Writing for your business: understand the different services available

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Writing quality content for your business or for your non-fiction book (which may be your business product), can be time-consuming and confusing. If you are running your own business and author platform, (being a writer is a business too), you need a lot of time and brain space to write. This can be challenging because you are split between all the other roles you need to undertake to run your business as well as your home life or other jobs.

There are also different techniques and styles required for different purposes. Writing for sales is not the same as writing a self-help book. Writing for your colleagues is not the same as writing for the general public.

The good news is that writing support is available – there are many freelancers and small businesses offering services. Below, I’ve listed the variety of services out there, so that it is easier for you to identify what you need. (If you want to know more about book editors, take a look at my previous blog here).

Writing Services

Content writer

This usually means someone who specialises in writing online content (blogs, web pages), but can sometimes be used to include people who write brochures and booklets. Some sell themselves as ‘researchers’ who will research and write for your business – but it’s advisable to hire someone who already knows your area of work/industry. They should know how to write for audiences and how to use relevant keywords and phrases for search engines to pick up (i.e. Search Engine Optimization – SEO). The skill of a content writer is to draw your ideal audience in and keep them on your website with good content. Be wary – you don’t want someone who is simply copying and pasting content from other pages. You want someone who will produce original content in the style and tone of your brand.

Copywriter

This person will be skilled at writing succinctly either to sell or get a Call To Action (CTA). This person needs a strong grasp of language and should not make grammar and punctuation mistakes. You will find a copywriter really useful for blurbs of your book, home page, landing page, product/catalogue pages. Copywriters are used for all sorts in marketing from adverts, apps, packaging labels and social media.

Proofreader

The proofreader checks for clarity by looking for grammar and punctuation issues. Proofreaders are not only used for manuscripts of books, but also to check website content, social media content as well as business documents and packaging. If proofreaders look at text in its designed format, they will correct layout and formatting issues too. (You can see my blog about using a proofreader here.)

Proof-editor

A proof-editor will improve the writing from a structural and technical level but apply a lighter hand as it’s a service typically offered by proofreaders. This service is appropriate for online content. (More info available here.)

Copyeditor UK/Line editor (US)/Stylistic editor (US)

The copyeditor checks the writing at the technical level and will look to improve the structure, messaging/narrative as well as correct punctuations and grammar. They will ensure the branding (in terms of writing, layout and formatting) is consistent across all your blogs, articles, social media and website too.

Authenticity Reader (AR) (also called Sensitivity Reader)

This is useful for texts that involve people and experiences by writers not from that background or experience. Despite good intentions, in writing about people that are marginalised or maligned by society, it can mean you are inadvertently perpetuating tropes, stereotypes or ignorance causing further harm and misunderstanding. An Authenticity Reader will give you feedback and explain where there are issues (if they see any). It is at the client’s discretion whether to make changes.

Beta reader (useful for self-publishing a book)

Beta readers are volunteers who offer to read text in the genre that they enjoy and give feedback. It’s free! There is no need to pay a beta reader. You can approach people in your network to look at your work (a beta reader is not a friend or family member) or groups set up on social media. Give an early draft of your material and a few questions for them to consider, e.g. is it engaging?  What doesn’t work?  Give a reasonable deadline and be receptive to their feedback. Look out for where readers seem to get bored or can’t follow the information. Writers worry about ideas being stolen. This is a risk but early drafts tend to look nothing like final drafts. Also you don’t need to give the entire book. The advantage of using beta readers is that you know your ideas and style is on track. This is better than writing the whole thing, only to find you need to redraft big tranches of it because it doesn’t land the way you presumed it would.

Fact-checker

Getting facts wrong can completely discredit you and your book. You might feel it’s worth getting certain things checked. This could be references to the past, the use of foreign words and phrases, maths and coding. Some editors include fact-checking in their services (you need an editor who knows your subject area). Assessing the risk and how much margin of error is tolerable is up to the writer.

Book cover designer

Getting your book designed correctly is incredibly important. We do judge a book by its cover. Book cover design is a whole world in itself. Hire someone who knows the genre you are writing in. They should know what style the artwork needs to be in, the fonts and sizes, and audience expectations. It also needs to look great as a hardcover, paperback, e-book cover and thumbnail. Look for a book cover designer who will offer a few options and revisions.

Book formatter, Layout designer, Typesetter

Sometimes a book cover designer can do these things too. Formatting a book for print and e-book requires software and time to learn. If you are using illustrations in your book, involving a book formatter early on may be better. Many people can format books themselves, but hiring people is an easy option and turnaround times are fairly quick.

Where to find writing services and check before you hire

  • Seeking recommendations from people in your networks might be the best place to start.
  • Find a social media community where people advertise their services.
  • There are many freelance websites: find one that works for you. Bear in mind that these websites charge the freelancer quite a lot (around 20% of the contracted amount) plus transaction fees.
  • After posting a job, allow for a few days before you make a shortlist to allow people time to apply.
  • Make sure your project brief is as clear as possible to get the best types of response. Good briefs attract strong, qualified freelancers (they will see you are a client worth their time).   
  • Inevitably, there are a lot of rogues out there. it should be easy to sift the terrible ones. They tend to be too cheap, the response contains too many errors (allow for a small margin of error), and the response looks like a copy and paste with no tailoring to your brief.
  • . You need to find someone who will be a good fit for the job. Before you hire:
    • always check reviews
    • ensure that the person is the right fit for you by requesting samples of their work
    • or get a sample made for you
    • thoroughly check their credentials.

You are welcome to contact me to know more about my services and how I can help. Or if you want to talk over the options more generally and get more advice, I’d be happy to help (no obligation).

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