6 Editing Mistakes To Avoid as a Professional Writer - Craft Your Content
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6 Editing Mistakes To Avoid as a Professional Writer

Do you know that editing mistakes can make it tough for you to make a living from your writing? 

Editing is a major part of the writing process because it can improve the quality of your writing to a level where you can easily attract, engage, and delight your target readers. You can self-edit your work or you can outsource this task to a professional editor or an editing agency. 

For best results, you can use a combination of self-editing and outsourcing.

But there are some editing mistakes that not only waste your money, time, and energy but also defeat the main purpose of editing, making it extremely difficult for you to achieve your writing goals.

Curious to learn more so you can take proactive steps?

Then check out these six editing mistakes you need to avoid as a professional writer and entrepreneur.

Depending on Self-Editing Alone 

Self-editing can be described as the ability to edit your own work, and it’s a skill that every writer needs.

Whether you’re doing it manually or making use of an editing tool, self-editing helps to make your first draft good enough for others to read and understand, but it’s dangerous to use it alone for everything you write.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Writers are naturally protective of their work. This reduces their objectivity and makes it tough for them to identify all mistakes and errors during self-editing.
  • Many writers are guilty of needless repetition and unnecessary word usage that lowers the quality of their writing. But until another set of eyes points these out, writers usually don’t notice.
  • Editing is a profession that requires relevant knowledge and skill, but many writers lack these, and as a result, they are limited in their ability to edit their own work effectively.
  • Sometimes, writers unconsciously leave out words or even whole sentences in their writing. During self-editing, they usually don’t notice because their brains supply the information and make them think that they are reading it.
  • Although editing tools and spell-check programs can help you self-edit, most can only pick spelling and punctuation errors. They can’t help with plot, structure, and so on and can’t grasp the background or context behind every word you write.

Remember, self-editing is an important part of the writing process. Always self-edit your work once you finish writing, but don’t depend on it alone to improve your work. 

Asking Family and Friends To Edit Your Work

A friend may be nice and cheap, but not the best editor for your career.

As a professional writer, it’s always in your best interest to put your best work out there, and editing can help you achieve this. 

Asking family and friends to edit your work may appear to be a good idea at first. After all, not only do you have easy access to them, but they will do it at no cost and most likely take your feelings into consideration.

On second thought, will all these help you achieve your goals as a professional writer? Most likely not!

Let’s face it, this can turn into a big mistake because your family and friends may:

  • Be clueless about writing and editing as a whole and therefore have no idea what to check for.
  • Not be objective enough, even when they know and understand a lot about writing and editing.
  • Find it difficult to give you their honest negative opinion so they can spare your feelings.

To ensure you get objective and honest feedback about your writing so you can achieve your writing goals, always choose a professional editor or an editing agency instead of family and friends who may only tell you what they think you want to hear. 

Ignorance About Different Types of Editing

If you’re not aware of the different types of editing involved in the editing process, then this is another mistake you need to correct as quickly as possible. 

Each stage of the writing process requires a different type of editing. While all of them can improve your writing, you may not need all for every single thing you write.

Now, let’s take a look at the five different types of editing you should be aware of: 

  • Developmental editing: This helps to ensure that your writing has the right structure and contains all relevant information and ideas, but it won’t address your grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes.
  • Content editing: In this type, the editor combs through each paragraph and section of your work to ensure you’re using the right tone and voice and to also identify any area that should be cut out.
  • Line editing: This helps to make sure that your writing has the right choice of words, is not too long, and does not contain irrelevant cliches.
  • Copy editing: In this one, your writing is checked for needless repetition, compliance with style guides, and any error with grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Proofreading: This is carried out just before your writing is published and is supposed to catch any lingering error or mistake in the area of style, layout, facts, spellings, grammar, and so on.

Once you have a solid understanding of the different types available, it becomes easier to identify the specific type you need and take steps to get it. 

Doing Different Edits in the Wrong Order

Don’t skip around the editing process. It’ll waste your time!

Are you aware that the various types of editing should be done in a specific step-by-step manner? This is another mistake you need to avoid at all cost.

Professional editing is a process where different types of edits are carried out one after the other in a specific manner, as shown below:

  • Step One: Developmental Editing
  • Step Two: Content Editing
  • Step Three: Line Editing
  • Step Four: Copy Editing
  • Step Five: Proofreading

But what happens if you decide to do a copy edit or a line edit before a developmental edit, for example?

Well, since each type of edit has its area of focus and concentration, the line editor or copy editor will work on their own areas and ignore any observed issue meant for developmental edits, such as using the wrong structure, confusing dialogue, incomplete ideas, and so on.

This means the quality of your writing will remain substandard if left this way. 

But if you now choose to do a developmental edit at this stage, you may need to rewrite a big chunk of your work or maybe rearrange whole sections and chapters as a result. This also means you will still need another round of line and copy edits to maintain the right quality. 

In essence, don’t make the mistake of doing your edits in the wrong order, to avoid wasting time, money, and energy.

Hiring One Editor for Many Types of Editing 

Want to hire one editor for every type of edit you need just to avoid the stress of searching for and working with multiple editors?

Each type of editing requires different skills. That’s why most professional editors specialize in just one type—for instance, as a line editor, a proofreader, or a copy editor. 

Some types of editing can partly overlap, so it’s possible to find editors who provide two types of editing services like line and copy edits, for example. However, remember that it’s highly unusual to find one editor who can provide all the different types of editing.

And guess what?

If you’re not sure of your editing needs, or if you need more than two types of editors, you can save time, energy, and resources when you hire an editing agency. This is because editing agencies can help you identify the types of editing your draft requires, and they usually have multiple editors with different editing skills working for them.

In short, choose to work with an editing agency if you don’t want to hire multiple editors individually or if you’re struggling to figure out how many types of edits your draft needs.

Thinking of Beta Readers as Editors 

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Beta readers are not editors.

Beta readers also play an important role in the writing process, but they are different from editors. Mixing them up is a horrible mistake, one you can’t afford to make as a professional writer.

So who are beta readers, and how are they different from editors? 

Beta readers are people from all walks of life who can read your draft and provide feedback from a reader’s point of view. They can tell you whether they enjoyed reading or not, what they loved, and what areas they believe still need improvement. While most beta readers do not charge a fee, some professional beta readers require payment.

Compared to editors, beta readers don’t have the professional knowledge and editing skills that editors normally have, so they can’t edit your writing the way an editor would. They usually join the writing process once you’ve finished writing and self-editing. Your best bet is to make relevant corrections on your draft based on feedback from beta readers before working with an editor or editing agency.

Bottom line, beta readers are not editors. 

For the same reasons you should not outsource editing to friends and family, you can’t expect professional-level editing from beta readers. Still, they serve as a fresh pair of eyes that can read your draft and provide the useful feedback you need to improve your writing.

Avoid Editing Mistakes and Achieve Your Goals

To make a good living from your writing as a professional writer, you need to understand the importance and relevance of the editing process to your writing and your business.

Beyond that, you also need to avoid editing mistakes like asking only family and friends to edit your work, focusing on self-editing as your one and only editing option, and not knowing anything about the different types of editing available.

In addition, you need to understand how beta readers are different from editors, and make sure you don’t do different edits in the wrong sequence. Moreover, it’s important to know why you shouldn’t hire one editor for all types of editing. 

Once you can avoid these editing mistakes while using the right type of edits at every stage of your writing process, you will find it easier to improve your writing, grow your business, and achieve all your writing goals, sooner rather than later.

About the Author Sola Kehinde

Sola Kehinde is a freelance content writer for hire with 10+ years of corporate business management experience. She helps businesses of all sizes create engaging blog posts, case studies, guides, tutorials and eBooks that attract and convert. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her drinking green tea, watching movies or curled up with a good book. Visit her writing portfolio here.