Cassie Nicole Nolin

Cassie Nicole Nolin is a Georgia author with over twenty-five years of writing experience. In addition to having served as Editor in Chief for Troy University's literary journal, "The Rubicon," Cassie has published original work on various websites such as "In Faith Today" and "My Journey of Faith." She has also created, maintained, and provided continuous written content for her websites: "Something More" and "Faith to Feet." Throughout the years, her writing portfolio grew to include circulated devotional newsletters for a local church, instructional material that she used to teach teen and women's groups, and an extensive poetry collection currently being prepared for publication.

To Hire or Not to Hire: Is it better to Self-Edit or Go with a Pro?

Your bestseller is sitting there, waiting for publication. You have written, revised, rewritten, and revised again, and now — you cringe at the thought of more corrections. Every writer experiences the painstaking chore of cleaning up their work before moving forward, but not every writer hires a professional editor. Some do, some do not. Whether you plan to go the traditional route or self-publish, getting a quality book to the masses will require the long and tedious task of editing. So, the question stands, who should do the editing, you or a professional?  The answer lies solely in your goals for the masterpiece you have created.

Professional editors work hand in hand with authors to ensure their book hits the shelves in the best condition possible. As an invaluable piece of the publishing puzzle, the editor’s job is to turn a good book into a fantastic one.

[Do not be mistaken: it is NOT the editor’s job to take a pile of literary goo that you have an idea for and then magically transform it into an award-winning novel. You are the writer — they just make your writing better.]

That being said, at certain times and in certain conditions, it may be more cost-efficient and practical to perform the tedious task of editing yourself. If you are looking to get your writing to the masses as quickly as possible, try out a story idea to beta readers, or test run a particular genre, you may be able to buckle down and take on this job without external help.

If the focus, though, is to propel your career forward and have your work come across as flawless and professional as possible, then you may need to open your wallet and get some experts in your corner. Weighing your writing goals against the pros of both hiring and self-editing will help you better understand which option will work best for you.   


Derek Murphy of Authortube posted an informational video in 2015 stating that he does not always recommend hiring an editor for individuals looking to publish. This does not sound like something a professional editor would say. However, his reasoning rests on the idea that if the story is not good, then editing will not make a difference. You can have a grammatically and structurally pristine body of work, but the writing is so horrible that it puts people to sleep. This logic is sound and reflects one condition where external editing may not be necessary.

Murphy expounds on this, saying that if the story’s structure is good and it flows well, then the smaller nuances and grammatical slip-ups will not matter quite as much. Readers are much more forgiving of a few small errors when the writing captivates them. His modus operandi for publishing is to edit a solid amount himself and then send that work out to beta readers, asking for their help in identifying typos and errors. This method should catch most, if not all, significant errors and problems in the writing. If your plans are not necessarily to have your work accepted as expert material, this should be more than enough to make your book readable and successful if it is written well.

Catherine Turner of Daily House further develops the process of self-editing on her YouTube channel, Bestseller List. Her overarching belief is that hiring a professional will always be best, but she also understands that sometimes paying an editor is not feasible. For most beginner authors, frugality is vital, and oftentimes, hiring an editor is beyond the scope of financial possibility. Adding onto Murphy’s ideas, Turner focuses on the necessity of quality when publishing any written work. For self-editors, free or inexpensive tools such as ProWritingAid and Grammarly are exceptional in scanning the various details of writing structure and grammar usage within the text. Online programs like these can clean things up and make the formatting more professional.

Additional tips that Turner suggests when approaching publication are:

  • Sending selections of the book to a professional editor in pieces versus all at once. This process can be spread out over several months while continuing your revisions and allows you to edit as you go instead of going back to page 1 after you have done all that work. This method does enlist the help of a professional editor but in more affordable chunks. Choosing this route can divvy up editing costs to as little as $100 – $200 a month.
  • Taking advantage of Beta readers who can help with the final proofing process. Again, this can be done in pieces or the book’s entirety.
  • Pricing your finished book lower. While it may seem counterproductive, this trick elicits less scrutiny from readers, as it lowers the expectation of perfection. If the work is of good quality, it will sell regardless, and you can get a better feel of whether the book will be successful. A $0.99 book is held under a more forgiving microscope than a $15.99 one.


Self-editing can save a good bit of money, but it may not always be worth it. There are many situations when hiring an expert is the best decision you could make. Countless authors believe so much in this process that they will opt-out of other typically paid-for services (like professional cover design) to have more of their budget allotted to hiring a quality editor. Content is that important.

Blake Atwood shares his professional opinion on the matter at The Write Life, discussing when a writer should start looking for an editor.

A few of the questions he recommends authors ask themselves are:

  • Have I done as much as I can to make my manuscript the best it can be?
  • Am I looking for an editor because I’m tired of looking at my manuscript?
  • Do I have the nagging feeling that something undefinable isn’t quite working in my manuscript?
  • Do I understand the cost, both in time and money, of hiring a professional editor, and have I budgeted for both?

When hiring an editor, it is crucial to understand just what services they will be offering. You must know why you are hiring an editor before jumping in. Otherwise, you may be paying for additional services that you do not need or need certain ones that your editor does not provide. P.S. Hoffman explains the process in his article “When Should You Hire an Editor?”

Line Editing is when the editor will go line by line to check the flow and feel of the language you have used and the meaning implied.

Proofreading will only fix the grammar, spelling, and factual errors within the writing. It does not look at the flow of the piece or whether things make sense overall.

Developmental or structural editing will focus on the plot, the characters, and the story as a whole.

After you have done all of your own revisions, take a look at what you need the most for your book and hire someone based on those needs. Do you need grammatical help, help with the feel of the story, or perhaps plot structure? Some editors package multiple services into one at a discounted rate. Do your homework and communicate your needs. When everyone is on the same page, the writer-editor relationship will be optimal.


Hiring a professional should be done when you cannot do it yourself effectively, do not have the time or energy to do it yourself, or need your work to be as polished as humanly possible before releasing it for publication.

On the other hand, if you are skilled enough to make the necessary corrections, have an astute attention to detail, or cannot budget for a professional editor, then self-editing might be a better choice for your work.

Regardless of the path you choose to get your writing from point A to point B, the editing process is one that you cannot cut corners on; it has to be done. Whether you hire a professional or choose to do it yourself is up to you. More often than not, multiple revisions must be made before a book is ready for market. If you can do the work of both writer and editor, it will save a significant amount of money, but hiring one will always be worth the cost to convey a professional tone. Perfect as much as you can, and then let your writing speak for itself.  

I’ve reached that final moment of editing a book—the one where the text manifests as a living breathing person and starts slugging me in the face.

Richard Due

Writers Find All the Help They Need on Scribophile

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” Anaїs Nin’s words convey the purpose of many writers, but that writing process is not always as easy as a passionate swipe of the keyboard. The work is tedious, tiresome, and often involves multiple rewrites to end up with something that is (hopefully) close to what was intended. To be a writer takes skill, perseverance, and analytical editing of one’s work, but this task is much more difficult without the support and wise advice of others who have walked the same road. While writing for public consumption can be accomplished entirely by individual efforts, it is a world of difference when quality help is enlisted.

Help is Found!

Online communities and workshops are available across the web and do more than provide digital socialization. With the help of platforms like Scribophile (affectionately nicknamed “Scrib“), seasoned authors and novel newbies can gain insight and critiques from other writers to help improve their talents and find valuable, professional information on sharpening their literary skillset. Founded in 2008, Scribophile is an all-inclusive community and multi-skill workshop where novelists, poets, essayists, and the like, can post thoughtful suggestions to others and have their work reviewed as well. The greatest perks of this specific network focus on the common good of the group and the active, individual support of fellow writers in their various projects.

Beta-readers are always at the ready to review writings in a safe and honest environment. For authors, beta-readers can help boost confidence tremendously by offering a disinterested party’s genuine feedback. One’s adoring mother might be able to provide help with a review, but it is much more beneficial to have someone in the general public give their 100% honest take on a piece. Critical feedback is crucial to understanding how the composition will come across to the masses, and quality insight can help convey public opinion better than a well-meaning friend or relative.

Touted as one of the “largest and most active writing groups online,” Scribophile gives a brief summary of their offerings:

  • Post your writing to get detailed, insightful feedback from other writers on how to improve it
  • Chat and discuss with other writers from around the world in our busy writing forums
  • Network with like-minded writers in our special-purpose writing groups
  • Enter free writing contests to win great prizes
  • And educate yourself on the finer points of the craft of writing in our writing academy and writing blog

One of Scribophile’s most brilliant selling points is their currency. Karma Points are the bait and reward that entices readers and writers to give extensive feedback, engage with other writers, and simply be involved across the board. These free points are earned by posting critiques (the lengthier, the more points you can earn), others reacting positively to reviews left for them, sending virtual gifts, etc. Points are easy to acquire and easy to spend; it only requires five karma points to post new work for critique. A writer will also frequently stumble across other members who generously give points as gifts from their own excess, just to help a writer out.

The “Writing Academy” section of the site is where priceless information is stored. It is a “collection of free writing resources produced by members of the Scribophile community who are writing professionals.” Subjects vary across a broad spectrum of categories. These include articles on writing effective critiques, using different narrative perspectives, composing screenplays, publishing, copyright infringement, and more. Scrib provides a plethora of opportunities for writers to improve and hone their craft.  

Scribophile abounds in valuable resources and friendly interactions, all in the free version of the platform. With the premium upgrade, bonuses are added to the already vast array of benefits. Some of these benefits are:

  • Account limits lifted
  • Ways to get more and improved feedback
  • Control over who sees your writing
  • Publication Showcase

Discounts are also offered for Grammarly Premium and Bookbaby’s book editing service upon enrollment in Scribophile’s premium program.

As a poet, playwright, and novelist, Mark Guerin had a personal interest in the appeal of Scribophile and composed a review for Dead Darlings: Everything Novel. His conclusive opinion highlights the many positive features available for writers in the Scrib community. A favorite of Guerin is what Scribophile calls inline critiques, allowing the critic to “highlight text, suggest deletions and directly insert comments which highlight to green to differentiate them from the author’s text. The resulting screen is much easier to read than a commented Word doc with all its arrows and bubbles.”

The depth of analysis that critics can utilize when reviewing the work of others allows a more personalized and professional experience. Guerin completes his praise of the site by stating,

Scribophile offers me enough of the critical insights I need to spot and revise problems in my writing, and more importantly, to keep me motivated. Writers need readers and Scribophile provides them.

A key element in the website’s feedback system is what Alex Cabal, founder of Scribophile, likes to call the Spotlight. On Author Secret, Cabal explains that the Spotlight system is a way to guarantee timely feedback for writings that members post. A limited number of pieces are highlighted in this section for maximum karma earnings. He assures members that “your work is guaranteed to enter a spotlight for a minimum of critiques… Once your work reaches a certain number of critiques, it’s removed from the Spotlight to make room for another work.” This system, along with karma points, guarantee feedback for every single submission.

Scribophile is more than a friendly group of writers; it is a centralized storehouse of helpful information, contests, networking, and invaluable critiques to help with the daunting tasks of writing and editing. It is one thing to experience life initially through the creation of a literary work; it is quite another to re-live it through the chiseling away of what hinders the development of the masterpiece. Having other hands available to help with this sculpting process enables the creation to stand stronger and more beautiful than it would with only one set of tools. Countless writers are willing and able to take that journey alongside a comrade through community platforms and workshops like Scribophile. With a simple sign-in, all the help a writer could need is available for the taking.

Video Presence Reigns in Virtual Communities

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is priceless. Millions of individuals have created an online visual presence and reaped the benefits of doing so in their personal and professional lives. Although traditionally text-based, the writing community has discovered the rewards of having a unique presence online via video and has created communities to cement their places in cyberspace. Two such communities that have established solid international footholds are BookTube and AuthorTube. These YouTube groups focus on the reader and writers’ perspectives to unite and enhance the digital literary world.

Having launched around 2010, BookTube is essentially a virtual coffee shop where written-word lovers review and talk about all things related to reading. It is full of individuals who love a good book and use the platform to propagate “worthy” pieces for the masses. While no official rules exist about what can be discussed or posted, three of the most popular styles of BookTube videos uploaded are Reviews, Tags, and Book Hauls. South African BookTuber, Tshegofatso Motlhake posted a video in 2019 further describing the purpose of BookTube and these categories.

To summarize —

  • Reviews: Reviews include literary criticism, personal opinion, and popular reaction. The goal is to share your own thoughts and feelings about a particular piece of literature in hopes to either persuade or deter other readers to interact in kind with the same book.
  • Tags: Tag videos are socially driven. The one posting will typically ask questions for a fellow BookTuber to answer. Topics can be a literary challenge, a response to one of their own posts, asking their opinion, or simply starting a conversation. This is meant to promote ongoing dialogue and a stronger sense of camaraderie.
  • Book Hauls: Book Haul videos are when individuals share the books they have found and purchased, usually without reading them yet. These are simply another way to connect with other BookTubers and promote excitement around newly published or obtained pieces.

One significant benefit of joining a community of readers is that it allows mass promotion of material. If anything requires marketing, video shares are a highly effective way of advertising. A good reader makes a good writer, and many authors obtain beta-readers through connections made on BookTube and so expand their reader base to global proportions. Arthur Gutch, from the blog Opyrus, explains the leverage one can have by using vloggers to boost a writing career. He states, “Book vloggers need new material every week just like book bloggers do. They rely on authors who submit their work in exchange for an honest review of their work.” Using these vloggers to advertise is smart networking, and the BookTube writing community was formed bearing this potential in mind.

Soon after the establishment of BookTube, another literary group snuck onto the scene. Realizing that on the other side of readers are writers also needing a social community and professional outlet, vloggers started posting to a new forum — thus, AuthorTube was born. Writers, editors, and other literary professionals and wannabes started posting helpful information and insight regarding the writing and publishing world, including tips they have learned themselves.

Novelist Courtney Young (under the pen name Lyra Parish) has been one of the leading vloggers in the AuthorTube community for several years, with over 6.26K subscribers. Her channel, The Courtney Project, is a multi-faceted channel that showcases in-demand topical material. From writing tips and encouragement to burnout and marketing, she — as well as other successful vloggers — attempt to make the field a bit more straightforward than the chaos it can be when starting out.

Writers are not the only individuals posting on AuthorTube. Having an impressive variety of amateurs and professionals post their thoughts to the public serves to enlarge the cache of knowledge and experience available to the up-and-coming. The writer of Penchant states,

I’ve actually found it much more illuminating to watch videos from editors and agents than from aspiring authors. Writers like to talk about writing — often about their own processes. Editors and agents know what constitutes good writing and bad writing.

While some that post in these online communities are young adults aspiring to be famous YouTubers, just as many, if not more, have notable and reliable information to share.

The literary community reaps substantial benefits from networking and maintaining a consistent visual/video presence online through digital forums such as these. Engaging with other writers provides a considerable measure of accountability and encouragement to keep pressing through the writing process. Tricks of the trade can also be picked up from those who have been in the same position and have pushed past their shortcomings. Author Learning Center dives into several more advantages of plugging into these YouTube groups, including:  

  • Access to the video-watching demographic
  • Access to one of the largest search engines on the web
  • High discoverability as an author
  • Ability to form a substantial following and engage with like-minded people

According to Hootsuite, YouTube logs more than 2 billion monthly users — a staggering number of people to have open access to. YouTube boasts impressive localization in over 100 countries and can be accessed in over 80 different languages. Connecting with a group that extensive, to glean wisdom from and market towards, provides resources that can save a literary professional caught in a sink or swim situation. When the writing slump hits or when facing a unique publishing problem, the ability to access a storehouse of information in one location is invaluable. These are just a few of the rewards of establishing a literary presence in a video-based platform with global renown.

The digital community relies heavily on video presence, making information and marketing relatable and easily accessible by various devices. It may be challenging to read a 5-page article on a topic via smartphone, but watching a BookTube or AuthorTube channel on the same subject is as easy as tapping play. With informal access and virtual interaction with countless individuals, professionals become friends, and work becomes play. Communities thrive on personal interaction, and networking cannot be fully taken advantage of without consistent communication. Online communities provide that consistency and are reliable venues for readers, authors, editors, and lovers of all things “bookish” to come together and thrive in a welcoming and growing environment.

Building an Online Literary Journal from Start to Finish

Building a successful literary journal or magazine from scratch is possible with the right tools and blueprints. From the birth of an idea to the finished product, the process will require concentrated effort and heartfelt dedication. There will be a learning curve, but aspiring editors can craft a journal for both digital and traditional print by adhering to the following steps.

Begin with the End in Mind

To be successful in any venture, author and speaker Stephen Covey hit the nail on the head with his famous piece of advice, “begin with the end in mind.”

Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.

For creating a publication, it is crucial to have a vision for what you want the finished journal to be. Begin with the end in mind. Do you want the journal to be for traditional print, online-only, or both? What genres of writing do you want to represent? What is your purpose for creating one, to begin with? What name best represents your publication’s style?

Aside from all of this, one of the questions you must answer is, “how much work am I willing to apply to do?” Whether you have a team or not will also directly influence this answer. Once you decide on your investment, you will be able to assess how often the journal can be released: annually, bi-annually, monthly, etc.

Monetization is another possibility to consider. Many literary magazines (particularly digitized versions) can make a profit but require methods such as subscription services, submission fees, website advertising, and more to do so. However, these details can be readdressed later if you want to test the waters and measure your success before committing to sponsors.

Defining Your Digital Presence

Having an online presence will be critical to your success, regardless of whether you are printing or strictly virtual. Carefully decide which platform to use. gives several platform suggestions such as Weebly, Wix, WordPress, Bluehost, and Squarespace. These sites provide pricing and package options that cater to all financial and coding abilities. Most platforms offer simple drag and drop design schemes for free or low cost and are relatively easy to learn.

Other aspects to consider are advertising and networking platforms. Your virtual exposure will be critical for advertising purposes, requesting submissions, and maintaining interest. According to Statista, the most used social media platforms in 2021 are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and several more. While primarily known as entertainment-based mediums, countless professional entities are now using their advertising and networking services. Where the most people gather is where you should establish a digital presence.

To go a bit deeper into this advertising realm, do not discount services such as Google Ads to help you spread the word. Some marketing methods may require a small charge but often are worth every penny. Google Analytics is another good online tool to use for tracking your site’s metrics.

There must be a reliable way for readers to subscribe to your journal.
A “Subscribe Now” button on the site will allow for sign-ups via email.
* Remember to include all social media handles *


Now that you can picture your final result and have established your online presence, it is time for the blueprints. Whether for traditional or digital publications, stick to the plan, and you will avoid common mistakes.

#1- Team Effort Vs. Flying Solo
If you are lucky enough to have a team, now is when you need to get to know them. Plan around their skills and passions before assigning roles. People work harder in areas they are interested in. Assign clear tasks and solid deadlines. Spread the workload so that everyone is doing something, but no one is doing everything. If your team happens to be large enough, divide the group into sections with a group leader who reports directly to you. Keep lines of communication open and have checkpoints to keep a handle on progress. If you do not have a team and are flying solo in this venture, apply the same steps and principles to yourself as you would to others. If you handle yourself the way you would handle a team, staying on target with your publication goals will be much easier.  

#2- Deadlines
Once again, begin with the end in mind. Decide when you want your first journal to “hit the shelves” and work backward timewise from there. Remember that you will need time for contributors to send in submissions, editors to comb through those subs, and the design team to create a layout. Typical deadlines should include:

  • Close of Submissions
  • Content Editing Deadline
  • Design/Formatting Deadline
  • “Go Live” Date or Send to Printer Deadline

#3- Show Me the Money!
For traditional print, costs keep rising. Depending on print goals, you will need as much in the budget as possible. This amount will differ depending on whether you wish to pay your team, make it a profit-based publication, or offer it pro bono. Advertising, in-person fundraising, hosting ads, and any extra funds will always be helpful. For online publishing, the cost to “print” may be less or even nonexistent but those funds can go towards paying a team or yourself. The same focus applies either way.

If offering free copies, start fundraising ASAP! There will always be unforeseen costs when it comes to budgeting.
* Check early on detailed price lists *

#4- Submission Guidelines
Get the word out quickly once you are open for submissions. Clearly define your journal’s focus, the genres accepted, what will/will not be considered, and then hold to your own rules. Several submission services and websites will allow entries to be sent via email or into a collective location. One of which is the well-known Microsoft OneDrive. The submitted material can also be organized and shared with other team members, making step #5 a smoother process.

#5- Start Editing
Now is when the real work begins. You will need to find a system of sharing notes that work best for you and your team. Google Docs is a simple (and free) place to start, as it allows document sharing where everyone can see added notations.

Editing Process:

  • Formatting/Style: The layout of each submission should be consistent. Even if you have variations in style, you still want the journal to flow. Pieces could have bold titles, italicized author names, a page numbering system, etc.
  • Grammar: Address grammatical and structural errors within the subs while leaving room for artistic licensing.
  • Appropriateness: Is your journal “clean” content or language-wise? If so, then check that the submissions reflect those standards. Leniency will call those standards into question and will be harder to maintain later.
  • Paring Down: You may have to say “no” to some talented writers and illustrators. If so, be kind and encouraging. Never leave any contributor in the lurch as to whether their submission was accepted or not. Reach out to them directly if possible, and encourage them to try another time or even try a different publication if they were not the right “fit” for your journal.
  • Communication with Authors: Reach out to the authors with any necessary edits. A comma here or there can be corrected, but if there are fundamental changes required, reach out to them with the suggestions. They are the writers; if they do not want to change anything, then take it as-is and print it. If the piece cannot flow with the feel you want to convey, then a positively spun denial of publication may be required.

Congratulate the accepted authors and double-check how they want their names displayed.
* Get the spelling right *

#6- Building the Journal
What vibe will your cover convey? Your first image needs to represent the heartbeat of your journal. Is the theme more modern, fantasy, vintage, or pop-culture? Decide the feel you want readers to have when they pick up or click on your publication. One of the many programs that offer both free and paid versions is Canva. This site provides the ability to create custom pieces that can save in multiple formats. You can upload images or design them from the hundreds of elements offered.   

For formatting written content, there are just as many programs available as there are for graphic design. Reedsy is one such tool that allows you to transfer submissions from software like Microsoft Word, design and edit, and then save in various formats, including the widely accepted PDF. Pages can then be numbered, and a Table of Contents created. Include the following sections to ensure proper credit is given and the design remains professional.

  • Copyright Information with documented ISSN number
  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Special Thanks to Sponsors and Contributors
  • List of Staff/Team Members

If printing, check and see which formats the printer will accept.
Most accept several different formats – the most common being PDF.

#7- Go to Press!
Time to Publish! Send the formatted publication to your printer or click that “publish” button. Ensure that the formatting stays correct when shifting between your design software and your website. If applicable, check if the structure used is also compatible with a mobile version. Most people access the internet via their smartphones, and how your journal looks on a small screen will make or break the readability.

Maintain communication with sponsors, writers, and your team. Ensure everyone’s software is compatible with the jobs required and if using the same programs, talk and make sure margins and page sizes are the same across the board! Otherwise, this will throw off your progress and add unnecessary stress
Let your team know how much you appreciate their hard work, pat yourself on the back, and then…
* Get ready for the next edition!