Reading Time: 31 minutes

“With editing or copywriting, start with saying, “Yeah, I love this bit, you’ve done this bit really well”. So that they don’t feel as though you’re attacking them. I offer full-strength editing, and editing light, so people can choose the the level of editing that they want.”
Mary Cameron

“My job isn’t to tell an author what they can and can’t do. My job is to make sure that they understand what the repercussions are, how the reader might react to this, and the credibility issue that could cause all sorts of practical consequences.”
Tanja Gardner


Welcome to another award winner’s episode.

In these episodes, I’m talking to winners from the Clever Copywriting School Awards of 2022.

I’ll be asking:

  • What do they think made them stand out to win the awards?
  • What advice and tips can they offer you?
  • What are the challenges they’ve faced?
  • And common mistakes they see their peers making.

Today we’re chatting with our proofreading winner and our editing winner.

These are useful, practical and hopefully inspiring episodes from glorious yet humble writers. I hope you enjoy it.

Tune in to learn:

  • What qualities make an award-winning editor
  • What qualities make an award-winning proofer
  • The main differences between editing and proofreading
  • How to start off with structural editing
  • How to tackle editing a book
  • Why editorial guidelines can be helpful 
  • What proofreaders should focus on
  • Why Mary got involved with editing
  • Why Tanja prefers proofing and editing over creative copywriting
  • How to approach editing so the client doesn’t feel overwhelmed
  • Tanja and Mary’s top recommended tools

 

Listen to the podcast

 

Share the love

If you like what you’re hearing on Clever Copy Chats, support the show by taking a few seconds to leave a rating and/or comment on iTunes or Spotify. Thanks.

And big thanks to Karen Phillips from Australia for their lovely review:

“Straight to the point! Great podcast, informative, entertaining and straight to the point. Love the helpful tips too!”

 

Share the meme

 

“With editing or copywriting, start with saying, “Yeah, I love this bit, you've done this bit really well”. So that they don't feel as though you're attacking them. I offer full-strength editing, and editing light, so people can choose the the level of editing that they want.” Mary Cameron

“My job isn't to tell an author what they can and can't do. My job is to make sure that they understand what the repercussions are, how the reader might react to this, and the credibility issue that could cause all sorts of practical consequences.” Tanja Gardner

 

 

About Mary Cameron

Mary Cameron headshot

Mary Cameron, aka The Wrinkly Writer, has championed impeccable plain English editing for A. Very. Long. Time. Her ‘fewer words, more meaning’ mantra, practised with kindness and wit, helps hundreds of business humans become proud owners of effortlessly expressed, heartfelt, hard-working words.

Fun fact: As an homage to the oysterly art of turning grit into gorgeousness, you’ll never see Mary without her pearls.

 

Connect with Mary Cameron

 

About Tanja Gardner

Tanja Gardner headshot

Tanja Gardner has been a professional word-nerd for over 15 years. Initially a copywriter for difference-makers, she switched to editing and proofreading when she discovered she much preferred polishing other people’s words to creating her own. She’s edited over 35 books, along with too many reports, articles, web pages and corporate documents to count.

Fun fact: When Tanja played ‘the tombstone game’ (figure out your life purpose by identifying the inscription you’d most love on your tombstone), the runner-up epitaph in second place was “Dear God, thanks so much for inviting me. I had a wonderful time.”

 

Connect with Tanja Gardner

 

Useful Resources

 

Transcript

Kate Toon  

Welcome to another award winners episode. In these episodes, I’m talking to winners from the clever copywriting school awards of 2022, which was a long time ago now, but hey, it still matters. And I’m going to be asking them what they think made them stand out to win the awards, what advice and tips they can offer you what challenges they faced and the common mistakes they see their peers making. So today we’re chatting with our proofreading winner and editing winner. These are useful, practical and hopefully inspiring episodes from glorious yet humble writers. Hope you enjoy it. Hello, my name is Kate toon. And I’m the head and among them in their their head copy beast at the clever copywriting School, an online community and teaching hub for all things related to copywriting. And today we’re chatting with not one but two award winners. Woo hoo. As part of our award winning series, I’m talking with Mary Cameron, who won editor of the year. Hello, Mary.

 

Mary Cameron  

Hello, Kate. 

 

Kate Toon  

Hello, Kate. And I’m talking to Tanja Gardner who won a proofreader of the year. Hello, Tanja. And 

 

Tanja Gardner  

Hello 

 

Kate Toon  

Hello, and we are all dialing in from different parts of the globe. Mary, where are you?

 

Mary Cameron  

I’m in northwestern France hunkered down waiting for storm Kieran to cross the English Channel and hit us. Oh,

 

Kate Toon  

Oh, that’s exciting, gosh. And Tanja, 

 

Mary Cameron  

Yeah. Stormy day ahead. 

 

Kate Toon  

Stormy day. Tanja, where are you?

 

Tanja Gardner  

I am across the ditch in Auckland, New Zealand Aotearoa.

 

Kate Toon  

And here I am in the Umina on the Central Coast, there’s nowhere finer than Umina. Don’t you love the power of the zoom? It’s great to bring us all together. And you know, I think that just goes to show that we do have people from all over the world in our little community, all walks of life and all different types of writing related industry. Because you know, we primarily talk about copywriting but where would ask copywriters be without our editors and our prefers? I would have been fired long ago. But let me tell you a little bit more about each of our guests today. Mary Cameron, aka the wrinkly writer has championed impeccable plain English editing for a very long time. Her fewer words more meaning mantra practice with kindness and which helps hundreds of business humans become proud owners of effortless expressed heartfelt, hardworking work words or I love that that’s so well written fun facts as an homage to the oysterly art of turning grit into gorgeousness. You’ll never see Mary without her pearls. And yet today are you wearing a pearl?

 

Mary Cameron  

Oh yeah.

 

Kate Toon  

 Is that a pearl? It looks like a gold necklace, I like it, so pearls are like your symbol.

 

Mary Cameron  

That’s right because I wear them because as as you’ve just said, you know they remind me to be more oyster you know when difficult things occur. Just be more oyster and turn them into, transform them into a thing of beauty and wonder.

 

Kate Toon  

I love that’s very beautiful and inspiring. Poor Tanja has got to follow that. Tanja has been a professional word nerd for over 15 years initially a copywriter for difference makers, she switched to editing and proofreading when she discovered she much preferred polishing other people’s words to creating her own. I love that self awareness. We’ll have to dig into that a little bit more. She’s edited over 35 books, zut alors, along with too many reports, articles, web pages and corporate documents to count. Fun fact when Tanja played the tombstone game, figure out your life purpose by identifying the description you must love on your tombstone. Oh my god, I’ve never played that. The runner up epitaph in second place was dear God. Thanks so much for inviting me. I had a wonderful time. Oh my gosh, I wonder what mine would be. Have you ever thought about that? Mary? What your epitaph, what will be on your grave?

 

Mary Cameron  

Um, no. But I was always a fan of Spike Milligan

 

Kate Toon  

Spike Milligan. I told you I was sick. 

 

Mary Cameron  

Yeah, that’s it. 

 

Kate Toon  

Tanja, I love that. It’s that game you play often. It’s rather than macabre.

 

Tanja Gardner  

It’s something that a life coach got me to do way back when? Back when I was just a big business person.

 

Kate Toon  

It’s nice, isn’t it? In my in my book, shameless plug for the book is called six figures in school as I’m holding it up. For no reason. Since this is an audio medium. I talk about the idea of having a CV life or an epitaph life, you know, so we often tend to focus on our CV life on ticking off this. You know, I’m really good with Excel spreadsheets and I won an award and I did that and really, it’s not about that. It’s probably not what you want on your tombstone, but I’m not quite sure what I do. And another interesting fact before we dive into the episode, Spike Milligan, there’s a room dedicated to Spike Milligan in the library where I live, and a bridge named after Spike Milligan. Did Spike Milligan ever live here? No, his mom and dad retired here lived here for about three years. But it’s the only claim to fame we’ve got. So we’re clinging on to it Poor spike. Anyway, we’re not here to talk about spite. We’re here to talk about why you won the awards. And I know you’re going to be horribly humble. But please try not to be. Mary, you want editor of the year. Give me three reasons why you think you do a good job of being a letter or if that’s too painful to do? What you think is required? Have a good answer three points. What do you think?

 

Mary Cameron  

Okay, first up, I was gobsmacked to win the award because I was up against some serious competition there. In the judges notes, they said one of the things that stood out for them was that I have a very human approach to editing is a brutal business, you know, but I’ve been sort of managing humans delicately in various ways for 40 plus years. So I think I can mitigate the brutality for someone of having their their precious words, edited, as the first thing I think human approach being kind. And I think the other things are, I My career started in the era of when plain English writing was becoming a real thing. So I have huge grounding in in clear, concise writing. So technically, I’m pretty good. I’m really skillful in plain English and unkind. I think those are the things that make me really competent as an auditor, and I’ve been doing it for a very long time, and editing everything imaginable. You know, since before the internet was a thing. I guess that’s it.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah, no, that’s good. And I mean, obviously, we’ve got a bit of crossover here, because I’m sure Mary, you do a bit of proofing. And clearly, Tanja has a huge amount of experience as an editor as well as approver. And you won the proofer award. What do you think are the qualities that you have that made you win that award?

 

Tanja Gardner  

I think the first thing is that I am the strong editor, and that makes me a good proofreader. But it’s not the nitty gritty of proofreading. That makes me good at proofreading. It’s, I don’t get hung up on the excellence of business comma, technically, right? What I’m looking at is, is this the clearest it could possibly be for the reader. That’s number one. Number two, I think is that I use technology. So things like Microsoft word’s read aloud, Grammarly perfect it. And I use it to support me without outsourcing my decisions to it. So it tells me what I need to look closer at. But I’m the one who says yes or no to it. And then I finally I think that my neuro divergent brain, I joked with Kate earlier about my ADHD I am actually diagnosed. That brain is the cherry on top, it allows me to look at text in a different way to the average person. And so ambiguities really jumped out at me. And my brain kind of encodes language and grammar as equations that have to add up for the text to be grammatical. 

 

Kate Toon  

Oh, that’s so fascinating, isn’t it? And I love that you’ve turned your ADHD into a superpower when so many, many people see it as a kryptonite, you know, I mean, I think it can be both. And I love that. We have episode notes, which I may stray from, by the way, because I think, what’s an interesting discussion is, you know, where does editing and and proofreading begin. And, you know, having written a book myself, I think is a very broad sweep. So, I wonder if Mary, you could start us off on talking to us about structural editing. So I’m talking about really first steps. I know, we’re not looking at colons at this point. We’re right at the beginning, someone’s handed you over, like their book outline. So first draft, what would a structural edit involve? Or how do you describe that even?

 

Mary Cameron  

Well, I suppose speaking from with my copywriting head on, because, you know, I’m a copywriter, I still I’m still a copywriter. I’m just morphing more into being more of an editor. In fact, I’ve always done both, I think, structure when I think of structural editing, I do think of that, you know, what that traditionally means for people, which is, you know, is this text well organized? You know, does it say the important things first, but for me, it’s does it speak to the intended audience in a way that they’re going to get it? And I think that’s one of the things that really, I often see overlooked in, in editing, you know, the, the words are pretty good. They’re, they’re lined up in the right order, but they somehow miss, they miss the context and they miss who they’re intended to impress. So I think for me, I always start at that point. And something you know, I always used to tell my students when I when I taught writing, you know, who who is this for and what do you want them to do with it? You know, yeah.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah, Tanja, do you agree? I mean, I guess that’s even It’s kind of a step be up before the structural editors to go okay, let’s make sure that we’ve got our customer avatar worked out. We’ve got also got your tone of voice worked out, like who are you trying to be for that audience? And what is the essential problem that we’re going to solve before we start shimmying paragraphs and chapters around? Is that how you approach it as well done? 

 

Tanja Gardner  

Yeah, I, when I’m working with a client, on whether it’s a book or with a page or a corporate report, first thing I ask is, who’s the audience? What do they already know? Because you’ve got to meet them where they are now.

 

Kate Toon  

Love that. 

 

Tanja Gardner  

Where do you want them to end up. And then, for me, structural editing is like, you’re going on a journey between where this where they are now and where you want them to end up. And you want them to go in a straight line, without any major detours or backtracking or sudden chasms that open up because you’ve kind of got to point V. And then suddenly, you’re at point G, and nobody knows how you got there. 

 

Kate Toon  

Yes. And also not visiting point B, seven times and then forgetting point G. 

 

Tanja Gardner  

Absolutely. 

 

Kate Toon  

Because I’ve obviously been through this process with my book, I didn’t get the whole thing edited. But it was really interesting to see the different ways people approach the edit. So once we’ve established as an editor, or I think it’s even, it’s relevant for proof readers as well, to be honest. And once we’ve established the avatar, the mission, who you’re trying to be, what problem you’re trying to solve. And then we’ve sort of looked at the kind of overall architecture of the piece of writing, whether it’s a corporate report or a book or whatever, then what do we move to next? Is that, are we moving then into line edits? Tanja, would you like to go first?

 

Tanja Gardner  

Sure. So I see structural editing is actually divided into two sections, the first step is on a document wide scale. So the whole book, you know, other chapters in the right places, or the missing chapters, or the chapters that have nothing to do with the books, topic. And then you’ve got like a more granular, structurally that that is about the paragraph, and sometimes the sentence and but it’s more work for the paragraph headings, just making sure that the that the information flows within the chapter, incidentally, I’m writing a book on lifts.

 

Kate Toon  

Oh, there we go, we’ll have to find the link to that at the end. But yeah, I think that’s so important to documents. I mean, obviously, I’m a copywriter. So writing a book, I already had some kind of ideas about this, two documents that I prepared for my editor was editorial guidelines, so that we just agreed upfront, or using bullet full stops at the end of bullets, you know, also a lexicon of words that I’d never wanted to use, and a lexicon of words that I tend to overuse. Because, you know, I was like, you know, you can have a shot of vodka every time you see me use amazing because I’ve gotten over use that so much, you know, so to say they would spot that. And also to do, especially for a book, but also to do one chapter, and make some real agreements around the structure of a given chapter. So my books, you know, it’s got sections in it that are there in every section to kind of create that familiar experience, every chapter is not the same, but it has a familiar user experience, if that makes sense. I thought I thought those documents are really useful to kind of produce and then we added to them as we went along. And they were kind of a growing beast, and there’ll be so useful for my next book, because they’re already there. And they’re already put together. So Mary, we’ve done the avatar, we’ve done the big, everything’s in the right place. And we’ve come up with like a format for each individual chapter. And I’m gonna stick with books as my analogy for now. Now, what do we do you know, and what’s the next sweep through the book? Is it line by line? Is it fact checking what’s next?

 

Mary Cameron  

It’s really, for me, it’s neither of those things big picture thinker, I kind of do a scan with my antenna, my intuition turned on, really, I think that’s the next thing for me. Before I get to line by line, I think, you know, everything that that’s just been said, you know, my favorite clients provide me with all of those things about tone of voice and, and conventions. And if clients don’t provide those things than I provide them back with them together. But yeah, I suppose Yes, my mind at that point, when everything is in place, technically like that. Okay, then I just do a really sort of intuitive scan read aloud. And then I’ll go line by line, yeah, after that.

 

Kate Toon  

And then we’re kind of out of editing mode, you know, the edits have been accepted, and we’re pretty much happy with the structure. I do feel that proofing is another layer on top of that, like, I would not expect my editors to catch every pre, you know, every issue and I will say that my book had eight readers, and even at the last stage when it was typeset and ready to go to print. I actually read the whole thing out for my audible book and I courts and stuff, even then eight different people and we’re talking professionals here, we’re not talking just like people are dragged in from the street. So when we’re doing proofing, it’s really down to the line now, isn’t it? We we’ve made sure the sentence has the right meaning. But are we? Are we spotting? Is it about grammar? Is it about typos? What’s it about? Tanja?

 

Tanja Gardner  

It’s the nitty gritty stuff that makes sure you’re saying what you think you’re saying. Because, you know, a typo. A wrong homonym, the wrong there or the wrong to, some punctuation can completely change the meaning. So you want to make sure that you’re saying what you think you’re saying, Yeah.

 

Kate Toon  

I think that’s a great time as well to spot those missing words that you just read anyway, because you think they’re there. But they’re not so common, isn’t it? So. So that’s kind of the final stage, the proofreading, I like to talk a bit more about some mechanical stuff and then move into more of the soft skills. So you know, if someone’s, I guess my first question to both of us, you you’re both very good copywriters. But you’ve made a kind of conscious decision to move more towards editing, and proofreading. And I don’t think we’re allowed to talk about right brain and left brain as much as we used to. But one would say that copywriting is more creative and generative. And editing and proofreading is more corrective and logical. And there’s rules to work by, would you agree with that? Mary is? And if that’s the case, why did you move from the kind of more creative to the more logical side?

 

Mary Cameron  

Broadly, I agree with that. I think one of the things that really helps the client when I listen, and I, I’m sure a lot, I’m sure lots of editors do this, but I’ve observed that quite a few don’t, is that I’ve made I explain why I think something should be changed, you know? You know, I think, okay, you could say that, because you’ve said it, and you’ve put your heart and soul into saying it, that’s the subtext of that. But How about how about we say it like this for these reasons, you know, so there’s still that still creative. That sort of empathy and creativity and kindness really underpinning that logic? I think, I think that’s one of the hallmarks of, of human centered editing, if you like.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah, I agree. Because it’s not simply about moving the verb around in the sentence to make it more sense. Sometimes it might be completely deleting that sentence and writing a whole new chunk, which then impacts the next line and the next line. And so in the actual fact, you are actually writing chunks. Tanja, you as well, though, you know, you said that this suits the ADHD brain better for you. But what was the decision that made you move more towards editing and proofing?

 

Tanja Gardner  

I appreciate your comment about I suppose being great copywriters. But in fact, that is not how I see myself. I banged my head against the brick wall of trying to come up with creative copy and struggling and hating it. And what I discovered is that, firstly, there’s the creative, logical side of things. And my brain is not creative. It’s not big picture. I’m detail focused. I’m learning. I’m a linear thinker. Yeah. So I can I can write technical copy, I can collect write plain English. I am amazed at some of the wonderful language that people come up with. And I can critique it when I can’t generate it myself. And that’s a big part of it was, for me, editing is easy. copywriting is like pulling teeth.

 

Kate Toon  

I love that you’ve recognized that because we all have areas of ease, right? And I’m the complete antithesis of you. So I find the creative bit, absolutely easy. Give me a y page, I’ll fill it within 10 minutes with probably with absolute nonsense, the words will be there, they just won’t be in the right order. You know that that kind of line. But I cannot reread that piece of copy once I’ve written it. And this is why I’m really massively struggling with AI and generative AI because generative AI does the bit that I’m good at it generates the copy and it’s not good enough so then it has to be carved up moved around fixed whatever, that’s the bit I hate. So it actually takes me you know what I want to talk about the mechanics you know, write a 500 words of copy would probably take me 20 minutes. To edit someone else’s badly written 500 words of copy would take me twice that time so I think it is about ease, what you enjoy, you bang – it and also I have error blindness as I said, I read words that aren’t there, I wouldn’t know what to do with a semicolon if you slap me in the face with it. So we have to play to our strengths, don’t we? Let’s talk about time. So I was just saying then that I find that editing can take as least as long as for me, if not more than actually writing the copy. Mary, top of your head 400 words of copy to edit. How long would you give that? And do you work that way?

 

Mary Cameron  

Oh that so depends, that so depends, on whether it’s, you know.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah? On how terrible it is. 

 

Mary Cameron  

If it’s terrible, or quite schmick. It’s interesting, the whole time debate, because, you know, I’m excited to move into editing because I thought it would be faster, and I wanted more time, you know, not to be obsessed with huge copywriting projects, 

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah.

 

Mary Cameron  

Starting from scratch. But in In fact, it’s really interesting, because editing is the last stage. So you know, and it’s got to be done on absolutely, you know, quickly. Yeah. So I don’t know, 400 words, honestly. That is,

 

Kate Toon  

it’s impossible to say,

 

Mary Cameron  

I hate to say a wrong answer.

 

Kate Toon  

No, I love that. I would say you know, I always allow for two or two hours to write up 400 words. That’s what I always recommend to our copywriters to write it. Do I take that long? Absolutely not, I’d be appalled. I’d never make any money. But I think the thing there then is if you are going to be an editor or proofreader and you’re trying to quote a job, you have to see a sample to see how bad the work is, before you get going in probably one sample, you might need two or three, because they might have done a good job at the opening paragraph, but then they lost their way halfway through, and it just turned into absolute gibberish. So that I think the thing there is to say, get a sample before you quote, would you would you agree? Absolutely.

 

Mary Cameron  

Absolutely, I mean, for a ballpark figure for 400 words, probably somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. But it really does depend. Because-

 

Kate Toon  

And on the level of edit, as well, you know, you really kind of the whole argument and premise is wrong. Or it’s pretty much right, they just got not great. Don’t not have good idea about using grammar that will. Tanja, what do you think do you do you do quote like that? Or how do you quote?

 

Tanja Gardner  

I quote, on a combination of number of words and quality of the sample? And for anything longer than about 10 pages? I will get them to send me the whole thing. I will take a sample from the middle of it. 

 

Kate Toon  

Yes, the middle, 

 

Tanja Gardner  

The middle. It’s really because people are lazy, and it’s getting much better. 

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah.

 

Tanja Gardner  

For a book, what I’ll do is I’ll take three pages from somewhere in the middle. And I will edit that for myself. Partly it’s for the client, because they can see how I edit. And we can see whether there’s a good fit or not between how I ended and what they were looking for. But also it then helps me to get a sense of how to quote I still under quote massively even with that, but not as badly as I would if I didn’t do that.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah. You never know. And also, perfectionism is an issue for all of us. And we want to do the best job possible. And we’re all horrible, horrible people pleasers. I’ve completely strayed from the scripts. But the next question that occurs to me is is that point Tanja, have you said, if the client likes the way I edit, so I’ve worked with editors before, and even with the book, I got the first little bit back, and it was what I would call massacred. And I I’m big enough and ugly enough to deal with that. Because I’ve been a copywriter for a long time, but it was my book. So it’s like getting your baby back covered in tattoos. Do you know what I mean? And I had to go to my editor and say, you know, it’s probably better. But it’s not mine anymore. You need to tone it the eff down. You need to take it down. If this is 100% Bring it down to like 20% it’s too much. You’re taking away. My I feel you’re taking away my voice. Tanja, how do you handle that sort of situation? You know when because when you get that copy back, and it’s covered in track changes and comments, it’s like for God’s sake, it’s a horrible experience as a writer. You’ve seen my edits before, okay, because I’ve edited your stuff. Well, just say Tanja edited a lot of the templates in the clever copywriting school. So if you’re using one of those today, you need to thank Tanja, she did a great job. Yes, so I have.

 

Tanja Gardner  

Yeah. So you’ll know that I tend to err on the side of over explaining why I am making an edit and explaining it from, not from my point of view, but from the readers point of view. 

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah.

 

Tanja Gardner  

Like, I’ve changed this because I think your reader will X or Y. So I feel that that tends to offset a lot of hurt feelings. There are times though, when an author is looking for a kind of edit that I don’t give or that I’m not comfortable giving.

 

Kate Toon  

What’s that well What kind of edit and they’re looking for? A bottom-pat edit?

 

Tanja Gardner  

Yeah, bottom pad edit, or-

 

Kate Toon  

I love that I’m gonna use that.

 

Tanja Gardner  

There’s also, I I’m very value-based, it’s really important to me that the work I do creates makes things better in the world. 

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah. 

 

Tanja Gardner  

So if somebody is really attached to like, racist or sexist or homophobic language, and that they want to hang on to it, because that is their voice, then it’s a really, it’s a sign to me that we are not meant to work together. And I don’t want my name or my energy associated with that kind of work.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah, we’ll come back to that. I think that’s a really interesting point that I would like to pick up on again, Mary, you mentioned at the beginning that you’re kind, how do you manage these, you know, precious egos of these writers with their they’ve laid their baby in front of you? And you’re like, it’s ugly. How do you handle that in a gentle way?

 

Mary Cameron  

I try not to nail it’s little hands to the floor. 

 

Kate Toon  

Mary.

 

Mary Cameron  

Ditto everything that Tanja has just said about explanation, you know, and clarity, and, and saying how this is going, how the change you’re proposing is going to make it better. Yeah. I think that’s the main thing. And also, you know, one a really with editing or copywriting start with saying, Yeah, I love this bit, you’ve done this bit really well. There’s been some great success, so that you know that they don’t feel as though you’re attacking them. And also, I mean, like, Tanja, I offer full strength editing, and editing light. So people can choose the, their, the level of editing that they want.

 

Kate Toon  

Do they want elbows and knees? Or do they just want- It’s, when I’m coaching people, I say do you like when you go for a massage, right? Firm, medium or soft? You know, because I can be fine. And I totally agree that people say they want criticism, but they do want it’s like a rock in a sock, I always think they want a little bit of softness, as well, you know, so when I was going when I’m going through edits, and like changes, changes, changes. And then as a little comment that says, This is brilliant. It gives me the energy to keep going through some more changes, it’s really, really important to do that. I also think the method of your change is important. So I actually find it super irritating when there are but I when there are comments, because then I have to read the comment, agree with the comment, cut and paste the changed copy into the deck and there is therefore likelihood for error. And so I that I do think that comes with trust. So if we’ve done a couple of chapters, I’m just like, don’t do comments, just to track changes, because I can easily say yes or no, you don’t need to justify it to me anymore. But that isn’t that comes with time. Right? So if we were editing my book, and by chapter 1910, he was still going the reason I’ve changed this is I think the reader would be like Tanja, shut up. Just made the change. I agree with you do. Do you find it evolves the journey along the way? What do you think Mary, to that?

 

Mary Cameron  

Yeah, I think it does with clients. Yeah, exactly. That process, you know, people I edit for regularly now. You know, I just make I just propose the change, suggest the change. If there’s any, I don’t just make it if I think there’s room for movement there. I’ll use the suggestion tool in Google. And that I will just put it out. Yeah, I won’t comment at length about it. Yeah, I think that means because I think it comes with time.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah, and it causes more work. And then there’s a chance, you’ve cut and pasted it wrong. And then that’s about it again, Tanja, what about you your track changes, gal or comment? 

 

Tanja Gardner  

Yes. So I use comments to explain or to ask questions. I use track changes to make changes. Yeah. So you should never be copying and pasting anything from my comments. Yeah. I do find that some clients don’t want explanations right from the beginning. And I have to hold myself back because I am so used to explaining it.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah.

 

Tanja Gardner  

But generally, as the relationship develops.

 

Kate Toon  

It improves, I think as well. Is it something in an area that for people listening, like, what’s your responsibility? You mentioned, you know, you know, things that aren’t PC or you know, things that are blatantly racist or homophobic and whatever. And obviously, you can you want to push back on those. I mean, maybe you wouldn’t take the client in the first place, or you’d see in the sample and go, zut alors, but sometimes we can make a misstep without knowing like we are being accidentally offensive. Do you know what I mean? Like even people aren’t sure these days whether you can say things like Chinese burn anymore, like is that is that PC, is that bad? Yes, it is. It’s a stereotype. What are you talking about? Do you know what I mean? But people accidentally do it. They’re not purposely being this. How do you feel about pushing back on stuff like that Tanja?

 

Tanja Gardner  

So, I’ve actually done a really good comprehensive course in conscious, inclusive editing. 

 

Kate Toon  

Oh great.

 

Tanja Gardner  

And this is a big part of what they talk about. My job isn’t to tell an author what they can and can’t do. I’m not their mother, I’m not the kindergarten teacher. Yeah, if they want to do something, they can do it. My job is to make sure that they understand what the repercussions or 

 

Kate Toon  

What the consequences will be. 

 

Tanja Gardner  

Yeah, in terms of how the reader might react to this. What the reader might then think of them as a person, the credibility issue that could cause all sorts of practical consequences. 

 

Kate Toon  

Then it’s their choice.

 

Tanja Gardner  

It’s been their decision. But I say that, but if their decision is that they are quite happy to keep using that hurtful language, despite the fact that they know that it’s going to somebody that tells me a lot about whether we’re a good fit to work together. And I haven’t yet had a problem once I’ve agreed to go ahead with people. But I have had a couple of clients where I’ve actually taken responsibility for finding out what their approach is, I got approached once by a religious college that wanted some help editing some of their documents. And I googled them and they looked like they were quite conservative. So I basically said to my contact, look, could could we please have a quick conversation about what their take on LGBT rights is? And they didn’t have a stand that they took, they very obviously, like they were silent on the matter. And that was enough for me to know that no, I don’t want to work with them.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah, I mean, I think we’re talking now more about choices with clients. And I think as a copywriter, you know, clearly, you will want to want to work with anybody who sold weaponry or is a member of the Klu Klux Klan. But I think the hard thing is identifying things that could have potential consequences, especially in this cancel culture, where even if you’re not being dramatically racist, you just make an accidental statement, you can get, the pitchforks are gathered. And one thing I found very useful for with my editor, was she just would put little notes in the comments saying oof, but sure this is going to hit quite right. Maybe it’s a joke, or maybe I’d been a bit too harsh. Like sometimes I’m a bit like, I can’t remember, I wrote something like, you know, most parents don’t have any time, which is, you know, and that’s probably because they never spend any bloody time thinking about how much time they don’t have or something. And she says, Oh, that sounds a bit judgy. Do you know what I mean, it sounds like you’re making you’re making parents feel a bit poor. And I wasn’t meaning to, but that’s how it hits. So sometimes just how sometimes a line hits a bit too hard, a bit too sharp, especially if it comes. And I think that’s about the flow in the narrative. If you’ve just had a lovely fluffy paragraph, and then you like, boom, either that super effective. And that’s what you want, or actually it’s like, woah, it’s just feeling good. And now, Mary, how do you handle the the things that are on the borderline of- I mean, obviously, no one wants to work with racists and homophobes, but things that are just a bit borderline you like, Oh, I’m not sure about that.

 

Mary Cameron  

Yeah, I gotta say, it’s not. No, I’m going away thinking, have I missed things? Yeah. But, you know, it’s not a huge problem in terms of the kind of people who come to me. 

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah, yeah. 

 

Mary Cameron  

To have their work edited. 

 

Kate Toon  

I think we attract, hopefully, you know, we put our values out there. And we that’s the whole point in it, if you if you articulate your values, not just by saying but doing then you tend to attract the right people back. But I also think, you know, there can be a thing of over caveat thing, you know, so in my book, I talk about parents. Now, in reality, I know that the majority of people who are going to read the book will be moms, and I know that, but I didn’t want to exclude men, but I didn’t want to constantly be saying, Oh, and also men, also men do you don’t mean equally? I didn’t want to assume that anyone had a partner, or that they were heterosexual? Do you know what I mean? And so but he also don’t want to keep saying oh, it also gay and bisexual parents. You know, you don’t can’t keep caveating. So I did in my book was I kind of caveat in all of that at the beginning. But then I did say to my editor, can you watch for that? Can you just watch in case I say something that’s a middle aged white, heterosexual woman living in Australia ish? Do you know what I mean? Because I’ve got a narrow cone of you know, observation. I don’t want to exclude people more than I have to because I am who I am. Do you know what I mean? So I think that’s a really, and that to me would be nerve wracking, nerve racking because as a copywriter, often you’re not the last line of defense. Someone else is checking it, you got legals, you got the editor, you got the proofreader, you’re not really responsible. It’s someone else’s. But you are the last line of defense quite often. How does that sit with you, Mary? Does that give you does that keep you up at night that you’ve gone, Oh, God, I missed the pronoun?

 

Mary Cameron  

No, thankfully no.

 

Kate Toon  

I think it would mean, Tanja, how about you? I mean, it sounds like you’ve worked really hard. I’d love for you to share that course that you did in the clever copywriting school as well. 

 

Tanja Gardner  

Yeah, yeah. Um, so it doesn’t keep me up at night. Because my contract very clearly says that I will do my best to catch everything. But I do not guarantee 100% error free,

 

Kate Toon  

No, you can’t you can’t.

 

Tanja Gardner  

I believe there are some statistics somewhere in there, you might have some idea of this, of what the the acceptable error rate is in professional editing. And I think it’s something like three editors per sorry, three errors per 10,000 words or something like that.

 

Mary Cameron  

I mean, one person’s error is another person’s meh, okay.

 

Tanja Gardner  

There there is that as well? Yeah.

 

Kate Toon  

Yeah. It’s so funny, isn’t it? Because I actually haven’t looked at my book since I wrote it. Now. I read a little bit last night. And I must admit, I got through like six chapters and didn’t find a thing. And I’ve, you know, I was looking for the things. So I think we did a pretty good job. No, we’ve completely strayed from the path that we were on, which I kind of love. I guess, to wrap up, I’d love to hear about the tools. So Tanja, it sounds like tools are a useful thing for you. What are some of your favorite tools that you use on the reg? Okay, so

 

Tanja Gardner  

My initial thought would be to say it’s MS Word, and particularly the read aloud function, because that is important. But actually, I’m gonna say these and nobody can see what I’m pointing at.

 

Kate Toon  

It’s headphones she’s wearing.

 

Tanja Gardner  

I’m wearing noise-cancelling headphones, 

 

Kate Toon  

They are my life. I live in them. 

 

Tanja Gardner  

I could not think to edit or write or do anything without blocking out the noise from the outside world. So yeah, that’s my favorite tool.

 

Kate Toon  

I love that I wear Bose noise cancelling headphones. I wear them all the time. And not because I’m listening to anything but because it stops people talking to me, which I really appreciate my scowl and my headphones make me unapproachable. And that’s my goal. Because I’ve got a nice, I’ve got smiley friendly face and people think I’m nice. And I’m not, I mean, you’ve got to remember that. I’m only joking. Mary, what tools do you use? Do you have headphones? Do you write with a quill? What do you do?

 

Tanja Gardner  

Well, I actually we’re trying to think of the word in English earplugs, hearing aids.

 

Kate Toon  

Hearing aids, okay.

 

Mary Cameron  

Directly to whatever device I’m working on. And they’re actually brilliant. You know, I’m never wandering around thinking, Where are my noise cancelling headphones?

 

Kate Toon  

Oh that’s so cool.  They’re in my head.  They live in your head. That’s mad cool. Do you use any ai, do you use grammerly? Do you use any of those?

 

Mary Cameron  

I use Grammarly. But as Tanja said earlier, very advisedly, you know.

 

Kate Toon  

You have to argue with Grammarly, sometimes 

 

Mary Cameron  

I argue with Grammarly.

 

Tanja Gardner  

I yell at it. 

 

Mary Cameron  

You know, people have people have internal GPS, you know, some people are really good at finding dentists? I have I have internal Hemingway after 40 years of fewer words more meaning. So I have a kind of, yeah, I have Hemingway in my head, which I think I use. As a copywriting tool. The one that changed my life really was was Draftium. I don’t use it for editing anymore, obviously, but copywriting the drafting and wireframing tool was absolutely brilliant. That’s a great age with images. So when I still copyright and I use Draftium any combination of loom. Loom is a great tool, because you can do that reading aloud thing, you know, I do use loom as an editor and read chunks of the copy aloud so people can hear the rhythm and any explanations I make. So yeah, I guess those are those are the tools that are

 

Kate Toon  

Fantastic. Yeah, because I mean, I think that you know, words dictation is pretty good, but it can be a bit robotic, but they’ve got better ones. Now you can choose different voices and it’s pretty, pretty good. But even hearing the robotic one, when the robot pauses, there’s something not quite right there. Do you know what I mean? Like, you can pick up a lot just from that. But unfortunately for me, I have no patience. So I literally couldn’t do it. The absolute agony it was to read my own book out loud. Honestly, it was one of the worst experiences of my life never again because I have no Have patience. So I think it’s really interesting to have both of you here who sound like your patient, you’ve got your really logical you’ve got inbuilt you know, second site for errors and whatever, you’re just the absolute antithesis of me, so I know who to call and I really do think that if you’re a copywriter, listening to this you need, if you want to be the Batman, you need your Robin. You know, if you want to be the Thelma, you need your Louise I could not have got as far as I have in my copywriting career or my career at all. Without great editors and great proofreaders, it would almost be my first hire after an accountant. My next person would be a proofreader and editor, because there is nothing better what I love is sending my copy after a proofreader and editor overnight. Sometimes I use UK ones or you know, Mary’s in France, and then you get it back the next morning and it’s ready to go. You just go through, accept the changes, boom. And it got to the point with my editor where I didn’t even look at the changes I just did copy, you know, accept all changes in the whole document. That’s when you know, your client trusts you. That’s the that’s the moment when you’re like, yes, they don’t even look. So like thank you so much for spending time with us today. I thought that was illuminating. Mary, where can we find out more about you?

 

Mary Cameron  

You can go to thewrinklywriter.com. And, and find me there I am on all of the social platforms, but I’m notoriously late in posting and that’s okay.

 

Kate Toon  

Well, thanks your LinkedIn, your Instagram and your Facebook and then Tanja, where can people Google you?

 

Tanja Gardner  

So my website is crystal clarity word craft.com. I am pausing there because it should be crystal clarity, copywriting and I got stuck in the middle of a rebrand seven years ago and still out of it yet.

 

Kate Toon  

That’s quite a familiar story for us copywriters. Don’t worry about that.

 

Tanja Gardner  

Yes, I’m also on primarily on LinkedIn these day. I am on Facebook, but I don’t think I’ve posted there and over a year.

 

Kate Toon  

LinkedIn is the place to be and obviously as an editor and a proofreader, a great place to find clients. So look, I will include links to all of those on the show notes. But I just want to say congratulations again. On your win.

 

Tanja Gardner  

Thank you.

 

Kate Toon  

It probably seems a very long time ago now. But well done. And thank you so much for spending time with me today. 

 

Mary Cameron  

Thanks, Kate. Pleasure. 

 

Kate Toon  

I completely strayed from the script that we had all these other questions, but I really felt like we were digging into what it means to be an artist and a proofreader. And for me, it’s alien territory. You know, I’ve always had someone to edit and proofread my work and I still would even if I had a Grammarly subscription, I, you know, I firmly believe possibly old school that you need a human at the end of the day. So thanks to Mary and to Tanja and also thanks to Karen Phillips from Australia for their lovely review. Karen says straight to the point great podcasts informative, entertaining, and straight to the point. Love the helpful tips too. Thank you very much, Karen. If you are listening to this on an app, maybe if you could just take a minute to have a look at your phone right now and leave us a little review. Or you don’t even need to write anything you can just click the stars and it really helps boost the podcast in the algorithm, bloody algorithms. And don’t forget to check the show notes out at pick up clever copywriting school where you can learn more about Mary and Tanja, check out the useful links and leave a comment on the show. So until next time, happy writing