What's This Blog About?

As a freelance editor of nonfiction books, I'm often contacted by writers who need help getting past stumbling blocks. Some know their work needs polishing. Others don't (but it does). Some may have a beautifully written book, but poorly formatted manuscript files.

More and more, I hear from writers who are trying to navigate the confusing world of publishing, with its various old and new options. A few bravely set their course for all possible ports of call: "I am planning to self-publish my book and also submit it to agents and publishers." But most are willing to admit they don't really know where to start. They say things like "I'm new to this" or "I'm completely green, please help me." The one thing they're sure about is that they have something to say and want to share it with the world.

This blog is my attempt to throw novice authors a lifeline. I don't claim to be the world's foremost expert on writing and publishing. But I've learned a few things in my career as an editor (going on 28 years now), I'm learning more all the time, and I'm willing to share what I've learned. (I also trust that my readers will let me know when I'm wrong.) So what kinds of information will you find here? Time will tell, but here are a few topics I expect to be blogging about fairly often:

Writing Techniques
I don't plan to spend much time talking about the difference between lie and lay or where to put commas. For one thing, there are already plenty of online sources for that kind of information (see my Useful Links list for a few examples). For another, I think writers have other things to worry about and shouldn't get hung up over such minutiae. I admit that as an editor, I have a vested interest in encouraging writers to leave at least some of the grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, and style decisions to me. But I honestly think it's more important for authors to focus on the big-picture stuff: strong arguments, logical organization, clear explanations, precise word choice. I hope to offer advice that can help in those areas.

Microsoft Word
You may love it or hate it (or both), but Word is the word processor in the publishing industry, at least at the moment. It offers some powerful tools and time-savers that can make your writing life easier—if you know how to use them. It can also drive you crazy when it seems to have a mind of its own. And if you don't pay attention to how you're using it, your manuscript can end up with messy formatting that your editor, designer, or layout artist will have to clean up. If I can help you avoid those pitfalls, we'll all be happier.

An increasing number of my clients want to either self-publish or "self"-publish their books. What's the difference? That's one of the first questions I hope to address as we explore this topic. The world of self-publishing is confusing and ever-changing, and I'm still learning about it myself, but we'll try to make sense of it together.

Traditional Publishing
Maybe your goal is to have your book published by a traditional publishing company (the kind that pays you instead of you paying it). I'll share some basic tips about agents, publishers, platforms, and book proposals.

Editors and Editing
Whatever type of publishing option you choose, you'll probably interact with one or more editors along the way. What's the difference between an acquisitions editor, a developmental editor, and a copyeditor? When and why might you want to hire a freelance editor? What do all these editors really do, anyway? I'll try to give you an insider's view, or at least the view from my home office.

Useful Books
Like many of you, I'm addicted to books about writing. (Because after all, it's more fun to read about writing than to actually write!) In the course of exploring the topics listed above, I'll probably share some mini-reviews of books that I've found informative, instructive, or inspiring.

And So It Begins...
Well, here we go! I hope I can be helpful to you, and I hope you enjoy the voyage. What topics are you most interested in? Leave me a comment to let me know, and welcome aboard!


Marvin Shepherd said...

Kathy: A question on copy-editing.
Once a copy-editor has completed their first round of copy-editing of a book, they send it back to the author for acceptance or additional changes. Once the author accepts the changes or makes more, he sends the corrections back to the copy-editor. It seems this could continue indefinitely. In general, do these go through two or three rounds before an author is happy?

Marv. Shepherd, Walnut Creek, CA

Kathy Carter said...

Hi Marv,

Thanks for your question. The short answer is, it depends on the project and on what the author and editor agree on. There's a little more to it than that, so I'm going to write a new blog post that addresses your question more fully. Stay tuned!