As I’ve been expanding my skill set in the publishing process, I’ve been thinking about what to call what I do, and last year, the idea of shepherding came to mind. I’d been informally advising some self-publishing authors about that particular process and the basic aspects of editing that they’d have to go through, along with the book design process. So, I thought, hey, this guiding stuff is just like being a shepherd, a publishing process shepherd.
Of course, once I went to Google and searched, I found out lots of folks had thought of this already, and bookshepherd.com was already spoken for. Figures. 😉 So, for me, the title Book Shepherd will be more of a role identity than a branding identity. For a good article on what this means and to decide if you need a book shepherd or not, go to Cathy Stucker’s original article on book shepherding here.
One thing I want to make sure I do with this role is to focus my direct efforts on the aspects I have experience and talent in and refer the rest. Any one individual who says they can do everything for you in a long and often complex process like publishing is spreading themselves too thin, in my opinion, not to mention that more than one or two pairs of eyes on a document will almost always produce more accurate results. Remember that publishing has traditionally been a collaborative effort using a staff of editors, proofreaders, typesetters, printers, and marketers to support the writer’s creative effort. Just because we are self-publishing now doesn’t mean all these tasks must be done by one individual, whether it be the author or a single “book shepherd.” So, if I end up copy editing your book, I’m likely to recommend someone else to proofread it; I think you’ll get better quality copy that way.
Book shepherds provide an invaluable set of services, though, particularly regarding expertise on the process as a whole. I am constantly being asked new questions (like “so, how can I get twenty-five copies of a new booklet to take to an event to show off and sell, but I don’t want to necessarily sell them on Amazon?”) that cause me to increase my knowledge on what’s available for self-publishing authors.
If you need help with publishing, just let me know. 🙂
And in the interest of quality referrals, since it take a village oftentimes to publish a book, here are a couple of folks with great advice of their own:
Brian Klems at Writer’s Digest has written a great article on the editor–author relationship: “10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You—But Should.”
My editor buddy from the far north of Scotland, Sara Donaldson, is not only a great editor and genealogical researcher, but also a great writer herself, and her blog at Northern Editorial is just chock full of great advice for working with editors and writing in general.