Savvy Diversification Series – Copyediting 101: What It Is, What It’s Not, and Who Needs It
The Savvy Newcomer team has been taking stock of the past year and finding that one key priority for many freelance translators and interpreters has been diversification. Offering multiple services in different sectors or to different clients can help steady us when storms come. Diversification can help us hedge against hard times. With this in mind, we’ve invited a series of guest authors to write about the diversified service offerings that have helped their businesses to thrive, in the hopes of inspiring you to branch out into the new service offerings that may be right for you!
Diversifying the services you offer is a safety net you throw for your own sake. And diversifying has many advantages that extend beyond your wallet.
So today, we want to discuss another option, which is copyediting. First, we’ll define copyediting. Then, we’ll see it in comparison to proofreading, as these two activities are often mistaken one for another. Finally, we’ll try to analyze who actually needs copyediting and what you need to be a good copyeditor.
If you’re a translator, it’s definitely something you should think about. It’s also a great option for linguists in general. Let’s take a further look.
What Is Copyediting?
A copyeditor checks the text for grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation errors. They are also the go-to person for maintaining consistency within the text, for example, with spelling, capitalization, numerals, font usage, or even hyphenation.
Again, when we talk about consistency, a copyeditor checks for continuity. Their task also includes checking for factual errors and alerting clients if there are potential legal issues.
That being said, a copyeditor not only checks for these types of errors, they correct them too. So, it’s an important and demanding role.
Copyediting vs. Proofreading
Now, we have already stated what copyediting is. To emphasize what it’s not, we’ll compare it to an activity you might often mistake it for. And that is proofreading.
Proofreaders typically check for typographical errors, and they work closely with an almost finished product. They don’t intervene within the text in a major way. Instead, their job is to make sure that all necessary corrections have indeed been made.
As translators, even if we know that copyediting and proofreading are not the same, we realize we’re often asked for proofreading, while copyediting is what’s expected.
Who Needs Copyediting?
While this question seems easy to answer, that may only be the case if you know how to approach it. Suppose you decided you want to wear a copyeditor’s hat. Awesome!
When it comes time to find copyediting jobs, your main concerns will be who needs this service, how to approach them, and how to convince them to trust you with their texts.
I would concentrate on the industries you already cover as a translator, because they are where you are most likely to find your first clients. You could examine your previous tasks and see who might have a text that needs copyediting.
For example, if you work into English, think about industries that need polished texts before they send them for translation. They will want their texts to be straightforward to avoid inconsistencies or questions from translators.
What It Takes to Be a Successful Copyeditor
There are several traits that will make you better than your competition.
I strongly believe this job is perfect for translators, since it provides them with an opportunity to sharpen their skills and think outside of the box. It will also improve the way they work with texts they translate.
Then, I think it’s important to be passionate about finding solutions and proposing different options.
Just like proofreaders, attention to detail is something copyeditors need.
I would also say that they need to be able to critically examine their own work, because they don’t want to introduce errors within the text.
A detective’s eye wouldn’t hurt either — after all, you might need to check some facts.
But what does it take to be a successful copyeditor? In order to be successful, you have to be good at the role. If you want to start copyediting, the first thing you should do is begin advertising that you provide the service.
A LinkedIn headline? An Instagram post? Why not. Show off your skills and diversify your practice.
I hope this article will help you make a successful start in diversifying your services with copyediting. I strongly believe copyediting is a great option for both expanding your service offerings and building up the skills needed in your everyday work.
That being said, follow these tips and let us know your thoughts in the comments. If you have some copyediting experience under your belt, we’d love to hear about it.
Karolina Łachmacka is an English to Polish translator with specialization in marketing and creative texts. She is also a certified content marketer and an SEO enthusiast-turned-specialist. She founded her blog www.karolinalachmacka.com where she shares interesting tips and knowledge for people who work or want to work online. In private, she is a passionate admirer of cats and peppermint tea drinker.