A Service to Writers

I’ve just been over at Norman Spinrad’s blog.  He’s the brilliant writer of books like Bug Jack Barron and Child of Fortune who has won prizes, been a best seller, and published for over four decades.  He was talking about how the current state of U.S. publishing has just about torpedoed his career.

You can read the post here:  http://normanspinradatlarge.blogspot.com/2010/08/publishing-death-spiral-part-two-my-own.html

In the comments, a couple authors (including bestselling author Jerry Pournelle) recommended he try e-book publishing again.  Spinrad tried some early experiments with the form.  As with his writing, he was ahead of the curve there.  The alternative methods have more traction now than they did then.  It’s possible to be ahead of a market that will work later.  So he might well succeed with the distribution channel now.

What does it mean when a writer like that is no longer considered worth publishing by the big New York publishers?

Spinrad and his commenters also discussed editing.  Pournelle said, “Of course that means that authors, most of whom are notoriously bad at editing their own works, need to find a way to get the benefits of good editing…”  Spinrad replied, “And I emphatically agree that writers need editors, good editors.”

So there you have it.  Good editing is a service to writers, and a service to readers.  Since it is becoming rare to gain that editing through the traditional publishing path, writers need other ways to find editors.

So here’s a small detour about me.  I serve writers as an editor.  Two books list me as editor at Amazon.com:  Changes of the Heart and Pot Limit Omaha/8 Revealed.  In addition, these books mention me in their acknowledgements:  Self Coaching 101, Poker Mindfulness, Professional No-Limit Hold’ em, Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em, and Elements of Poker.  (Except for Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em, if you use these links to buy a copy of the book, I will receive a small commission.  Thank you.)  These are poker and self-help books.  Poker is actually a great place to practice copyediting.  You may have noticed that Hold’em is spelled in two different ways, just among these titles:  Hold’ em and Hold’em.  Poker vocabulary is in flux, and it’s rather fun, actually, to decide which version of a word to apply to a particular book, and then see that it is spelled consistently throughout.  I have done a lot of poker editing in just three years because I am familiar with the field, comfortable with such ambiguities, and because my clients, especially Tommy Angelo, have spoken often and eloquently about how much they like my work.  The self-help projects arose from my training as a Martha Beck Certified Life Coach.  It is another field I know well.

I’ve collected some of the statements from my clients here:  http://www.annaparadox.com/editing-raves/

For a new author of science fiction — a field I have even more experience with than poker or self-help — the decision to hire an editor is a harder one.  It’s true that editing will improve a book.  It’s also true that regaining the money spent to create a book looks like more of a challenge than it does with self-help.  How to market fiction is an important part of creating the bridge of words from a writer to a reader.  I’ll talk more about that later.

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