Team Time at Inspira

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We were busy bees last week at Inspira. Our editorial toolkits are now bursting with new resources, ideas, and strategies! We’re excited to share with you what we’ve been up to recently, and how our growth will help our clients.

Last week we were graced with a week-long visit from one of our contributing editors, Connie Willems. Connie works remotely, so she flew in from Oklahoma City to not only meet our whole team face-to-face, but to offer valuable advice and insight. She has an extensive background in book and periodical publishing, and also works as a life coach (you can check out her website at www.reallifediscovery.com), so we were eager to learn from her!

We gathered the whole team together for a day-long workshop that focused on strategy, personal writing skills, team building, style guides, and more. (We can’t think of a better way to spend a day than discussing how to properly write em dashes and ellipses…can you?) Connie drew on her many years of experience to help us hone our skills, which will in turn allow us to better help our clients. The stronger our skills and experiences, the stronger our books!

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Of course we had lofty goals of impressing Connie (the successful editor and publisher that she is) with our smooth, hiccup-free business operations, but fate had other plans. One of our books was going to print during her visit, which is usually the most harried step in the book-creating process. A couple of last-minute changes made for a frenzied (yet exciting) week full of drama. Thanks, Connie, for your assistance in successfully navigating the snags!

Now that we’re on the other side of our week full of learning, creating, and teambuilding, we are excited and eager for new projects and possibilities. We have fresh resources under our belt to help our authors get their story or message from idea in head to book in hand!

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Blog post by Heather Sipes, Assistant Editor at Inspira.  You’ll get to know Heather a little better next week when we start our new blog series, “What Inspires YOU?”

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Why Your Book Needs a Developmental Editor

 

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When my youngest daughter was in second grade, I once accompanied her class on a field trip to the zoo. Hillary was delighted to have me with her on the school bus full of loudly chattering children. One of her classmates, a young man of about seven, sized me up and asked boldly over the din, “So what do you do for a job?”

Hillary enthusiastically and proudly answered for me, “She fixes people’s spelling!”

The boy looked at me with great pity. “Oh wow. Bummer.”

I couldn’t stifle my laughter. I’m sure that, to him, it sounded like the worst job ever!

Thankfully, correcting spelling is probably one of the most minor aspects of what I do as an editor (although I don’t mind it). But it’s still probably one of the first things most people—adults included—think of when they think of “editing.”

Developmental vs. Copy Editing

When most people think of an “editor,” they generally think about someone who weeds out all the bad grammar, misspelled words, and typos from a manuscript.  That is only partially true. This is copy editing. A good copy editor knows the rules of grammar and uses them scrupulously to polish your manuscript.

A developmental editor, on the other hand, reads a manuscript and asks good questions. She (or he) gets at the heart of your book to make sure it has all the right components, and that it flows seamlessly and logically from start to finish.  She’ll look for things like:

  • structure and sequence
  • clarity and logic
  • outline and objectives (if non-fiction); character and plot (if fiction)
  • organization – does the material (or plot) unfold in the most useful/interesting way?
  • ensuring research and quotes are properly cited and documented
  • illustrating key points with well-illustrated stories, graphs, and/or diagrams
  • making the language clear and easy to understand
  • ensuring the thoughts flow smoothly from chapter to chapter, ending up in a satisfying conclusion

I love this apt description I found of the difference between a a copy editor and a developmental editor: “A copy editor will point out that you have broccoli in your teeth. A developmental editor will ask you why you ate broccoli to begin with. Perhaps kale would be better?” *

The reality is, for your book to be the best it can be, you need both – developmental editing and copy editing (in that order). I can’t count the number of “edited” manuscripts and books I’ve seen that may have their spelling sorted out, but they lack any sort of cohesive structure and flow. These books, unfortunately, fall flat and, sadly, never reach their full potential.

I pointed out to my young friend on the school bus and reiterate today, years later, that I love my job as an editor. I do both developmental and copy editing and enjoy them as integral parts of a complete project (and a stellar book). And, when necessary, I’ll even politely point out any offending broccoli—at no extra charge. 🙂

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Arlyn Lawrence is the president of Inspira Literary Solutions, a boutique book development and design company whose aim is to be a resource and support to authors and organizations with a manuscript, message, or mission they want to get into print. We provide an a la carte menu of every service necessary along the way to publication, from book idea to book-in-hand. www.inspiralit.com

*illustration credit to Merry Farmer

 

 

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How to Identify Your Book’s Audience

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“Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person—and write to that one.”

– John Steinbeck

Some authors write with a very specific audience in mind, maybe even one specific person. For example, if you are a single father writing a parenting book, your audience is pretty clear: single parents. You could even narrow it down to single parents in a certain economic bracket and cultural context. However, it is not always so clear cut. If your book is a memoir that covers your experience in the coast guard, as a CEO, or as a grieving parent, it can be hard to narrow down your audience. You may be tempted to say that your book is for everyone. Don’t.

 Why “Everyone” is the Worst Possible Answer

Whether you self-publish or go through a traditional publisher, you need a specific audience to whom to market your book. The more clearly you can articulate this, the higher the chance you have of marketing and selling your book to that audience.

“In these competitive times, the promotions portion of one’s book proposal is among the most important aspects. A publisher wants to know that you have a grasp on your target audience and that you understand how to reach them.” (http://www.matilijapress.com/) When you pitch your book proposal to an editor/agent/publisher, they have to determine if your book is worth the risk (i.e., does it have an audience to sell to?).

Let’s be honest, everyone does not want to read your book. Who DOES care? That’s what you need to determine. You have a story worth sharing (at least you think so). You want to get your book to the people it will impact the most. Whom will this book benefit? Who will buy this book? These are the people towards whom you want to write and market.

When you write a book with someone (or a group of someones) in mind, it helps you hone in on what’s really important, and direct every word towards them. Ideally, you determined your audience before you ever began writing your book.

If you haven’t clearly identified your audience, do it now. You will have to do it eventually for your book proposal, so the sooner the better. You, your editor, or your agent/publisher may find that you have to alter your project to either narrow or expand the audience. That’s okay! The most important thing is that your book gets into the hands of those it will benefit the most.

Questions to Ask When Determining Your Audience

  1. Whom will this book interest? Whom will it benefit? In what genre is this book?
  2. Determine the demographics of ideal readers: age group, gender, economic class, profession, education level, nationality, people group, religion, etc.
  3. Did you write a book that you want to read? Where do you fall in these categories?
  4. Look at other books that are similar to yours – to whom did they market?

If you are an author (or even an aspiring author), Inspira has an a la carte menu of editorial and publishing assistance, and a team of talented editors and designers, to help you bring your book or curricular resources to print. Contact us through our the contact form on our website, http://www.inspiralit.com.

Post by Kerry Wade