William Golding on the Writing Process

Born on this day in 1911, William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, said this about the writing process:

The writer probably knows what he meant when he wrote a book, but he should immediately forget what he meant when he's written it.

How do you interpret this quote from Golding? The ever-changing nature of the writing process? The ebb and flow of ideas? The power (and positivity) of allowing things to sit, ponderously, musingly, creatively?

What do you think? Please leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

7 Essential Editorial Tools for Writers and Editors

When it comes to creating winning solutions for authors and brands, we believe strongly in taking advantage of tools that enable us to be more efficient, effective, and unequaled in our efforts. It's why we created our Resources page, which is a full list of our favorite resources. This list are the seven most essential, and some of our personal favorites for writers and editors.

As much as we'd like to think we could do our jobs alone, we really can't. Just as we rely on each other in a relational sense, we also rely on each other's outputs, which includes some of the amazing tools we (you, developers, Transformers, etc.) create. Tools that make our jobs easier are the tools we love. These tools make it so we can do the things we want to do, but also do things we couldn't imagine ever doing. It's really quite a beautiful, collaborative relationship if you think about it.

We're going to give you a moment here to think about it, and if you need a peaceful serenade that most certainly indicates our age range, enjoy this killer Enya tune:

Okay, have you thought about how tools can make your life better, or have you fallen asleep? If the first, good on you. If the second, how dare you. ENYA IS MAGIC. And also, quite serendipitously, another tool we can use as writers and editors. Not Enya as a human, but the music she creates could very well qualify as an essential tool that allows you to focus, which is an integral component to our success that we can take for granted. But enough about Enya (not really; we love you, Enya!). Let's jump into our seven favorite editorial tools that make life as a writer/editor hum!

7 Essential Editorial Tools for Writers and Editors

Essential Editorial Tool #1: Google Docs

For a dark time in our content production history, Microsoft Word held the crown. But thanks to the emergence of Google Docs in 2012, we were all saved from the headache-inducing formatting and "oh crap, I forgot to save that document" moments that seemed to be so prevalent in Word. With Google Docs, formatting isn't an issue and it auto-saves so you don't have to remember to click save every minute or so. The best part of all is that we, as a team, can work on a Google Doc simultaneously without worrying about undoing what someone else wrote or edited.

When it comes to sharing your Google Doc, you can in a number of unique ways, including adding specific people to your document with either a) full editing capability; b) the ability to comment but not edit; and c) viewing access only. You can also just create a shareable link, and share that link with the people you want to collaborate with. As a team that works on a wide variety of content across multiple industries for various clients, using Google Docs over any other option simply makes good sense.

If you're not yet using Google Docs, get on that. Your writing and editing future is bright! Don't believe us? Check out the real time collaborative power of Google Docs in this pretty nifty demo:


Essential Editorial Tool #2: Scrivener

If you want something a bit more sophisticated than Google Docs, Scrivener is for you. Scrivener is designed to set structure for your book, not just any general content.  It's designed specifically for authors, which makes it a great tool if you're serious about your writing or editing project, and you're looking for a more focused, organized approach. You can break down your book project into scenes and even sub-scenes with corresponding metadata, such as title, mode (draft or revised), and target word count. Google Docs will give you the capability to add an outline, but not in the fastidious way Scrivener allows. So if you dig that structure, we recommend it!

One other great thing about Scrivener is that, if you're writing a book about the migration of Hoth's Tauntaun population, it allows you to import any research materials that you have, including but not limited to the time you may have served the Rebel Alliance.

If you're curious about Scrivener but feel a bit intimidated, check out Learn Scrivener Fast for a quick rundown of the product. This Scrivener demo from Karen Prince is also pretty useful:


Essential Editorial Tool #3: OmmWriter

If you're anything like us—and we're going to assume that you are at least similar—you have forty-seven browser tabs open while you exchange adorable puppy gifs with a friend on Twitter, nerd out over grammar intricacies masterfully relayed by Grammar Girl, and do countless other things that distract you just enough to keep your book project going Ad Infinitum. While that may be a bit of hyperbole, it captures the essence of the type of distraction zones we're always fighting against as editorial sorts. The good news is that there are a bunch of amazing tools out there that can help us battle those distractions, one of which is OmmWriter.

With OmmWriter, you can swiftly say goodbye to all of the distraction (yes, even the puppies) and combat your yearning for multi-tasking yourself into a less effective frenzy. It was designed to help you "re-connect with your old friends Concentration and Creativity," two friends who are the backbone of every successful writer. It accomplishes this by giving you a private work studio with backgrounds to hold your attention and set your mood, audio tracks to focus your mind, and keystroke sounds to get you in the right rhythm.

Here's a screenshot example of the serene, distraction-free environment of OmmWriter:

Essential Editorial Tool #4: CoSchedule

As a fully distributed/remote team (meet the team here and here!), it's especially important that we stay on top of our tasks. Otherwise, it can be madness. Thankfully we have CoSchedule, which is the tool we use to schedule our editorial calendar and assign tasks around client projects we work on. Our managing editor, Janna, created the editorial strategy for Pat Flynn or SmartPassiveIncome.com, and recently spoke with Pat about the wonders of CoSchedule and how you can keep up with your editorial calendar.

Even if you're not a full-time writer or editor, CoSchedule can be an immense help by making it easy for you to create separate calendars for your writing projects, editing tasks, and personal to-dos. You can plan and schedule all of your social media posts, integrate it seamlessly with your WordPress blog and Google Docs, and basically manage all of the content you create and edit in one place. It really does make life so much easier for us. We wouldn't be able to do what we do without it (or Janna).

You can register for a free CoSchedule demo here.

Essential Editorial Tool #5: ConvertKit

Email marketing shouldn't be complex. But a lot of email marketing tools make it that way. Not ConvertKit. ConvertKit is our favorite email marketing tool because it allows us to reach our audience—or, rather, assist authors and brands in reaching their audience—in the most streamlined and simple way possible. We want a tool that enables us to focus on the audience and the relationships we build with the audience. ConvertKit makes it easy to create that 1-to-1 connection with your audience on a large scale without the added complexity of imposed algorithms and add-ons.

As a writer or editor, you should be spending your time, you know, writing and editing (and sometimes balancing those things with cat snuggles). But not building needlessly elaborate email marketing campaigns that are less about that human-to-human relationship and more about salesy poppycock. With ConvertKit, you have the time to write and edit to your heart's content, plus still have time to connect with your audience through email.

Oh, and they put together a pretty awesome Guide to Email Marketing you can get for free here (or by clicking the logo below).


Essential Editorial Tool #6: Claim Your Throne

It would be the understatement of the century to say that Winning Edits loves books. But we're going to do that anyhow. We. Love. Books. We're bibliophiles. Book nerds. Nose-stuck-in-a-book types. We love the books that we work on as a team to produce (Will It Fly?, Level Up Your Life, and Virtual Freedom to name a few), and we love the books that we read on our own. Most recently, we're loving The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Heavy by J.J. Anselmi, and, You Look Like That Girl by Lisa Jakub. Books make us happy, which is especially so when we have a team member write one!

That's right. Our editor, the aforementioned Janna, wrote Claim Your Throne: How to Manage Your Online Content & Rule Your Corner of the Internet. Whether you're an author or a brand, Claim Your Throne is a tremendously helpful guide on the basics of editorial management, building an editorial calendar, the whole editorial process, and some useful tools and resources to get you from blank page to publishing.

Okay, we're biased clearly. But it really is that good.

Essential Editorial Tool #7: WordPress

The platform we love and recommend the most for those in the editorial field is WordPress. Unless you're living under a rock (or even under the Rock), you've certainly heard of WordPress. Many of your favorite websites are run on WordPress, including Boing Boing, TED, and TechCrunch. It's easy to use, very inexpensive (free for the basic plan!), and can integrate with boatloads of apps, plugins, and other software, including, as we mentioned before, CoSchedule. Combine the power of CoSchedule with the power of WordPress and you have a pretty fetching combination of editorial umph!

Sure, you'll also get access to hundreds of cool themes, stellar customer support, built-in social sharing, and plenty of space for customization to help your author or brand website serve your audience the way you want. So, with WordPress, it's a win-win-win-win.

Well, that about does it from us on a few of our favorite editorial tools! How about you? Do you have any favorite tools that help you do your job better? Leave your favorites in the comments below or share with us on Twitter @WinningEdits!

And if you're still thirsty for more amazing tools, check out our full list on our Resources page!

Happy creative-doing, folks.

Meet the Winning Edits Team: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Meet the Winning Edits Team blog posts! In Part 1, we met Non (likes to dance like Kevin Bacon from Footloose), Jennifer (would love to be a soaring bird), and Janna (the biggest teleportation aficionado we know). In this post, you'll meet the rest of the team, Mindy (ask her about cats), and Matt, CEO and Founder of Winning Edits!

We hope you love getting to know us. I mean, we like us, so there's no way you can't share the same sentiment! If you share any interests, have any questions about what makes us tick, or simply want to say hello, please leave us a comment below!

And you can connect with us (and send us puppy gifs) on Twitter @WinningEdits and sign up for the Winning Edits Dispatch, our monthly newsletter replete with author tips, book publishing news, literary fun, and insight for the author-entrepreneur! 

Mindy Holahan

Of course, Aunt Lucy, I'd love to look after this bear.

Of course, Aunt Lucy, I'd love to look after this bear.

What role do you serve at Winning Edits?

I'm a Senior Content Producer. My speciality is working with development teams, which we do for our larger clients. It's accurate to describe my role as the team translator, helping our content team to communicate effectively with outside development teams (web and app development). I make sure that everyone has a shared vision for what we are creating. I love this role because I get the fun of thinking structurally (like a developer) while still getting to tell stories (like a writer). 

I also take on data-driven projects for our clients, such as developing and analyzing audience surveys and conducting content audits. On a day-to-day basis, I also edit podcasts, assist with copywriting, and handle the final quality control on editorial content.

Before joining Winning Edits, what did you do?

My background is in hospitality. I spent seven years with The Hub, a group of meeting and event centers in Philadelphia. At The Hub, I worked first with the sales team and then later with the administration team, where a big part of my job dealt with compiling and analyzing sales data. This is where I learned that data can tell stories: stories about what our customers liked and what we could do to serve them better.

While I was with The Hub, I received a valuable education in customer service. My coworkers were absolute masters at making a customer feel special. Here too, I had the opportunity to use two sets of skills: the hard skills of data analysis and the soft skills of customer happiness.

What does your ideal day look like?

I'm hosting a party! My fiancé John and I love to throw parties, especially themed events (I'm currently writing an escape room party). We love to use parties as an opportunity to perfect new recipes, build a fire, and break out some records. Our household motto is "good food and good friends." My hostess superpower is that I can build a menu to accommodate any combination of food allergies and sensitivities—and you'll never even notice. If it's my ideal day, then I've spent a lot of time planning this shindig; I've prepped ahead and I have an easy-to-follow timeline so that I can concentrate on having fun with my guests.

Also, there are cats! John and I have three cats (read: so many cats). In my never-ending quest to help them self-actualize, they have become another outlet for creativity. I make them blanket forts and build them cardboard castles. It's pretty ridiculous.

What is currently inspiring you?

Thanks to my YouTube Red subscription, I spend a lot of time watching Crash Course videos to plug the holes in my knowledge about philosophy and history. YouTube Red is THE BEST if you spend any time on YouTube at all. I rely heavily on the "University of YouTube" for learning new skills—from mastering recipes to repairing my own electronics. As I mentioned above, I'm currently writing an escape room party, and I'm using the opportunity to learn Arduino so that I can build fancy props.

I'm in the home stretch for wedding planning, and so I spend a lot of time listening to this wonderfully profane Aussie wedding podcaster.

What's your guilty pleasure?

I find object-oriented reality television oddly motivating. When I need to clean, I pull up videos of British cleaning shows like How Clean Is Your House? and Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. When I'm struggling to get my work done, I put Tabatha's Salon Takeover on and I pretend she's yelling at me to work smarter. That said, I intensely hate reality television that relies on interpersonal drama. Housewives? Rich socialites? Not interested. Watching someone clean their house while I clean mine? Very interested.

Matt Gartland

And finally, it's time for our founder, Matt Gartland!

What role do you serve at Winning Edits?

I serve as CEO, which means that a big part of my job is business development: making sure Winning Edits is working with great clients and that we are serving them well. To serve our clients well, we have to be keenly aware of how the landscape of publishing is evolving; the platforms, tools, and techniques authors are using to be successful. I love studying this and making sure we keep our clients on the cutting edge.

In terms of editorial direction, my job is to set the rest of team—who I'm thrilled you've gotten to meet—for success. I look at the larger business context for each project and to help the team incorporate it as we develop a project roadmap. We work on a variety of projects, from assisting authors with both the editorial and visual direction (covers, page layouts) for books to providing strategic planning for web page design. I provide the editorial vision, and then I help the team by removing any barriers they're facing so that they can get their work done.

Before starting the Winning Edits team, what did you do?

I come from a corporate software development background—not as an engineer, but in product management.  My role operated between the IT function and different business units, and it gave me an interesting perspective on how to use technology to solve business problems. This background helped me see the opportunity that emerging technologies are creating for the self-published author.

This background in systems thinking and software governance directly applies to developing editorial plans, where the goal is to deliver valuable content consistently over time. It's been an interesting, fun journey to bring this experience to the table of editorial content, digital content, and publishing.

What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day begins by waking up without an alarm—just when my body tells me to wake up, although it will still be early. I have a relaxing breakfast with a cup of coffee and spend some time journaling. It's something I don't get to do nearly enough these days, and it really helps to unleash my creative juices.

I'd get to read a new good book. Midday or early afternoon I'd get out of the house for something physical: go for a run, go to the gym, or go hiking. After that, I'd have dinner with close friends, and then go to bed at a reasonable hour.

What is currently inspiring you?

The team inspires me—both the Winning Edits team and the team at my other company that I co-own/co-run, Rocket Code. Being someone who is a high producing individual, to now get comfortable delegating the work that I have always enjoyed doing but can't responsibly tackle alone, I'm so inspired by all members of the teams—watching them step up and make commitments that help to keep me from working insane hours. I am so grateful and humbled by watching our teams support our clients and make their visions a reality.

Who is your favorite superhero?

While I love many superheroes, Batman is my favorite. He's mortal and he's borne from an adversity that he uses as his motivation to good, hard work for the benefit of others. He doesn't seek recognition; he's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. While I don't go around beating people up after midnight, I self-identify with the internal motivation to be far better than you would be without making some sacrifices. This has helped motivate me to use the benefits and opportunities I've had to pay it forward with business that can provide careers and lifestyles for the people I care about—my team members.

Thanks again for reading, and meeting the Winning Edits team! We'd love to get to know you more. If you'd like to learn more about the team, come say hello to us on Twitter @WinningEdits!

And don't forget to check out our new Resources page, which has some of our favorite editorial tools, calendar software, publishing books, and resources for brands and authors. Check it out! 

Meet the Winning Edits Team: Part 1

We're a small team, but a powerful one. Kind of like the A-Team or the Goonies. Each of us contribute to the overall success of Winning Edits in our own unique way—from individual strengths as they relate to the business (e.g., developmental editing, book publishing strategy, etc.) to personal modes of living that make us better partners in collaboration and success (e.g., critical thinking, curiosity, kindness, empathy, and an adoration for cheese).

This is Part 1 of our "Meet The Winning Edits Team" posts. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Non Wels

Two favorite things: laughing and The Iron Giant.

Two favorite things: laughing and The Iron Giant.

What role do you serve at Winning Edits?

I am a Producer, which is another way to say that I do a little of everything: copyediting, writing, social media management, podcast editing, customer support, and, if the mood strikes, channeling my best Kevin Bacon dance moves to the sweet, hip-thrusting beats of Kenny Loggins's Footloose.

Before joining the Winning Edits team, what did you do?

A whole lot of different things, including selling supplemental insurance in New York City, organizing books at an independent bookshop in Laguna Beach, and commercial salmon fishing in Alaska. Before Winning Edits, I spent about ten years freelance writing and editing part-time while I held various editorial positions in educational, financial, technology, marketing, and advertising industries. All of these experiences had their positive and negative attributes, but they also felt like steps along the way to what I had been striving for. With Winning Edits, I've found what I had been working toward: a small company doing awesomely creative things, composed of lovely humans and a clear sense of how it wants to serve its audience. It's my favorite thing ever

What does your ideal day look like?

An early morning wake-up call from Scooby's (my black Labrador) cold, wet nose in my face. This is followed by approximately twenty minutes of dog cuddles. After that, a couple hours of writing while I sip coffee and tap my fingers to the sounds of Howard Shore's score for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. If I'm not in the writing mood, a couple of hours with a book is a divine alternative. Around late morning, I head out on the cross-country trail for a run and/or hike to commune with my thoughts and the natural world. It's here—legs caked in dirt, head a sweaty mess, heart heavy with exhaustion—where I find my peace. Then it's home for a Joy Sandwich recording with my wife, wherein we giggle and explore joy for an hour or so. My ideal day would then of course conclude with a delicious Mexican food dinner and a movie at the local theater.

What is currently inspiring you?

People. People are inspiring me. As humans, we can often forget about the impact that people can have on us. Through our relationships, we gain new perspectives, broaden our understanding of the concepts of the world, learn to be more empathetic. By surrounding yourself with people who are different than you, you'll always be inspired. I find that to be true in my personal life, and in my work life where I'm working with some of the most inspiring humans around.

If you had to turn into one animal, what would it be?

Dolphin for sure. Think about it. They get to explore the vast wonders of the ocean, they are wicked smart, and do sweet flips all day long (right? Right.)

Jennifer Snyder

Does anyone else feel strange looking directly at a camera? No? Just me, then. Okay.

Does anyone else feel strange looking directly at a camera? No? Just me, then. Okay.

What role do you serve at Winning Edits?

I am a Senior Strategist + Producer for Winning Edits. I direct content design strategy and collaborate closely with the team to uncover and tell each client story that comes our way. I tend to turn into a huge nerd when I get to think through the ways in which visual and written content intersect with the internet. Luckily, I spend my days doing just that with a bunch of other content nerds here at Winning Edits. It's pretty dreamy.

Before joining the Winning Edits team, what did you do?

I started my professional career in marketing and communications over a decade ago and have since worked with publications, large brands, nonprofit organizations and creative small business owners to create written, visual and audio content. I've worked primarily for myself over the last six years, which has been a wonderful learning experience. I still freelance for various publications and record a weekly podcast that allows me to ask amazing people questions about work, life and creativity. 

What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day has very little to do with anything that requires a computer. That might seem strange coming from a self-professed writer and internet nerd. However, my heart is happiest when I'm the road. The day would start with caffeine (for me. My husband would go for a jog. He's an overachiever, but we don't have time to get into that right now.) and some time playing with our two adorable pound pups. Then we'd pack up the car and set off for our trip—likely to someplace that includes crisp air, mountain trails, trickling streams and the potential for wildlife sightings. 

We'd stop to take photos (I'd take photos while my husband waits patiently for me to get just the right shot of that roadside waterfall) and indulge in local lunch spots and funny roadside attractions. Upon arriving at the magical place described above (okay, you got me. It's Montana.), we'd settle in to our accommodations, make a quick meal, scope out some hikes for the next day and fall asleep reading a good book. 

What is currently inspiring you?

I'm always inspired by the intricacies found in discussions about how and why people do what they do. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm completely fascinated by the way people work, create, and enjoy life. I don't care if you're a mechanic, a composer, or a restaurant owner, if you let me I will probably ask you some fairly deep questions about yourself. I suppose I'm just curious. You've been warned. 

What is one thing people might not know about you?

I was born with an under-developed right arm and wear a prosthesis more often than not. I answered some questions about what it's been like living with a disability and signing up to essentially type for a living here, if you're interested! 

If you had to turn into one animal, what would it be?

A bird. Look, I love a good road trip, but can you imagine seeing everything from the air, landing wherever you'd like, and feeling the wind in your hair (feathers)? I'd be pretty okay with all of those things.

Janna Marlies Maron

What role do you serve at Winning Edits?

I'm the Managing Editor, which basically means that I'm in charge of setting production schedules and making sure everyone on the team meets their deadlines. It doesn't sound very glamorous, but it requires big-picture thinking to visualize the end goal that could be three, six, or even twelve months out, and the path to achieve that goal, including milestones along the way. The "editor" part means that I'm also contributing to editorial strategy in terms of how all content connects and relates across multiple platforms. 

Before joining the Winning Edits team, what did you do?

I've been working in some sort of editorial field for my entire career. I have experience as a staff writer for a newspaper, as the managing editor for a magazine company publishing multiple monthly, bi-monthly, and annual publications, and as a freelancer in all sorts of different capacities: writing, editing, project management. I've also spent time as an adjunct college professor teaching journalism and composition. And there are a host of independent creative projects I pursue, like this podcast and this magazine

What does your ideal day look like?

Sleeping in and a lazy morning. Brunch with my husband. Walking to the beach and stopping for coffee on the way. Laying in the sun by the water reading all day long. Late night conversation with friends over a nice bottle of wine and a delicious home-cooked meal. 

What is currently inspiring you?

Stories. Stories inspire me, because I am constantly amazed by what happens when one person finds the courage to share his or her personal story, even if it's with just one other person, there's a connection that happens between two people that is so unique and special. It gives me chills every time I experience it or witness it. 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Hands down, teleportation. How cool would it be to beam yourself to any place in the entire world any time you wanted? No long plane rides? No indecision over what to pack? Yes, please. 

Thanks for reading, folks! If you'd like to learn more about the team, come say hello to us on Twitter @WinningEdits! And don't forget to check out our new Resources page, replete with some of our favorite editorial tools, calendar software, publishing books, and, quite naturally, the books that shaped each of us as kids! Check it out! 

Part 2 of "Meet the Winning Edits Team" is coming next week. See you then!

Winning Edits is Growing

Welcome to the new Winning Edits website! We're so thrilled to have you here. If you couldn't tell, this site has had a bit of a design and organizational refresh. The reason for this is fairly straightforward: we wanted to create a better overall user experience, and make it easier for you to connect so we can collaborate to grow your audience. 

To make it easier on you to navigate the new website, we've broken down its essential components:

  • Home: This is our homepage, where you'll learn about who we are, what we're about, who we've collaborated with, and the awesome brands and authors we've supported. Come say hello! Eager to connect your audience with your story? Get started!
  • Blog: You're here! Our goal for the blog is to continue creating valuable content for the writing and editing community, authors, brands, and, our favorite, happy book nerds. We have a slew of fun content already here, including author interviews, book publishing insights, and so much more. Stay tuned for fresh content. But in the meantime, joyful reading!
  • Newsletter: Your monthly adventure into the wonders of book publishing, author platforms, book-based business models, writing tips, and more awaits! It's easy to subscribe. All we need is a vial of your blood and your first-born child. Kidding! Just simply add your name and email, click "Sign Up," and you'll commence your thrilling journey with the Winning Edits Newsletter!

Winning Edits is growing, which is why we've updated our website. We wanted our digital presence—in the content we write on the blog, the conversations we engage in on Twitter @WinningEdits, and the improved website experience we've created for you here—to reflect this growth.

Why? Because your story matters. Whether you are an established author or brand, the services we provide, from editorial strategy/management to brand voice development, will help you grow your audience. Let's grow together.

The Winning Edits Team

We'd love to hear what you think of the new site. Share your comments, suggestions, and unicorn gifs below! And look out for new content we'll be adding to the website going forward. Thanks so much! 

Have a story to tell? Work with us!

You can also say hello to us on Twitter @WinningEdits!