Editing is a tricky business. It encompasses everything from punctuation, spelling, and grammar to a review of factual accuracy and cited sources, plus the length and tone of the text, whether the language is suited to the target audience … and that’s before we even get to the customer’s specific requirements. Compared to the more straightforward work of proofreading, editing jobs comes with a lot of extra baggage, a lot of room for interpretation, and thus a lot of room for disappointment.
This disappointment can be minimized or, in the best case, avoided entirely. Of course, getting the best editor for the job is a necessary step – and one we never miss at wordinc – but it’s not the first step to a successful editing job. The first step begins with the project managers.
Here are three ways project managers can save the day when handling an editing assignment.
Editing is a tree with many branches, so you’ll need to discuss with the customer exactly what they want in the way of changes. Are they looking for a total overhaul of tone and style, or just a trim here and a cut there? Is there a length requirement or word count? Do facts and sources need to be checked, or has that already been taken care of? The more specific the project manager can be with the customer, the higher the likelihood is that the editor can fulfill the customer’s wishes. Remember, too, that not every customer is aware of how much work actually goes into editing; they might expect a couple of branches to be cut short, but instead they get a bush trimmed to the shape of a duck. Sure, it’s great work, but it has nothing to do with what the customer needs.
Editing without knowing the kind of text is like going to an event without knowing the dress code. You wouldn’t wear a T-shirt where others wear tuxedos. Target audiences vary widely from one text type to another, and while the information might be the same in a press release and an advertisement, the tone, style, and overall effect are completely different. The project manager once again can save the day here by getting this information from the customer at the earliest stage of the job. Another practical benefit is that once the PM knows what the text is for, they can get a rough idea of how the final document should look, the scale of work involved, and when it might be achievable, all of which is necessary for calculating costs and estimating a deadline.
The customer, after all, is king. And the same maxim that applies to all customer service is especially true for editing jobs. As we said earlier, these assignments are fundamentally trickier: Every text is someone’s baby, and they have trusted you with its life. The customer, then, should always have the feeling that they retain ownership of their writing. If they are unhappy with the final product, stay factual and direct your comments to the writing itself, not the author. By asking the right questions in advance and listening closely to their needs, project managers can build up the customer’s confidence that their text is in good hands. This feeling of security will not only put their mind at ease, but encourage them to trust you with their writing again down the road.
Delivering an edited text is like transporting dynamite: Success comes down to how you handle it. So handle with care. Because when project managers define the scope of the work, determine the type of text, and give the customer confidence through control, they are taking critical steps to ensure the satisfaction of everyone involved.
If you want to ensure your own satisfaction, send us an email or request a non-binding quote for editing, translating, and other services. You can also schedule an appointment for a phone call or an in-person meeting at our office in Bahrenfeld.