New Roles for the Freelance Editor in Self-Publishing

New Roles for the Freelance Editor in Self-Publishing

April 25, 2007
Presentation by Mark Weiman, publisher at Regent Press
Nancy Faass arranged this informative program.
Notes by Micah Standley

"Everyone has at least one book in them," said Mark Weiman, owner and director of Regent Press, at our April meeting. "But many would-be authors don't know how to get it out."

At the April 25 forum, Mark spoke on the changing world of self-publishing and the expanding opportunities for savvy freelance editors to capitalize on the skills and services they provide. With four decades of experience in the book industry, the publisher stated that he is often so busy printing, designing, and distributing books, he often must outsource the editorial responsibilities. "Books need to be edited, and many of them aren't edited enough."

So, why aren't these authors beating down the doors of editors? Weiman chalks it up to technology. Literature and books were once respected because many people knew how much effort went into creating a book. "When I go into a library, every book represents countless hours of writing, editing, proofreading, typesetting, printing, binding, distributing, and selling. It's an insane, wonderful effort," said Mark. Now, people can simply go to a Web site, pay $650, and instantly publish a manuscript. Put succinctly, "It’s easy to publish, but difficult to be published."

Weiman noted that typesetting a manuscript often serves as a wake-up call to self-publishing authors that there is more to creating a book than writing words on a page. "Authors think you have to make only two passes through a manuscript and it's ready, when it's really five or more!"

Writers who see their manuscripts typeset at Regent Press frequently exclaim,"Oh my God! This needs to be edited." So, how can editors insert themselves into the process before writers realize this epiphany?

Weiman has a few tips:

  • Networking. Get your name out there to as many writers and publishers as you can. Weiman recommends attending meetings held by local writers' organizations—there’s even a group for book publicists. Send your work to publishers and get on their referral lists.
  • Editors as generalists. For Weiman, the age of extreme specialization is over: "Editors have to be generalists and work on every level of publishing."
    He recommends that editors have a working knowledge of graphic design and software like InDesign. Ability in public relations and marketing is also a valuable skill for editors. If you can add these to your toolbox, you'll get them coming and going, according to Weiman.
  • Editors as co-publishers. An intimate knowledge of the publishing process will also help editors become more marketable in the industry. You can function as a "co-publisher" between the author and the publisher, making sure that the author is getting a fair deal for what they are paying for and facilitating a smooth process for the publisher. Weiman recommends The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter.
  • Convey your value proposition. Create a mystique and make sure that authors know that you're offering them an invaluable service: expertise in navigating the entire publishing process. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the more work you will get.

It's been said that you can tell how much work has gone into a book by how easily it reads. For Weiman, "A manuscript is successful when you don't realize that you're reading it." You can play a major role in this success as an editor by expanding your skill set to develop new tools for your editorial toolbox.

Contact Weiman at Regent Press.



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