November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In the spirit of the month, instead of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m going to write a short review every day, up to a maximum of 300 words. Think of it is NaNoReMo (National Novel Review Month). This month I’ll do short reviews of books, varieties of tea, and even individual short stories as the mood strikes. So read on!
Title: An Editor’s Guide to Working with Authors
Author: Barbara Sjoholm
Publisher: Rainforest Press
Rating: 5 out of 5
Where I got it: I bought a copy from Kobo.
Ok, I’m back. I’m going to keep on with this even though the news has got me lower than a snake’s belly in a ditch. Because I said I would.
This is going to be a different review from normal because I read today’s book, An Editor’s Guide to Working with Writers by Barbara Sjoholm, as a form of professional development.
The work I do as an editor is for the web— websites, mobile apps, email templates, landing pages, all that B2B and B2C stuff. I originally thought when I started out as an editor that my niche would be working with individual authors, specifically those of the SF/F persuasion.
Two things that stopped me from going all-in on that:
- Corporate communications pays a lot more in general, and
- Working with individual authors is not actually a strength of mine. It requires a lot more empathy and psychology and handholding than what I generally think I can give.
I bought Sjoholm’s book with reason #2 in mind. Reading someone’s book and providing feedback about how it could be improved is really fraught work! Yes, there’s ego in the corporate communications world, but at least in my industry, you can use research and analytics to justify certain editorial choices. Not so when working with a book’s author — it seems a lot more intuitive and liable to bruised egos and power trips.
Sjoholm is an excellent communicator, and is adept at accomplishing the very meta task of taking an editor by the hand and showing them how exactly one takes an author — someone extremely invested in their work — by the hand, doing so gently and thoroughly. All while reading the book, I was highlighting certain passages and saying things like “I really need to remember this” or “THIS PART IS GOLD” or “Keep this on file for later”.
I rarely make annotations in my eBooks, so that’s very high praise indeed.