Daily Archives: May 31, 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.