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No Egos Here: Working With Another Editor

One of my clients heads up a new content marketing department at a large company, and he has hired me to copyedit and to keep the style sheet. Because the department is new, all the documents we’ve been working on are now going through an in-house review for branding and legal issues. 

It seems, unbeknownst to both my client and me, that the company also has an extensive media style guide, so the copy was reviewed for that as well.

I’m comfortable with that. Tell me what I didn’t know, and I’ll happily absorb those rules into my style sheet and correct for them going forward.

But the reviewers are also tweaking my copyedits.

It’s been a long time since I worked under a mentor who scrubbed my work every day. It was a humbling but valuable process for me (thanks, Sandy!). These days, though, I’m the one reviewing other copyeditors’ work. And while I’m somewhat accustomed to having my writing edited, having my edits edited is not the same thing.

When I reviewed the marked-up copy, I did the foot-stomping thing. Then I cooled down and looked at the edits again.

Most of the changes weren’t bad. A few weren’t acceptable because they collided with the copy’s purpose and voice, but that is understandable given that the department is new. I’ve copyedited more than a dozen manuscripts, working with the department head and the designer to help develop voice, but the reviewers have only seen the first two or three manuscripts so far.

No two editors will edit the same way. We’ll make different decisions, choose different words. And no editor will know everything or be able to think of every possibility. We will all miss something or could have said something better. 

And that’s OK. We copyeditors strive for perfection in our work, but we’ll never get there. Taking the best edits from two editors isn’t a bad way to get closer to the mark.

Whether you’re working with another editor or being reviewed by another editor, in the words of Quincy Jones, “Check your ego at the door.” Review the changes as objectively as you can, considering how they work in the manuscript. Remember, we’re here to serve the author, the publisher, and the reader, not our own egos.

 This article originally published on Copyediting.com on April 16, 2013.

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