Monday, January 31, 2011

Tips on Editing and Freelancing from Robin Moore Theiss

Last Saturday, Robin Moore Theiss spoke about editing and freelance writing to Saturday Writers at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Center. New president of Saturday Writers, Becky Povich, did an awesome job heading up the meeting.

The photo of Robin on the left is from her website.

I've known Robin for almost a decade, from when we both served on the board of the Missouri Writers' Guild, and I've always been impressed by her intelligence, candor, and enthusiasm.

Robin is a visionary. She is a writer who thinks big and backs up her thoughts with actions.

Robin's work background is as COO of the largest midwestern managed health care corporation, where her writing focused on corporate publications, such as strategic plans, reports, manuals, technical documents, and other correspondence. She retired to pursue her writing career, and after her retirement, managers sought her out to develop corporate publications.

She has never looked back. Her workload is so large that she now hires other freelancers. Robin also assists with editing and selecting works for the literary magazine published by St. Louis University, Boulevard magazine.

On Saturday she shared some tips for writers who want to pursue a career as an editor or a freelance writer. More than 50 people attended her presentation. I arrived a bit tardy, but I got to hear her entire presentation. She ran out of handouts before the stack got to me, but I did manage to jot down a few notes. Here they are:

* The purpose of editing is to improve the quality of the written work.

* Everyone is an editor. If you belong to a critique group, read books critically, notice mistakes in publications, or correct grammar or spelling on the job, you are an editor.

*Some qualities of a good editor are: love of language, proficiency in grammar and punctuation, attention to detail, and clarity of thought.

* An ethical editor doesn't change a writer's work. While an editor may correct spelling and grammar and make recommendations, the work ultimately belongs to the writer.

* When editing, question all assumptions. As well as focusing on what is there, also ask about what is missing. Look at the white space on the page.

* One way to break in to freelance writing for businesses is to offer your services initially for free. Some corporations are looking for writing help with brochures, newsletters, speeches, and the like. She cautioned about about taking on newsletters because you are dependent on others for content, which can cause missed deadlines.

* Know your audience. If you're writing for a corporate audience, your words will reach both the most informed and the least informed.

* Do your research. Learn about the company before you approach them for a job.

* Have a working knowledge of graphics programs and page layouts.

* Know how to use programs that can find/replace/track changes to documents.

* Know what you know. If you have an area of expertise, capitalize on that to market yourself.

In addition to being a freelance writer and an editor, Robin also has a book selling business, , a place for new, used, rare, out-of print, signed, and first-edition books. She is looking for writers to do book reviewers, interviews, and blog posts. Contact Robin if you have questions.

Robin's presentation was informative and inspiring. She also gave away several gifts from her book site, including tee-shirts and sweatshirts with book covers on the front. Oh, and don't forget the set of brightly colored, retro book ends, which I won and have just the spot for in my office.


  1. Awesome post, Donna! Wow! Thank you so much! You are so good at this type of in your book reviews! I'm so glad you were able to attend at least part of the meeting with us!

  2. Hi Becky,
    You're welcome. Robin did a great job.
    Whenever I attend a writing workshop or meeting like Saturday's I try to pass along to others what I learned.
    It was a fun meeting!

  3. It sounds like you learned a lot! Thank you!

  4. Hi Terry,
    You are welcome. Hope it helps.

  5. Donna,
    You always have something interesting here. I appreciate your sharing!

  6. Hi Linda,
    Thanks!Hope you enjoy.

  7. I was so bummed that I had to miss the meeting. Thanks for sharing the information!


  8. Hello - just stopping by to say hello and thank you for your comment on my blog today. I appreciate it.

    You must be a friend of Becky's?


  9. Hi Pat,
    We missed you on Saturday. Hope to see you soon.

    Hi Sandie,
    Thanks. Yep. Becky is a friend, and the fearless leader of Saturday Writers.


  10. Thanks for the recap of Robin's meeting. I was soooo sorry to miss it. And I promise, Robin, I'll be wherever you happen to be next time. Sorry Becky about not being there, especially for your first meeting as Madame Pres. See all you SW people in Feb, and from what I hear...this meeting is going to be a hard one to top.

  11. Hi Lou,
    We missed you Saturday, but I'm happy you're feeling better. Stay warm, and don't eat too much cake, drink too much Vodka, or pluck too many chickens.

  12. Thanks for summing up an awesome presentation! I learned a lot. And I'm so proud that I went home and learned some of the features she mentioned, like Find and Replace!

  13. Hi Tammy,
    Thanks. Robin did a great job. The Find and Replace feature is great.
    Sorry I didn't get to chat with you. The room was so full it was hard to get around to say HI to everyone, especially since I got there late.

  14. What a great post. I'm currently editing and the tips here are fantastic. Thank you.

  15. Hi Clarissa,
    You're welcome. Hope the tips help.

  16. I just found you and I am looking for a publisher for a book. I have had three refusala. i have had one group interested - they want money right away.

  17. Anonymous,
    I would avoid a publisher who wants money. Publishers are supposed to pay writers, not the other way around.
    Good luck.


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