Friday, February 10, 2017

This Week's Wrestle: Copywriting versus Copyrighting versus Copy Editing versus...

Yeah. I need some anti-hair-pulling-out medicine on this one. 
I cannot tell you how many times I've been through the job boards and read from some author wannabe: 

I've written a book and I need a copywriter to edit it and correct the spelling and grammar, in some cases reword a sentence or two where it doesn't make sense...

And so on. And so forth. And so CLUELESS. 
As are the ones who want all the services given above--and want to get them from a copyrighter.

Or a copywritter, which may be the worst of all. Although all three are pretty bad.

So let's set the record straight. 

1. A copywriter writes copy. Specifically, sales-oriented copy. Such as the volumes of  "junk" you get in the mail all the time, wanting you to buy, take a course in, or attend something. 
A copywriter DOES NOT edit books. No, not even the "copy" in said books. 
The person who does that is a copy editor, a line editor, a substantive editor, or...
There's a recurring theme here. Can you spot it?
Yep. There's nothing in those titles about writer.
So if you are looking for book, article, blog post, or journal want a copy editor. Not a copywriter.

You also don't want a copywriter if you want someone to write the book FOR you.
That's a ghostwriter. NOT a copywriter. 
While it's possible to find good copywriters who can also ghostwrite for you, it's not easy. Nor is it particularly recommended, as they tend to be two different skill sets--not to mention two different mindsets.
So if you're looking for someone to be a co-author, to interview you for a book manuscript, or to take transcriptions and organize them into a book...generally, you're NOT looking for a copywriter. The tools and weapons to do that kind of work aren't in most of their arsenals--and, it must be said, most true copywriters I know don't even want that kind of work.

2. A copywriter has nothing to do with copyright. 
Copyright has to do with protecting your intellectual property. It's the process by which you declare that something is YOUR work and no one else's.
The person who does that is YOU. Not anybody else, strictly speaking. Even registering your work with the Copyright Office doesn't mean they're doing the copyrighting; they're merely documenting what YOU already possess--which is ownership of certain said material as of a certain said date. 
So if you are looking for copy editing, you don't want a copyrighter.  
Nor are you looking for a copyrighter if you want copy written

3. Copywritting is the kind of jaw-dropping request that leaves a potential editor or writer scratching his/her head. You see, using that word makes it impossible to tell what kind of help you need with that request--other than the obvious, which is spelling help. (And no, you don't get that from the legendary "spell check" on your computer. In the next segment of this feature, we'll talk about why not.) If English isn't your first language, this is somewhat forgivable. If you're supposedly a native, however, it's not. No. Not even once. Ever. 

(Although if you apologize because you're not a good speller elsewhere in the job's somewhat easier to take. But not much.)

In reality, you may actually want real live copywriting work done. Until we get past the spelling hurdle, we won't know for sure--although in my experience, what follows that word in most job ads, once again, isn't a request for "copywriting" at all. It's usually a variation on "I need an editor." (With which the Catholic Writer Chick concurs.)

So, let's review.

There's only one thing a "copywriter" does for you: write sales or marketing COPY.
This can be letters, memos, brochures, e-mail series, presentations, or catalog descriptions. 
Yes, copywriters do work in the book industry: as back-cover, jacket flap, or promotional/PR/press release writers. 
But that is where their connection to a book begins...and ends.

So please...if you've written a book and want help with the "copy" on the page...
ask for an editor.
Not a copywriter.
OR a copyrighter., let's not even go there


My hairline will thank you.


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