Seven Skills Every Copy Editor Needs to Stand Out

As a book sees the light of day, all the credit goes to the author for hard work, creativity, and dedication. However, the writer is not the only one who spends days perfecting a manuscript. A copy editor works alongside an author to prepare their manuscript for print.

However, all copy editors can agree their job can get hard occasionally. Whether you feel overwhelmed by the workload or struggle to focus, you are not alone. There are many copy editors that may struggle the same as you.

Such struggles can hinder your professional growth and affect your client satisfaction rates. While giving up may seem easy, it is important to remember that there is a silver lining behind every cloud. You can make everything right by putting in some effort and time.

Seven Skills Every Copy Editor Needs to Stand Out 1

Here are some important skills to help you stand out as a copy editor.

1. Attention to Detail

It will not be an exaggeration to say that a copy editor holds the power to turn an average work into a masterpiece. However, it does not happen without planning, coordinating, and repeatedly reexamining one draft. It is truly a work that takes a lot of effort.

Copywriters are given the duty of improving something written by someone who already has a grasp on the subject and language. A general read may not help you find much more than grammatical errors. You need to pay great attention to detail to improve your work.

Every manuscript’s word, line, and page deserves the same attention and love. It is the only way to be just with work and provide consistent efficiency to your client. Otherwise, the inconsistencies can become visible to any reader.

2. Grasp on Grammar

Millions of writers look for what is a copy editor and how they can help improve a manuscript. The first thing they do is that copy editors can help improve work by making it crisper, adding more clarity, and ensuring the correct grammar usage.

After all, no one wants their work to head out with grammatical errors. It can be embarrassing for the author of the work. Hence, they hire copy editors to review their work and make the needed improvements. Of course, making grammatical corrections is also expected from a copy editor.

Copy editors must be experts at grammar. Yes, there are free and paid grammar checkers available. However, they cannot match the expertise of a copy editor. Hence, copy editors must polish their understanding of grammar to progress in the field.

3. Expertise on Style

There are many style guides that come with a list of rules. These rules are shared by the clients beforehand and determine the copy editor’s proofreading and editing process. This specific guide determines the usage of vocabulary, referencing, formatting, tone, and much more.

The usage of these rules must be ensured by a copy editor throughout the manuscript. However, manuscripts can vary in length, and it can ensure consistency in longer manuscripts. However, it is a skill that you must excel to stand out.

You can also access the guidebooks on different styles. From the language to the usage of Oxford Commas, these guidebooks can help the reader find guidance on every subject. 

4. Adherence to Deadlines

People who reach out to copy editors are usually on a clock. After all, your help is just another step for them to reach their final destination of publishing. They do not have time for any delays along the journey. Hence, you must prioritize your client’s valuable time.

No one wants to work with a professional, such as a copy editor, who does not adhere to deadlines. Hence, it is very important to meet the needs of your clients at the given time. Otherwise, your professional life can become targeted by bad reviews. 

Yes, challenging your skills can be an effective way to grow. However, it is important to ensure that you do not make the deadlines too challenging for yourself. You do not want to lose challenges and clients side by side.

5. Openness to Queries 

Copy editors are the professionals who are used to offering constructive criticism to many other professionals. However, it does not mean that you are prone to receiving criticism yourself. After all, your clients are also professionals in their respective fields.

There are many times when copy editors are challenged with suggestions and criticism. It is important to reach such matters with a lot of care and caution. Instead of getting defensive, take a deep breath and communicate with your client. 

At the end of the day, you must realize that every manuscript that goes through your hands is someone else’s property. Hence, every change and suggestion you write must go through them. In case there is a problem in communication, your reputation as a copy editor can be affected.

6. Interpersonal Skills

One of the best ways for a copy editor to be successful is by building long-term relationships with their clients. Long-term clients can bring in new customers, help your business grow, and increase your visibility in the market. All of this starts with strong interpersonal skills.

Interpersonal skills are important to create relationships with your clients and coworkers. This practice leads to added productivity and mutual benefits for the employer and employee. Interpersonal skills are equally beneficial for freelance and in-house copy editors alike. After all, a good working relationship cannot hurt anybody.

7. Technical Know-How

Gone are the days when editors had to sit under the sun with papers in hand to review a manuscript. Now, technology has enabled copy editors to work from the comfort of their rooms. There are many software that can make your journey as a copy editor easier.

Hence, you must be well-versed with technology to ensure that clients do not leave you for being old-fashioned. In addition, having technical know-how can also ensure that you also establish your career as a freelance copy editor without much hassle.

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