Community Member Q&A: Yellow Bird Editors

Yellow Bird wordmark with bird_color
Yellow Bird provides a wealth of editing services as well as private writing coaches to writers of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books. Founded by author Sara Kocek (Promise Me Something) and based in Austin, TX, Yellow Bird editors are an accomplished band of editors of varied literary backgrounds.
Yellow Bird is also a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with Sara Kocek to find out more about the services they offer.
Sara-Kocek_blue-shirt_low-res-200x300Scribe: Yellow Bird offers an array of editing services for writers–manuscript critiques, content editing, first chapter critique and query letter review & edit, to name a few. What’s some good advice for a new writer deciding what type of editing service to choose from?
Yellow Bird: If you’re uncertain about which editorial service to begin with, I almost always recommend our standard manuscript critique. This usually gets you the biggest bang for your buck, since you’ll receive feedback on a range of issues, including plot, structure, character development, dialogue, narrative flow, transitions, and even how your book fits into the marketplace. Another great option is a First Chapter Critique & Line Edit. In addition to a feedback letter addressing the strengths and weaknesses of your first chapter, your editor will also provide comments in the margins and suggested line edits directly into the text. It’s a nice, affordable way to test out an editor and make sure you have good chemistry before committing to working together on the full manuscript.
Scribe: How do you match a client’s project to a Yellow Bird editor and how does one get in touch?
YB: Prospective clients should fill out the inquiry form on our website, which asks for key project details (e.g. manuscript length and genre). Most importantly, we ask for a brief description of your project and the type of help you think you need. The more thorough you are in your answers, the easier it is for us to determine which editor on our list would be the right fit for you. If you already have a synopsis (or even jacket copy) written out, please feel free to include that—we love synopses! Our Project Coordinator reviews each inquiry and reaches out to the editor(s) she thinks would be the best fit for the project. From there, she makes an introduction so that the client and editor can be in touch directly to discuss details. Our Project Coordinator also takes care of issuing contracts and invoices so that our editors can focus on the work they do best.
Scribe: Yellow Bird offers college essay coaching for teens and creative writing tutorials for both kids and teens. Can you tell us more about those services?
YB: Absolutely! We work frequently with kids and teens, though we require a parent to be the primary point of contact. For kids between the ages of 8 and 15, we offer one-on-one creative writing tutorials via email on a weekly or monthly basis. The student receives a fun creative writing prompt, writes a short story or poem in response, and emails it back. We critique the piece of writing, noting both what we love about it and how it could be improved. The critique consists of a 1-page single spaced letter. This is a fun, affordable way for motivated students to receive one-on-one attention from a published author.
With regard to college essay coaching, we do more than help applicants improve individual essays; we guides students through shaping their entire collection of essays and short-answer questions to hone the overall message they send the admissions office. We are available both for coaching (guiding the student through the writing process) and editing (improving existing drafts). Most coaching and editing sessions are conducted via email and phone.
Scribe: What do you see are the one or two biggest challenges facing writers in the editing process?
YB: Being too close to your own work can be a huge challenge. If you’ve read your draft (or even your first chapter!) a dozen or more times, it becomes very difficult to see it objectively. That’s why bringing an editor or a smart critique partner into the process is vital. And once you’ve decided to work with a professional editor, half the battle is knowing what kind of editing you need. So many writers come to Yellow Bird looking for copyediting or proofreading when they would be better served by more holistic feedback on plot and structure, usually in the form of a full manuscript critique or developmental editing. There’s no point in spending money on line editing if the big-picture elements of your story (plot arc, character development, etc.) need work! You’re better off investing in a standard or extensive manuscript critique, doing a round of revision, and then moving on to line editing.
Scribe: What’s important to you about supporting the Writers’ League of Texas and being a community member?
I love The Writers’ League! Every time I teach a workshop or attend an event like the annual Agents & Editors Conference, I know I am surrounded by “my people.” Also, having worked for the League (currently as the Contest Manager and formerly as the Program Director), I know first-hand how dedicated and hardworking the team is. The Writers’ League gave me a sense of community when I first moved to Texas, and now I am excited to give back as a community member.
Thanks, Sara!
Click here to visit Yellow Bird’s website.
Are you a business or organization interested in getting involved?
Community Membership is a great way to connect with the Writers’ League’s membership base and share news and information about writing-related services and events. For more information on Community Membership click here or call our office at (512) 499-8914.

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