Since the launch of Wordy in December 2009 I have received a little more than 2,500 mails, of which approximately 50% have been from editors working on Wordy or having a desire to do so. The fantastic thing about all these mails is their great readability, precision and logical structure. When handling 30+ mails per day, this is something you quickly come to appreciate.
And that’s not nearly the only reason why copy-editors make a great community – I can easily add professionalism, passion and the desire to do better to the list.
It’s no surprise that corresponding with professional copy-editors is a little different from your usual web-based correspondence: ambiguities are virtually non-existent and response times are well below average. Put on top of that the fact that their emails are actually a joy to read and easy to act upon. Of course, this is what copy-editing is all about: improving readability to secure understanding and reducing complexity to facilitate action.
Wordy is dependent on a number of human copy-editors who know what they are doing. After all, distributing jobs directly to copy-editors demands that editors are able to take care of the text, as well as manage any dialogue with the customer in a professional, straightforward way. Constantly improving our service to customers in these early days of Wordy is of key importance, but still, the output of the individual editor is what it all comes down to. I’m happy to report that in 97% of cases this is exactly what happens (we are working on cranking that number up to 100%).
In my view, heightening readability of a text is the most important product of copy-editing. After all, you ship off your text to Wordy because you want to maximise its impact – as well as to root out all embarrassing errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and structure. Catering for a community of 300+ editors also greatly reduces the time wasted on trying to figure out what the text is all about.
A logical structure means that the theme of the text is logically followed through in arguments, and that these arguments are logically developed throughout the text. This all sounds very academic, but just consider that you are reading a text that just makes sense; that you don’t constantly have to stop and go back to check what it was all about in the first place.
Professionalism has got a great deal to do with how copy-editors perceive their profession. This includes the need for feedback to improve their service (which is why, when you rate a job on Wordy, your rating goes straight to the copy-editor). This professionalism also has a great deal to do with passion of product. We all want passionate people doing the work for us – simply because we know that people who are passionate about their profession are also the ones who deliver the best possible product. And, as mentioned, the sheer number of daily mails in my inbox from Wordy copy-editors proves that this community is a passionate one.
This passion also leads to the desire to do better. Wordy doesn’t have an expensive organisation of consultants and coaches to facilitate this desire; it basically has to come from the individual editors. So far, this desire has manifested itself in 67 mails about the three jobs that ended up being rated as “Poor”. I, for one, am really proud about that.
Finally, one of the reasons why copy-editors make a great community is that editors seem to be very social in nature, and when building a service that covers all time-zones – where the outreach is truly global – you want people who actually like speaking to other people. Even if this ‘speaking’ in most cases is done by writing. Whoops, just got a mail…