Welcome to Rose's Red Pen!
For the first post on Rose's Red Pen, I want to revisit a guest column I did for Laurinda Wallace's SimplyLife blog about why fiction writers should use an editor. One of my colleagues recently commented that many editors are losing their jobs as budgets tighten. She wanted to see an argument made for the value of keeping those positions.
Beyond creative and practical considerations, a good editor can save your reputation and your money. Too often, other employees, whether they can write or not, are pressed into collateral duty as editors or proofreaders. When editing is treated as something that can be done by any breathing body, in a time crunch at the end of a project, your work will pay the price.
Without a substantive editor, the final piece may lack creativity, organizational flow, brevity, and readability. Without dedicated line editors or proofreaders, embarrassing mistakes may remain, such as missing words, misspellings, and errors in punctuation and grammar. These are often missed because we do not see our own mistakes. Our brains fill in the blanks. We see what we think we wrote, not what's actually on the page. (This is why the writer and substantive editor shouldn't proofread something they have already worked on. They are too familiar with the content.)
Over the years, I've seen costly mistakes, both in terms of dollars and client trust. Here are two examples:
- An entire training program failed the government's 508 testing, which makes sure that products are accessible to those with disabilities. The formatting errors and omissions had to be fixed, requiring many hours of labor and threatening the deadline for implementation.
- A 60-page reference guide had to be entirely reprinted and redistributed to more than 250 sites because the glossary had an incorrect definition for one acronym.