Freelancers are always looking for new markets to conquer, and today I discovered a new one: online dating profiles.
If you’re familiar with online dating, then you’ve come to expect a little embellishment here and a little downplaying there. That drool-worthy photo of Mr. Right? You know it was probably taken 5 years and 20 pounds ago in spectacular lighting. You’ve stretched the truth yourself, and you’re not going to knock someone else for playing to their strengths.
But there’s one thing women can’t forgive in an online dating profile: poor spelling. That’s right, guys: Forget about your visible nose hair (actually, please don’t) and the weak chin you inherited from your mother’s side of the family. If you “love chidren and puppys, to” or “beleive in remembering important dates like anniverseries,” you may be missing out on connecting with that special someone.
But what’s good for the goose isn’t so good for the gander: According to the article in the above link, men don’t discriminate against women for the same offence. Women can forget the spell-checker altogether, and men don’t mind. No real surprise there, hence the time and money spent instead on hair, makeup, wardrobe, and glam shots.
Sigh. Showing you know “i before e except after c” would be a whole lot quicker, easier, and cheaper, eh, ladies?
Terry O’Reilly is an award-winning copywriter and broadcaster. His CBC radio program, “Under the Influence,” focuses on advertising strategies both past and present. Terry always rewards his listeners with the inside scoop behind well-known marketing campaigns.
Today Terry revealed that the Aero chocolate bar tagline “Irresistabubble” was coined by none other than Salman Rushdie. That’s right, Rushdie started his career as a copywriter, and he’s not alone: from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Helen Gurley Brown, Terry dropped plenty of big names who got their start in copywriting. (Fitzgerald’s fiction, which he worked on after hours, was apparently rejected by 122 publishers.)
Rushdie credits the copywriting trade with his later success. He says he continues to write the way he learned to write in his copywriting days: he makes every word count, and he never misses a deadline. Writing is a job like any other, and he puts in his hours every day.
Keeping writing tight and on time has always been essential in advertising. Never waste a word, never miss a deadline. And I’d argue that these qualities of writing are even more important for today’s fractured market of media-savvy consumers.
Is your content concise and current? Hire an editor and be sure.
Who doesn’t love their tech? Editors and writers are no exception. Check out these cool toys:
- Square Reader – Need a convenient method of payment to hawk your published content at book readings and fairs? Look no further than this device that allows you to accept payments with your mobile phone or tablet.
- Usito – This handy online French dictionary helps translators get it right the first time.
- PerfectIt – Increase your hourly rate by working faster. PerfectIt from Intelligent Editing catches grammar and spelling mistakes that other spell-checkers miss. And the founder is an EAC member — what’s not to love?
- Information Mapping Canada – You supply the content, Information Mapping supplies the format — another great way to increase your hourly rate.
- EditTools – From the editor behind the blog An American Editor comes this editing macros tool.
- The Editorium – This company offers an array of programs to automate editing tasks in Word.
- Ginger – More editing software to make you faster and less furious.
- Inera eXtyles – Get your automated editing tools and XML document creator here. No XML knowledge required. (But just learn XML already, says the smarty-pants who’s writing code for her website.)
- ThirtySix Software – Easily and quickly manage and reuse your content for a variety of purposes.
- Evoluent – Now that you’re working faster with the above software, get ergonomically correct with a high tech mouse or armrest.
Okay, one last suggestion for you editors with the big bucks (you flip Vancouver real estate in your free time, don’t you): Adobe Technical Communications Suite 5. What does it do? Pretty much everything but land the job contract for you.
I’m building a website for CopyEditCat Editorial Services. That’s right: I’m building it. So it might not be live for awhile. 🙂 But I’ve bought my domain name, and I’m piling on the bricks to build this baby as fast as I can. It’s fun to be the wizard pulling the levers behind the curtain. At a certain point, I’m sure I’ll move on to HTML editing software — such as Dreamweaver — so I can wow my clients, but for now I want to learn the code myself so that I understand all the parts of my website.
Thus I now have a new service to offer: markup. With so many platforms available on which to publish content, storing content in a form that can be applied across platforms is a must. This is called content management, and markup is part of the process. Markup identifies the various components of stored content. It’s persnickety, detail-oriented work.
Perfect for an editor.
Self-publishing is an exciting development for authors and freelancers. Gone are the days when self-publishing was equated with vanity press publishing. Self-publishing has empowered writers and editors to come together without the need for the big publishing house as middleman. Check out www.writer.ly and authorconnections.com.
Award-nominated writer Nina Munteanu spoke to the Toronto Branch of EAC recently, and she was enthusiastic about the future of publishing. Although the industry has experienced an upheaval, what remains is the desire for great storytelling. It can therefore be argued that the partnership between writers and editors has never been more important.
I love a funny slogan on a T-shirt, and I had a good chuckle when I heard this one. A young Saskatchewan schoolgirl, Tenelle Star, recently wore a sweatshirt with this slogan, and school officials asked her to take the shirt off. They have since relented, and so should they have.
As an editor, I say this slogan hits all the right points: it’s succinct, it plays off a familiar ad campaign (got milk?), and it’s funny as hell — and not just funny ha-ha. It’s more like you-are-so-absolutely-right-this-world-is-so-messed kinda funny. It’s got a punch-to-the-gut kind of truth that can’t be denied.
Marg Delahunty sings it best: “O Canada!/Our home’s on native land.”
Yup. I predict a rise in T-shirt sales.
One of J. D. Salinger’s children once commented in an interview that getting the attention of the reclusive writer was difficult. Salinger apparently would not respond when one of his children said, “Dad?” Rather, he would wait for them to say whatever it was they wanted to say. Of course, thinking that he wasn’t listening, the children probably walked away from their father with their questions unasked, which suited the preoccupied writer just fine, I’m guessing.
As a parent, I can empathize with Salinger. Children often don’t have their questions fully formed before they summon you, leaving you hanging after the introductory “Mom?” Add three or more kids to the mix, and a parent could be answering “Yes?” all day, which would be nothing short of draining for an introvert.
But enough about me and Salinger and parenting young children. Omitting needless words is not just a handy tool for introverts trying to conserve energy; it’s a tool for good writing.
Editors identify needless words — including clichés, redundancies, clunky expressions, and jargon — and cut them:
- She thinks outside the box.
- She’s a creative thinker. (Showing how she thinks creatively instead of simply stating so would be better.)
- The fact of the matter is that she was too tired to keep her temper.
- She was too tired to keep her temper.
- My father and I came to an agreement.
- My father and I agreed.
- We are part of a world-class, action-oriented, and inclusive public education system. (I recently read this sentence in a newsletter.)
- We are part of an active, inclusive, world-class public education system.
I’ve used simple examples to illustrate how easily needless words can slip into text. As a public service to your readers, remove them. Don’t confuse wordiness with importance. Obey commandment #3 and experience how pithiness is next to godliness.