Essential Edits
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why am I having so much trouble completing my thesis (or dissertation or non-fiction book)?
    • Answer: Free download from Essential Edits on why writing a thesis is harder than anything else one has written so far, and suggestions on the new writing skills required for any sustained writing project.
  • Why is my thesis (dissertation or non-fiction book) making my life wretched?
      Answer: Same free download as above, with strategies for surviving the inevitable angst associated with any sustained writing task.
  • Do I really need editing for my memoir?

      Answer: No. Your descendants just want to hear about your life story. The important thing is to get your stories down so that they are not lost. You only need editing if you hope to reach beyond your own family to a larger audience.
  • Would anyone be interested in my life story?

      Yes. Everyone's life story is worth telling. (See the Essential Edits section on memoir for examples.) Your descendants will likely be fascinated because your life story is part of their heritage. Not everyone's memoirs are commercial, however. Essential Edits staff can provide a realistic assessment of your story's commercial potential and whether it is worthwhile investing in professional editing.
  • What is a writing coach, exactly?

  • Am I allowed to have an editor help me with my thesis/dissertation?

  • I intend to self-publish my novel/non-fiction book. Can you help me publish it?

  • Do you provide editing services for undergraduates?

  • Do you provide editing services to new faculty?

  • As an experienced faculty member, why would I need your services?

  • I'm told I'm an excellent writer. Why would I need to have my thesis/dissertation/article/book edited?

  • If I invest in editing, you guarantee I'll get published, right?
  • Ask a question not yet covered

    Am I allowed to have an editor help me with my thesis/dissertation? Editors Canada (formerly, Editors Association of Canada) has strict ethical guidelines about what the editor can and cannot do for the thesis or dissertation writer. It should be obvious that if one is getting a Masters or Doctorate, it cannot be for work someone else did for them. The institution granting the degree is not only certifying that student is now qualified to undertake and complete research at the Masters or Doctoral level, but that the graduate is also competent in the language of instruction at that level. Essential Edits adheres to EC ethical guidelines.

    Occasionally, where a supervisor sees a need for improved written expression but is not comfortable with providing that instruction themselves, they may seek the assistance of the Senior Academic Editor at Essential Edits to provide specific tutoring as part of the student's learning process. Such tutoring consists of identifying strengths and weaknesses in the student's writing to help the student develop the metaskills necessary for rapid improvement. Here the emphasis goes beyond editing the current manuscript to providing coaching for life-long improvement in written communication. Because the Senior Academic editor has over twenty-five years experience as a researcher and thesis supervisor, he is able to provide ethical substantive input concerning written expression as if he were member of the thesis committee. This can only occur with the knowledge and approval of the thesis supervisor and the thesis committee; that is, the student must sign a contract, and obtain the supervisor's signature on the appropriate forms provided by Essential Edits.

    I intend to self-publish my novel/non-fiction book. Can you help me publish it?

    We can help you with the writing process (writing coach), with identifying and helping you address elements such as plot, pacing, characterization (for novels) and organization and structure (for non-fiction), that may not currently be working (structural editing); clarity, consistency, grammar, spelling, and typos (copy editing); and generally get the book to where it is ready for publication. We do not provide publishing services such as cover art, uploading, distribution, online sales, marketing, social media support, etc. Lesley Little can provide some guidance with layout and design if you intend to upload your Word file 'as is' to Kobo or Amazon, and so on. We recommend professional typesetting (i.e., InDesign software), however, and recommend JenEric Designs as a reliable and inexpensive typesetting provider.

    Do you provide editing services for undergraduates?

    Yes, we have staff who work with undergraduate students. By editing the current paper, Essential Edits demonstrates how to improve student written expression on both the current assignment and for the future.

    Essential Edits will not undertake to write papers for students.

    Do you provide editing services to new faculty?

    New faculty may need support in writing clearly, succinctly, and precisely. Journal articles in particular require the ability to condense a great deal of information into severely restrictive word limits, and all research publication requires precise use of language. New and ESL faculty may benefit from editing before submitting their work for publication, so that referees can focus on the content of the research and not be distracted by issues with the article's written expressions.

    Further, Dr. Runté can help with course design, getting the most out of course outlines, lesson planning, designing authentic assessments, and test construction. Nervous about starting teaching or having trouble with course evaluations? Dr. Runté can likely help.

    Do you provide editing services for experienced faculty?

    Articles and Book Chapters Experienced faculty may still benefit from copy editing to address the small but distracting errors that inevitably sneak into every manuscript and which are difficult for the author to spot (since we all read what we expect to see). Experienced faculty may also find it a nuisance to reformat articles to the specific guidelines of individual journals and prefer to delegate the task to Essential Edits staff.

    Textbooks If you are publishing a textbook, one would normally expect editorial assistance from the publisher; if you wish to self-publish a textbook, however, you need to fulfil the role normally filled by the publisher, which includes arranging for professional editing and/or the development of a (self-)testbank and other support materials.

    Assessment Design Further, Dr. Runté is an assessment expert and can assist with course outlines, authentic assessments, test construction and other measures that may improve student feedback on course evaluations.

    I'm told I'm an excellent writer. Why would I need to have my thesis/dissertation/article/book edited?

    Everyone needs a second pair of eyes to identify passages which may be unclear, imprecise, unnecessarily wordy, or otherwise flawed. Passages that may seem perfectly clear to the author, who knows what the passage was intended to say, may be less clear to the reader. If one is hoping to take one's book or novel to a traditional publisher, Essential Edits can provide something authors cannot do for themselves: see the manuscript through the eyes of an editor. If one intends to self-publish, then one should ensure the manuscript is ready by having it professionally appraised.

    If one is writing a thesis or dissertation, one's supervisor and/or committee provide quality control, but one may still wish to engage an editor to identify those tiny mistakes that are invisible to the author: doubled "the the"s for example, or minor typos, or that one still has the citation for Harold Garfinkle in one's references even though one has cut the paragraph that referred to Harold Garfinkle in the text (and the reference therefore has to go). These sorts of errors are both trivial and inevitable, so although it is important to identify and eliminate these annoying blips, they are not considered significant and can be delegated to a professional proofreader or copy editor. In my own case, for example, after carefully proofreading every line of my Master's thesis to ensure it was perfect, I hired a professional proofreader who found hundreds of additional typos. I was shocked at how many tiny little errors had crept past my meticulous review (and that of my supervisor and committee) but it is almost impossible for authors to catch their own typos or formatting errors.

    What is a writing coach, exactly?

    A writing coach is someone who can help with all stages of the writing process, including addressing issues of how to take and organize notes (filing turns out to be a key skill in writing theses, dissertations, memoir, and nonfiction books), how to get started (that is, overcoming blank page syndrome) dealing with writer's block, keeping up motivation (that is, dealing with the inevitable angst that comes with any sustained writing project); and managing relations with one's supervisor/committee/publisher. For example, to successfully take on a sustained writing project such as a thesis, one first has to unlearn the writing strategies that made one a successful undergraduate student. Undergraduates write papers the night before they are due, on instructor-assigned topics they don't care about, and that are short enough to keep in their head at one time. Success as an undergraduate is all about being a good first-draft writer. In contrast, writing a thesis or book must be sustained over months, is much too complex to keep all in one's head, is on a topic one is passionate about (emotional commitment/stakes), is more about revision than drafting, and is for much higher stakes. Retaining motivation, focus, and momentum over the months or even years required to complete the project is difficult, especially since supervisors and peers often fail to acknowledge that writing up one's research is anything but straightforward. A writing coach can provide both moral support and direction (that is, specific instruction in the writing process) to ease the successful completion of the work.

    Download the free Essential Edits guide, Writing Strategies for Theses and Dissertations in Social Sciences, Humanities, Education and Business to understand why writing a thesis or dissertation is so difficult, and suggestions that might help.

    If I invest in editing, you guarantee I'll get published, right?

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer: Essential Edits can give you an objective appraisal of the commercial potential of your novel or book; in fact, we insist on doing a sample edit before taking your contract. If there is little or no chance of your book earning back your investment in editing, Essential Edits will tell you.

    Some clients choose to go ahead with editing anyway for reasons of self-fulfillment; to produce a book they can be proud of to distribute to family or friends; to write for a niche market they know is not large enough to be commercial, but is nevertheless important; or because they view the editing process as a personalized writing course (in which the instructor uses their own practice novel as the example), in the hopes of honing their writing skills for future projects.

    Essential Edits can make your book better; we cannot make a publisher or consumers buy it.

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    Last updated May 12, 2017.

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