In The Editor’s Companion, author Steve Dunham quotes copyeditor for the Sun newspaper, John McIntyre:
One of the unexamined assumptions of the War on Editing is that readers, comfortable with the lack of editing standards on the Internet, would be fine with low-grade stuff in print.
This quote, found in the introduction, sparks discussion on whether there is a “war on editing,” but, for me, it spoke to the need for my profession.
Many of our clients wish to have their words and ideas published in books or online. My job is to help take their words and ensure their message is clear. People value my skill and pay me for this service.
But, why? If “readers would be fine with low-grade stuff” (especially online).
There are more than 2 billion websites online. Billions with a b. That’s quite a bit of noise for your message to compete with. If your content is full of grammatical errors or if it’s difficult to understand (ahem, low-grade stuff), your reader will click away.
Your written communication is a direct reflection of you.
For self-published authors: if you’re selling a manuscript that is full of errors (ranging from big-picture structure and character development to detailed items like grammar and punctuation), you’re disrespecting your reader. You’re telling your reader that they aren’t worth a finished product. That the book they purchased isn’t actually finished. And readers aren’t very forgiving of this—just take a look at online reviews for unedited books and you’ll see that frustrated readers do not hold back.
For the business owner: web copy, blog posts, or Linkedin articles that have not been professionally edited run the risk of not resonating with your reader. Structurally, this could be stereotypes or language that offends your audience. Misspelled words can give a different meaning from your original intent. Writing in a style that doesn’t match your intended audience can also send them away from your website (or social platform).
By investing in professional editing, you are investing in your own message. You’re investing in future sales. In your reputation. In your brand.
Do you want to be viewed as “low-grade”? Of course not. When you invest in professional editing, you’re investing in yourself.