Self-Editing with JoEllen


Self-editing is the process of correcting errors, improving structure, and fine-tuning word choice in your own writing. In an ideal world, you would delegate these tasks to a professional editor, like First Editing. The importance of editing in the writing process cannot be overstated.

In this episode, Kristina, Lisa, and Tara join JoEllen as they talk about First Editing and how it helps the writers to become better wordsmiths and aid them in finding the right editors for their manuscripts.

What’s the relationship between the self-edit that you should do and when did they pass it over to you?  And how can that vary between writers? 

Well, self-editing is super, super important. And it’s basically they’re working on mastering their craft as a wordsmith. And so self-editing and editing in general helps, there are two things you can do to become a better writer, outside of editing and, or outside of writing. And that would be reading, reading as much as you can because the brain is just absorbing all of those patterns and things that are going on. And then, of course, editing itself. So the more you understand, the better you can do their self-editing, as we’ve used again, and again, we can pop up the spiral here, it’s a journey.

So it’s meandering back and forth. But when you’re learning to self-edit, and you’re trying to figure out what’s going on there, the more you understand, the more you’ll understand the levels of editing, such as you know, if you’re doing a copy edit or line edit, or higher on the developmental structural edits that we’re doing. So you learn over time that you’re going to learn the grammar, the spelling, the punctuation, all that style and syntax, that’s part of it. But you’ll learn the structural development of your story. And that’s one of the things when we’re working with the story coach with Fictionary, it’s so important because you see the forms and patterns that are used in creating a strong manuscript. And it’s very important that you use that and learn that so you learn how it flows. So at any point that you get frustrated, you need help course you have professional editors on standby.

We’re inside Prowriting aid, when you’re using the tool, you can click on it says get a human editor, throw your hands in the air, click the button, and we’re there. So it just depends on where you are in the journey of what type of editor you use, and what level of editing you take. So if you’re going to go ahead, and you know, if you’re on a high level, you’re in the structural editing, then you want to make sure that you’re fulfilling all the necessary requirements of the structural edit is creating everything you need in a scene and a chapter. And we have certified story coaches to do that. What promises are you making to your readers? Are you keeping them and then you know, the editor is learning all these are sharing all these things with you. So that as you edit, each time you go through the process, you’re going to get better and better and better.

So when you learn to self-edit, you become a better writer, you learn to communicate clearly with your editor, which is really important. Having like pro writing aid, having that little intelligent assistant there on your shoulder saying, hey, you know, there’s a rule for what you’re doing here and being sure that you’re checking those, again and again, then when you come to an editor, you get a much higher level edit, they’re looking at it from a different perspective.

They’re not looking at the commas and the punctuation, the grammar, and spelling and all that they’re looking at the overall style, the structure, the order, the flow, and making sure it’s all continuous there. So you’re going to get the deeper edit and focus on these high-level issues instead of the syntax. And you’re gonna get more for your money, which of course, editing is an investment it can be quite costly, and you need to be prepared to get the best for your money. That’s really up to you. So when you start to understand what level of editing you’re in, and what type of editor you’re seeking, then you’re going to do better in the self-editing process. And you’ll know what you should be doing there, if you’re at the high level, or if you’re in the revision stage, or if in the final copy editing, all of those are there. And we talked about that, again, again, on the Self Editing school. And I think that’s really important to do that.

Why should a writer consider Self-Editing School and Publishing Power?

I would encourage everyone to subscribe to, you know, the Self Editing school, and also to Publishing Power here. And you can learn a lot, it’s free, it’s fun, and you can become a better writer. And really, again, go ahead and master your craft as a wordsmith so that you are more competent and better prepared when it comes time to join, join hands with your editor.

I think it varies depending on what you’re writing as well if you’re writing, you know, a technical manual, where someone just needs to get information across, it’s, I feel like there’s less issue about trying to get the right idea across whereas we did an interview last week for a crime writers week with Ian Rankin. And he said an interview that his first draft, and he’s, you know, that he’s working on his 19th book right now, I think. And he goes through three full draft revisions before he even lets his wife look at it, right. And then it then he hands it over to an editor. And he talks a lot about how important his editor is, as well, because once you’ve gone through it three times, it’s really hard to see it. So then the editor comes in and finds all of these things that, you know, he sort of thought were there but weren’t, or ideas that he thought he had got across that that wasn’t there. And so I just thought, if Ian Rankin is putting all that effort in to try and make sure that he has told his story, as well as he possibly can before he hands it over to an editor, then you’re just going to end up with a better piece of work at the end.

For new writers, when we compare ourselves to those who are bestsellers when you’re a new writer, you literally there are millions of people sitting at their keyboard as we speak, and they’re all writing a new story. And you’ve really got to be prepared to get one shot at an agent one shot to really present yourself. And it’s got to be as good as it gets. So long ago, when I first started in this industry, you could get your ideas, and they would look more at the story, but not anymore, you really got to have it tight, that that structures got to be good. And the moment they find mistakes, you’re out, there’s just no need to bother.

There are other people waiting in line. So yeah, always put your best foot forward, always polish, polish, polish, more my favorite things is I had the opportunity to Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorite authors. And you know, he said just rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite, because it’s just an editing process. And that’s just what you do. And you have to hold yourself to get better and better every time you do it. Nobody ever rewrites something and makes it worse. I mean, I guess a couple of people might but generally rewrite something and it’s gonna be better, right. And then if you’re gonna spend a year writing a book, then don’t spend three weeks editing it, like put the time in and the effort to otherwise that investment of time into your manuscript is going to take you as far as it could, exempting with an editor, it’s worth investing in an editor to make sure that what you come up with at the end is as good as it can be, and worth the time that you’ve already put into it.

And one of the things is that the editors, they can actually help you know, when it’s it’s there, you know when it is fully at its best fruition because it’s hard to know when to stop also. So you know, they can tell yes, you’ve managed to get all of these important elements that you wanted to convey. They’re all here. They’re all present. And I think that’s super important.

I was just gonna say a fun fact about Malcolm Gladwell. We’re big fans, Kim Akobo. Well, we just had him on he was interviewed with Michael Tomlin on the cooling conversation podcast. But the very first book that Kobo ever sold as a company was one of Malcolm Gladwell’s titles.

How does first editing help authors find the right editor for them? How do you match authors with editors?

I think the number one thing that differentiates us from other editing websites that you’re going to find out there is that we are a professional, self-edit, or professional editing company. And that means that you’re not on a directory, searching and sifting through a lot of freelancers. Because, basically, I found this, after writing my own books. And when you’re looking for an editor, you can spend days, weeks, months, years of like, searching through directories, and pretty much never-ending because then after you find the person that you think, okay, I really want to work with them, their prices, okay, I can do this, you have to interview them, you have to review the references, you have to understand their style and personality, their experience, it gets to be exhausting. And then you have to know if they have scheduled freelancers who have a limited amount of time. And so they’re planning way in advance, maybe it doesn’t fit. So when we have first editing, basically, we embedded all the editors on our team, we have what I call an army of editors. And we do the hiring process for you the same as we do the editing for you.

We have certified story coaches for structural fiction edits, which means you know, we’re using the best quality software out there, we’re using an extreme checklist for continuity and to be sure that we’re not overlooking anything from beginning to end with your book. When you’re writing with nonfiction, we’ve done trained book coaches out there who are helping you make sure that you’re conveying your message in the way that you want and moving them to action in the way that they should while they’re reading. And lastly, of course, if you’re going into academic editing, the research, and the journals and publications out there, we only hire Ph.D. editors. So again, we’re going the highest of the highest here to make sure that we are providing the best. And we’ve already vetted them, we’ve already certified them, we’ve already trained them. So we have subject matters in all the genres if you’re looking for Christian or science fiction, or like I said the journals, the theses, dissertations, things like that self-help urban erotica you name it, you know, it’s just all there. And you just send us your manuscript for a price quote, and it’s instant, and it’s firm. So there are no surprises there. And when you do that, you can also ask for a free sample, and free sample, you attach it. And we assign the sample to one of the others who is an expert in your genre, and they match your needs. And you don’t have to shop on our website, we’re going to send you back within 24 hours at the sample. And it’s kind of matchmaking. We’ve chosen someone in our group that we feel is a good match for you. And you get to test it for us. So you get that little first date and works you go forward. If not, you can always come back to you know what, it didn’t really feel like they felt me there, can I get a new free sample, and we’re glad to do that.

So the other thing that I like to mention is that with freelancers, it is what it is. And you’re that’s where it goes, we offer a satisfaction guarantee and the advantage of working with us is if you know their kid is sick, or something happens, we have someone whose backup push me and let you know, but if not going to delay your project unnecessarily or without you knowing so you can discuss all your needs in person. So that’s something that I find pretty amazing. We have an account manager, we call everyone to take phone numbers, you talk to a real human, and it’s helps everything be crystal clear. But also, it’s just kind of nice to talk to people nowadays, don’t you think? I mean, we’ve been locked down forever. So that’s how we try to make sure that we cover all these needs. But again, it’s not a directory, it’s done for you.

How do your editors look at a sample and assess it?

Well, you need a copy edit, you need a line edit, that you need a story at it? What’s that process about? It always comes down to the sample. And you know, we’re pretty forward and asking you all the questions that you have, you know what this is part of what we back up a little bit when we’ve been doing self-editing school with the pro writing aid, is, getting everyone on the same page is so important because you’re going to get better communication, better experience, better return on your investment, all these different things there. So when we get your sample, we look through it, and then we’re going to see what you need that means what level is your writing out?

What are the issues, the concerns that are there, and you can run a report through that and find out yourself and have good questions for us. Or we can look at that and evaluate it. If you’re at a very high level, which of course, is when we’re dealing with the story coach. Editing is, you know, we’re looking at the structure, we’re making sure like you said that you have the same, you know, word count in each scene and the chapters are lining up so that it follows form and the flow of the successful storytelling, as we know it. And so we’re working with that again, and again to evaluate that. And once we do that, then we can work together to adjust or to address I should say, all of those needs that you’ve come to us in either questions or concerns. So depending on if you’ve got from beginning to end, you’ve got your conflict, your resolution, all those different things going on that we can really look at the structure. But if you’ve already done that, so you’ve got somebody who’s gone through storyteller, and they’re really good at all directions, and they’ve, they have just edited the heck out of this thing. And they come in and give it to us, you know what, you’ve got your structure, that’s your story, they’re really strong, it’s time to go into line editing, which is the revision, that’s when you’re looking at the style, you’re looking at the flow, the continuity of ideas, making sure that your voice is consistent, then your details are missing. So you know, there is an evolution, you’re moving from the high structural, and then you get to the revision process, but you’re doing line edits. And then, in the end, you’re doing the copy editing, and of course, copy editing when I mentioned this, we have Prowriting aid. And they’re there and plugged into your software, our editors are using them. So that’s very helpful. And then once we get that all pushed and cleaned and polished and ready, then, of course, we can say hello to Kobo Writing Life and they can move on down the line to that self-publishing and get out there and control their destiny as we say.

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