Tuesday 2¢: Trusting the Redlines

Do you have your words edited? How do you feel, do you get caught up in the emotion or trust the redlines?

This week I am inspired by almost the last conversation on last week’s episode of the rather wonderful This Old Marketing podcast by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.

Discussing their week ahead, Joe mentioned he was editing his latest book. Robert shared a story from when they wrote their first book together (they didn’t name it, but I assume it was Managing Content Marketing) that when the first redlined version of the book came back from the editor, she sent two versions; one with all the changes marked up, the other with them all accepted. In her email, the editor suggested Robertstarts with the one with the accepted changes first.

I loved this story because that’s how I often work with editors. When I get sent an edited article or whitepaper (I haven’t written a book yet) with changes tracked in Microsoft Word, I switch off the markup and carefully read the final version first.

I attend to the comments, revisit any major changes, sure. But, if it reads as I intended it, tone of voice is maintained, and the facts remain; without looking at the detailed changes, I often click ‘accept all’.

Obviously, you don’t do this with a new editor and, there is plenty to learn from reviewing the changes a good editor suggests if you want to become a better writer. (I learned a ton from Mary Laplante when I was an analyst at The Gilbane Group a few years ago).

But, starting with the redlined copy or marked-up view in Word, is to get caught up in the emotion of seeing your words slaughtered across blood-splattered, sorry, I mean redlined, pages. Especially as it often looks worse than it is. And, I’m realistic, I know my copy needs editing; you’ve probably spotted mistakes in this very post.

However, if you read the final version first with an open mind (and it’s good) you can relax, have confidence in the editor, and look at the changes more objectively and trust the redlines.

Footnote: I don’t know how the editing process went for Robert and Joe, but the resulting book, that I bought back in 2011, is never far from my desk.