A Fool for a Client: Editing Your Own Work

As the old saying goes, “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” It dates back to the early 19th Century. It alludes to our collective inability to independently view both sides of an argument.

Not only does it apply to attorneys, but I believe it is a golden rule for writers. images.keyboard.purple

I can relate an instance where I helped a friend and prospective author self-publish her novel. The editing services one may receive from large self-publishing houses may be poor or uneven at best. In this case, my friend had plot lines that ran off the page as interminable detours that were not well tied to the primary plot. She recognized that some problems existed but not the extent, or she loved a particularly well-written character who did not contribute in any substantial way, but could not excise this shadow from the substance of the manuscript.

The same applies to short pieces, like those used as marketing communications for businesses (e.g., flyers, announcements, press releases, E-mails, and blogs). The person who writes the piece should not have the only word on its final form. Even businesses with communications departments may employ in-house or external editors to sharpen the focus of the document, to check grammar, and to give the message the finishing touches it deserves.

The fact is, I find it somehow easier to glance past mistakes, even obvious ones, when I have written a piece. Take this blog, for instance. I’m pretty certain that I will fail to notice a missing word (usually an article!), and I depend on my own copyeditors to have my back. Otherwise, I risk publishing something that seems not only sloppy but perhaps even unprofessional—that’s a real problem for someone in the writing and editing business!

Don’t be like the fool in court! Make sure someone else has your back—preferably an editing professional. Contact us if you need a second read on any marketing document or business communication.

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