Pitiless editing

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Editors can’t be sentimental or be swayed by politics within author organizations. The only thing that matters is what the reader will read. As a nonfiction book editor, your only concern should be whether a book will be worthwhile and successful. That success depends on the answers to these questions: Will the reader want to … Continued

Editing it down

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Your writing would be better if it were shorter. In my survey of business writers, the top complaint about what they read is that it’s too long. The top complaint about what they write is also that it is too long. We know we have a wordiness problem. But how do you edit things down? … Continued

Why you shouldn’t charge by the word

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I never charge by the word — for writing, for editing, or for anything. The principal at a PR firm recently hired me to write articles for one of their clients. I will be working with the firm and the client to create articles of about 1500 words appropriate for placement in business publications, based … Continued

Forensic editing

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A follower recently described my analysis of companies according to the flaws in their writing as “forensic editing.” I’ve decided to adopt that as my slogan. Frankly, I can’t help it. Forensic editing is what I do. My editorial work started within companies. It is a crime to edit the work of colleagues without considering … Continued

The emotional side of editing (and being edited)

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It’s your prose, lovingly crafted. An editor has now started tearing it apart. What’s your reaction? Are you angry? Sad? Hurt? Here’s how to deal with it. The context for this post is personal. For the last two weeks, I’ve been working on an op-ed about Facebook and similar sites for the Sunday opinion page … Continued

The 5-step fast edit

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You have a piece to edit and limited time to work on it — and the piece is a mess. How can you fix it quickly? While every author has their own idiosyncrasies, some problems are common, easily fixed, and make a dramatic difference in readability. Here are the five quick steps to make writing … Continued

10 document reviewing tips that will drive writers completely insane

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Writers need help from all sorts of reviewers. If a writer at your workplace asks you to review a document, that’s your chance to make their life a living hell. Here’s how to do it. First, some context: editors exist to help writers, but they need help from all sorts of other reviewers, like legal … Continued