What? You mean to say that my friend who taught fifth-grade English once isn’t qualified to edit my entrance essay to an Ivy League school? Right. And neither is your friend who taught ESL abroad for a year after finishing university.

Just because you have experience with words or love to read (both great qualities, no doubt) doesn’t mean you should be advertising yourself as an editor. A lot of people think they know everything that editing entails just because they know the difference between your and you’re or between a conjunction and a conjugation. Congratulations! You’re literate. You’re still not an editor.

Can you simply explain the difference between a compound modifier and a misplaced modifier? Can you define a gerund? That might put you closer to earning the title. Real editors go through rigorous training where attention to meticulous detail is second nature.

They consider things like words, punctuation, tone, intent, formatting and content, among others. Then they make sure these components mesh well together while being in the right places in the right measure.

“I almost failed every subject” is different from “I failed almost every subject.” Not just anyone would pick up on something like that.

If you want to trust your aunt’s brother-in-law’s neighbour’s fiancé to proofread your business proposal, knock yourself out. A professional is a professional for a reason. Many reasons, actually. There’s a certain comfort in knowing your words are in good hands. It’s in your best interest to think twice before letting just anyone at them. Now it’s on you to know the difference between an editor and an “editor.”