A funny thing happened at the Editors’ Association meeting last night. Biscuit and I had just arrived and we took a seat in the comfy chairs outside the meeting room to wait for the doors to open. On the coffee table was a stack of magazines. (Free magazines! Are there sweeter words? Perhaps “Free Beer.”)

The magazine was Bridge Magazine, which I immediately recognized as being the very same magazine that my mom had told me a pharmacy tech at her work was trying to start. In fact, my mom had given me the editor’s business card some time ago in case I wanted to write for them. I didn’t get around to e-mailing the woman, but here it was, Volume 1, Issue 1 of Bridge.

As someone who has thought and procrastinated on starting my own magazine for I don’t know how long, I felt vicariously excited for my mom’s co-worker. We were flipping through, checking it out when an older woman leaned in and opined “Well, they could have used a copy editor.” Smug. Another one piped up “Yes, and they don’t have much advertising.” Fellow know-it-all editor types, know two things about start-up magazines:

  1. Typos are going to happen – there’s much going on trying to get content, doing the design and putting the puppy in print that you can’t always get a stickler editor/proofreader in the mix. Does it matter?
  2. It takes some pretty serious selling to get advertisers for a first issue. Bravo for getting at least one advertiser, let alone five!

For a moment there, I thought about approaching the mag to offer my copy editing services. But is there a tactful way of approaching clients who could probably could use a little help in this arena? “Hi, I noticed you have a few spelling, grammar and punctuation errors – wanna hire me for (insert shocking dollar figure) per hour to fix ’em?” People tend to be sensitive about their writing and it’s often the editor’s job to reassure and hand-hold the editee that they’re not just going to chop copy to pieces. Although secretly, we do kind of enjoy that. Freelance Writing Jobs recently had an interesting post and discussion on tactfully, or not, pointing out client’s errors, albeit in job postings. In most businesses, I think, it’s a selling point to point out how you can help the client and your past success with helping others, not so much with editing. On my professional site, I don’t post editing samples anymore because there’s a tacit insult to clients in publicy posting their errors, right? (Although I do have samples available, if someone needs to see my work.)

Good editing and good editors, especially copy editors, disappear into the night. So perhaps the woman who came down on the copy editing was really saying “I wish I had my own magazine. I wish I wasn’t so invisible.” Or was that just the nagging voice in my own head? Volume 1, Issue 1: I salute you.

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