago, I investigated joining an international networking organization. It’s very structured and well-run; my sponsor had been very successful with it. Members of her chapter were smart, successful businesspeople. But they could not grasp why paying me to write—or even to simply look over, perchance to edit—their materials (brochure, feature for the local business mag, even a Yellow Pages ad) would be a good idea. They knew their material, and they were pretty sure they wrote well enough. (I didn’t join.)

It’s shocking, that first time you realize you need an editor. I mean, I’m a pretty good writer (and a legend in my own mind) but I was a grown woman before I realized I needed one. I’d take what I thought was great stuff to my boss, who would add or subtract and hand me back, you know, really great stuff. (This is a shout-out to you, Wayne.) I was a whipped puppy for months, until I figured out what a great education I was getting. Duh.

It should be said that after the writer’s done all the heavy lifting, it’s easy for an editor to waltz in at the end and correct and cut and change something from good to suh-weet. Fresh eyes, and all that. But read on. The good folks at IBM (from which this article emanated) conducted an A/B test, serving an existing version of marketing material to a random sample of users and a tweaked (that is, edited) version to others. Then they measured engagement: “The results were astonishing. The mean difference in engagement was 30 percent across the set of pages. And the standard deviation was one percent—we got a 30 percent improvement on the desired call to action … across the board. Now it was just one test … But we can provisionally conclude that well edited pages do 30 percent better than unedited pages.”

The writer here is talking about marketing copy, but still … hear, hear. I’m just sayin’. :)

Tweet: An editor can tweak something from good to suh-weet.
Tweet: Scientific fact! Copyeditors improve business!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. Jamie–anything you learned from my random “edits” was only the result of your own critical faculties in figuring out how to stay true to your original intent despite an idiot boss. :-)

  2. I really like your blog posting style. Mostly you end the blog post very quickly and get the message delivered. The most of blog I read love to write pages and bore me with death.

    • Jamie says:

      Thank you—but, well… they get longer. I do my best to keep them short but sometimes the subject demands more. In these early stages I was still finding my voice. :)

  3. Well its ok. The content is more important rather than length. :)