Immersion Editing as a Journey

The scuba-diving analogy is of course the heart of immersion editing. It’s a great way to capture the concept of “going deeper.” But diving isn’t the only analogy for this approach. I often describe immersion editing as a journey.

Editing as a journey has special meaning for me. I love hiking, especially in the mountains. Something magical happens the moment I lace up my boots (or better yet, have my husband lace them up because I never remember how to do the special ankle-lock tie). I love setting out with my poles, my pack, and my camera, breathing in the cedar-scented air.

Before long, I find myself huffing and puffing, trudging my way up steep inclines and winding switchbacks. I need to be surefooted and fearless up there in those heights, so I repeat my mantra: “Mountain goat. Mountain goat. Mountain goat.” Sometimes I even catch a glimpse of those agile animals, and they steel my resolve.

Most trails lead to beautiful vistas that serve as worthy rewards for all those miles. Really, though, the reward is the satisfaction of knowing I pushed myself to the limit and made it there and back again, just like Bilbo. (By the way, ever notice that the “back again” is the hardest? You’d think going downhill would be a cinch, but it kills the ol’ knee joints.)

Uphill, downhill, and in between, hiking is invigorating, challenging, and sometimes even arduous. But it’s worth every moment. It makes me feel alive as nothing else can.


So imagine, if you will, immersion editing as a journey. As your editor, I’ll be your trusty trail guide. I’ll walk right alongside you, taking every step with you. With positive encouragement and real understanding, I’ll help you achieve feats you maybe couldn’t achieve alone. I’ll help you see your book and yourself in new ways as we go deeper and deeper on our path.

Yes, it may be challenging at times. It can be a long process. This is a journey, after all—not a jaunt. (Be sure to pack some water and protein bars. Maybe some jerky.)

But again, it’ll be worth every moment. Every step will reveal something new and exciting. Every step will be meaningful. Together, we’ll reach our destination. That is, both you and your manuscript will reach full potential. Your book will transform, and so will you as a writer and a person.

Actually, the journey of immersion editing is the journey of servant leadership. Servant leadership, as the name suggests, is a bit of a paradox. How can you serve and lead?

The key is in the leader’s mind-set. A trail guide may stand out front with the map and the compass, but she isn’t concerned about wielding power, control, and authority. It’s not about her. She just wants to help you get up that mountain because she knows how much this journey means to you. It’s all about you. She leads you with her knowledge, experience, and insight in order to serve you. And first and foremost, she understands that she needs to earn your trust and rapport before you take step one.

The true measure of servant leadership is whether a leader can inspire growth. For sure, the true measure of immersion editing is the growth and transformation of the manuscript and the author. That’s the destination of the journey.

In contrast, there’s no journey, no serving, no leading, no growth with run-of-the-mill editing experiences, which I call surface editing. You hand your manuscript over to someone, he finds typos and wrangles commas, then he hands it back to you before walking away.

It’s the equivalent of a trail guide snatching your camera from your hands, hiking up the mountain on his own, returning a while later with your camera, and leaving you to flip through a couple of photos he took on your behalf. Or it’s the equivalent of the trail guide giving you a crummy map, pointing you in the general direction of the trailhead, and wishing you luck before he goes back to the lodge to take a nap.

Authors, what kind of experience do you want? Are you ready and eager to take a journey? Wouldn’t you like the company of a guide who’s ready and eager to climb that mountain with you?

And editors, what kind of experience do you want? Do you want to journey alongside authors? Do you understand the paradox of servant leadership and how it relates to editing? (Stay tuned, as I have a few editing classes launching this fall.)

Immersion editing is a journey, and it’s one I enjoy taking. I hope to see you out on the trail.


Editing Secrets Made Easy: April 19

hand on laptop

There’s so much to remember when it comes to grammar, punctuation, style, and other mechanics. Sometimes it seems as though these are secrets only your eighth-grade English teacher knows. With that said, I’m happy to invite editors and authors to Editing Secrets Made Easy on April 19, 6:30–8:30 p.m. at Beaver’s Pond Press. (Many thanks to the Pond for graciously opening their office for these classes. It’s a wonderfully creative and inspirational space for bookish folks to gather.)

This will be my second time presenting this class. It’s easily my most popular class to date. Last time, we packed in nearly twenty people, a mix of editors and authors and a few in-betweens. Here’s hoping we get a big turnout this time too. If you didn’t join us for the first go-around, please check it out this time.

I think the class is so popular because everyone wants and needs a better grasp on grammar, punctuation, style—the nuts and bolts. Specifically, everyone wants and needs someone to explain it all in simple, common-sense, easy-to-remember terms. That’s true not only for writers but for editors, and we’re the so-called experts.

Case in point, I’m the first to admit I’m no grammarian. I often forget the difference between a misplaced modifier and a dangling participle. But it doesn’t really matter, so long as I know how to identify each of them in a manuscript and polish them up.

Along those same lines, the class won’t focus on jargon. Rather, it’ll help you recognize there’s something wrong with this sentence: “Sensing a collision, the oncoming bus made Sherry brace herself.” (By the way, that’s a misplaced modifier. I think…)

The other reason Editing Secrets Made Easy is so popular is because these “secrets” are culled from real experiences, real manuscripts, real authors, real editors. With eighteen years of professional editing, I’ve seen these issues pop up in countless raw manuscripts from authors. I’ve also seen them pop up in countless copyedited manuscripts when I do proofreads. For that matter, some of these issues have baffled me too for years. (Lay versus lie. I swear I have to look it up every time, just to be safe.)

Authors, this is a great way to boost your writing. Knowing the ins and outs of mechanics will make you a better writer, hands down. Fact is, master wordsmiths have also mastered the basics of language. And the more you know about mechanics, the better shape your manuscript will be in when it comes time to start the publishing process. You will save yourself time and quite possibly money.

Learning the basics will make all your writing better, including the pieces that don’t go through a professional editor. Think about every tweet, blog post, email, cover letter, and so on. What effect will you create as a professional author if you mistakenly use affect instead of effect?

Editors, this is a great chance for us to gather and learn together. I’m all about sharing knowledge, especially because we no longer have an apprenticeship model in our industry. (Something I’ll discuss more in posts to come.) We need to find our own ways to share trade secrets. There’s something here for everyone, from newbies to seasoned pros.

This particular class creates a unique experience to learn alongside authors. You’ll see how to approach copyediting mechanics in an author-friendly, common-sense way. So, let me break out some jargon here: Maybe you know the difference between a restrictive and nonrestrictive appositive, but do you know how to explain it to an author without making her eyes cross—or worst yet, without sounding patronizing?

So, come one, come all—join us for Editing Secrets Made Easy on April 19. Let’s shed some much-needed light on these secrets!

Immersion Editing vs. Surface Editing

I’m thrilled to report that the Going Deeper class on February 24 was a smashing success. By immersing ourselves in immersion editing, we uncovered what the mantra of “going deeper” really means. For starters, “going deeper” begs the question, “Deeper than . . . what?”

The short answer is, immersion editing goes deeper than surface editing.

For the long answer, let’s imagine we’re on an ocean excursion to check out a coral reef forty feet below the surface.

When the boat comes to a stop above the reef, many people roll up their pant cuffs, dangle their legs over the edge, and dip their toes into the water.

dipping toes in water

Maybe they look down every now and then, squinting and trying to peer through the blindly bright sun bouncing off the surface. Honestly, they can’t see a thing. They have no clue whether a reef is even down there. They might as well be back on land.

Meanwhile, a few other people eagerly don scuba gear and flip into the water. They are properly trained and properly equipped to dive deep and explore the reef up close and in-depth. They see firsthand that it’s teeming with exotic marine life. When they eventually reemerge, they’re bursting with incredible details about being in this amazing underwater world. Just from the way they talk and the expressions on their faces, you can tell it was a meaningful, transformative experience.

As the scuba divers rave on and on, you can’t help but look over at those who never left the boat. The whole point of this excursion was to explore the reef. So why didn’t they dive in too? Do they not know how to scuba dive? Or do they know how to scuba dive, yet they choose not to? If so . . . why not? It’s hard not to draw some bleak conclusions about their motives.

Now let’s translate this little allegory into reality. As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, the coral reef represents a manuscript that needs editing. But what you might not realize is that it also represents the author behind the manuscript, the person who wants a positive connection with the editor, one built on trust.

The people with their toes in the water are surface editors. They barely engage themselves with manuscripts. They typically do the bare minimum—if that. They exert little to no energy on connecting with authors. I’ve seen surface editing’s effects on manuscripts and authors. It’s heartbreaking. And maddening.

As for the scuba divers, they are immersion editors. Immersion editing is my special approach because I know authors and manuscripts deserve much more.

Yep, you guessed it: immersion editing is about going deeper. I know that truly great editing can only be achieved if I immerse myself in the manuscript, truly understand it and its message. I also immerse myself in a relationship with the author because I know the entire edit is built on rapport and trust.

If you’re an author, what do you want for your manuscript? (And let’s be frank: for your time and money?) Which type of editor do you want to work with: someone who’s ready and able to dive down deep to discover the wonders below, or someone who barely breaks the surface and hardly gets wet? If immersion editing sounds like a fit for you, let’s chat about your project and your goals.

If you’re an editor, what do you want for your career? Do you want to just sit there with your toes skimming the surface, never knowing the amazing underwater world below? Or do you want to take the plunge and go deeper? If immersion editing sounds like a fit for you too, stay tuned, as I have more classes planned for the spring and summer. My goal is to train and equip more editors to dive in and go deeper.

Now, who’s ready to check out that reef?

Immersion Editing Class: February 24

So, are you ready to take the plunge? I’m proud to announce my next class—Going Deeper: An Immersion in Immersion Editing. In this one-day intensive, I’ll share the secrets of the immersion editing approach.

Going Deeper class title

Editors, come unlock your power to take your career and craft to real depths. Authors, don’t feel left out. This is a great chance to explore the other side of the editing experience and learn how to deepen your own critique skills.

Come join us too if you’re a project manager or designer or if you work with writers in virtually any way. Whatever your experience, this class will inspire and challenge you to go deeper. It’s a fun time, if I do say so myself.

We won’t talk about serial commas and who versus whom. Rather, we’ll discuss how immersion editing is like scuba diving and what it has in common with servant leadership, emotional intelligence, and even “whispering.”

If you are indeed ready to take the plunge—and I hope you are—then check out the Eventbrite listing for Going Deeper: An Immersion in Immersion Editing. Seats are limited, so sign up today.

I hope to see you there!