The Copy Doc will see you now
Is your copy feeling a bit below par?
Does it need a well-copy check before you let it loose in the wild?
Whether you’re a professional writer or a hard-pressed amateur who’s picked the short straw and been handed the job of writing the website, a second opinion never hurts.
You may be 99% there and just need to make sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.
On the other hand, your copy could be on its last legs. It’s been written by a well-meaning professional (alas, not a professional writer) but it could do with the wordy equivalent of defibrillation.
If any of the following scenarios look familiar, give me a call for some copy first aid.
If you’re used to writing academic, legal or technical copy, you probably write in a precise, informative and structured way that explains everything clearly and in great depth. But it’s unlikely to work on a website or in a sales brochure that’s geared at getting the reader to take action.
I can help find the sales points and benefits in your text and bring them to the fore, as well as cut out some of the more technical stuff that’s not immediately relevant in a sales or marketing piece.
You’ve started with a great idea, then written a stream of consciousness that runs like a river flowing around fields, hills and pathways, taking ages to get to its final destination because you have so much you want to say along the way. Maybe you’re not really sure where you need to finish.
I’ll structure your copy so that it takes a logical route that’s easy to follow and arrives at its conclusion faster.
We all do it. I often read back what I’ve written and find I’ve said ‘really’ three times in the same paragraph.
If you find yourself using words like ‘nice’, ‘good’, ‘furthermore’, ‘whereas’ or ‘in addition’ more than once, give me a call. Your copy could do with an injection of expressive, active words that ‘wow’ the reader and encourage them to do what you want them to.
You’ll be familiar with this if you work in a big organisation. You write something that’s perfectly presentable, then ping it off to colleagues asking for their comments and input.
A few days later it comes back to you, unrecognisable, with additional stuff you really need to include but which just doesn’t ‘flow’ like your original, decent draft.
I can take it and shake it up so that it looks like one person wrote it all.
If you work in the UK for an international company you may find yourself having to send out information to clients that’s been written for an audience in a different country. On the face of it, that’s not too much of a problem, but different terminology in different jurisdictions can confuse.
An example: I edited the UK version of a US book on investing which talked about 401(k)s and the S&P 500. I was able to ‘translate’ this to talk about pensions and the FTSE 100, which are more familiar terms to us Brits.
I also know when to use license or licence, practice or practise and many other weird British ‘rules’.
You’ve been offered some free editorial space in a magazine and the editor wants 500 words by Friday. The boss wants you to use a 1500 word piece that’s already been written and just “chop it to fit”. Easier said than done – unless you pass it over to me. I can trim off the surplus and leave the key points intact, without losing the flow.
Caveat: I’m not a literary or developmental editor. But if you are writing a business book – whether you’re self-publishing or working with a publisher – you need to make sure your first draft gives a good account of itself.
It’s your book, so I won’t rewrite it for you. But I can proofread it (spelling, grammar and punctuation), break up paragraphs for readability and make sure it makes sense. I don’t need to be an expert in your subject – I’ve proofed books about serverless architecture and computer gaming, and I couldn’t know less about those if I tried. But the spelling, grammar and punctuation in those books were perfect, whatever they were on about.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar: spotting inconsistencies (i.e., capitalisation) and so on. Charged on a per-1000 word basis.
Proofreading+: breaking up long paragraphs, adding in subheads, making sentences more readable, checking references and links, correcting factual inaccuracies and contradictions. Charged on a project basis.
Almost a rewrite: bringing the key points to the fore if they’re not already there, correcting passive voice, incorporating ‘wow’ words to make it more interesting to read, adding headings and subheads, making sure regional colloquialisms work with the target market and so on. Also includes repurposing (making an existing piece suitable for a different audience or medium) and reducing – or, occasionally, increasing – word count. Charged on a project basis.
I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).
Drop me a line or book a discovery call