Episode 20

Self-Editing Tip for Writers

America's Editor has an important update for authors about ISBNs and a self-editing tip for writers that will save them time and money.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"Slow Coffee Lofi" by Simon Sharp

"Do You Believe In Magic" by Precarious Perch

Extract from Act 1 of Swan Lake

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

Welcome back, everyone. I have an important update for you about ISBNs, and we’ll be talking about Ukraine, Russia, and staying focused. This episode might come to be known as the last episode before Writing Break was banned in your country, so let’s get into it.

The Writing Break cafe is open and our usual table is available. That means it is time to catch up on some publishing news.

It is the end of an era for ISBNs. All of the 978 numbers have been sold, and new 10-digit ISBNs are no more. What am I talking about, and why should you care? I'll tell you.

As you might already know, ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and it is the number booksellers use to order your book. Grab the nearest book and check the copyright page to follow along here.


Alas, 15 years later, all of the 978 numbers have been sold. If you buy an ISBN today, it starts with 979, and there is no 10-digit ISBN to go along with it because it would be a duplicate of an ISBN that already exists.

So, what does this have to do with you? Well, some authors with a 979 prefix who are distributing through Ingram have said Amazon was not ready for the switch. These authors claim that Amazon orders print books from Ingram using the 10-digit system; therefore, Amazon was not able to see their 979 books in paperback or hardcover format. Other authors are reporting that all is well in the digital Amazon, so that’s something to check up on when you are ready to publish your next book if you are doing so through Ingram.

Poland’s Universal Reading Foundation announced that they are giving a total of $150,000 in grants to 51 Ukrainian publishers. This money will be used to get Ukrainian children's books into the hands of Ukrainian children seeking refuge in Poland.

The money comes from donations by individuals, publishers, and businesses around the world. They are now collecting for the next round of grants. Check the show notes of this episode for a link to contribute. Just $5 will get a book into the hands of a Ukrainian child.

And now, meet me on the Overthinking Couch. I have something to share that I have wanted to say to some of you for a while.

When I began brainstorming ideas for this podcast last year, I did what I have told you to do when you write. I kept my audience in mind, and I especially focused on my one ideal audience member. And I talked directly to this person. For me, this person was someone who would share their interesting ideas with me openly and warmly. A good friend who wanted to be the best writer they could be. I thought about you. I placed you here, next to me on this couch, taking a break from writing.


They tell us that Russians want this war, but we know how propaganda works, and it takes a strong mind to resist the propaganda machine. We also know how dictatorships work. We know the dangers of speaking out. Yet there you are, still writing. As the uncertain future becomes the terrifying past, keep your humanity in the present. Becoming a monster means pressing a self-destruct button.

Everyone listening right now has the almighty pen at the ready. You have a story to tell, whether it's to share your truth or to escape from it. Keep writing, and I will keep reading. And we will keep meeting here, on this couch. And if they ban this show where you are, keep writing.

Next up, a writing tip for your second draft.

My tip for you today is to review your second draft with a critical eye, keeping your book’s main message and central focus in mind, and then cut out that which does not serve your goal for the book.

It can be hard to accept that the tangent in the middle of a chapter or a scene might turn readers off to the entire book, but it’s the truth. A good editor can help you identify those parts that are dragging down your manuscript, but doing as much as you can on your own first will save you time and money.

Next week we will end Season 1 of Writing Break by reviewing the latest book trends. The week after that is a bonus episode. Then, in Season 2, we will work through the entire writing process of a three-act book.

Thank you for listening, and, as always, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

About the Podcast

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Writing Break
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About your host

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.