Archive for Writing

How Crowdsourcing Your Writing Makes It Better

Crowdsourcing is all the rage, but it’s also one of the most unique and amazing contributions the Web has helped enable in our world.

For the second time in the last year, I’ve crowdsourced the editing of an ebook and wanted to share how it’s worked for me. I know from experience simply writing is extremely hard work … but putting your work — and unfinished work at that — out for the world to see can induce dread, fear and then procrastination.

But here’s one reason why you should consider it …. it’ll make your work better. 

I’ve often asked a select couple of people to edit and give me feedback, which I still do. But through crowdsourcing the editorial process, you’ll get a much broader perspective and feedback on your work.

Here’s how it’ll help make your work better and what you’ll learn:

  • More eyeballs reading, interpreting, help dramatically to the quality of the final product. It multiplies the help you get.
  • You’ll get great comments and quotes that flesh out what you wrote with actual stories. On one or two occasions so far I’ve followed up and asked if I could their comments and stories in the book.
  • Some will take out their fine-tooth grammar comb of editing. I so much appreciate this. It’s made my work so much better.
  • You’ll almost instantly see if it has a chance of being successful and helping people. Some simply comment to say they love it and can’t wait to see it in the open.
  • It builds momentum for the launch. You’ll talking about it publicly, showing people what you have, and making it better for eventual release. It helps act as marketing for the project in a great way. And when people invest in the editing process they are more likely to tell others about it. You’ve gotten editors and created fans at the same time.

So here’s my simple, easy process for crowdsourcing your editing:

  1. Upload my draft on Google Docs
  2. Put a short note at the top giving directions
  3. Enable Comments
  4. Share link and ask people to help you (typically emailing my newsletter list)
  5. Followup on comments with clarification or thanks

Of course you’ll continue to write, edit and refine. And eventually you might want to do another round of edits and ask people to come back from one last look before publishing it.

Here are some additional tips and tricks to make the most of crowdsourcing:

  • Give credit those who help out — the first time I did this I forgot to mention that people should put their names in the comments so that I can make sure and give them credit for helping.
  • Put a deadline on it — I didn’t do this either time actually, but afterward thought I should have included a timeframe for when I’m hoping to wrap up the ebook.
  • Keep reminding people — I blogged about it, then keep tweaking out some things I’ve included in it to keep the attention on it and remind people. We’re all busy and sometimes things get forgotten or overlooked. Take some of your most commented on parts and share those to get others excited about the project.
  • Ship it — at some point, you gotta hit Publish. Be sure to have a ship date in mind.
  • Keep it in Google Docs for continued refinement — I haven’t done this in the past, but want to do this in the future. Keeping the doc in Google Docs and making a note in the intro section of the ebook that if they see a problem they can comment there is great.