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AI for Editors Blog

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Artificial Intelligence in Editing

As AI grows in popularity, it's normal to worry about how it will affect what we do as editors. But here's the thing: a lot of these concerns are based on misunderstandings about what AI can and can't do and how AI fits into the editing process. In this article, we’ll tackle these misconceptions so you’ll have a better understanding of how AI tools work and see how they can combine with essential human skills to help us be even better editors.

 

Misconception 1: It’s Not Safe to Use with Clients’ Text

There are ways to use AI tools that provide data security. You need to know the specific settings for your tool of choice, however, because each is different. For instance, in ChatGPT, there is a setting you can switch on that stops the company from storing any text you put in their system long-term and using it to train new versions. Claude automatically does not use text to train new versions. Google, however, has humans reviewing text you put into its Gemini chatbot, and it uses that data to train new models.

Whichever tool you use, it’s important to have your client’s or employer’s permission before you use AI with their text. Have a conversation with them to explain how you’ll use AI and the security measures you'll take to protect their work. It’s also wise to include a clause in your contract that makes it clear you’ll use this technology.

 



Misconception 2: It Can’t Be Trusted

For many editors, getting the facts right is part of our jobs. It’s understandable we’d be worried about earlier AI models’ “hallucinations,” the term for when AI generates incorrect information. But there has been much improvement over the last several months that should alleviate this concern.


There are several quality AI-powered research tools available now. My favorite for general use is Perplexity. This works similarly to a search engine. You type in your query, but instead of getting pages of links of varying degrees of usefulness and reliability, you receive an answer akin to a personalized encyclopedia entry along with citations and links to sources that are overwhelmingly top-tier outlets like research journals, encyclopedias, and trusted news organizations. ChatGPT and Gemini also have access to the live web and can cite their sources when instructed to do so. This speeds up research and fact-checking immensely and ups the trust factor with AI tools because you can see exactly where they are getting their information.

 

Misconception 3: It’s Cheating

AI can handle a lot of tasks on editors’ to-do lists and vastly speed up the process. When the work is suddenly so much easier, of course it can feel like using AI is cheating. Think about this: Was using spellcheck cheating? Or what about the dictionary? Was it cheating when you had to thumb through the pages to find the entry because you did not have every word in the English language memorized? Was it cheating when editors moved from marking up paper to using word processors?


Editing has always been a collaborative process between editors’ own knowledge, experience, and skills and the tools they've used—style guides, reference books, and technology. AI can be seen as another tool in the editors’ toolkit. When you use AI, it’s giving you suggestions, but you are still the one making the decisions of which suggestions to accept. You are still in control, using your knowledge of what is best for the writer and the reader.

 

Misconception 4: It's Not a Good Editor

Right now, AI tools like ChatGPT and Claude absolutely can conduct copyedits (straightforward checks for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style) as well as humans can. I’ll admit that ChatGPT and Claude are often more accurate at copyediting than I am—and way faster, completing in seconds an edit that would take me hours.


I’ve found the editors who say AI isn't very skilled aren’t using the tools correctly. For example, they’ll use a vague prompt like “edit this” and then claim victory when it doesn’t make the precise changes they want. AI does what you tell it to do, not what you want it to do. If you want it to make a precise type of change, instruct it to do so.


AI is also quite good with content editing. It excels with idea generation. When you instruct it to examine a particular aspect of the text and offer suggestions for improvement, it can come back with so many ideas, some novel ones you may have never thought of on your own. You won’t want to pass along every idea it comes up with to the author, but it can certainly give you good ideas and help to spark ideas of your own.

 

Misconception 5: It Can Replace Human Editors

I have heard multiple horror stories about entire editorial teams being laid off and replaced with...wait for it...Grammarly. Instead of writers sending their work to editors, writers are told to send their own work through Grammarly. And we all know how trustworthy Grammarly is, right? (I’m cringing. I encourage the use of many AI tools, but Grammarly is not among them.) Clearly these decisions are being made by people far removed from the day-to-day editorial process, and they are being made with shareholders and bonuses in mind, not readers. Because AI cannot and should not replace human editors.


These algorithms can catch mechanical errors, suggest improvements in grammar and syntax, and improve readability. However, AI can struggle to grasp the nuances of language, such as irony, sarcasm, or subtle shifts in tone. Since AI is built to follow formulas, it also struggles with allowing the creative freedom authors employ when purposefully bending or breaking language “rules.” And it cannot fully appreciate the cultural, historical, or personal backgrounds that shape a writer's voice and message.


Editing isn't just fixing spelling and pushing commas around. Editing involves a lot of soft skills. Editors build relationships with authors. We provide personalized guidance, and we make judgment calls based on our experience, what we know about the author, and what we know about helping the author do their best work for the reader. Human editors offer encouragement and education and nurture talent. Grammarly is not going to grow legs, hop out of the computer, and sit down with the author and explain to them, in precisely the way they know works best for that individual person, how they can improve.


Some companies care more about budgets than creating quality writing, however. This means if editors are to surf this technological wave successfully, they need to learn how to use AI tools so they can do their jobs faster and better than before—AI augmented, with their humanity intact.




 

Let's be real: AI is here, and it's only going to become a bigger part of our editing lives. By understanding what AI can and can't do, we can learn to use it as another powerful tool in our editing toolkit. It can help us with the nitty-gritty mechanics of editing, speed up our research and fact-checking, and even spark new ideas for improving a piece of writing. But AI can't replace the human touch we bring—our ability to connect with authors, understand the nuances of language, and make judgment calls based on our experience and expertise. With AI assisting us, we have more time to focus on what we do best: helping writers write well.

 



Erin Servais is a white person with long, brown hair. Erin wears glasses and blue eyeshadow and a blue suit.

Erin Servais helps editors upskill through AI. Her AI for Editors course is known worldwide as the #1 AI course for editors of all types, including medical editors, finance editors, education editors, corporate communications editors, and book editors.


Erin serves on the board of directors for ACES: The Society for Editing and has presented about editing, entrepreneurship, and artificial intelligence for the Professional Editors Network, Editors Canada, the Northwest Editors Guild, the Editorial Freelancers Association, and ACES.


A version of this article first appeared in the Editorial Freelancers Association's newsletter, where Erin is writing a series about AI and editing. Erin collaborated with artificial intelligence to write this article.


Picture this: You’re sitting at your desk, polishing pages of text with only a few keystrokes. With each tap of your fingertips, sentences tighten, grammar errors vanish, and punctuation falls perfectly into place. By the time you reach the bottom of your first cup of coffee, you've finished a project that once would've taken all morning.


This isn’t science fiction. It’s what work can be like right now when you know how to use AI tools like ChatGPT and Claude. This technology is an evolution in how editors work—like the shift from editing using pen and paper to the word processor. Editors who lean into the AI revolution will be able to edit faster and better (yes, better) plus have job security in an increasingly AI-enhanced workforce.


If you haven’t started exploring AI, the time is now. Go ahead and dive in. Here are six essential tips to help you get started.


Editing Beyond the Red Pen: A Beginner's Guide to AI. Image shows a futuristic red pen.

 

1. Be Specific

The number one idea to keep in mind about AI is this:


AI does what you tell it to do, not necessarily what you want it to do.


Clarity is key. Provide the AI with specific instructions so you get the results you want. Instead of prompting it vaguely to “Edit this,” instruct it to “Copyedit this corporate report to improve clarity and to correct errors of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Follow Associated Press style.”


For editing and writing tasks, consider including the following elements to make your prompts specific:


Task (copyedit, rewrite)

Format (blog post, checklist, email)

Audience (grade level, profession)

Tone (casual, friendly, professional)


Example: Instead of "Improve this web page text," try "Please revise this web page text by improving SEO, incorporating keywords related to urban chicken keeping, and making the language suitable for a general audience with a seventh-grade reading level."





2. Ask Follow-Up Prompts

Think of the initial response ChatGPT or Claude gives you as the first draft of a work in progress. To help it revise, use follow-up prompts. These are instructions you send after your first prompt that allow you to tailor the AI's output to your specific requirements.


Often, follow-up prompts include more details about the format, audience, and tone.


Example: After receiving the AI’s initial edit, you might realize the tone isn't quite right for the target audience. To refine the text, you could use a follow-up prompt like "Please rewrite this to have a more conversational tone."

 

3. Think Shorter

Many popular AI tools don’t yet have the capability to reliably work with large pieces of text. You can technically upload a 100-page document, but it can’t give you a thorough and quality analysis of it yet.


When content editing, think at the level of chapter and article. When copyediting, think about page and paragraph. This method of chunking content helps tools like ChatGPT to give you focused and precise results.


Know more capability is coming. Learn these techniques now, and you’ll be ready when it’s here.


Example: Instead of uploading the entire manuscript of a novel and asking for a developmental edit, paste a section from a chapter and use a prompt, such as, “Here is the opening of the novel’s chapter 7. Please suggest improvements to better incorporate the setting into the scene.”

 

4. Consider the Whole Workflow

To make the most out of AI in editing, consider how you can use it throughout your entire editorial workflow, not just with the actual editing part. As you go about your daily work, ask yourself: How can AI save me time?


Here are some other ways to incorporate AI:


Drafting Emails: Quickly generate professional and well-structured emails. Have it make templates for routine emails (like proposal submissions and testimonial requests) and help you find the right words when you have to send awkward and tricky emails (like late-payment requests).


Creating Marketing Material: From catchy taglines to compelling copy, ChatGPT and Claude can help you brainstorm and craft marketing content. To be really efficient, think how you can use AI to repurpose content. Within minutes, it can write the first draft of a blog post and then convert it into a promotional email and social media posts. Now that it has a built-in image generator, it can even create an image to go along with the text.


Researching and Fact-Checking: Perplexity is an AI-powered search engine that's like the Google we always wanted. Enter a simple search query, and it quickly composes an encyclopedic summary entry on the topic and cites its sources so you can double-check. Rather than scrolling through pages of unusable links, Perplexity gives you high-quality sources you can trust, making your researching and fact-checking a breeze.


Making Custom Word Macros: ChatGPT can build macros for Microsoft Word that you can use with every project or specific, single-use macros that will save you time with one project.




 

5. Invest in ChatGPT's Paid Version

The editors who dismiss ChatGPT’s capabilities often have not experimented with the paid version. The free version can give you only a fraction of a glimpse into what the paid version can do. It’s like comparing a rowboat with a rocket ship.


The paid version offers quicker response times, vastly improved output, increased accuracy, and priority access to new features. ChatGPT can save you days of work every month and is worth the monthly $20 subscription. You can register for a paid plan here: https://openai.com/

 

6. You Still Have to Do Your Job

AI is not a replacement for human editors. Editors bring a depth of understanding, emotional intelligence, and cultural awareness that AI cannot replicate. It can conduct basic editing with accuracy and offer helpful content-editing suggestions, but it can't fully grasp the nuance or make the context-specific judgment calls that professional editors can. And, just like human editors, it sometimes makes mistakes.

 

Using these skills will allow AI to augment your capabilities. This will free up time so you can focus on the parts of editing that require your unique human skills. Remember, AI is a powerful tool, but the true artistry of editing still lies in the hands of skilled editorial professionals, human ones.

 



Erin Servais is a white woman with long, brown hair. She wears glasses. She is wearing a blue suit.

Erin Servais helps editors upskill through AI. Her AI for Editors course is known worldwide as the #1 AI course for editors of all types, including medical editors, finance editors, education editors, corporate communications editors, and book editors.


Erin serves on the board of directors for ACES: The Society for Editing and has presented about editing, entrepreneurship, and Artificial Intelligence for the Professional Editors Network, Editors Canada, the Northwest Editors Guild, the Editorial Freelancers Association, and ACES.


A version of this article first appeared in the Editorial Freelancers Association's newsletter, where Erin is writing a series about AI and editing.


 

Updated: 15 hours ago

There's been a lot of focus on how ChatGPT, Claude, and similar AI tools can help copyeditors. But, AI can help author coaches be better and faster at your jobs, too. Author coaches can use AI to guide writers at all stages drafting, especially when tapping into AI's analytical capabilities to quickly provide tailored feedback. In this article, we'll examine how AI tools can help author coaches.


Why Author Coaches Should Use AI

AI tools like ChatGPT offer several advantages for writing coaches. Here are a few:


  • Efficiency: AI can quickly process and analyze text, saving time and allowing coaches to focus on more of the human-centric aspects of coaching, such as the encouragement and accountability writers get in your face-to-face meetings. AI's swiftness is particularly beneficial in the early stages of manuscript development, where quick, high-level feedback is crucial. This speed allows you to prioritize your time on personalized advice and in-depth analysis.

  • Consistency: ChatGPT provides consistent and unbiased analysis, ensuring a standardized approach to manuscript evaluation and an objective foundation for further coaching.

  • Customization: AI tools can be tailored to specific genres and writing styles, allowing them to offer personalized feedback and suggestions you can use right away. This adaptability is key in addressing the unique needs of each manuscript and author; it allows for nuanced feedback that respects each writer's individual voice and style.


Six Ways Author Coaches Can Incorporate AI

How can author coaches use AI? Here are six ways AI can help you be better and faster at what you do. (Note: I focus on ChatGPT, but you can use these same strategies in Claude.)


1. Summaries

Ask ChatGPT to summarize text and it can do your first read-through for you. Knowing what the content is about before you dive in can help you have a more strategic review and then more focused and effective coaching sessions with the author.


Fiction Example: ChatGPT can provide a summary of a novel's plot, character development, and themes, helping you to quickly grasp the narrative's core elements.


Nonfiction Example: For a biography, ChatGPT can outline key life events and themes, preparing you for a deeper dive into the manuscript's structure and content.



2. Strengths and Weaknesses

ChatGPT can give you a breakdown of the writing's strengths and weaknesses so you have a heads-up about areas of focus before you start. Using AI for general content analysis can streamline the review process, enabling author coaches to quickly pinpoint aspects of the writing that need the most attention.

Fiction Example: In a fantasy novel, ChatGPT might identify strengths like compelling character arcs and imaginative worldbuilding, while noting weaknesses like a lagging pace.


Nonfiction Example: In a business book, ChatGPT can highlight strengths like clear explanations but point out weaknesses like lack of real-world examples.




3. Focused Analysis

ChatGPT can provide feedback about specific areas of writing and help guide your advice to authors. For fiction, think dialogue, setting, mood, POV. For nonfiction, think tone, audience targeting, message effectiveness.


Fiction Example: ChatGPT can analyze a romance novel’s dialogue and suggest changes that could enhance emotional depth.


Nonfiction Example: For a self-help book, ChatGPT can evaluate the effectiveness of motivational strategies and offer improvements.



4. Idea Generation

One of my favorite ways to use ChatGPT is for idea generation. It can quickly generate intriguing options for narrative direction that perhaps you never would have thought of. For fiction book coaches, ChatGPT can help you brainstorm suggestions about character backstories, plot twists, what should happen in the next chapter, and more. For nonfiction experts, it can pinpoint subtopics, arguments, and angles to explore.


Fiction Example: ChatGPT can suggest plot twists for a mystery novel, enhancing suspense and reader engagement.


Nonfiction Example: For a historical analysis, it can propose unexplored angles or new perspectives on events.



5. Outlining

Author coaches can use AI tools early in the process to help form a book's structure and format, resulting in a cohesive and well-organized manuscript, which is essential for both fiction and nonfiction works. For nonfiction coaches, it can assist in creating detailed outlines, helping to organize ideas and establish a clear roadmap for the draft. For fiction coaches, it can help map the author's ideas onto a traditional plot structure, such as the Seven-Point Story Structure or Hero's Journey.


Fiction Example: ChatGPT can match a slow-burning suspense book's outline to a five-act structure.


Nonfiction Example: For an academic text, it can help organize chapters and sections for logical flow and clarity.



6. Goal-Setting & Timelines

ChatGPT help with the non-writing parts of drafting, such as project management for the writer. It can set realistic goals based on the author's genre, desired book length, and writing speed and propose a timeline with appropriate, attainable milestones, ensuring a structured approach to manuscript completion.


Fiction Example: ChatGPT can help establish a writing schedule for completing a historical romance novel, considering factors like research and revision time.


Nonfiction Example: For a cookbook, it can set milestones for recipe testing, writing, and photography.



If you're an author coach, book coach, or writing coach, the capabilities of ChatGPT, Claude, and similar AI tools can significantly add to your coaching toolkit, making the manuscript development process more efficient and insightful. By embracing these AI tools, coaches can provide more comprehensive and effective guidance to authors.



Curious to Learn More ChatGPT Tips for Author Coaches?

In AI for Editors, I have an entire lesson about how to use AI for content editing. When you enroll in the course, you'll learn these strategies and other tips you can use right away.



Erin Servais wearing a blue suit and cat-eye glasses. She is a white woman with brown hair.

Erin Servais helps editors upskill through AI. Her AI for Editors course is known worldwide at the #1 AI course for editors of all types, including medical editors, finance editors, education editors, corporate communications editors, and book editors.


Erin serves on the board of directors for ACES: The Society for Editing and has presented about editing, entrepreneurship, and Artificial Intelligence for the Professional Editors Network, Editors Canada, the Northwest Editors Guild, and ACES.



Email Erin: Erin@aiforeditors.com

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