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Copywriters and editors know that half the battle of getting new business is convincing clients that your skills are valuable and necessary. You can send out your resume or marketing packages to potential clients all you want, but if clients have managed just fine without an editor or copywriter in their workflow, why would they call you? One of the most difficult things for writers and editors is to break through this barrier.

What do writers and editors do?

You don’t go to the dentist to balance your books or ask a business owner to operate on your heart. Copywriters specialize in taking the ideas from marketing gurus and making them work on paper. They are wordsmiths who can choose and manipulate language to bring the point across using subtly, humour, and nuance. Editors then further examine what has been written (and what has not been written), making sure the reader is not snagged on an unnecessary comma, left hanging by a misplaced modifier, or attacked as a spelling error leaps off the page. Reading the piece from the intended audience’s point of view, editors can ensure  that the desired message reaches its audience and has the desired effect.

Whether you’re the VP of marketing, a project manager, or an administrative assistant, in order for others to understand your role and see your value, you must first understand what it is that you do.  Take the time to think about how your role contributes to the bigger picture. Why can no one else do your role? Be specific. Write down 5 reasons your role is important to your project, company, or industry.

Let others know what you do

Once you understand what you do, you must let others know. Many agencies, business heads, and even publishers who have worked with an in-house editorial or writing department don’t actually know what happens there. All they know is they have to send their work to a group of  people scribbling on notepads and flailing red pens around because, well, that’s just what they’ve always done. Freelance editors and writers should highlight the importance of their role in cover letters and marketing materials and explain some of the details in their resumes, or even prepare a presentation.  If you work in-house, share with the rest of your company through either an informal lunch and learn or a process meeting. There’s no need to go indepth into subordinate clauses or widows vs orphans. Just explaining the types of things editors do and look for will likely be enough. When others understand your role, they will see the value in it.

Show and tell

Understanding what copywriters and editors do can be like trying to understand a molecular scientist explain the laws of physics. The best way to explain what you do is to offer some samples. Edited Word documents showing tracked changes, electronic markups of a layout, or hard copy markups using standard editorial proofreading marks can effectively show a writer or editor’s value. A caught spelling error or typo, a rewrite of a clunky sentence, and pointing out a missing legal statement will be blatantly obvious. Copy writers may provide the project brief and the final piece. Have some samples ready to go showing many facets of your work. If you’re creating an online portfolio, be sure to get permission from your past clients. Samples of past work can prove more valuable than a resume. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words.

If you’re wondering why you should use an editor, check out the Editorial Services brochure at www.hhcommunication.ca.