A lot of us rely on outside editors and proofreaders. And while I know it sound self-serving because we offer some of those services here at The Word Factory, the honest truth is that it's a great idea. *We* even do it.

Why you need an outside editor or proofer

It's smart because, if you choose your editor/proofer wisely, you're getting someone who's a good stand-in for the reader. This makes them better-suited to finding aspects of the project that might not work so well for real-life readers, and they'll find errors and breaks in logic that loads of others miss. The fresh set of eyes makes a huge difference in the quality of the final product.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't send the very best product possible to your editor/proofer. (Be honest -- you know after you get that final set of comments in there, you don't feel like reading over the piece one more time. I've been there.) Lobbing the project over to the next person without a final spit-and-polish from you, however, might save you time, but it won't save you money.

So, before you hand that project over, do these three things.

3 tactics to reduce outsourcing costs for editing

  1. Remove 20% of the words. Yes, you've heard me say this a million times. It's still true. This is the best way to make the copy clearer and tighter, and because you're doing it instead of an outside, you know you're not taking anything important out. I'm in the middle of a huge report-editing project right now and am spending about a quarter of my time removing unnecessary words. If you do some of that work for me, you'll become a better writer and budget-minder. Read all about the 20% solution.
  2. Check off your formatting. Sounds small, but if the format's wonky or the heds/subheads aren't formatted properly, it's hard for the editor or proofer to follow the logic (this will also be true for your ultimate audience). It's nice if you share the formatting key with us, too, so we can follow it, too.
  3. Evaluate your logic. This is all about the flow. I did a project last month that was incredibly well researched but the order of the sections was so far off, it was hard to follow. This happens a lot because when we write something we know a lot about (and invested a ton of time in researching) we have all the connective logic tissue necessary to function. But our readers don't. So the logical flow they need is more sequential. Organization is so fundamental to writing quality that changing it often causes huge ripple effects throughout the project. Not a big deal for a 1000-word blog post, but a ginormous pain for a 76-page manuscript. The changes that were necessary to serve the reader not only took me several hours to make, but it totally screwed up the table of contents and figure numbers, etc., creating more work for the client when it came back. You can save a lot of time and money by asking your internal reviewers for feedback just on the logical flow. Learn more about logical flow.

While it feels like I'm putting a bunch of work back on the client, remember this is a team sport. Your editor or proofer can do a better job for you when you do a better job for them. And it'll keep you on the good side of the balance sheet, too.

Got a big project coming up? Contact me for a planning sesh to get other time- and money-saving tips.

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