Monday, August 4, 2008

Can freelance writers self-edit?

"OK," you're thinking, "do I have any other option BUT to self-edit?"

Valid point. Although I've run into options in a couple different directions. Sometimes I'm hired to edit articles written by other freelancers (whew - a very, very wide range of skills out there!), and other times, my clients have editors in place to work on my submissions.

USUALLY we're on our own - and it's just expected that we'll turn in picture-perfect work on the first try. The proofing and editing is generally assumed to be included in your fee.

What you might not realize, is that there are other writing niches where the opposite assumption is made. In fact, within those circles, the idea that a writer could self-edit is laughed at!


I can think of a few reasons:

  1. In fiction writing, there's a lot more involved in the writing. You're working with plots, characters, settings, sub-plots... all the twists and turns that make for a delicious story. It would be very easy to fall in love with your own words and lose sight of the larger picture.
  2. In academic writing (or for textbooks, like I do a lot of), there's always an editor because the project parameters are very strict. Word count, line count, and formatting matters are really important. The goal is consistency from page to page, chapter to chapter, and even text to text. The editors for these projects are amazing - it's like they've got the specs tattooed on their brains.
  3. In journalistic writing, sometimes the editor does fact-checking. I'm guessing it's more a matter of pleasing the legal department than doubting the veracity of the writer's words.

Anyway, it gave me a chuckle to read the post below because I'd never given much thought to handling editing any other way... although to be honest, I've run into some writers who really could use a professional editor on staff!! : )

Tip for the day: Even though we're not typically bound by some of the formal rules of writing, and we generally don't get our knuckles rapped by editors, everything we submit should get one last read-through to make sure it's in good shape.

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