An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘copyediting’

Introducing Publisher, Author, Editor and Blogger Samantha March

Today’s interview is with a woman who completely blew me away when I interviewed her. Her motivation, efforts and work ethic are really to be admired, I don’t know how does it all. Her experience in publishing is vast, and she spends her days editing, writing, blogging, publishing, and proofreading – my dream career! Here she explains how she pulls it all off…

Samantha March, editor, blogger, author, publisher.

Samantha March, editor, blogger, author, publisher.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself and all the different projects you work on.

Oh, where to begin! Maybe chronologically? I started Chick Lit Plus in 2009, a book and lifestyle blog. I was hoping to gain some connections in the publishing industry as I had high hopes of publishing a book, and I also simply enjoyed writing and giving my feedback and thoughts on a variety of topics. From there, I did succeed in becoming a published author. My first novel, Destined To Fail¸ released in 2011, and I also started my publishing company, Marching Ink, at the same time. I have since published two more novels, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship, and Marching Ink has ten titles total between myself and four other authors.

Let’s see…somewhere in between all of that I started CLP Blog Tours, a blog tour company. I love being able to connect authors and bloggers and readers, and the first tour was ran in 2011, and I love that I am still able to do something I love so much.

I am also a freelance editor, offer manuscript critiques and other promotional services via Chick Lit Plus. I work in marketing for Booktrope Publishing, and I also have an Instagram yoga page with my best friend, The Cheeky Chicks. But for my most important roles, I am a wife to my husband of almost two years and a puppy mom to our adorable Vizsla, Aries.

Tours are a great way to help increase exposure, make a connection with book bloggers, get more reviews for your book, and get more social media presence.

How did The Cheeky Chicks come about? How much success have you had since you started?

Oh, The Cheeky Chicks! My friend Holly and I had been trying to think of something fun to do for months before we decided on joining the Instagram craze. We actually started talking about fitness and beauty, two things we really love, but once we started we quickly fell in love with all things yoga and decided to dedicate our page to showing our daily practice and progress. We started in September and we’ve had an absolute blast. It’s fun, it’s good for our health, we’re learning new things, but we get to do it all together, which really is the best. As friends get older and get married and get new jobs, etc, sometimes friendships can slowly fizzle out or not be as strong as they once were, and this gives us another reason to talk pretty much throughout the day and see each other often for practice 🙂

How did you get into publishing? In what area of publishing do you work as an editor?

I first got into publishing when I released my first novel, and I also bought the rights to my own LLC, Marching Ink. My goal was to maybe one day publish for other authors too. Cat Lavoie was an editing client of mine, and I fell absolutely in love with her debut novel, Breaking the Rules. I put it out there to her that I was brand new but I felt passionately about her book and would love to publish for her, and she said yes! She also has published Zoey & The Moment of Zen with Marching Ink, and I’ve been so fortunate to meet her in person twice!

I do freelance editing with Chick Lit Plus, offering my services through the website. I also do proofreading and manuscript critiques!

You’re an author – tell me a little bit about your work and your journey into becoming an author.

I was nine years old when I knew I wanted to be an author. I always loved reading and wrote my own stories for years, and even though I still had the dream when I was in high school, I thought being an author was not very achievable. I told myself to get a “real” degree and if I still wanted to purse writing after graduation, I could. Well, one year prior to receiving my Bachelors degree in Business, I started writing Destined to Fail. Two years after graduation, it was published 🙂

With so many successful projects going on, how do you manage your time effectively? (I know I find maintaining a blog alongside a full-time job challenging, let alone working out and hosting a number of social media channels!)

It’s hard. Time management is by far the most challenging part of my day. I have myself to think about, but then my Marching Ink authors, my Booktrope authors, my blog tour clients, my editing clients. I need to be reading for book reviews and writing blog posts and keeping my social media up to date. It’s all me, I have no virtual assistant or anyone else helping me out with my social media feed, though I do have a team of reviewers with CLP and they totally rock. Little things I do to try to help is make lists and don’t turn the TV on while I work. No really! But my lists are a huge help. I have so many to-do lists and calendars it’s comical, but they really help keep me on track and not miss a deadline or special project. I also have my own office in my house, so I don’t work on my couch with my laptop on my lap with E! turned on. I have specific hours (that I make myself, yes, but I hold myself to them) and do regular things like give myself a lunch break and only a lunch break during the day. I try to remember this is my full-time job, and I need to treat it like that, not like a hobby. That really, truly helps me. And I love what I do 🙂

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What work is involved in organising blog tours? What are benefits of blog tours?

When booking a tour, there are several packages to choose from. Authors can select tours with only reviews, release day blitz tours, tours with interviews and guest blogs, etc. I try to have a little of everything in there, because each individual case is different. My part is getting book bloggers interested in joining the tour, which means sharing a post on their blog on a particular day. Tours are a great way to help increase exposure, make a connection with book bloggers, get more reviews for your book, and get more social media presence. CLP Blog Tours sets up a tour page for each tour and promotes it even before the tour starts, and tweets 2-4 times in a day on each specific tour.

Which part of your vast career and experiences do you find the most rewarding?

Oh boy. I love making connections with readers and other authors. I think it’s really rewarding with blog tours to help authors gain that connection as well, because these are really so beneficial in our line of work. I love being able to meet someone online, and after months of chatting and finding all these bookish things we have in common, be able to call them my friend. I have met several authors and other bloggers at book events through the years, and that is probably my favorite part. It’s amazing what the internet gave us, truly.

I have met several authors and other bloggers at book events through the years, and that is probably my favorite part.

What would you say is the most effective way to market your book blog?

I think social media is huge. No doubt. Daily content is really big too. I have at minimum one new post a day on CLP, but more like 2-3.

Do you like to read other genres?

I do! I love a good mystery or supernatural book – those are probably my next favorites 🙂 And I would love to try a supernatural!

A Questionable Friendship, Samantha March's novel.

Happy Publication Day, Samantha!

Today is the publication date for Twenty-Something: A Collection, published by Marching Ink! The first collection from Marching Ink features three full-length novels in Twenty-Something. From the good girl that is tired of playing by the rules in the new adult novel from Laura Chapman, to the friendship between two women that isn’t what is seems in the women’s fiction novel from Samantha March, and then the loveable Roxy that will give us plenty of laughs and touching moments in the chick lit novel from Cat Lavoie. While all characters are indeed Twenty-Something, we believe this collection can be enjoyed by readers in a variety of ages.

20%BlogTours

Samantha’s blog tour company CLP currently has an offer of 20% off blog tours until 30 April! Check out http://www.clpblogtours.com/ for more information.

Connect with Samantha!
http://www.samanthamarch.com/

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Twitter
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Chick Lit Plus Links
http://chicklitplus.com/
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Buy A Questionable Friendship:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble – eBook

Introducing Red Button Publishing

I am extremely excited to share with you all my interview with Caroline of independent publishing house Red Button Publishing. She has kindly taken time from her busy schedule to share with us insights into the independent publishing world, information about their upcoming titles and a wealth of knowledge and experience gained over her years working in the publishing industry…

Caroline Goldsmith, one of the lovely ladies behind Red Button Publishing

A shelfie from Caroline Goldsmith, one of the lovely ladies behind Red Button Publishing

Please introduce our readers to yourself and to Karen Ings. What are your backgrounds and career journeys?

I met Karen nearly fifteen years ago when I started in my first job in publishing at Aurum Press where she was Commissioning Editor. We’ve been close friends ever since. We both moved through various roles over the years. Karen curated her list at Aurum Press for ten years before moving into a freelance role and working for companies like Penguin, Macmillan and Quercus. I worked my way through various departments including sales, rights, marketing and publicity for companies like Tate Publishing and finally DK where I worked in International Sales.

Tell us about Red Button Publishing. How and when did the company begin?

One of our regular conversations, usually over a glass of wine, over the years has been about how we would run our own publishing house. In 2012, Karen was freelancing and I was in the process of leaving my job in International Sales and moving from London to the countryside. We had both taken a keen interest in how digital technology was changing our industry and we saw opportunity. We had little funding but we had nearly three decades worth of experience between us and a lot of energy. We drafted a plan for Red Button over lunch one hot August day and decided on a name the following day. Red Button Publishing was born.

The big guys still rule the roost, but this is really the age of the independents.

What kind of literature do you focus on? How successful have you been so far?

Our aim has always been to give a voice to really outstanding fiction that might be overlooked by the mainstream. This idea was encapsulated in our first publication, The Human Script by Johnny Rich, a poignant story of a doomed love affair and also a mind expanding journey through philosophy, science, art and religion. Johnny had written the novel over a decade ago whilst on the acclaimed Creative Writing MA course at the University of East Anglia. It had been heaped with praise by writers like Ian McEwan and Tom McCarthy and was signed up by one of the top London agents. The book continued to meet with praise from commissioning editors at the major publishers but never quite made it past the commercially minded sales departments. As a sales person, I knew that a lot of good writing was deemed too risky and never saw the light of day. This was what had happened to The Human Script. We read it, we loved it and we published it in April 2013 as an ebook. It’s again been met with almost universal praise from people who’ve read it and we hope that when we publish it as a paperback later this year it will be discovered by even more readers.

Since then we’ve published three more titles and they’re all very different. The Anchoress by Paul Blaney is an exquisite novella about Maggie, a woman who locks herself in her wardrobe. As the story progresses you find out why Maggie has really decided to escape the world. It’s a very moving story about memory, childhood, grief and acceptance.

We followed this with Home by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, a powerful and dark novel about a caretaker at an old people’s home who discovers something horribly disturbing about his workplace. It’s a compelling and chilling novel that asks questions about how we treat our elderly and what it means to be forgotten.

And then we published Mockstars by Christopher Russell which is a comic, coming-of-age novel best summed up by author Alex Marsh as “The Inbetweeners meets Spinal Tap’. It’s a brilliantly funny story about a group of friends trying to make it as a band, based in part on Christopher’s own tour diaries with his rock band.

Red Button Publishing's upcoming paperbacks.

Red Button Publishing’s upcoming paperbacks.

Your website states that you publish ‘fantastic fiction.’ What, for you, constitutes fantastic fiction?

We’ve often said that we’re looking for fiction that really jumps off the page, stories that are just crying out to be published. When we read a submission we’re looking for something that we would recommend to others. We both have to be completely on board to make it work. We have similar tastes in many ways but we also differ. I am a sucker for a horror story and Karen has still never quite understood my distaste for Jane Austen. We challenge each other and that’s a good thing for the list. I think it means that the books we publish are really special.

What has been the most rewarding part of the Red Button Publishing journey? Just how difficult (or indeed easy!) has it been carving a way for yourself as an independent publishing company when the competition in publishing is so large and dominating?

It’s always going to be hard for smaller companies to make their voices heard. We don’t have the marketing budgets that we were used to working with in our previous publishing lives. I think there’s an appetite for something a bit different though. People seem to like what we’re trying to do and we’ve been really overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from readers and publishing colleagues. The big guys still rule the roost, but this is really the age of the independents. We really take inspiration from other independents like Galley Beggar Press, Salt and And Other Stories who are out there doing great things for fiction.

Writers are very much front and centre of the publishing industry today, in a way that they haven’t been before.

What upcoming titles (that you’re allowed to mention!) are you really excited about?

Currently we’re working on bringing all four Red Button titles out as paperbacks. The Anchoress and Home will be published in paper on April 9th. The Human Script and Mockstars will follow over the summer. We’re big advocates of digital reading but the paperback remains a strong format for fiction and we want our books to reach as many readers as possible. We’ve also got another book from Paul Blaney lined up later in the year. It’s another challenging piece of writing that will raise questions about parenthood and biology.

Do you find that you receive a lot of submissions? If so, why do you think more and more people are looking to get published?

We read every submission that comes into our inbox so yes, it sometimes feels that we do receive a lot. I don’t think that there are more people looking to get published than before though. I just think that there are more options open to writers than there ever have been. They are very much front and centre of the publishing industry today, in a way that they haven’t been before.

You also offer consultancy services. How successful has this been?

Writers have a lot more choice in how they publish their work these days. Essentially you don’t need a publisher to get your work out there. We’re grateful that some writers still prefer to work with a publishing team but we’re also aware that many writers prefer to publish independently. But good publishing still requires work, it’s not, as some commentators have suggested ‘simply pressing a button’. And that’s where we can come in. We offer a range of services including editorial, typesetting, ebook formatting, book cover design as well as guidance through the publishing platforms. We’ve worked with some lovely writers and it’s always a good feeling to know you’re helping someone achieve their dream.

The online book community is huge and if you’re not engaged with it you’re missing out.

What do you feel are the most important skills needed for independent publishers who do all of the work for their companies themselves?

Adaptability. Things never stay the same in any industry but the pace of change in publishing has really accelerated in recent years. I have learned more in the past five years than at any other time in my career. You have to keep taking on new ideas, learning new skills, challenging your preconceptions and trying new things.

And lastly, how important is having an online presence for publishers today and why?

Hugely important. It’s not just about book discoverability either, it’s about being part of the publishing dialogue. 

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Discover Red Button Publishing online:
Twitter @RedButtonPubs
Caroline and Karen are also on Twitter (@goldcaro and @ladykarenza respectively)

Introducing Proofreader, Editor and Copywriter Melissa Hofpar

I am very happy and grateful to host an interview today with Melissa Hofpar, the brains and beauty behind Composed Success! (One wonderful bonus of interviewing a proofreader – you already know it’s word-perfect, making for very light or no editing!) Here she discusses how she got into the profession and the challenges and benefits of freelance editing…

Melissa Hofpar of Composed Success

Melissa Hofpar of Composed Success

I have edited documents for several truly brilliant individuals.

What kind of projects do you work on?

With a few exceptions, I primarily work on non-fiction and academic documents. Most of my time is spent writing or editing grant proposals, various types of marketing copy, and user manuals. I also edit and format dissertations, primarily for doctoral candidates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. I also proofread fiction work and have performed light copy editing for a few authors.

Your aspirations once were to become a journalist. What drove you to move away from that ambition and towards technical editing, writing and proofreading?

I realized that I could not distance myself enough on an emotional level to be an effective career journalist. One spring when I was an undergraduate, I covered a story on local flooding as a student reporter. After watching and speaking to people who had been filling sandbags for hours in an effort to save their homes and properties, I didn’t want to go back to campus and write up a story about these people for the newspaper. I wanted to throw down my notepad and paper right there, pick up a shovel, and help them in their race against time and nature. Shortly after that, I started looking for ways in which I could contribute my writing skills as a member of a team, and that is how I found opportunities in the area of technical writing.

How do you advertise yourself and your services and what’s the most challenging thing about getting your name and company out there?

The most challenging aspect of marketing is simply taking the time to do it! I am on the list of editors at local universities (North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill). I also use social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook on a semi-regular basis, in order to let potential customers know that I am actively engaged in the industry! So much of my work is performed remotely — I only occasionally meet with my clients in person ― so it’s important to maintain a visible presence online.

I truly enjoy the supportive role of helping my clients shine in their respective fields.

How valuable did you find your experience editing a school newspaper and interning? What made you choose freelance work rather than in-house employment?

My experiences during my undergraduate years at two different student newspapers and two different city newspapers were invaluable in laying the groundwork for my career. I learned about the unyielding nature of deadlines, the importance of understanding your audience and the overall power of simple, good writing. Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to handle constructive criticism and how to value input from a copy editor. Now that I’m on the “other side of the pen,” so to speak, I draw from all of those experiences when working with my clients.

What are the benefits and advantages for working as a self-employed editor?

I value the freedom and autonomy in employment. Although an editor never has freedom from deadlines, I do enjoy the freedom to collaborate with professionals on projects that interest me. I also appreciate the fact that I do not have to deal with rush-hour traffic to start work!

Do you stay connected with the editing and publishing industry and professionals? How do you keep yourself on top of new developments?

I have joined multiple professional organizations, such as the Professional Editors Network, the Society for Technical Communication and the American Medical Writers Association, and I also belong to a local writers’ group. In order to stay informed in my field, I take classes whenever I can. One of my favorite aspects of this job is the constant opportunity to learn. This spring, I am taking an online class on the American Medical Association Manual of Style through the Editorial Freelancers Association. I have a strong background in the life sciences, and have edited multiple scientific dissertations, so this class is the natural next step in the learning process for me.

 I enjoy the freedom to collaborate with professionals on projects that interest me.

How do you deal with those times when your workload/pipeline becomes light? Equally what’s your process for handling a large and demanding workload? How do you stay motivated at these times?

I tend to use a little caffeine motivation (extra coffee!) when I am grinding my way through a heavy workload. I also break very large tasks up into smaller milestones, which helps keep me focused and motivated to finish (and to push through late nights, when necessary). When I experience periods with a lighter workload, I try to catch up on administrative and marketing tasks, such as updating my website.

Would you say you prefer the editing or the writing side of things?

This is such an excellent question! I enjoy both for different reasons. I primarily prefer editing, because I truly enjoy the supportive role of helping my clients’ shine in their respective fields. I have edited documents for several truly brilliant individuals, and I soak up their energy and learn about their perspectives as much as possible. As a technically minded individual, I tend to view editing as a highly precise activity, and as such I obtain a lot of satisfaction from the basic exercise of fixing what is incorrect and finding potential improvements within text. However, the inner journalist within me enjoys writing as well. Even if I am writing a user manual or contributing to a grant proposal, I enjoy the creative process of building something from nothing and the opportunity to construct information within critically decisive areas for my clients.

 I learned about the unyielding nature of deadlines, the importance of understanding your audience and the overall power of simple, good writing.

What type of client do you most enjoy working for?

I have enjoyed working with nearly all of my clients so far. Even though I can’t pick a favorite “type” of client, I find that my favorite clients tend to be more technical by nature, and they all share a common priority with me: their readers. If an author, researcher, or marketing professional is genuinely interested in how their readers will respond to their document, they are highly engaged in the editing process and bring a lot of vivacity into the project.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is the knowledge that I truly am helping people. Whether I’m working for a scientist who is on the cusp of completing a dissertation steeped in ground-breaking research, a company polishing a user manual for a new product that will benefit consumers, or a marketing agency creating an exciting campaign, I get to participate and contribute to an effort that will certainly assist at least one person, and likely will ultimately impact a lot of people. 

And a little bit about yourself as a person! What do you like to do (and most specifically read!) in your spare time?

I love to read! I’ve often found that real people are more fascinating than fictional characters, so I generally tend to prefer biographies and books about historical events. Occasionally, I also enjoy reading a good mystery novel, especially one set in a historical time period or in another country. Perhaps the only activity I love more than reading is spending time with my husband, two children, and two dogs. I also tinker with a few small hobbies, such as gardening. One of my biggest ambitions this year is training to run a half-marathon. 

Interested in learning more about Melissa’s company and services?

Visit www.composedsuccess.com

Follow on Twitter @ComposedSuccess

You can also reach her directly at melissa@composedsuccess.com

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Introducing Digital Publisher Andri Nel

Andri Nel, South African Digital Publisher

Andri Nel, South African Digital Publisher

Please introduce yourself! What is your personal and professional background, and how did you get into publishing?

I am Andri Nel and I live in Pretoria, South Africa. I completed my Publishing honours degree at the University of Pretoria, the only University of South Africa where you can study publishing, at the end of 2014 (our semesters work on full years not half years) and I will be furthering my studies at Oxford Brookes University on September when I start my Masters in Digital Publishing.

Digital Publishing is my passion. I fell in love with it 3 years ago in my final year of my undergraduate degree and have been working in as many fields of digital publishing as I can here in South Africa. During the years in which I completed my honours degree I entered the world of freelance digital publishing, doing both conversions and drawing up digital publishing strategies for publishers. Digital publishing is a very young field and one that is even more daunting to most publishers in South Africa where we are still struggling with a very bad reading culture, poverty and very little access to the internet in the rural areas. My personal goal is to help break the ice in this field and make digital publishing accessible to all publishers and use it to enhance the reading culture in the eleven official languages of South Africa.

Tell us about the company you work for. What type of publishing do you work in?

I am involved in a number of projects in the field of publishing, all focussing on digital publishing. As a freelancer I am currently working on the implementation of a digital publishing strategy for a nature publisher, Briza Publications, as well as the conversion, selling and launching of an independent author’s book on the compilation of prison letters by Ghandi’s son in law during Apartheid South Africa.

To keep the bread on the table I work on projects in educational digital publishing and have perfected the art of editing eBooks on screen. It was a learning curve as this is not a field which has been practiced a lot in South African publishing.

My passion lies with a venture called KliekClick which I started with three other women. KliekClick is an independent digital publisher publishing original short stories for children between the ages of 9 and 15 in Afrikaans (one of South Africa’s national languages and my mother tongue). We have a website and online store where children can buy stories in ePub and mobi format for as little as R5 (£0.25c). We also encourage children to write to us. The bulk of our stories came from a writing competition we launched on Facebook and the response was overwhelming. KliekClick is venturing out into educating learners about digital reading in 2015 with visits to schools and encouraging more children to write in their mother tongue. It is a venture I am extremely passionate. Our site is in Afrikaans, but please give it a look at www.kliekclick.co.za as well as our online shop at www.kliekclick/winkel.co.za

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Who is your target audience?

As a freelancer my target audience is publishing houses looking to venture into digital publishing and independent authors wanting to self-publish in digital format.

KliekClick’s target audience is children between the ages of 9 and 15, but also their parents as they are the ones with the money (of course).

What excites you most about digital publishing?

The possibilities digital publishing holds for publishing and especially publishing in South Africa. It is still a challenge for publishers in South Africa to understand that eBooks are not a replacement for print book (especially not in South Africa’s economic climate), but rather an extension. What excited me about working with publishers is teaching them new skills and seeing them get excited about the new ventures. What excited me about KliekClick is the opportunity we are giving short story authors, who are mostly turned down by big publishers, to have their stories published and the positive response we receive from both parents and children about the stories and the new experience they are having by buying and reading digitally.

KliekClick, the independent digital publishing company started by Andri Nel and three colleagues.

KliekClick, the independent digital publishing company started by Andri Nel and three colleagues.

How well received is digital publishing in South Africa? Is there a large publishing industry and a lot of publishers where you live?

Publishing in South Africa is mainly monopolised by the group NB Publishers, who own most of the smaller publishers, and then a lot of international publishers with branches here such as Penguin Random House, Oxford University Press and Pearson. Smaller publishers in South Africa focus on the niche markets such as language or nature. The industry itself is very small in South Africa though and is very female dominant, it really seems everyone knows everyone.

Digital publishing is still very new to South African publishing and many publishers are reluctant to venture into it. There are almost no South African publishers that publish in digital first format or even bring out a digital edition along with their print edition. Most eBooks are only backlist titles. Educational publishing has been more willing to enter into digital publishing as the Department of Education is pushing for digital learning in schools. The reluctance of most publishers is understandable as there are not real publishers with the necessary skills in digital publishing here yet (the digital publishing program was only added to the publishing curriculum 4 years ago) and because of the lack of internet infrastructure we have in the country. Most people cannot afford eReaders and tablets and despite internet connection being relatively good in the cities, some rural areas do not have any internet connection. Some publishers have started the transition, but there are still many obstacles to overcome for digital publishing.

Do you agree with the view point that is being widely discussed at the moment, about how all publishing professionals will soon need digital publishing skills to stay ahead in the game?

I think all publishers should have an understanding of all skills and fields in publishing. For example any publisher should have at least a minimal understanding of copy editing and proofreading. I think the same goes for digital publishing. Everyone in publishing should understand how it works and understand the “lingo” but not everyone needs to be a developer, not everyone needs to know how to code and create the eBook from scratch. It is a matter of understanding the field and how it fits in with your field of publishing.

eBooks are not a replacement for the print book, but rather an extension.

What do you feel are the advantages of digital publishing?

There are many generic advantages such as lower environmental impact, lower production costs (sometimes) and readers always being able to have their books with them. However I think the biggest advantage of digital publishing is the enhancement it can give to publishing. Not all books should be eBooks, I truly believe that, but those that are should not simply be a print book in digital format, what is the use. eBooks, in my opinion, should be advanced with media overlays, videos, links inside the book and outside the books. For publishers I think the biggest advantage of digital publishing is that for the first time in a long time, we can be completely creative, almost crazy, again and think outside the box. It makes for an exciting new chapter for publishing in general.

I think all publishers should have an understanding of all skills and fields in publishing.

What are the challenges facing digital publishing at the moment?

I think one of the biggest challenges is the platforms we are currently reading eBooks on. There is such a variety, but at the same time no real standard. Not only does this confuse readers and in many cases make them turn from eBooks all together, but it also makes the publisher’s job very difficult. Each platform it seems uses its own format and own DRM (which is a challenge in its own right) and it is becoming increasingly difficult to create one file which can work on all platforms. Even though productions costs might not be as high as print, they are pushed up because compatibility tests now need to be done on all different readers. Maybe it will never happen, but ultimately I think it would be best if there was one true standard for all eBooks which could allow easy reading and even sharing amongst readers.

Cartoon of Andri and her publishing colleagues.

Cartoon of Andri and her publishing colleagues.

In your point of view, will digital make print obsolete, or compliment it?

I don’t think digital will replace print, but rather enhance it. Some people will always read print books (no matter their age) others will prefer digital. Some books will always be better in print, others in digital. I compare it to paperback and hardcover, the one enhanced the other, neither one overshadows the other.

What do you read in your spare time?

I love reading classics (over and over again), biographies and Afrikaans novels, as I still love the way the Afrikaans language has evolved on the writing front.

You can follow Andri on Twitter @An3nel

Introducing Freelance Editor Helen Stevens

My relationship with today’s interviewee proves the power of networking – I met her at a Society of Young Publishers event in Leeds after befriending her on Facebook in a Proofreaders and Editors group. Helen supported me a lot through my job hunt (and trust me, I never let anybody on Facebook forget that I was job hunting!) and told me about the two Editorial Assistant vacancies at Emerald Group Publishing near where she lives (I was successful in applying for the second one!) Not only this, but as my interview was at 8 am after a gruelling 4-hour coach and train journey, she picked me up from the train station and drove me to the Emerald offices. She sat with me and gave me advice and support until I plucked up the courage to go in there, and then picked me up and took me for tea and toast (ALWAYS a winner if you want something from me!) before I headed back to Hull. I owe a lot to this woman, and I admire her a lot. I only hope to be as good an Editor as her one day!

Never underestimate the power of networking, folks! Not only do you get to make lasting friendships, but you never know just how valuable those friendships can be in helping each other advance in their careers. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to repay the favour for her one day.

Helen Stevens, Freelance Editor.

Helen Stevens, Freelance Editor.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

After graduating I worked for 8 years in the NHS in Lancaster as an admin officer and then a personnel officer.

How did you get into editing and proofreading?

While on maternity leave from my NHS job I decided I’d like a change of direction. I took a distance learning course in proofreading and then started sending my CV to publishers. I took on my first proofreading job at the end of 1995.

Did you find the transition to self employment to be a challenge? Did you feel excited or scared?

It was a challenge in some ways, although I’d already left the ‘9 to 5’ world of work, so that side of things wasn’t as much of a shock. I was excited, as I loved the work and enjoyed the flexibility and variety.

How long have you had an interest in editing and publishing?

Since I decided on my change of career. It wasn’t something I’d thought about before that.

What three things would you say are essential for a freelance editor to have?

Perseverance, flexibility, and a good supply of Yorkshire Tea.

…it’s a good idea to be on the look-out for new sources of work all the time.

Do you focus on a particular type or genre of writing?

I’ve always worked on non-fiction, although the type of work I do has varied over the years. In the beginning I proofread a lot of self-help/instructional books. Now I mainly edit material for non-native-English authors, including reports for an EU agency and journal articles for academics.

What are the biggest challenges and advantages you face as a freelancer?

The biggest challenges are, I suppose, the isolation and the lack of security. You don’t have the support of colleagues, as you would in an office environment, for example, and that can be an issue both professionally and socially. In terms of security, I’ve learnt over the years that it’s no good putting all your eggs in one basket, client-wise. I had one regular client who stopped using freelancers almost overnight, but luckily I had other sources of work to fall back on. As well as having a range of clients to keep you busy, it’s a good idea to be on the look-out for new sources of work all the time.

With more and more publishers outsourcing editorial work to freelancers, what must you do to keep yourself ahead of the competition?

Demonstrating your skills in the form of qualifications or professional status is important (I’m an advanced member of the SfEP). As much as anything, though, it’s about making sure clients can find you, and making sure you do a good job for those clients so that they come back for more (and recommend you to others!).

How do you keep yourself actively involved in the publishing industry while working at home?

Being a member of the SfEP is a great way of keeping yourself involved, whether that’s through the members’ forum, the magazine or the annual conference. But social media is also useful for finding out what’s going on, both in the UK and around the globe.

What do you like to read in your spare time?

I usually read fiction, although I’ve just finished Alan Johnson’s This Boy (the first volume of his autobiography), which I’m reading for my book group. Another memoir I enjoyed recently was Catherine Gildiner’s After the Falls, the follow-up to one of my favourite books of all time, Too Close to the Falls.

As a fellow Northerner in the publishing industry, what are your views on the clear North/south divide in publishing? Do people in the North have enough of a say or enough opportunity to have their voices heard in the industry?

Since my clients aren’t ‘traditional’ publishers, I don’t particularly feel this North/South divide. In fact, most of my clients are based overseas, so the North/South divide doesn’t affect me as much as it would other people working in the publishing industry.

I guess the only thing I notice is that a lot of the interesting publishing-related events tend to be in London, which is a shame.

Your favourite writers and books?

I don’t have a favourite author as such. I’ve enjoyed the novels of John Irving, Magnus Mills, Donna Tartt, Patrick Gale, Anne Tyler, Robertson Davies, Ian McEwan… (in no particular order).

You can find out more about Helen and her proofreading, editing and copywriting services here.

Follow her on Twitter @HelenSaltedit

Find out more about the SfEP here.

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