Ok…that headline is slightly misleading.
Let me qualify it.
Be wary of the writer who claims to be a general wordsmith.
Over the last twenty years I must have been approached by hundreds of writers wanting to join the good ship ProseWorks and become one of our associate writers.
Generally, if I hear the ‘general wordsmith’ tag, I do wonder…
Experience tells me that editorial skills come in all shapes and sizes. Few individuals, however talented, have them all in abundance.
An eagle-eyed proof-reader who can spot even the most obscure inconsistency in a text is unlikely to be a great speechwriter; and a wizard technical editor usually thinks, acts (and writes) very differently from a knock-out consumer writer. Likewise, a top report writer who can untangle the most complex policy issues doesn’t necessarily make a great feature writer.
You get my point?
Specialise, don’t generalise
So I tend to suspect that a ‘general wordsmith’ may really be telling me that they are the Jack (or Jill) of many writing trades but a master of none. And at the level we work at, that’s not really good enough. We work with specialists who have complete mastery in just a few areas of editorial work.
My advice to those pitching to work with us (and other agencies) is not to present yourself as someone who can do everything. Generalists generally can’t.
Be honest and open
You need confidence as well as ability in this business. I know it’s hard to show weakness (and it’s slightly counter-intuitive) but being clear about what you’re not good at makes you stand out. It also gives you more credibility when you trumpet the skills you do possess.
Above all, it sends the message that you are an honest and open individual who someone like me will want to work with – and not a shallow hustler who thinks self-promotion and bluster are the keys to success.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a ProseWorks writer, get in touch.
photo credit: philip swinburn Unsplash