“Sell Your Book!” Workshop — Registration Has Begun!

As promised, P.O.P. Editorial Services is putting on a writers’ workshop, and I’m happy to announce registration is now open!

I’m very excited about this new opportunity to discuss writing, editing, and the publishing process as  a whole. After working with self-publishers for the past year and a half, I have found the information available to writers is extremely limited in scope. While there is a wealth of resources on how to write, the methods of writing, and how to market your book when it’s done, most authors hear very little about the steps they can take while they are writing that will help them market the manuscript when it is complete, as well as how they can save money in the process.

I think one problem is that this information isn’t as sexy as how to design your plot or how to “show, not tell.” Those things are very important, and without solid writing skills, most authors won’t get too far. I would add, however, that knowing the market for which you are writing, defining your audience up front, and considering what kind of packaging you want for your final product are of equal importance — and in some genres, more important than the quality of the writing. Having a polished manuscript is key to saving time and money, and knowing how to work with editors is essential to your success.

I do not suggest sacrificing originality for trends or trading quality writing for gimmicks. I suggest having as much information as you can early on so that you are making the best choices for your book, whether it is fiction or nonfiction. Much of this you can do on your own, and when you’re lost, editors can help you find your way.  In the end, the point is to give your topic its due, to get the most out of the work you have put in, and to find a way to get your ideas into the hearts and minds of your readers. That’s the philosophy behind “Sell Your Book!”

There is room for ten at the workshop, a small enough number to keep the information personalized and the group engaged, yet large enough to offer an honest exchange of ideas. With the passion we all feel for our writing, I know it’s going to be a great time.

If you are interested in learning more about the “Sell Your Book!” workshop or would like to register, please visit www.popediting.net.

“Sell Your Book!” workshop, Saturday, April 9, 2011, from 9 a.m. to noon, at Stone Spiral in St. Louis, MO.


Brain Storms

A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation on the process of getting your manuscript ready for editing, and it went really well. We covered some great information, and I think the audience got a lot out of it. When I got home that night, I told my handsome and strong husband, Chris, how much I enjoyed the experience and that I wanted to find other venues for talks. I also realized that although the presentation was good, there was so much more I wanted to say on the topic.

After some brainstorming on how best to satisfy both goals, I came up with an idea: I’m going to put on a workshop for writers to help them prepare their manuscripts for publication from the very first page. This isn’t the usual writers workshop where we talk about creative writing techniques and critique each other’s work. Instead, we’re going to talk about how to incorporate your marketing plan into your writing.

The problem I see with a lot of the manuscripts I edit is that not enough planning was done before the writing took place. Some people don’t use outlines, some people don’t consider their audience, and many, many people don’t take into account how they are going to sell this book once it is written. And that’s exactly what my workshop is going to cover.

I have done some preliminary work to get it together, and I’m very excited. I compiled my notes, then spoke with a couple of colleagues who have put on similar ventures. They had some strong suggestions, and I think I’m on the right track. There is much work still to be done, but as I told one fellow editor, whether this idea flies or not, something will definitely come of it. There’s no putting it back on the shelf now. And if things go well, maybe this will become a regular service from P.O.P.

Coming this April: “Sell Your Book!” by Katherine Pickett. More information to follow.

Now Presenting… with Unexpected Results

I gave a presentation last night at the St. Louis Publishers Association meeting, and all in all I think it was a success.  The presentation was called Preparing Your Manuscript: Writing and Editing Tips, and it covered the big things you need to do during the writing process to create a marketable product.

To some, the topics I covered may have been obvious. However, I have found that self-publishers in particular often have a big dream with little to no idea of how to achieve it. In the age of electronic publishing, where everyone seems to be putting out an e-book through CreateSpace or AuthorHouse, it’s easy to gloss over the details of how that book actually came into existence.

Some of the key points I covered were the need to define your audience, create a marketing hook, research your competitors, and hire professionals to help you. But my overall message was this: A well-prepared manuscript will save you time and money. By paying attention to the details while you are putting your manuscript together, you avoid retracing your steps to find reference information, spending time later in the process fixing careless errors, and paying good money for someone else to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

I also explained the key qualifications of a book editor (e.g., degree in English or journalism, training with other editors, knowledge of the Chicago Manual of Style), how to find editors, and how they figure their rates. I stressed that just because someone has a degree in English does not mean that person knows how to edit a book. This was all information I knew the authors in the audience were looking for.

What I did not expect was to meet a woman in the crowd who fell into this category of “editor without qualifications.” What surprised me even more was that she seemed grateful to have someone explain why she wasn’t qualified to be an editor. She had had the work thrust upon her by a friend who didn’t have time for it, and she was floundering. She wanted to help her friend, but she knew she was in over her head. She asked me what I thought she should do.

My advice to this woman was to take a step back. Take a hiatus. If she planned to be an editor in the future, what she definitely didn’t want was a reputation as a bad editor. In talking to her, it became apparent she might not want to be an editor at all. She left the conversation with the plan to quit editing for a while and look for editing classes. Then, if she still wanted to do it, she could pick it up again.

This conversation made me realize two things. One, you never know how your words are going to affect someone, how you might help (or hurt) someone when all you are doing is speaking from experience.  And two, sometimes we all need permission from someone else to quit and do something differently. No one wants to be a quitter, but when you’re in over your head, hating what you do, and feeling trapped, it’s probably time to make a change.

It was a real reward to find out I was able to make a difference with this woman in a way that I wasn’t at all anticipating. Hopefully she will have found as much reward in having come to hear me speak.

The Year Ahead

It’s already five days into January 2011 and it’s time to take a look at what the new year holds for P.O.P.

Several exciting developments hit my desk in the last two weeks of December, and they are certain to have a big impact on 2011. One is a new contract for copyediting services with Wisconsin Historical Society that P.O.P. was awarded on December 28. I spent many hours preparing the proposal required to get the contract, and it was a real reward to find out I’d earned it. Landing the contract means I can count on WHS for six or seven copyediting projects over the course of the new year. That kind of consistency offers security that freelancers rarely enjoy. And the projects that WHS produces are always of top quality, which makes the new contract that much more exciting.

Also in December I added a client who writes a daily blog. I will be copyediting the new blog posts as well as the archive of more than 500 old posts. Again, this offers the consistent work that so many freelancers desire. Much time and effort is put into finding and then landing new clients, and repeat business is the bread and butter of freelance editing.

Coming up in the next couple of months, I will begin working with Bluebird Publishing. This is a new company in the St. Louis area created by Dan Thompson (a book distributor) and Jeff Fister (publisher at Virginia Publishing) to help self-publishers achieve their goals. I have done similar work with Mill City Press in Minneapolis, but being there at the founding of the company is sure to make this an interesting and rewarding endeavor.

Of course I am also looking forward to continuing my relationships with my current clients, some of whom I’ve worked with for longer than P.O.P. has been in existence. (I’m looking at you, Triumph Books and McGraw-Hill Professional.) Longstanding clients are the only way my business is able to survive, and I am eternally thankful to those people who helped me for no other reason than they are good people.

Looking farther down the road, there is a strong chance P.O.P. will be relocating in the middle of the year. More on this story as information becomes available.

What the second half of the year holds can only be speculated. Surely there will be new and varied book projects, journals, and blogs to edit. And I hope to continue to add to my list of clients. I also hope to do more presentations on the importance of editing and the ins and outs of the process. My first attempt in December 2010 was a joy, and my second opportunity, next Wednesday at the St. Louis Publisher’s Association meeting, I’m sure will also be very rewarding. How can it not be a pleasure when you’re talking about your favorite subject to people who are truly interested?

Good things in my past. Good things yet to come. I hope you are as fortunate as I in the coming year.

Three Days Off

POP was closed over the weekend, and it was a real treat for me. As much as I love my work — and I really do love it — I feel it’s important for people to take time for themselves. And that includes me!

I have been working very hard  since September, with little time off. For three months I was working seven days a week, and much of the time, I was putting in 10- or 12-hour days. Over the four-day weekend that made up my Thanksgiving break, I was sick and traveling, neither of which helped recharge my batteries.

This past week, however, I finally was able to take a deep breath, and that culminated in three days off. I’m happy to say I spent that time wisely. I slept in. I had hearty breakfasts with my handsome and strong husband. I cleaned my house. I made a delicious ice cream pie (that’s cookies ‘n cream ice cream in an Oreo cookie crust, decorated with Oreos). And I spent time with family.

What I did not do is check e-mail or even turn on my computer. I had a real break from work responsibilities, and now I’m energized. I’m happy to be back at work, happy to be starting some new projects, and happy to be updating you about the health of POP Editorial Services!

There is another long weekend in front of us. If you haven’t already, let me encourage you to try taking a break from all things work related. You might be surprised by how good you feel.

Here we go…

P.O.P. Editorial Services is the proud new parent of this blog!

As owner of P.O.P., I’ll be bringing you exciting news from the publishing world, updates about the goings-on at P.O.P., and perhaps some commentary on the latest book club book (this month: A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick).

Stay tuned for more great posts from P.O.P. Editorial Services!

Notes from POP Editorial Services

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