I’ve been book shepherding (more than just editing) for several years now, and I’d like to focus on one aspect of helping individual authors navigate through the publishing process: the importance of using a team, and not just one person.
Yep, I can do it all (well, almost), but having me carry out all the production tasks for a book is not necessarily in the author’s, and therefore, the reader’s best interest. Definitely more money for me if I do everything, but there are drawbacks to putting one’s book production tasks all in one basket.
I love proofreading, for example, but I am not the best candidate for your proofreading need if I’ve also been working with you on developmental and copy editing. We often say that it’s not a good idea for the author to do all the editing of their own work, and this advice also applies to the editor doing proofreading. I don’t care how awesome your critical eye is, fellow editors, another pair of eyes (preferably professional ones, though), will always catch errors you’ve missed from reading through the material too many times. With my book shepherded authors, I always recommend using a different person for proofreading.
Also, in book design, I am mostly an interior girl. I like doing interior layout, getting fonts right for the author’s style, the trim of the book, the content itself, for headings, titles, and regular text. I like checking page flow and image placement to create the best use of space and continuity with the story or information (=fun!).
I can also lay out the book’s cover, but I definitely need a detailed checklist to get everything right (image resolutions and spacing in particular). I am also not a skilled visual artist. And that’s all OK. If the cover is simple and the client wants me to do it, I can pull it off, but I do need to be firm that original illustration, and possibly the entire cover layout, may best be done by someone else, depending on what the author needs. It’s very important to make sure that as a book shepherd, I help the author find the best combination of my skills and the skills and perspectives of others in order to create the best book for them and their readers.
And then there’s printing and marketing. I don’t have any of the tools necessary to print books, of course, although I can point folks in the right direction. And although I do keep up with some aspects of promoting one’s book, a large-scale push or a niche audience will require input from other experts.
It really does take a village to create a book.
I recommend that book shepherds keep contact info for any of the publishing production tasks that are better done by others and not get hung up on doing everything themselves.
Yep, I can do almost all of it, but that doesn’t mean I should do it all.