Book Editing

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Let’s get it done!

 

Knowing you have a great idea for a book, but struggling to sit down, focus and get it written can be a difficult situation.

 

It can throw some would-be authors into paroxysms of confusion and despair, wishing someone would throw them a bone, or a lifeline, just to help get them on the right track and in a place where the writing flowed more easily and the incipient mania behind the desire to just get it done doesn’t overwhelm them and lead to killings on the road – metaphorically speaking – to success.

Help is at hand.

I recently completed consultancy and copy-editing work on two book projects.

The first was a private commission, assisting an author in the United States who was writing a biography examining various issues she had faced and addressed in life and reflecting on those things with reference to the COVID Lockdown and the Black Lives Matter movement. The second was a Business E-Book for a commercial client, sifting and transcribing content from online resources and video texts and drafting a small amount of original material, in the client’s tone of voice, to complement and expand the book’s content.

In the first case the client had an abundance of material, but couldn’t fathom a way to draw it together in a cohesive and presentable format that would attract a readership once the book was published.

I encouraged her to dedicate just two hours a day to writing and not worry about ordering the content….just write it all down, I said, as it emerges in your thoughts. Once a first draft manuscript of ideas was to hand I took delivery of that, assessed what we had and developed a narrative and an ordering for the material.

I recommended that this specifically eschew a birth to the present timeline and that the book divide the content instead in respect if issues or feelings under consideration. This presented the material in the same way that, in reality, we think about our past and events and relationships that have shaped us – it’s not linear thinking, but a series of memories and reflections that crop up randomly and not necessarily in an accurate chronological relationship. In the end, there was a loose observance to the author’s lived history running through the narrative, but the more vital glue, binding the storytelling, was to intersperse each section or chapter with smaller sub chapters, reflecting on the lockdown in the US. This enabled an interesting dichotomy: exploring how thoughts in the present on the pressures brought to bear by Coronavirus impacted on the past and the trials and tribulations that informed the author’s personal history.

These reflections on Lockdown are completed within the first half of the biographical narrative. The second half will be formatted the same way in respect of the Black Lives Matter movement and its impact on the author and her family. She has yet to write those sections, but the template is in place in terms of the book’s structure.

So…that was quite an intense and elaborate journey for both me and my client.

The E-Book was more straightforward in terms of composition and ordering of content. I recommended some alterations to the order of chapters, but my key role was to get the large volume of content into a digestible and compartmentalised structure, adding, as I mentioned, new content where gaps existed; the latter all drafted with due regard to the client’s tone of voice in the pre-existing material.

Where these two projects were similar was that it was my role to understand what the client wanted to achieve for what purpose and edit and structure their content to meet those aspirations: to mould a jumbled manuscript, so that it would succeed as a book that others could then read, understand and feel a connection with.

I enjoyed both projects immensely and this is work I would like to do a lot more of.

In terms of my clients going on later to publish their completed books, I researched and provided guidance on various publishing options, both in hard copy and online. Self-publishing is not as straightforward as it sounds and the decision an author makes on how, with whom and/or where to publish is a balancing act between the obvious desire to have your book out there, available for sale and whether the quality of it’s appearance – in terms of cover, font, page layout, chapter headings, margins etc is of equal, greater or lesser importance.

If you have a book burning inside you – whether fiction, non-fiction, personal or for your business, but you’re struggling to see how to turn the content into something credible and valuable – and that can be published and sold – give me a shout.

Maybe all you need is a little guidance through the tempest of your own creative imagination.

 

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