5 Tools to Make Self Editing Less Stressful

Writing is a long and complicated process. After you have toiled over your work, writing and rewriting over a long period of time, you always have to edit it. For many people, this is where the going gets rough. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation can get very technical. 5 Tools to make self-editing less stressfulIt’s enough to make your head spin. Microsoft Word never catches every error and rereading your own work can really make you cringe. Once you start rereading, you want to start changing. Sometimes, you can unintentionally end up with a completely different story. No matter what way you look at it, self-editing is a giant pain in the ass. It’s also a very necessary one. But have no fear, there are resources that make the task of self-editing less complicated. Here are a few resources to make self-editing your next work easier to manage:

  1. Have any online dictionary, thesaurus, and/or style guide you may need ready. Sometimes you will come across a sentence that may be grammatically correct, but just doesn’t set the tone you are looking for. Or it may not be formatted in the right style. Having a dictionary, thesaurus, and/or style guide ready will keep you from having to hunt for the right resource later. Most dictionaries and reference guides have become available online, making it easier to get your hands on the information you need.
  2. Use Grammarly to catch more mistakes when they happen. Grammarly is a spelling, grammar, and punctuation checker that you can add to your internet browser as an extension. It catches more mistakes than Word does. You can copy and paste your text into the Grammarly editor and get it corrected on the spot. Grammarly also helps catch mistakes in anything you write online. From Facebook to emails, Grammarly will correct it as you write it. (https://app.grammarly.com/)
  3. If you are writing about something wordy or technical, you may need to turn it into plain language. Many of us encounter wording that we don’t understand in everyday life. From legal documents to scientific studies, technical language can throw us all for a loop. Changing technical jargon to plain wording will help your readers better understand what you are trying to say. (http://www.plainlanguagenetwork.org/Examples/samples.html)
  4. If you use references, make sure they are cited right with ReferenceChecker. ReferenceChecker is a free, downloadable software that you can use to double check any and all references you write. ReferenceChecker checks a number of different styles as well as displays links to corrections for your references. (http://www.goodcitations.com/)
  5. Use a checklist to keep you on track. Without a clear idea of what needs to be done with editing, it is easy to get sidetracked. Keep a checklist nearby and follow it to keep you focused. Checklists also serve as a reminder for common mistakes to look for in your writing. (http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/printouts/Editing%20Checklist.pdf)

There are plenty of resources out there to get you through the editing process. Use these resources as a guide when you start editing your work. They may even lead you to more resources that fit your writing better. Editing becomes simpler with practice. All you have to do is persevere. Hopefully, these resources will make your next editing venture a little easier to handle.


From The Tempest by William Shakespeare, found poem and image by Erica Gerald Mason

Finder a found poem by Erica Gerald Mason at Écririons



The spirits



to follow


Where’s My Eleventy Billion Dollars?

Last week, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and a post caught my eyes. I’m in a lot of groups of Facebook, mainly ones where we discuss marketing tips, and where I can meet authors and can exchange launch takeovers or blog interviews or other fun ways to help each other promote books.

The post that caught my eye was something along the lines of “I can’t wait until I get picked up by a publishing company. All of this marketing is tiresome and I don’t really have time for it.”

I had to laugh. Okay, I didn’t really laugh, because it was really early and I hadn’t had enough tea yet and if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m super cranky in the mornings. Like really. So I wasn’t laughing. But I’m not sure that I’ve read a more untrue statement since I first got involved in the writing community.

Here’s the deal. Yes, marketing is tiresome. I once watched an author I love do five author takeovers in a week. If you’re unfamiliar, an author takeover is generally done when an author is having a party to celebrate the launch of their latest book. He or she will invite other authors over to her Facebook page to “take over” during the launch party. This means the author who is launching doesn’t have to entertain his or her fans entirely on her own for a few hours, and authors and fans who hadn’t previously been connected get introduced to each other. It’s beneficial all the way around. But it’s tiring, especially given that most authors are still rocking a full time job in addition to writing and marketing their books. Chances are, the author I watched do five takeovers in one week also worked forty hours that week, and had a commute. Maybe she even had a family.

Marketing is also ever ongoing. If you stop marketing, you stop selling books, until you become a household name. For most of us, we’ll have to market until we die, or at least until we get so tired of it that we retire from trying to sell books.

But getting picked up by a traditional publisher isn’t going to end that.

Let me repeat myself. If you get picked up by a traditional publisher, you’re not going to find that you’ve sold a mountain of books and magically have eleventy billion dollars in your bank account without doing any marketing.

It’s just not going to happen.

First of all, marketing budgets have shrunk, all the way around. Even the Big Five publishing companies aren’t going to sink marketing dollars into a relatively unknown author. They’re already in to you for editing, cover design, formatting, and maybe, if you’re lucky, a small print run. There’s no money left for marketing. I’ve read that some publishing houses are even looking at your author platform to see if you already have a following. So even if you’re hoping to get signed by a publishing house, you need to have already done some marketing to get some people interested in what you have to offer. Oh, and that author I watched do five takeovers a week? She’s signed to a publishing house.

Not only that, but the time frame from being signed to releasing your first book through a traditional publisher generally takes months. Months. I’ve seen people who have waited over a year from the time they signed their contract until their book was available for sale.

Advances have shrunk, too. As self-publishers and e-books have driven down the price of books overall, there’s not much money left for huge advances. I’ve known some authors to be signed to major houses who got no advances. I predict that advances will continue to shrink as bookstores like Barnes and Noble continue to close, leaving Amazon with all of the bargaining chips.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to get picked up by a traditional publishing house. Hell, I’ve just booked an editor to go over my manuscript before my first round of queries. Oh, I’ll self publish if I don’t land an agent or a publishing house, but I do want to at least try. I’m going to start talking about my efforts in a few weeks, and I’ll probably update monthly.

I just don’t want you going into the game thinking that if you get picked up by a publishing house that you’re going to be living on steak and lobster for the rest of your life. That’s an unrealistic expectation in today’s publishing world, and to let you think any differently is a disservice. If you do get a big fat advance, I’m really happy for you. And yes, a little jealous. But, truthfully, the chances of that happening are fairly small. Be realistic about your expectations. Educate yourself. Learn about the business that you want to be involved in, rather than walking around holding out your hand, and asking where’s your eleventy billion dollars.

Looking for a Mentor? Pitch Wars May be the Solution!

For aspiring authors, it can be challenging to get their work published. It is hard to find the right channels and contacts to get a manuscript to the final stage of publishing. Putting so much hard work and emotion into a manuscript just to have a hard time getting people to read it can be emotionally difficult. Pitch Wars is the opportunity many authors in this typewriter-801921_1280position need. Pitch Wars give authors a boost to get to the publishing phase.

Pitch Wars is somewhat of a competition between authors. Hosted by published author Brenda Drake on her blog www.brenda-drake.com, Pitch Wars is a brilliant invention. Aspiring authors from all over the internet can submit their manuscripts to up to four mentors. Each week leading up to the submission day, Brenda is posting mentor profiles to help the contestants learn which mentors would be the right match for them. There are mentors for four different categories of writing: middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult. For one day only, August 17th, 2015, authors can submit their pitch and first chapter of their manuscript in hopes of winning the eye of a mentor. If an author does win a mentor, they will read their entire manuscript and help the author spruce it up to help their chances in publishing.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? The contest is open to anyone, so if you think you are interested in submitting your work, here are a few tips for entering the Pitch Wars:

  • Your manuscript should be fiction. Do not submit any nonfiction works.
  • Only submit manuscripts for middle grades and up. Do not submit any picture books or elementary school books.
  • You can only enter one completed manuscript. Unfinished or previously published manuscripts, even self-published manuscripts, will not be considered.
  • You can only apply for up to four mentors, max. You do not have to apply for all four, but four is your limit.
  • Mentors will only consider manuscripts in the categories they signed up for. If you submit a manuscript to a mentor not signed up for that category, your manuscript will be ignored.
  • The sample chapter you submit must me in 12 point, double space format. This is typical manuscript format.
  • To enter, fill out the online form on her blog on August 17th. It goes live at midnight.

There are 92 mentee spots up for grabs! The submission period is only open for 24 hours, so mark your calendars now! Chosen mentees will be mentored for two months to get their manuscript ready for agents. So, between now and August 17th, check out the mentor profiles and decide what mentor(s) would be right for you. These mentors are wonderful resources in the publishing process and are not to be taken for granted. Please respect the mentors and fellow contestants. They will delete your application if they find you not to be compliant with the contest rules. So remember, have fun and play by the rules, and you could be published in no time!


From The Tempest by William Shakespeare, found poem and image by Erica Gerald Mason

Magic a found poem by Erica Gerald Mason at Écririons




heavenly music

work their


upon the night.


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