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David Groff offers advice to writers: Be superb, original, relentless

David Groff speaks at KSU
David Groff speaks at KSU
Lisa M. Russell, Designer

Independent editors have the publishing knowledge and contacts with agents and publishers that writer's need.

Traveling the road to publication can be frustrating for many writers. This is especially true for new and emerging writers who often lack the knowledge about publishing and contacts within the industry to get their work read and hopefully published.

Imagine being a writer and having spent months, maybe even years diligently working on your manuscript. Now, as the writing process ends, you find you’re spending more time asking questions: Is my work ready for publication? If so, how do I get published? Do I need an agent?

One answer is to hire an independent editor like David Groff. As Groff explains, having your work read by someone else is an important step toward publication.

“Writers have highly developed capacities for being creative independently – working at their desks to build terrific narratives, informational texts, poems, and stories. But just as a painting isn’t truly a painting until it’s seen, so a writer’s pages aren’t truly realized until they are read by someone else,” says Groff.

Groff is affiliated with Consulting Editors Alliance, a group of independent editors whose services include the development of book proposals, in-depth evaluation of manuscripts, project development, line editing and rewriting, "book doctoring", and collaboration and ghostwriting.

Independent editors have the publishing knowledge and contacts with literary agents and publishers that many writers lack. They will read a writer’s manuscript, advice on every aspect of publishing, and then help get the book ready to publish.

Independent editors also specialize in specific genres and styles and can meet a writer’s specific needs. For example, Groff specializes in narratives of all kind, from literary and “popular” fiction and memoirs to stories of adventure and life-learning, as well as the work of journalists, specialists, and scholars. Others focus on biography, history, fantasy, and other genres.

Most independent editors have many years of education andexperience in publishing. Groff learned his trade working first as an editorial assistant for Crown Publishingin New York after graduating from Princeton with an English degree and the University of Iowa with an MFA, MA in Creative Writing. He worked hard and took advantage of editingopportunities whenever he could.

When asked his advice to aspiring editors, Groff’s response echoedhis own experience: “I would tellthem to have a thorough command of the language, attain good social skills, andnot be in thrall of the big publishers and instead decide their own fate,becoming entrepreneurs or, if they work within a publishing house,‘intrapreneurs’ so that they later have the option – in a rapidly changingbusiness – to become independent managers and content providers.”

After 12 years at Crown Publishing, Groff took his ownadvice and decided his fate by become an independent editor.

“I found that I loved book content more than booksalesmanship. I went out on my own and became an independent editor. I found I could survive and thrive at a time when more and moreeditorial projects where outsourced for publishing entrepreneurs.”

He offers similar advice to writers.

“Writers today practically have to publish themselves – andI want to show them how to become not just writers but entrepreneurs” and howto stand out by thinking “beyond the form of the book” and “embracing otherways to discover readers.”

One of the ways to discover readers is through the Internetand social media.

“Everything has become privatized and social media pointstoward the possibility of developing niche readerships for your work in waysthat the giant-hairball publishers might or not be able to reach. I think writers can slowly but surelybuild their own networks, find their own means of production, and discoverreaders through the diligent and defined use of Facebook, Twitter, and otherelectronic media,” says Groff.

Even then, it’s a crowded marketplace. There are a lot of competing interestsand writers need to discover how to stand out. But they shouldn’t lose focus on what they’re best at: writing. Groff explains to his clients that it’s important to be a“writer” first before becoming an “author.”

So, how does a writer do this? How does a writer stand out?

“They can do it by being superb and original relentless writers. Let’s talk about that!” says Groff.

View the video clip of David Groff. For the entire workshop, join Georgia Writers Association. For more information:

This article was written by:

Michael Gavalas is a freelance writer and editor. Two of Michael's passions have always been reading and writing. He is a graduate from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Professional writing. Michael can be reached at


  • J. Steve Miller 4 years ago

    Sounds like Mr. Groff has a lot of talent and experience that we can all learn from. I plan to be there!

    J. Steve Miller
    President, Legacy Educational Resources
    Author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It
    "The money book for people who hate money books."

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