Real estate and the gentle art of editing

“What’s an editor do?"

I’m amazed at how many times I have been asked that. To explain the role of an editor, and how one can help you with your website, blog or e-book, I will use a simple analogy which I think everyone will understand. I will use the analogy of what seems to be every Australian’s obsession – real estate. Specifically, houses going to auction and open for inspections.

To get the best out of an auction the house must look its best. The vendor would have been encouraged to use the services of a house stylist by their agent.

The stylist’s job is to make the vendor’s house look the best it can. They will advise on things like decluttering, moving or storing certain items of furniture, the purchase of scatter cushions and throws (to hide the red wine stain on the sofa) and perhaps some new doona covers and towels to give the bedrooms and bathroom a fresh look. 

Depending on the material they must work with, the stylist may suggest more substantial changes. Perhaps the vendor is a bit eccentric and each family member had an individual, and different, dining room chair? However, a consistent look is needed, so those chairs are hidden in the shed and replaced with a matching set. A room used as a study may be reverted to its original purpose of being the formal dining room. 

So, think of an editor as a content ‘stylist’ for your website, blog or e-book. An editor will take your written work, and more than just fixing grammar and spelling like a proofreader (think cluttered house but one that is scrupulously clean) they will polish, refine and enhance your writing to be the best that it can be. An editor ensures the author’s voice is retained, and the author maintains control of the finished work. Like the housing stylist, editorial changes are suggestions – to be accepted or rejected by the writer.

And the vendor who has not engaged a stylist/editor, stylist/copywriter or, at the very least, a stylist/proofreader? Well worst case scenario is people will walk into a house where the sink is full of dishes, the laundry hamper is overflowing with smelly clothes and, oh dear, I think that’s a cat vomit on the hallway runner.

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