Editing

Stories get roughed up on the perilous passage from writer’s brain to written page. My job is simple: help the story heal.

An editor can make or break a great story. Pick the right one and you get the fit and finish that separates the classics from the clunkers. Pick the wrong one and your classic becomes a clunker.

I’ve worked with a lot of great editors in the past 25 years. The best ones have:

  • An infallible knack for finding the emotional core of a story.
  • An intuitive understanding of how stories should be told.
  • An honest desire to help writers succeed.

The worst editors have an annoying tendency to:

  • Edit according to rules rather than common sense.
  • Impose their voice on a writer’s prose.
  • Make changes that break up the flow of copy rather than enhance it.

I’m one of the good guys.

Notice I haven’t mentioned dictionaries, stylebooks or Strunk and White. Well, articles do require spit and polish — particularly in print — and I’ll scrub and buff with the best of them. But I’ve seen too many editors devote a lifetime to nursing their pet peeves; I’ve nursed a simple ideal: good stories, well told.

I’m also a writer, blogger and social media geek, but editing is my true calling. My specialty: editing articles by subject matter experts who aren’t professional writers.

If you need a great editor, e-mail me for a quote.

Writing

I write like people talk.

In articles. On blogs. In mobile devices.

I put pictures in the reader’s head.

Say you love baking a certain kind of cookie that nobody else likes. You can bake all you want but you’ll go broke trying to sell them.

But 90 percent of baking a cookie is knowing the mechanics. Same is true for editing: you need a flavor people will pay for.

My mental marching orders:

  • Employ strong verbs.
  • Make deadlines.
  • Avoid empty adverbs.
  • Attract paying customers.
  • Sneak in passive voice when it works better.

Click around Verb Nerd Industries; my writing speaks for itself.

Blogging and social media

I was present at the creation of blogs — built my first in 1996 — and I’m a strong believer in the ability of social media to strengthen people’s connections online. My favorite blogging story:

In 2004 I took up hiking; in 2005 I decided to combine my passion for the outdoors with my instinct for blogging. Two-Heel Drive, A Hiking Blog felt like a fine idea, but I soon discovered a fundamental contradiction:

Hikers don’t blog. Bloggers don’t hike.

But check out what happened over the next six years:

  • 800,000 page views.
  • 400,000 unique visitors.
  • 6,300 RSS feed subscriptions.
  • 5,400 reader comments.

All for a blog that should not even exist. Imagine what I could do with one that has a reason for being.

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Recommendations from people I’ve worked with over the years:

Tom is a talented and thorough editor, writer, researcher and all-around conscientious professional with an iron-clad journalistic background. He is quick to understand the work at hand and gets right down to business.

Tom has worked on several projects for me and has turned around every assignment well within deadline and with elegant polish every time. I highly recommend his versatile skill set to any editor or communications pro who needs dependable talent or who needs to get a targeted, clear message across to readers.

He is truly one of the best all-around editorial professionals I’ve worked with in over 20 years of magazine publishing and marketing communications work.

Sandy Todd Webster, Editor in Chief, IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

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Tom worked as an editor for TrimTabs Investment Research for twelve months. He consistently delivered high-quality work, never let a typo or poorly-phrased sentence slip and always met close deadlines.

In addition to his outstanding editing work, Tom had excellent insights on the content of our work. Although Tom does not have formal financial training, he displayed a lot more common sense than most Wall Street analysts.

I would urge anybody needing a writer/editor to look for his services – feel free to contact me directly for further references.

Vincent Deluard, CFA, TrimTabs Investment Research

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Tom is one of the most versatile and well-rounded individuals I’ve ever met in the news business. Not only is he an experienced copy editor and page designer, he is also a good writer and someone who really understands business news like few others.

He’s adaptable and a quick study, and is a major asset to any organization he’s involved with.

Barbara Egbert, freelance editor, writer

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I’ve known Tom for most of my professional life, dating from my days as a student reporter at Southern Illinois University, where Tom was one of my first editors. We’ve kept in close contact throughout the years on professional matters and worked together at the Peoria Journal Star for several years.

Tom is one of the most innovative, forward-thinking journalists I’ve ever had the pleasure to have known or worked with. He is often ahead of important trends in the industry, including the impact of the Web, and his insights are informed by decades of observation and participation in the business, starting on the ground floor as a copy boy.

He has a keen intellect and voracious appetite for knowledge, which he has been eager to put to work wherever he has landed throughout his career. He would be a tremendous asset to any media (or non-media) organization.


Toby Eckert
, Managing Editor/News, Congressional Quarterly