Monthly Archives: May 2009

Empowering Authors

Congratulations to Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett on the launch of the SCN Editorial Service—I’m delighted to be a participant in the service. As Kendra said in her recent blog post, a good editor plays an important role in helping the author craft her work. When we’re working to the highest level of our calling, we editors help the author to speak more clearly in her own voice and to recognize and articulate her deepest aspirations for her writing.

Title page of an 1808 treatise on math. MJ Ross  I’ve been a freelance editor for 13 years. Early on, all my clients were large publishing companies. Self publishing was rare. Recently I’ve noticed many more inquiries coming through my freelance business from authors who want to learn more about the many ways to approach the question,  “how do I get my book published?” Publishing has been democratized by self-publishing and especially thanks to print on demand. Authors are feeling empowered to pursue their own dreams for their writing, whether seeking an agent and publisher or self-publishing. And they’re not afraid of the steep learning curve involved in approaching publishing from either angle.

Just this week, I exchanged emails with one of the members of the editorial team for Kitchen Table Stories. She wanted some advice on where to start with a self-publishing project similar to KTS that her local writers' group was planning. My reply to her may be helpful for others interested in the process:

There are many many steps in the process of producing a professional-looking anthology and you'll want to check who among your group has some of the skills you’ll need for all these steps. The more you can do with volunteer labor, the less you'll have to pay out of your pocket. The steps include:

•    coordinating the submission process and selecting the pieces to include,
•    editing the pieces so that they conform to a house style,
•    getting author feedback on edits and finalizing changes,
•    formatting headings etc. by applying the correct Word styles,
•    selecting any art or illustrations needed,
•    coming up with a design (fonts, type size, indents, spacing, etc.),
•    doing the layout,
•    proofreading,
•    inputting corrections,
•    making sure the copyright page includes all the necessary info,
•    designing a cover,
•    writing cover copy,
•    making arrangements to get an ISBN if desired,
•    commissioning art or finding an illustration or photo for the cover,
•    laying out the cover,
•    outputting all files in a format that the printer can use,
•    getting files to the printer,
•    checking a proof of the printed book.

As you can see there's a lot to think about, and there are many choices to be made along the way. The SCN editorial service can provide you with the editing and proofing assistance you'll need. And I’d be happy to help any authors who want to take up the self-publishing (or the traditional publishing) challenge and need some guidance.

Blackberry Winters, Indian Summers & ???

Blackberry Winters, Indian Summers and ???

It's May and everywhere I look the emphasis is on summer's immenent arrival. Everywhere except in the air where store merchandising schedules mean nothing and Mother Nature has the final word. Here in northeast Tennessee not more than ten days ago we had "Blackberry Winter"—the blackberries are in bloom but the temperatures are more winter-like than late spring-like. Just when I thought it was safe to pack away the winter clothes, I woke to find temperatures in the 30's.

As I sat and contemplated this "Blackberry Winter" phase I realized that there are other fleeting seasons named by … well… by whom?   Indian SummerHarvest MoonBlackberry WinterHalcyon Days… I'm certain that some of you can name more such days in nature.

What names would describe certain phases of your life? What name would tell someone who doesn't know you exactly who you are this month of May? Why not spend some time in the days ahead reflecting on various times in your life—give those phases appropriate names much like the Blackberry Winter we've just had here in Tennessee?

 Are you in a place in your writing life that seems to be a major flood? or perhaps a phase that resembles a drought? Has your writing experience opened you up to rainbows and sunshine or dark clouds and storms? Mother Nature provides us with so many examples of the mix of positive and negative forces coming together… So does the practice of writing life stories.    42445337_blackberrybloomresized