Getting Ready to Revise

Deborahs PortraitThanks to Molly Cook for her comment on my last blog post. Molly said, “All writers need to go through the revision process – looking at the manuscript again and reworking it – before even considering an editor. “ And I couldn’t agree more.

The revision process is an essential phase in the job of crafting a well-written work.

If you’re like most writers, you started your project with an idea, vague or specific, that guided your first draft. You may have wanted to tell a love story, to share your grandparents’ tale of traveling west on the Oregon Trail, to give readers a peek inside a working coalmine, or to inspire them with your personal transformation from carnivore to vegan. Whatever your initial idea when you began, chances are that idea morphed in some way as you wrote.  There is nothing wrong with that, it is part of the process of writing. The meaning of our work often does not become clear to us until we have written that initial draft, and more often, not until we have rewritten it.

Once you’ve completed your first draft it is imperative that you go back over what you’ve written and check in on that meaning. As you wrote you were immersed in the world of your book; you focus was tight and narrow. Now, you need to take several steps back and open up your view. If you are going to be able to effectively evaluate your own work, you need to first distance yourself from it. As Susan Bell says in her wonderful book, The Artful Edit, “You must achieve a transparent view of your material that derives from having emotional and psychological distance from it.

Here are a few ideas for creating the distance needed to shift your perspective and to see your work with a critical eye.

1) Time: Give yourself time. Put the manuscript away and don’t look at it for several weeks. When you pick it up again, you’ll be less familiar with it and more able to read it with the surprise of a first time reader.

2) Mode: Do your revising in a different mode than you did your original writing.  If you’re a pen-and-paper writer, type your manuscript into a document on your computer and do your revising there.  If you wrote your first draft on the computer, print out the pages and do your revising by hand on a hardcopy. Or, if you are reluctant to print out the full 350 pages of your manuscript, considerer changing the font to give the whole thing a different look. If you created the work in Times New Roman, revise it in Calibri or Arial; your writing will seem less familiar. By giving your words a different physical setting, you can change your relationship to them.

3) Space: Change your physical location when you revise. If you have one space in your home or office where you write, that may not be the best place to do revision work. Find somewhere else that has a different ambiance, perhaps different lighting or sound, so that other parts of your brain are awakened and you can nudge yourself out of any ruts associated with your work.

Once you’ve gained some distance from your work, you will be ready to begin the re-visioning process.

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Modern Self-Publishing means e-books as much as it means print-on-demand. Technology changes mean publishing and marketing changes. (Good writing has always been, and always will be, important.) E-books are evolving, and that’s a good thing – but a hard thing to keep up with. Here’s a recent personal experience.

A Walk Across Scotland

Publishing continues to change. E-books are reaching beyond their devices. That’s good for me!

Once upon a time, e-books lived within desktop computers. Yes, there was a time before e-book readers. My first e-book, Just Keep Pedaling, was published in 2002. Just Keep Pedaling It lived in a couple of formats that were cumbersome and so locked down that people had a hard time opening the files. (The remaining format is much more agreeable.) They were either read on desktop computers, laptops that are large compared to today’s standards, or on PDAs that were so small that each page only held a few sentences. I read Dickens’ Great Expectations that way, just shy of 200,000. That was a lot of page flipping.

As kindle and nook became available it was easy to assume that an e-book written for one couldn’t be read on the other. Competitors don’t play nice with each other.

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Here are some quotes from our graduates.

You guys are dynamic, personable, fun, engaging. So glad I did it!” – Angeline

It absolutely exceeded my expectations.” – Maryann

Really great workshop. I learned much & am energized to keep working & take the next step with my book!! Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!!” – Judy

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Official Announcement




Madrona Workshop Troupe, a collaborative resource for writers who wish to become authors, offers a two-day self-publishing weekend on January 26 and 27 at the beautiful Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo, Washington.


A great holiday gift for writers you know, or those who know you!


Presented by three local authors:  Tom Trimbath of Trimbath Creative, Wynn Allen of WGA Consulting, and Deborah Nedelman of Soundview Writers.


The three most critical phases of self- publishing will be presented:

 How to prepare a high-quality manuscript

 How to choose and work with a self-publisher

 How to develop and implement a successful marketing plan

The sessions will be supplemented by discussions, activities, and informal consultations to allow writers to interact with the Madrona team and individual presenters.


Simply go to registration to complete your registration form.


The registration fee is $240 with a 20% discount for registration received before January 8, 2013.

Your passionate, creative, and experienced Madrona Workshop Troupe:

Tom Trimbath, an author who has self-published nearly a dozen books states, “Writers are frustrated by fragmented information about self-publishing, They’re looking for help in navigating the process and marketing their books. Madrona Workshop Troupe was created to pull together in one place all the pieces that make a self-publishing project successful, no matter how large or small the project, and to make the product as esthetically pleasing and cost-effective for writers as possible.”


Wynn Allen, Ph.D., an author with years of experience in marketing and entertainment, notes: “Your book is written, maybe almost finished. Great…BUT…If potential buyers don’t know your book is out there, they can’t buy it! Over the past two years e-books and print-on- demand books out sold those in bookstores. Traditional publishing is not dead, but now writers who want to become authors have more choices. For many, the toughest part of this new option is marketing and it’s too often the most-neglected. The Madrona Workshop Troupe is here to guide and support you!”


Deborah Nedelman, an author, editor, and writing coach, focuses on helping you get the word right. “Regardless of where you are on the journey to becoming a self-published author — whether your project is in the formative stages, an idea more than a manuscript, or you’ve completed the third draft — understanding the value of the revision and editing process is essential.” Deborah’s workshop will give you a clear approach to polishing your work so that it can stand out from the piles of unrevised, unedited books that are dismissed by readers. She aims to help you make your manuscript the best it can be.


Additional information is available by contacting the principles: Tom Trimbath at, or Wynn Allen at, or Deborah Nedelman:

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The Marketing Variable

Wynn Allen, Ph.D.

Wynn Allen, Ph.D.

I am an author with years of experience in marketing and entertainment, notes: “Your book is written, maybe almost finished.  Great…BUT…If potential buyers don’t know your book is out there, they can’t buy it! Over the past two years e-books and print-on- demand books out sold those in bookstores. Traditional publishing is not dead, but now writers who want to become authors have more choices. For many, the toughest part of this new option is marketing and it’s too often the most-neglected. The Madrona Workshop Troupe is here to guide and support you!”

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Modern Self-Publishing, a real example

The details for the January workshop are sorting themselves out. I like it when people agree! The workshop isn’t about theory or abstraction. Self-publishing in the modern era is radically different from twenty years ago.

Welcome to a real world example.

On November 26th, 2012, just a few days ago, I, Tom Trimbath, published my newest book; Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland as an e-book for kindle.

One man’s search for joy, or at least a nightly Guinness and whisky


Care to read more? Buy the book. (Shameless self-promotion is part of the self-publishing process.)

Care to read more – about the how and the why of the book? Read my blog based on the book.

Care to learn more about the process and how to use it for your project and to empower yourself as a writer and then as an author? Well, that’s why we’re offering the workshop on January 26th and 27th in Mukilteo. Details to follow, but for now check out the agenda. See you then and there.

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Do you need an editor?

I’m excited to be here as a new member of the Madrona Workshop Troupe and I’m looking forward to offering you hints and help tuning up your manuscript for publication.

When you make the bold decision to self-publish you are bypassing many of the traditional gatekeepers who have dominated the publishing industry until very recently. Many well-established authors will tell you that the criteria those gatekeepers use is very narrow and often filters out excellent work. Still, one set of gatekeepers, namely editors, does provide a very valuable service: it is editorial skill that often makes the difference between a book that languishes unread on bookstore shelves and a best seller.

In our January 26-27 workshop I will go into detail about the process of self-editing and revision. Can you do it all yourself? Sure, and I will give you guidelines that will help you.

Some of you, though, may want to consider paying for the services of a freelance editor—someone with the experience and background to take a fresh and objective look at your work.  If you are going to go that route, it’s important to understand something about what different kinds of editors do.

Developmental or content editing: This level of editing is usually a lengthy process. A developmental editor will discuss the concept of your book with you and read through your entire manuscript so that she is completely familiar with the story you are trying to tell (in a work of fiction) or the concepts you want to discuss (in non-fiction). This type of editor can give you feedback on the structure of the book–how to make it more accessible or targeted to your audience, how to improve transitions from one idea to another. A developmental editor can rewrite sections of your book if you request this. She can make suggestions that will help you to move your story forward or enliven your characters or point out characters who could be eliminated to strengthen your story. She can point out ways to present ideas that will make it easier for your readers to follow.

Copy or line editing: This is the nuts and bolts kind of editing that focuses on spelling, punctuation, grammar and basic mechanical errors. You may be a great speller and understand the rules of punctuation and grammar perfectly. If so, you can put your manuscript in a drawer for a week or two then take it out with a fresh eye and copy edit it yourself. But far too many authors rely on their computer’s ‘spell check’ to correct these kinds of problems and in doing so end up presenting their brilliant ideas in a package that readers dismiss. If your work is not properly copy-edited you run a high risk that your final product will not look professional.

While professional editing is usually worth the cost, you can’t avoid the revision process entirely—it’s a big part of being an author. It’s the part that many authors dread, but it can be the most rewarding part of the work. We’ll talk about how to be your own best editor in the workshop. Hope to see you there!

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