In The Edit: Deborah Raney

Today’s In The Edit is a little different. Today I want to show you, by using a Deborah Raney example, ways that a good editor can help you make the most of the articles you write as you’re building your platform or your freelance business.

But, I do want to caution you as well. While it is permissible to repurpose an article—even wise—you need to be careful to not plagiarize yourself, as agent Steve Laube shares in his blog.

Deborah Raney
best-selling author of After All

The key, as best-selling author Deborah Raney suggests, is that each of these pieces, though about the same subject (how to incorporate the six senses into your fiction writing), are revised and re-edited with the audience in mind and each publisher was aware the article had been used before in another form.

I was not the editor on all of these pieces, but I did edit the versions that appeared in the Christian Writers Guild’s WordSmith ezine and the longer version in the ACFW Journal.

The original

“This article has gained so much mileage it’s not even funny!” Deb said. “The original sold to RWR (the magazine of the Romance Writers of America) in 2004—eight years ago. At that time it was 2500 words.”

See Deb’s original, unedited. Sorry, I do not have the edited version.

Christian Writers Guild version

This year, Deb will be one of the featured instructors at the Guild’s Writing for the Soul conference at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs CO. When I was the editor-in-chief at CWG, one of the things we liked to do was feature the conference instructors in our publications.

I needed something from Deb for the April 2012 issue of WordSmith and she suggested a reworking of this piece because the principles in it would help our students improve their storytelling abilities.

I had not read the RWR version, but she told me it had been published in the longer version above eight years earlier.

Read the version she sent me—already edited by Deb to 680 words.

The problem? I needed 300 words at the most—and, because of the audience, I needed a strong educational focus. Plus there was a desire, obviously, to promote Deb’s appearance at the conference.

See what we ended up with. (Deb’s article is on page 4 of the newsletter.)

Once more, with feeling!

Finally (so far…), Deb is the author of the Self-editing column for ACFW Journal, the quarterly magazine I edit for the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. When it was time for her July column, she suggested we run this piece again—only this time we were able to reinsert some of the stuff we had to cut for WordSmith.

See the ACFW Journal version.

Now, here’s where you may be wondering if this article is reaching critical mass. It has appeared, so far, in three publications that cater to writers: RWR, WordSmith, and ACFW Journal. Is that overkill?

A couple important things to remember: All three of those publications are member magazines and therefore only available to members of the organization that publishes them. While it’s possible there are a few people who are members of two of the organizations—even three—that is a fairly small population and each version of the story is substantially different.

But wait…

So Deb’s done with this topic now, right? Not so fast. When publicizing her latest release, After All (the third in the Hanover Falls series), Deb was asked to do a guest post on the blog The Borrowed Book. Yep, by taking the same information and revisiting it with examples from her new book, Deb was able to share this great writing information with another audience and do some good marketing for her book.

Why share this? Because when you write a good article, it’s not necessarily one and done—sometimes it’s one-, two-, three-, four- and (maybe) done. Especially if you think in advance about the different ways you can use the information you have to share.


Deb, thanks for letting me tell your story In The Edit today.

Eye image (c) Ken Raney


I hope you’ll come back on Thursday for another writing tip and then stop by Saturday for a writing quote and a question.


If you would like to see your writing in a future In The Edit post, send a maximum of 350 words to opusmle (at) gmail (dot) com. Please send in Word format (.doc). If I use it, you’ll be eligible for a 25-percent discount on any editing services.

On Thursday, we’ll look at another self-editing writing tip. See you then! Then on Saturday, drop by for a quick writer’s quote and to share what that quote means to you.

Michael Ehret, for Writing On The Fine Line

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