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How The Werd Nerd Got Started

Updated: Feb 25, 2022

If you’ve read the About Me section of my website, you know I’ve been a wordsmith who catches errors in text for decades. What I neglected to mention is how I became an editor in the first place. Did I decide to go back to school to be an editor or was it random? Well, it was kind of random.

My husband has a friend named Aubrey Graves, who had already written a couple of books by the time she contacted us in 2011 to let us know she’d become a self-published author. We bought one of her books, and as I was reading it, I found a lot of errors in spelling, punctuation, etc. In the politest way possible—given I'd never done this before—I told her about the errors. She asked me to elaborate, so I explained the errors I found with reference to page numbers. Aubrey saw that I was right and asked me to edit her next book. I was pleasantly surprised by the offer, and I accepted.

I bought the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS), 16th edition about a month later, and I began reading, studying, absorbing all the information I could. I was nerding out, and it felt great. I had never been so at peace, with such a sense of purpose, as I was when I first read the Chicago Manual of Style. The first book I edited for Aubrey was done with a red pen on physical sheets of paper while I was working as a receptionist. It was weird but kind of cool at the same time. Customers would come in, see what I was doing, and have the strangest looks on their faces. I explained it to those who asked, but if they didn’t ask, I just kept working after I greeted them and signed them in.

At the time, I wasn't in a position to make editing my full-time job, so I worked admin jobs for a while, where I was often able to put my editorial skills to good use. I bought the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style when it came out in 2017 because I heard there had been several changes, and I needed to memorize those changes. It wasn’t until the pandemic—when Aubrey came to me with two more books she'd finished during lockdown—that I began giving The Werd Nerd my full attention again. By this time—including the two books I just mentioned (pictured below)—I had now edited seven of Aubrey Graves’ books.

So, I created an editorial portfolio. At the time, I didn’t know how, so I figured it out by doing some research. After that, I built my website and started writing blogs; I revived my Facebook™ business page, The Werd Nerd; and I started an Instagram™ account and a Twitter™ account for my business. I also revised my LinkedIn™ account to reflect my career change and completed an editing course with Poynter University, where I achieved the high marks I always strive for in all that I do.

In September 2020, a new author contacted me about a paranormal romance book she’d just finished writing. I performed a manuscript evaluation for her that ended up being ten pages long. She was elated! In her testimonial she says that all the fears she’d had about her manuscript completely disappeared because I gave her the confidence to take her writing to the next level. You can click here to read her full testimonial and other testimonials by satisfied clients.

In October of the same year, I saw an ad on LinkedIn™ for a freelance copy editor/writer role with a luxury home magazine, so I applied. The person who was hiring for this position reviewed my LinkedIn™ info, my portfolio, my updated resume, and my website, and—long story short—I was in.


I still remember the day I got the news that Home and Design Magazine™ had selected me to assist with editing the Spring 2021 issue. I ran to my husband and told him the news, and then I jumped in his lap and hugged him. I did the happy dance all the way back to my work area, where I immediately bought the AP Stylebook. (It’s the magazine’s preferred style guide.) They also have an in-house style guide, which I've had a hand in updating while collaborating with the wonderful ladies at the magazine. Early on, I was invited by the president of the magazine to assist in editing all future editions, to which I gratefully accepted.


What I’ve told you up to this point doesn’t cover everything. There have been other projects I’ve worked on, such as other manuscript evaluations, other novels I’ve edited, and also some website content edited on a continual basis for a few businesses, including Dalton Carpet One™ in Dalton, Georgia.

As David Levien once said, “We can’t run from who we are; our destiny chooses us…”

I am in my element when I’m editing. Nothing compares to seeing fresh words on the screen that few, if any, have read before. We editors are entrusted with writers’ most important possessions—their book babies. It’s a big responsibility, and I don’t take it lightly. Trust is priority number one in my book.

What drives me to keep my business going is my passion for the written word in all its forms. I can’t imagine ever going back to the nine-to-five life in an administrative role because editing is what lights my fire and puts a skip in my step. My razor-sharp editing skills may have been utilized in previous roles but never at full capacity. Although, the customer service skills from each of my admin roles have come handy when communicating with my clients. First and foremost, I am a people person—a people pleaser—who gets along with nearly every personality type and listens intently.

The Werd Nerd isn’t just a business name that I came up with on the fly; it’s who I am. I live and breathe The Werd Nerd, but don’t mistake me for a workaholic. I take weekends off to avoid burnout because my flame must stay lit.

My motivation lies in doing everything I can to help writers achieve their ultimate goals—getting the best possible versions of their work out to the public. This means little to no errors. No professional editor will promise to catch every error, but I strive for perfection with every track change and every comment.

  • Are you a first-time author who wants a big-picture evaluation of your book baby at a price that fits your budget?

  • Are you ready to work with a copy/line editor who will give her all to editing your manuscript at an affordable rate?

  • Are you a business owner whose website needs a second pair of eyes on your textual content at a decent hourly rate?

Hi. My name is Erika, and I am a one-woman editing task force aimed at making your text radiate excellence, one word at a time.

Send me an email.

Let’s chat.


This blog post was edited by Lacy Newkirk.

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