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Sub-editing

Every writer has had it happen at least once in his career. He finds himself writing on an extended piece only to find himself facing a mental roadblock on a key portion or, after completing the piece, finds that some portion of it does not seem to work quite right. He naturally attempts to correct the flaw, but finds that, no matter how hard he tries, it just does not want to come out right. Most of the time, the writer sets it aside, thinking that perhaps the muse has left him for the moment. This was the situation that world-famous writer T.S. Elliot found himself in when writing one of his best-known poems, “The Wasteland.” Most lovers of English literature do not realize that this poem was subject to subediting, the original author calling in another writer, specifically his friend and fellow poet Ezra Pound, to assist him in perfecting the piece.

Adding the extra gloss

From poetry to technical manuals, high quality literature is too important to leave to chance. It is common knowledge in the writing industry that good writers can tell when something is amiss with their efforts. However, a truly great writer knows when to call in fresh eyes. Having the insight of another writer can be vital in obtaining an honest critique of a work, helping to determine what is effective and what is not. Such collaboration is common throughout literary history, though often hidden from the knowledge of the reader. Effective subediting and co-writing can bring a work from the oblivion of forgettable mediocrity into the realm of epic, eternal inspiration.

This effect of subediting applies to the production of advertising and marketing media as well. Often the layout or copy of a new product brochure or marketing letter may feel weak, lacking in some vital facet that will make it pop in the mind of current and prospective clients. This is particularly common when a writer is stepping outside their usual venues. A wise writer knows getting a second opinion can significantly improve the quality of their work and the effectiveness of the project’s message.

Uncorking the Bottle

With each company needing to project itself uniquely from the industry pack, the marketing message delivered must seem likewise unique. Generic messages and common clichés simply will not do the job. As such, the job of subediting advertising and marketing pieces is not an easy task.

A subeditor’s skill and effectiveness is linked to their ability to understand the objective and message of the copy. Without understanding and appreciating this it is almost impossible to determine what portions of the copy are sufficiently focused and relevant. This is vital in weeding out unnecessary or ineffective material and developing high-quality copy in its place.

It is ironic, though understandable, that an outsider is typically most effective when it comes to making this kind of decision. The original writer may subconsciously be in love with his work and unable to view it in a dispassionate, detached manner. The outsider, not being personally invested, can examine the work critically, thus having a better chance of identifying what sections may need revision.

This role requires a significant degree of ruthlessness. Editors cannot be sentimentalists. Everything that does not effectively convey and support the primary message and goal of the work must be left on the cutting room floor and forgotten. Whole paragraphs and even entire sections can disappear in an instant at the hands of an effective editor.

This process can be difficult for the writer who may feel battered by the process, seeing major portions of his labor cut mercilessly, seemingly a waste of his precious time. However, nearly every writer ends up agreeing that the copy he receives back is drastically improved; more concise, more focused, and more effective than that which they began with.

The Literary Evil Eye

Throughout this process, the importance of well-written materials remains center stage. Beautifully written copy must frequently be cut as irrelevant or distracting. This does not mean, however, that the remaining copy should be substandard in any way. The message and intent of the copy must remain intact.

The marketing literature, regardless of physical media, may be the only thing your customers have to judge you by. If the copy seems haphazard and unprofessional, the image of your company may suffer from that judgment’s extension to your company’s quality. This impression can make the difference in your potential customer’s decision between your company and that of a competitor.

The keen, critical eye of a good subeditor may be essential. This requires not only a grasp of punctuation and grammar, but a feeling for language as well, though top-notch proof reading skills are still important. Few things can ruin the impression of a piece faster than poor English.

In editing, many things have to be taken into account. Does the copy read smoothly? Is the language of the article appropriate for its intended message? Are there run-on sentences? Does each paragraph address only a single subject or are there overly-complicated paragraphs that should be rewritten?

Although some writers are skilled enough that they can perform this process themselves, it is sometimes only possible for a third party to do so. A third party is far closer to the nature of your intended audience. The best kind of third party is one that knows nothing of your product or service. This allows them to make a judgment without having preconceived assumptions. From this position, the third party can make critical statements regarding the quality of your copy. Although this third party critique takes time and subsequently costs a little extra, it is considered well worth the effort. The focusing of the message improves the entertainment value of your copy, making it more interesting to read and improves your chance of securing the reader’s business. Surely, this is worth the copywriter swallowing his pride.

Adjusting the Throttle

Another aspect of subediting is more indirectly associated with the quality of the writing. When preparing materials for marketing purposes, other factors also come into play. Two that have significant impact on the writer’s art are word count and design layout. Cutting an article or marketing copy to fit a word limit can be a difficult task. With every part of the copy feeling necessary to convey the message, it is hard to know where to begin. Once again, detached objectivity is necessary to determine what needs to be cut to meet the word or space limit. A third party to adapt the document to the imposed limits is often required.

Our Subediting Services

Our company employs professional writers who, in addition to high-quality writing, are fully qualified and skilled in the preparation of effective marketing copy, both original and on a subediting basis. With extensive skill and experience in proofreading and intimate knowledge of the English language, they can produce high-impact, effective copy.

Through a process of in-depth research, client interviews, and analysis of the clients objective, we prepare ourselves fully before ever touching the dreaded red pen. Clients can be well assured that the copy they will receive back will read well and still contain the right information for their audience. With the importance of your marketing campaign and organization’s message, why would you accept “good enough” when we can hone your materials to near perfection?

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