What type of editor should you hire?

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What type of editor should you hire?

professional editing agency los angeles san francisco

Seth Godin is many things: an author, a marketing guru, a quirky dresser, a brilliant yet down-to-Earth thinker. Sometimes, he’s also a mind reader. Yesterday, I was explaining our editing services to a client when the metaphorical light bulb flickered on. Checking verb agreement and overhauling a message are two very different things. All editors are not created equal. As this thought was bouncing around in my brain, Seth published a post about the same issue. Here are some tips I give clients who can’t decide what type of editing they need.


Copy editors are the style and grammar gurus who polish your work. They catch typos, check facts and apply that extra level of shine to your project. If you’ve already developed a strong message and written it out in compelling language, a copy editor is a good choice. Every writer will benefit from a professional copy editor’s careful eye.

Line editors go a bit further. Sure, they check your verb agreement and spelling. But while they’re at it, they also help you rework paragraphs or sections so that your message rings loud and clear. These are the folks who make sure your writing reinforces the overall theme you’ve already developed.

Conceptual editors are the big picture thinkers. At Em Writes, this type of editing is our specialty. Conceptual editors will rework smaller sections of your writing and apply the final polish, but they will also help you develop the best strategy for bringing your ideas across clearly and effectively. We can do this either as a ghostwriter who drafts the story for you, or as an editor who helps you set your the strategy and then reworks your writing accordingly. As Seth puts it, “Treasure the folks willing and able to develop a point of view about the big picture.” If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.


Here are some questions to help you determine what depth of editing your project needs. If you answer “no” to a lot of these, it’s a good idea to consult with a conceptual editor. You’ll be surprised how one conversation with our gurus can help you understand your project more clearly!

Is my message strong and compelling?

Does my structure make sense?

Will a reader understand the bigger picture without having to reread?

Is it just my grammar that needs polishing?

Do I like the style of writing I’ve used?

What am I trying to accomplish with this project? Have I accomplished it?

Does my writing offer a “bigger picture,” either literally or implied?

Is my tone engaging enough to keep a reader reading?

Em Writes clients usually come to us needing a mix of the three, and sometimes during the process, we both realize the big picture needs to change — and that’s ok! The most important thing to remember is that an editor is a friend, not an enemy. Your editor wants your project to be just as awesome as you do. We love talking with clients about their project, and take a conversational approach that allows us to develop a compelling strategy organically. Most of the time, our clients tell us that during our consulting, everything about their project “just clicked.” That’s so important! If you don’t understand your message clearly, the reader never will.

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