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Tips, Inspiration, & Resources

Do you really need an editor for your book?

Photo by Aung Soe Min on Unsplash.

The answer is this: It is entirely up to you.


If you've taken your book as far as you can take it—and either you're stuck, or you just need a fresh pair of eyes--then you might consider finding an editor.


Taking your book as far as you can take it means different things to different authors.

It could mean you've written a first chapter and an outline and you want feedback before you go any further.


Or it can mean you've written several drafts of an entire book or proposal. Only you can say if you've taken it as far as you can go for now.


Timing is key.


If you feel you are ready to work with an editor, make sure you are at a point when you can benefit from stepping back and gaining perspective—and when you are ready to leave the book alone for at least a couple of weeks, or several weeks, while the editor does her thing.


What If You Can't Afford a Paid Professional?


You may be able to find that fresh pair of eyes you need from a trusted literary friend rather than a paid professional. Or you may have the good fortune to find a writers' critique group that supports you with constructive suggestions.


No matter where you go, use all your powers of discernment.


Before you give your precious work in progress to anyone, rely on your intuition and common sense as well. A so-called friend or colleague who secretly envies your talents and opportunities is the worst person you could ever give your book to. 


What's also key to remember is that it takes skill to give useful feedback on a book. Not everyone who loves to read or even who writes well has the skills to give you the kind of detailed, specific, constructive, and honest feedback you might need to take your book to the next level.


So be selective about whom you give your book to for feedback, whether it's a paid professional or a trusted friend.


Be selective in hiring a professional editor.

  • Talk to the person. Clearly state what your hopes and desires are in terms of working with an editor. Ask lots of questions.
  • See if you feel in your heart if the two of you are a good match.
  • Make sure that person takes a good look at a sample of your work before making a decision to take you on.
  • You want someone who is selective, too. Someone who can be of service to the project and the author. Someone who cannot connect to the material cannot really be of service.
  • Make sure they've got testimonials on their website and/or can give you references to contact.
  • Beware of people who tell you that in order to get published you must work with a freelance editor.
  • Be even warier of those who tell you that if you hire them, or if you hire the editor they refer you to, that they will get you published. No one can make such a guarantee.

         What a good professional editor can do is help you develop your strengths and fix your weaknesses and, in so doing, increase your chances of getting your book into optimum shape, whether you're pursuing the traditional publishing path or planning to publish independently.


Wishing you lots of happiness and success with all your writing endeavors!



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The cure for writer's block: Embracing the "I don't know"

Not knowing is supposed to be a bad thing. With storytelling, not knowing can be the best thing that ever happened to you.


Because if you surrender to the "I don't know," then anything can happen.


Suddenly, you're in a magical world of endless possibilities.


You are a kid in a playground. A park. A candy shop. A toy store. You're in a place where you can have anything you want, be anything you want, go anywhere you want, travel to any time you want. It's one big game of pretend. No limitations.




Rule number one: Don't freak out.

It'll just waste your time and make you feel worse.


Rule number two: Step away from the vehicle.

Stop trying to turn over that engine in your head. It's flooded with too much analytical, know-it-all thinking.


Rule number three: Decide that you are in the wonderful land of "I don't know," where magical answers appear without any effort.

If you're saying to yourself, "yeah, right," with a big dose of sarcasm, tell that naysayer voice inside to take a hike. Tell yourself that it costs you nothing to believe in the magic of "I don't know." Go ahead, just give it a try. Allow for the possibility. Suspend disbelief. You don't have to tell anyone. And what do you have to lose?

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The Seven Elements of a Compelling Story: A Checklist





Some examples of goals:

  • Love, appreciation
  • recognition
  • the need to be understood
  • defeat of an enemy
  • basic human survival
  • recovery from trauma
  • closure after tragedy
  • finding a reason to live
  • finding a purpose
  • making peace with the past
  • triumph over adversity of any kind.



  • Conflict takes many forms: Oneself (we are our own worst enemy), other people, situations. 
  • Infuse conflict into every scene.


  • Reveal the truth about your hero, even if he doesn't know it himself.
  • Give your characters layers and dimension—even villains are human beings; even heroes have flaws. 
  • Go easy on the self-pity, even infuse humor if possible. 

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