Ellen on What It Takes to Be an Author from an Editor’s Perspective, Part 2

Photo, Ellen KadinThe following is part two of a guest post from Executive Editor Ellen Kadin about her journey from editor to author, and a new found appreciation for what it takes to be an author. Read Part 1.

With my full attention on other books now, the editor side of me is shocked by how quickly our copy editor (Carole, a fine pro) completes her work on the manuscript.  In this game of literary “hot potato,” in what seems like no time, it’s on our plate again.  (I am reminded of the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ricky participate in a dance challenge.  Ricky arranges it so he gets the slow music which requires virtually no effort—perhaps tapping a foot; definitely not breaking a sweat.  Lucy gets the fast music and must virtually stand on her head.  That’s what it felt like after finally submitting the manuscript and then suddenly getting it back in what seemed like record time.)

Editor Ellen is grateful to copy editor Carole for working so quickly, adhering to our super-rush schedule.  However author Ellen is miserable—beyond exhausted, and knowing this means that for person Ellen, all nights and weekends must once again be dedicated to this. But, hey—who am I to complain?  I don’t even have a family to deal with!  Again I think “How do they do it?”—authors with not only taxing day jobs, but a spouse and children to tend to.  My awe of authors only deepens.

We dig in.  Susan, whose day work is a bit more flexible than mine, reviews the copy-edited chapters first and then sends them to me.  With all due respect to Carole, who I can see has done a very good job:  YIKES!  Here, there, and seemingly everywhere:  this isn’t what we had meant, or wanted, at all!

Poor authors. They deal with this all the time. And not all of them can be as fortunate as we are to have had assigned to their books a copy editor as talented and dedicated as Carole.

Galley proofs arrive before we can blink. Back and forth we go. More late nights in Susan’s New York apartment. And somehow in the process we manage to lose about 50 pages of proofs that we had already edited. Good times.

By this point I’m so worn out that the rest of the process (jacket copy, endorsements, et al.) is just a blur.

Of course while all of this has been going on, editor Ellen has been involved all along with all the normal duties relating to establishing the book’s title (It’s Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss ) and cover design (Many thanks to Cathleen Ouderkirk, our wonderful Creative Director, for securing and overseeing the development of the book’s cover design. I love it!); gathering material needed for the catalog; securing and assembling material that will be useful to have in our sales kit; and introducing the book to our sales reps. (Actually it was in some of those areas that I felt the tug of conflict in wearing both author and editor hats. While it is easy for me to stand firmly on marketing-related issues relating to my other authors’ books, as you can imagine it was awkward to do so when the book was partly my own. Fortunately some colleagues and circumstances aided me in my causes.)

Photo of Ellen KadinSpeaking of the book’s swell cover: The only aspect of the author-Ellen work that was fun was getting my photo taken for the book flap. I got to feel like Cinderella. At a recommended photographer I availed myself of the services of her regular make-up artist, Jay, whose aim, he said, is to “make you look like yourself—on the best day of your life.” Of course achieving such natural splendor took Photo of Susan Wilson SolovicJay about twice as long as it took photographer Lisa to do the shoot—but he was right; 85 minutes of spackle and high gloss later my face did look just like me–only much better. (Jay hoped I had a hot date for the evening.) Ironically, even after all the fuss to create my “best day” look on my Cinderella day, I knew I would be, by far, the second-best-looking author on the jacket. (I have neglected to mention that my coauthor is a bona fide stunner.)

I will always be grateful to beautiful Susan (inside and out) for giving me the chance to realize an editor’s dream—and the perspective to see what my authors who are not full-time writers have been going through all of these years. As for the hardship, stress, and significantly shortened lifespan? If Al G. from Boeing reads this, he’ll probably say it serves me right.

Jacket image, It's Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your BossEllen Kadin is Executive Editor at AMACOM and coauthor of It’s Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss, which, thanks to the platform and marketing efforts of Susan Wilson Solovic and AMACOM, became a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller last year.


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