Read this before you commission an editor

Read this before you commission an editor

(And no, this isn’t an anti-editor rant!)

But it is a reality check on the questions you need to answer first – things that an editor can’t solve for you (or shouldn’t have to!)

1. Why are we even publishing this?
It’s amazing how often this is missed. Do you want your readers to stop smoking, come on your training course or feel empowered to speak out? (If your answer is ‘To be impressed by our latest accolade’, go back to the drawing board.)

2. Who’s it actually for?
Understand your audience – their desires, fears, hopes and challenges. Speak their language, use the right tone of voice and craft arguments that will resonate with their lived experience. If you’re not sure, get out there and talk to them.

3. What will it look like?
Your writing may be beautifully edited, but it won’t work with a snappy magazine layout if it’s made up of long, flowing paragraphs. Find examples of publications you like and involve designers early on so the editor knows what they’re working towards.

4. How will we know if it’s done the job?
Thinking back to your original purpose, identify some metrics you can use (perhaps likes, hits or bookings) alongside qualitative or informal feedback from key stakeholders.

A good editor can elevate any piece of writing, but only if they’re briefed on the final destination. So get your strategy watertight.

I’ve been recommending this for years. So it’s heartening to see this neat graphic arguing that engaging content must be:

  • personal
  • insightful.
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