Ellen Polk is the founder of Ellen Edits LLC, which she started in late 2017 after graduating from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in English with a focus on public and professional communication and a graduate certificate in public health from IUPUI. Ellen provides copyediting and proofreading for digital content and full-length fiction and nonfiction manuscripts and she works with creatives, business owners, and independent authors.
Before transitioning into full-time entrepreneurship, Ellen balanced her editing work with a corporate job as a project manager at a mid-sized tech and government services company in Indianapolis, Indiana. Now, Ellen supports debut and multi-book authors through the editorial process and works as a content and managing editor for freelance writers and creative businesses
What is your book craft? I offer full-service copyediting, proofreading, and manuscript evaluations for fiction and nonfiction authors. I also work with freelance writers and creative businesses as a content or managing editor for blogs, articles, case studies, website copy, eBooks, and other written assets. And, because I truly love helping people tell a good story, I also offer content repurposing services to help businesses and creatives transform their longform audio and video content into high-performing blog content.
How did you get started offering these professional services? I have an English degree from Indiana University with a focus on Public and Professional Communication which basically means I spent four years thinking about how we engage with language and the power of clear, concise, and compelling storytelling. I’ve always known I was going to work with words, but even as I graduated from college and started my editing business in 2017, it wasn’t until a few months later when I started my corporate career that I really began to understand my “why.”
In the corporate setting, I spent a lot of time helping really intelligent people put their knowledge and know-how down on paper so they could create coherent and compelling narratives that solved a problem for their readers. In June of 2022 I stepped away from corporate to embrace full-time entrepreneurship and now I get to support independent authors, creative businesses, and entrepreneurs as they craft their stories every single day.
What fulfills you most about working with your clients? I love empowering my clients and watching their transformation through the publishing journey or as we form a positive author-editor relationship. I’m in a position to help independent authors and creative professionals tell their stories in a way that turns casual readers into a loyal audience and positions them as an expert in their genre or industry, and now, that’s exactly what I get to do every single day.
What is the ROI that your clients can look forward to by working with you? If we’re working together on your book (fiction or nonfiction) I can promise that you will not be subjected to the wildly overplayed “evil editor with a red pen” misconception. My motto is “Edit with Empathy” and I strive to ensure every one of my authors feels supported throughout our time working together. My packages include a discovery call so I can thoroughly get to understand you and your goals, written and recorded feedback to walk you through revisions and provide you with an action plan for next steps, a fully customized style sheet, and editorial letter. My clients often comment on how much they learned about writing and editing when we finish a project in addition to their satisfaction with their fully edited manuscript.
What makes you, and your services, unique? Because of my corporate background working as a project manager for a tech and government services company, I’m able to leverage what I learned during that time to create a seamless and elevated client experience. This is especially beneficial for my retainer and content repurposing clients because it’s often the case that I’m integrated into their content workflow which needs to continue to run smoothly. My book editing clients are often pleasantly surprised at my ability to listen (or read their writing) and ask thought-provoking questions or provide feedback they hadn’t considered. And it’s not just a surface level, “this section is confusing,” its actionable recommendations and prompts that allow them to take the next step in refining their story.
Who is your ideal client? I’m going to cheat a bit with my answer and say passionate people. I serve two distinct audiences (authors and entrepreneurs) and often there is a bit of overlap and that’s truly my sweet spot. I love working with professionals and experts who are crafting a nonfiction book to share their knowledge with the world, expand their reach, and continue to establish their expertise. At the same time, I’ll go absolutely bananas for any good fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, or historical fiction book that finds its way into my inbox! It’s important for me to be an inclusive business so no matter how you identify, if we’re a good fit, I’m happy to work as your editor.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I love a good handwritten list and although I’ll never give up my digital project management tools, I think there’s power in physically writing something down. I use a bullet journal to keep daily, weekly, and monthly task lists and I’ve recently adopted the Twelve Week Year methodology for setting (and achieving) quarterly goals. Because of my time in tech project management, I’m also a fan of Agile project management to iterate on projects and embrace the idea of creating a Minimum Viable Product as a first step.
How do you help your clients do the same? The concept of a Minimum Viable Product is similar to creating a first draft of a manuscript. There are certain things you have to know about what you’re creating and who you’re creating it for and the components that must be included in your creation before you can start writing. Once you have an outline or a draft, then you start the process of iterating (revising) what you’ve created. Partnering with an editor is a crucial part of the iteration process and it’s our job to not only think critically about the form and function of the writing, but about the user experience of the author’s target audience. I could get very nerdy here, but I’ll leave it at that!
How can people get started working with you? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at ellenedits.com/contact. I’d love to set up a free 30-minute discovery call to learn more about you and your book or your content to see if we’re a great fit to work together and take your writing to the next level!
What else would you like people to know about you? I am an unashamed cat mom, mediocre knitter, novice video game player, magazine enthusiast, book collector, Enneagram 1, and INTJ. I truly believe in cheering others on in their pursuit of their passions and watching others succeed brings me joy.
Image Courtesy of Ellen Polk