Editing Applications For Writers (and Editors)

My last article, Even Editors Need Editors, mentioned that I recommend some programs to my writers so they can self-edit. I received questions regarding these applications and wanted to share my thoughts on them. For details on each type of software, please click through to their website. Obviously, your word processor has a built-in spelling and grammar checker. That is helpful, but you will discover you need additional tools as you develop your writing skills.

Grammarly

If you’re a new writer, this is a good app to use. It’s free, but the paid version offers extra components which may be helpful. The free version offers spelling, punctuation, and grammar checks. The premium subscription gives you access to a plagiarism check (helpful if you’re writing a school paper), tone of voice, word choice, fluency, and more. Grammarly has add-ins for Google Docs and Microsoft Word, which means you don’t have to go to your browser to use it.

Pro: It’s easy to use and the premium subscription is fairly affordable.

Con: Sometimes it suggests things that make little sense or are incorrect.

WordCounter.net

This is strictly an online application. The main reason I recommend WordCounter.net to writers is for its Keyword Density feature. This handy box on the sidebar will show you the words used the most in a document. You can get rid of filler words or vary your word choice by utilizing the Keyword Density list. This will help keep your readers’ interest until the end.

Pro: It’s free and the Keyword Density report is useful.

Con: If you click the Grammar & Spell Check button, it will take you to Grammarly. So really, the Keyword Density report is the key characteristic of this site.

Hemingway

The Hemingway Editor is better for readability and sentence structure than grammar and spelling. It checks for readability, adverb use, passive voice, and hard-to-read sentences. It is available online for free, or you can pay a one-time fee of $20.00 and get a desktop app. What sets this app apart from the rest is that it checks HTML formatting for building web pages. You can use the “write” screen to have a blank space without editing highlights to get your words down. When you’re ready to edit, switch to the editing screen, and Hemingway will highlight the areas which need work.

Pro: It’s inexpensive and is extremely useful to craft concise prose.

Con: It doesn’t have any editing traits that most new writers prefer, such as grammar and spelling.

Slick Write

For a free program, Slick Write packs a punch! Like most writing software, it checks grammar, spelling, and punctuation. However, it also looks for vocabulary variety, flow, sentence structure, readability report, and style. This application is my top pick for those who can’t (or don’t want to) pay for a service but still need a detailed review. You can choose what you want Slick Write to check, and it will adjust the reports accordingly.

Pro: It’s a free software with comprehensive editing.

Con: It’s browser based, so if you prefer to work offline or do not have internet access, you won’t be able to use it.

ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid is a powerhouse editor, and I do not advise inexperienced writers to use it. PWA has so many features and reports that you may find yourself confused and frustrated. Spelling and grammar? Check. Readability report? Yep. But it also has overused words, cliche check, alliteration, pronoun usage, sticky sentences, transition review, consistency and pacing checks, dialogue tag review, and much, much more. PWA will almost take the place of a human editor if you know how to use it. It has a free version, but, like most programs, the paid option gives you access to additional properties. It has several integrations, so you can use it on the web, with Scrivener or your favorite word processor.

Pro: It is incredibly thorough.

Con: It can be confusing to use.

Remember, none of these applications will take the place of a human editor. A computer follows its programming, which limits it. While technology is amazing, only a human can fully adapt to individual compositions’ voice, style, and content. So why use a program at all? Because it will save you money if you hire a professional editor. And, if you choose not to, using at least one of these programs will ensure that your work is (mostly) error-free.

And, yes, before I submitted this article to my editor, I used Hemingway, WordCounter.net, Grammarly, and ProWritingAid. I guarantee she found other errors or edits that I missed.

Even Editors Need Editors

I have been an editor of small newsletters’ content since 2009, and in 2015, I expanded my knowledge and skill set. I have edited articles of all types, short stories, novel manuscripts, and poetry. My goal for obtaining a college degree in English was to become a professional editor. 

But even I need an editor. 

Because of my background and experience, my writing is clean and free from major errors. But that doesn’t mean I can publish it without having someone else review it first. All that means is my editor doesn’t have to work as hard. 

I frequently go back to previously published blog posts and find minor errors I missed. Why? Because I’m human. Because I stare at a piece for hours before publishing, and my brain fills in words, or my eyes skip missing punctuation. Even the fancy computer programs miss things. They don’t have a human’s perception of dialogue or nuances. 

Often, I recommend various programs to my writers as a way for them to self-edit. But I always remind them that the applications are not perfect, and they need to use their best judgment. Last week, one of my writers said she used Hemingway, and it marked several sentences as “hard to read” due to length. So she broke those sentences up in the middle with a period which created sentence fragments. The program was happy. Was it correct? Nope.

When I am editing my own articles, I use several programs. Sometimes, two of those programs will give conflicting recommendations. “Put a comma here.” So I do. Then I take to the next piece of software. “Remove this comma.” But that was the one I just added. This is where an editor comes in. 

Editors don’t just look at spelling and commas. They examine flow, sentence structure, clarity, word choice, and more. Editors should know the rules about writing numbers, time, and money. They can spot the misuse of dialogue tags at first glance. Editors also ensure consistency throughout the piece. 

Writing and reading are in my blood. I am passionate about both, and becoming an editor seemed a natural course of action. When I read for pleasure, I try to turn my “editor brain” off to enjoy the book, but sometimes that is extremely difficult if there are a lot of mistakes.

I can tell within a few pages if the book was professionally edited or not. Usually, I can ignore most of the errors. However, sometimes I get so irritated that a writer would send sub-par work out into the world, I stop reading and write my review. Those reviews always include some version of “needs editing.” I wish I could also send them a link to my website offering my services. Sadly, I’ve caught typos in newspaper articles from The New York Times. Obviously, it was a rush job, but an editor should have reviewed it before publishing.

Some of my friends think I want to edit these strangers’ books because I want the money or enjoy picking apart the writing. The truth is I want to help writers become better writers. I have many friends in the industry, and we always push each other to learn and do more. Why? Because seeing another author succeed is exciting. We all know how it feels to strive for creativity, ingenuity, and publication. When one of us wins, we all celebrate. 

Being a writer and an editor, I know my articles and stories will improve after my editor gets her eyes on them. She will always find something I missed or see a way to polish a phrase. There are times I have an area I am struggling with, and she will have a brilliant idea to fix it. Despite popular belief, writing for publication is not a solitary activity. Authors need editors; therefore, editors who are also authors need editors. 

Anthology Release!

I have been a part of Coffee House Writers for almost 3 years now. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long! I am a writer and editor for them, and really love it.

This year, CHW has been working on publishing an anthology which they have split into two volumes. I am excited to announce that I have two pieces in each book. And I am SUPER PROUD of the writers on my team who will also have their works in these anthologies. I work with them weekly on their writing skills, and have seen them grow so much in the last year.

It’s getting soooo close to the release date! I have butterflies in my stomach from nerves and excitement. These will make great gifts for people who love to read!


✨☕️PRE-ORDER NOW!! ☕️✨
Coffee House Writers is releasing two anthologies with twenty-eight contributing writers in December! With over one hundred pieces total, there is something for everyone in these collections.


Paperbacks of both will be available internationally on the two release days as well!


Volume 1: Poetry & Nonfiction releases December 8.

Pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08N2Y4ZHD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55877282-coffee-house-writers-2020-anthology

Volume 2: Fiction releases December 15.

Pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08N3C92P7

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55877286-coffee-house-writers-2020-anthology

Starting your own publishing company

If you’re looking to self-publish your book, and only print a few copies to have for family and friends or at local book clubs, you don’t need to keep reading. This is going to be a short introduction to starting your own publishing company with the intent to self-publish your book and make a profit. Little disclaimer here: I can’t guarantee that people will buy your book and you will make money. And, as usual, I highly suggest you do your own research on this topic. There’s a lot of information out there. Ok, ready?

When looking to start your own publishing company, a name is always important. I heard at one conference to choose a name that is not yours, i.e. Orrison Publications would not be a good idea. The reason is that you don’t want to look like a self-published author, but rather an author who has been picked up by a small publisher. It’s easy enough for anyone to do some digging and find out that you own the publishing company, but sometimes that first glance is all you need for someone to purchase a copy off the shelf. Once you have your business name picked out, do a search in the local business registry to makes sure it’s not taken.

The next step is to choose what type of business you’re going to be and get registered with the proper entities. Here in Idaho, I would need to register as a new business, file for any required permits, and set up tax accounts. During that process, I would need to choose a business type. The choices are Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation. I’m not an attorney or a tax accountant (trust me, this is a good thing!) but if I was setting up my own publishing company I would probably choose to register as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). From my limited understanding, an LLC affords all the flexibility of a Sole Proprietorship with the protection of a Corporation. So if my publishing business tanks out, my personal responsibility to the company will be limited. Confusing? Definitely. This is where your own research comes in.

Alright, so we have our name and business type, and we’ve registered with the state and have all the required paperwork completed. What’s next? Do you have a publish-ready book? If not, then you’re in the writing, editing, and crying stage. If you do, congratulations! Your book needs to be copyrighted and get an ISBN, you know, that little barcode on the back. Bowker Identifier Services is a good place to start. They are fairly affordable as a single ISBN is $125 (one book in one format) and you can get 10 for $295. Copyrights start at $79.95 plus filing fees. They also have other resources useful for a self-publishing author.

  • Business name
  • Business license, permits, and tax account set up
  • Publish-ready book (it’s been edited, proofread, and triple checked)
  • Copyright
  • ISBN

You are ready to publish! You will need some additional things like getting a book cover designed and printing your book. Lulu is a fairly inexpensive book printer and, just like Bowker, they have additional services and information. There are a lot of resources out there for the aspiring self-publish author, you just need to take a little time to research them and find out what will best fit your needs.

Want to publish a second or third book? Your publishing company is all ready to serve you and all you need to do is write, edit, copyright, obtain ISBN, and print. Rinse and repeat.

Note: I am not affiliated with either Bowker or Lulu and will not receive any compensation for any clickthroughs or purchases on their sites. The information contained in this post is not to be considered as legal or tax advice.

 

Pronoun

I heard about Pronoun at the writer’s conference last fall, but did not actually investigate what it was all about until recently. It seems to be a fabulous way to get your work into the self-publishing game. You can publish through Pronoun and they will submit your book to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play and iBooks. It’s free, but they do take a portion of your royalties when your book is purchased. They also provide a free author page for you to use to advertise your works. And Pronoun can track how well your book is doing across the various e-publishing platforms.

Not a bad deal, in my opinion. Check it out! What do you think?

Changing the Publishing Industry

In my Context of Writing course this term, we have been asked to write an analytical paper that looks at how notable individuals have changed or shaped the writing and publishing industry. This first week, we were to brainstorm some topics – that is, get some ideas about who we’re going to write on and why they were influential. As I was researching some possible candidates, the information I found was intriguing. So naturally, I want to share it with you.


Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon. He watched when the internet was born and then skyrocketed from 16 million users to 36 million in a single year (Wasserman). He decided to capitalize on this knowledge and sell books online. Originally, Amazon delivered books from warehouses to customers via the postal service or other commercial shippers. Now, Amazon delivers books in moments via digital downloads, and thousands of other products still from warehouse to the customer by post. They also have drone delivery service in some areas where you can get your purchase in a matter of hours. I think Amazon and Jeff Bezos would be interesting to research because I love Amazon for purchasing books, household items, craft supplies, and more. I find it fascinating that Jeff saw the trend the internet was taking and found a way to become extremely successful within a matter of a few years. Jeff has transformed publishing and allowed more authors to get their work into the public.

Stephen King is a well-known author of thriller books who has been getting published by traditional publishers since 1967 (King). He has been published by Doubleday & Co., Anchor, and Viking, and several other companies. In 2013, Stephen King digitally published a Kindle Single, therefore cutting out the publishing company (Hughes). Since then, Stephen has incorporated digital publishing into his business. Lately, the majority of his books have been published by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, and are available in traditional print, digital audio, and e-book (Belfiglio). While I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King, I have read some of his books and watched the movie versions. I think his career would be interesting to evaluate because he was present before the digital age of publishing and is still writing and publishing even now. As an author, one must adapt to changing technologies and Stephen has done that very well.

Jason Epstein started his career as an editor at Anchor and moved on to be the editorial director for Random House, one of the Big Six publication companies. He remained the editorial director for 40 years (Cross). When Jeff Bezos first started Amazon’s e-books, he consulted Jason Epstein. Jason told Jeff that people will still want to hold a book in their hands and turn the pages. Jason’s vision was on demand printing, where a bookstore would have copies of books for the customer to look through, then when they decided on a purchase, a new book would be printed while they waited (Wasserman). Enter the Espresso Book Machine. Jason founded On Demand Books, LLC which created the EBM, a printing press that is onsite at a retailer. The EBM provides “books printed in minutes at the point of sale for immediate pickup or delivery,” (“Executive Overview”). The more I read about Jason Epstein, the more excited I get. I remember hearing about this idea years ago and thought it was pretty cool but that it would never happen. It is amazing to be able to have a real book in your hands when you want it, and not waste paper printing books that people won’t buy. I think it would be fascinating to delve into Jason’s career as he was an editor at traditional publication companies and then moved on to found a company that enables people all over the world to get a book within a few minutes. He changed the world of book printing.

Works Cited
Belfiglio, Brian. “Scribner/Simon & Schuster Acquires Majority of Stephen King’s Body of
Work.” News and Corporate Information about Simon Schuster Inc. Simon & Schuster, 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. <http://about.simonandschuster.biz/news/scribnersimon-schuster-acquires-majority-of-stephen-kings-body-of-work/&gt;.
Cross, Timothy P. “Columbia College Today.” Columbia College Today. Columbia College, May 2001. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. <http://www.college.columbia.edu/cct_archive/may01/may01_profile_epstein.html&gt;.
“Executive Overview.” Executive Overview Espresso Book Machine. On Demand Books, 2015. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. <http://ondemandbooks.com/executive_overview.php&gt;.
Hughes, Evan. “Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future.” Wired.com. Conde Nast
Digital, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. <http://www.wired.com/2013/03/publishing-industry-next-chapter/&gt;.
King, Stephen. “StephenKing.com – About the Author.” StephenKing.com. Steven King, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. <http://stephenking.com/the_author.html&gt;.
Wasserman, Steve. “The Amazon Effect.” The Nation. The Nation, 29 May 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2016. <https://www.thenation.com/article/amazon-effect/&gt;.