Senior starts online editing business

Camille Beredjick

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An online editing business headed by a Northwestern student offers “editing with a twist.” Weinberg senior Rachel Koontz started her online editing Web site, editZING, over the summer.

“I love talking to people about their writing,” Koontzi said. “I’m such a nerd.”

Koontz started at NU as a Medill student, but transferred to Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences to become an English major with a focus on creative writing and poetry.

“I’ve been a writer all my life and I’ve done a lot of editing,” she said. “(In Medill) you learn a lot about not only storytelling, but also how to be an editor.”

The idea for editZING surfaced while Koontz was helping film and religion lecturer Sara Anson Vaux, who is also the director of the Office of Fellowships, edit a book she is working on about Clint Eastwood’s films. Koontz had taken a film class with Vaux, who she said was instantly impressed with her writing.

“Her papers during the quarter just showed that intuition about the way language works,” Vaux said. “She was able to take her brilliant insights and put them into appealing prose.”Toward the end of Spring Quarter last year, Vaux asked Koontz to help edit the content and form of her book. In addition, she asked Koontz to co-write one of the book’s five chapters.”It’s a dynamite partnership,” Vaux said. “I want to hire her until the end of time.”

Koontz said this experience showed her that her knack for editing could be used outside the classroom; she could help other students hone their writing skills and earn money doing it. Instead of just editing clients’ essays for grammatical errors, Koontz wanted to be able to sit down with students face-to-face and thoroughly discuss their work.

“There are a lot of options out there for getting help with editing …You can submit (a draft) online and get it back the next day, but you haven’t learned anything,” she said.

She designed the editZING Web site herself using the web-hosting site Weebly. Her fiance, Communication senior Josh Stroud, is the artistic director of the site and designed its logo and graphics, while Koontz determined the pricing for edits based on what similar services charge. However, she’s currently more concerned with the site’s publicity than its profits.”Right now editZING is really not about the money side of it,” she said. “There needs to be a vision besides ‘How am I going to pay my bills?'”

Koontz said clients will ideally make initial contact by sending a draft to review. She looks over the writing, returns a price quote and sets up a meeting to examine the draft more closely. Meeting clients in person to review their work is what sets her practice apart from other editing services, she said.

“As a student and a writer, you get tired of getting back the paper with red pen marks you can’t even read,” she said. “It’s developing that personal experience that helps (a client) make progress.”

Koontz said her favorite project thus far has been helping edit Vaux’s book, but she also enjoys editing college applications. Koontz said she has been working on various applications for about a month with 17-year-old Sheeva Nesva, a senior at her alma mater, Granite Bay High School in California. Nesva said she learned about editZING from a journalism adviser who taught Koontz in high school.

“At first I figured she’d just edit my essay,” Nesva said. “I wasn’t anticipating having her counsel me through all of my college application experience.”

Nesva said Koontz helped her with every aspect of the application process; she set up a calendar of deadlines, helped develop essay topics and edited written drafts.

“She basically acted as an adviser, not an editor – she provided a lot of support,” Nesva said. “I don’t know where I would be without her.”