Retiring with Attitude: approaching and relishing your retirement, by Caroline Lodge and Eileen Carnell. Published by GuardianBooks, TODAY 24th July 2014, currently a best seller on the Guardian Bookshop list.
In the last post in the series about publishing out book called Holding our Nerve, we reflected on the difficulties we had in finding a publisher. It was a long process, nearly two years. It took another 20 months from the publisher’s expression of interest to publication, and we have learned a great deal more about writing, mostly about editing and the invaluable role of editors. Without them, if we had self-published, our book would not have been as well crafted.
So what did we get from the editors?
Before our first meeting, before we even knew if GuardianBooks were going to publish, we had sent the sample chapters requested by the editor. It was a memorable meeting. It was hilarious. We were nervous as hell. We had barely sat down at a table in the first floor café of the Guardian offices when simultaneously we received our coffees and the fire alarm went off. Every person in the Kings Place building, from all nine floors, evacuated and ended up in the Pret a Manger café 200 yards down York Way. It was a damp November day, and within seconds the whole place was filled with steam and people talking.
Caroline had had a sneaky look at the editor’s copy of our sample chapters and noticed one word jotted at the top. EDGE. When we resumed our conversation Katie told us that they were interested in our book, but wanted to see more ‘edge’ in our writing. And she demonstrated how to do it. We learned how to make our writing more direct, stronger. She used the word manifesto, so we wrote one for ourselves, and used it to strengthen the introduction. And to our surprise the writing improved.
Addressing the reader
On our return she asked for more direct inclusion of the reader in the text. ‘Address them, use the word you more frequently.’ This went against our previous style of published writing, but again we could see how it improved the text by making it more inclusive.
Once we had a contract, a title, an advance and an editor to take our book through to publication we had two more revisions to do. Our new editor explained that she wanted us to take away anything that got between the reader and the material. That included removing the boxes in which we had examples as well as the references, (we come from research backgrounds). Lindsay described this style as ‘less academic’, although it hadn’t seemed especially academic to us, just good practice!
More of our experiences and beliefs
Finally, she suggested that all these revisions had removed us from the text, so we should put ourselves back in. So we did.
More things we learned from the editors
Editors helped the book become better than our original text, better for the reader. They have helped us publish the book we wanted to publish. And we learned some useful writing skills in the process.
Editors helped with the title and sub-title, and ideas for the cover – all of which make the book more appealing and attractive to readers.
We met every deadline, which meant that copies were available before the publication date for people who had pre-ordered, and for advance events, such as Ways with Words.
We were delighted to learn last week that our book was number one on the GuardianBooks webpage and that on Saturday in the Guardian Review it was at the top of the bestsellers list through Guardian Bookshop.
Caroline Lodge and Eileen Carnell
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