A Quarterly Newsletter from
Volume 2, Number 1
We here at The Copyeditor’s Desk hope your 2013 is going well – and that you’re still finding your audience and your best markets.
I’m writing to share an idea that may help the bottom line at your business or professional practice, and to report some fresh news at our end.
Book Publishing for Your Business’s Profit
By now, everyone who reads knows that massive change has come to the book publishing industry, largely driven by the rise of e-books and online retailing. In the second quarter of 2012, the market share for e-books was 22 percent of all spending on books, while mass paperbacks fell three percentage points and hardcover and trade paperbacks each fell two points. With the demise of Borders, Amazon increased its market share and by second-quarter 2012 outstripped Barnes and Noble by eleven percentage points.
These changes can work to the great benefit of anyone who owns a business or professional practice. E-books are relatively inexpensive to produce and, working through Amazon, can be produced in hard copy on a print-on-demand basis.
What does this mean for you as a doctor, lawyer, or business owner?
It means you can easily and economically use books in three crucial ways.
• To highlight your expertise in your specialty
• To educate or advise your customers, clients, and patients
• To enhance your visibility and reputation
E-books can reach your market inexpensively and with relative ease. You can sell or give them away on your website or, if you prefer, sell them through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks. And when hard copies are needed – say, to distribute or sell at a conference – print-on-demand services allow you to purchase only the number of copies that you need, eliminating waste and the need for storage.
Some e-books can be highly profitable on their own. The other day one of our clients called to say that her first e-book, which describes her experience with a currently popular diet plan, generated $6,000 in January alone.
Used as a business tool, electronic and print-on-demand books can have many positive outcomes:
• Enhance your company’s credibility
• Present you as an expert
• Make you stand out from the competition
• Build your business’s reputation
• Increase traffic to your website
• Supplement speaking engagements
• Identify customers
• Educate and advise current and prospective customers, clients, and patients
• Generate prospects and revenue
• Generate sales
Examples of success with this strategy abound:
• Mortgage broker Brian Sacks’s self-published book, Yes, You Can Get a Mortgage: Even If You’ve Had a Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, or Other Credit Issue, has generated a constant flow of customers and millions of dollars of revenue for his mortgage brokerage. Brian invites book readers to visit his website for more information and a personal evaluation. Quite often, this evaluation leads to mortgage services with fees ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.
• Susan Berkley’s self-published book, Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice, has sold over 14,000 copies. It’s now in the second printing of its second edition, and it continues to sell every month. Susan still gets quoted from her book, even today – years after the book scored blurbs in Glamour and Self magazines – without even trying.
• Jan Elsea, a successful communication entrepreneur who started in Arizona and built an international consulting firm, used her books, The Four-Minute Sell and First Impression, Best Impression, to help build and market her business, teaching communication skills to employees of large corporations.
The writers, editors, and designers at The Copyeditor’s Desk are experienced in producing books for publication, whether the topics are technical, scholarly, or of general business interest.
New Developments, New Staff
As the economy in general improved last year, so did the editing business. In 2012 The Copyeditor’s Desk did well enough to let Victoria step down from teaching to devote full attention to building our enterprise and to helping our clients create new and even better projects.
We’ve taken on several new editorial partners whose skills widen and deepen the services we can provide for you and your colleagues. Here’s how our team looks today:
A Ph.D. in microbiology with several respectable publications of her own. An editor at a scientific consulting company, she edits and writes technical copy in the life sciences and medicine, and she also has experience editing scientific papers in metallurgy.
A technical writer and editor in engineering. Employed as an editor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, she oversees final publication of all the Institute’s technical research, which includes work in the areas of pervasive mobile computing, software architecture and analysis, large-scale systems, and cloud computing. In addition, papers that she has edited through her freelance work have won the 2010 HTS/Bodycote Best Paper Award and the 2005 Arch T. Colwell Merit Award.
A freshly minted lawyer with a master of fine arts in writing and extensive technical and scholarly editing experience.
An experienced lawyer and nonprofit entrepreneur, who has a stint at running a “green” business and broad interest in the graphic, sculptural, and musical arts.
An IT professional and former educator with experience in formatting content for e-book publication. He specializes in converting fiction and nonfiction books to Kindle format.
A multi-award-winning book designer. Former art director for Arizona Highways, she is presently the art director for a prominent Massachusetts trade book publisher.
A print and Web designer with more than thirty years of experience. He has worked with studios, advertising agencies, magazines, and corporations as an artist, art director, illustrator, and design director.
An experienced webmaster who can ride herd on your site, troubleshoot unexpected issues, keep software up to date, and maintain smooth operation at all times.
A project manager and experienced scholarly editor with a master’s degree in European history and an undergraduate major in Russian. Managing editor of Management and Organization Review, she also has extensive real-world management experience in the food industry.
And of course you always have access to me, a Ph.D. in English literature and history with twenty years of commercial and scholarly publishing experience and fifteen years in college and university teaching.
With this collection of talent, The Copyeditor’s Desk is now in a position to advise writers and publishers across a broad spectrum of scholarly, technical, and business interests, to help produce print and electronic books, and to assist you in almost any aspect of publication management.
The Copyeditor’s Desk is a member of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, the Council of Science Editors, Local First Arizona, the North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, and the Scottsdale Business Association. We have begun to focus on editing and copywriting for businesses and midsize to large nonprofits. But we remain enthusiastic about scholarly and trade publishing, and so we offer special rates for individuals and small nonprofits.
We look forward to working with you! When you have an idea for a new publication project, get in touch – and please remember, your referrals are always appreciated.
The Copyeditor’s Desk
A Quarterly Newsletter from
The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.
Volume 1, Number 2
Lots of New Developments…
With great pleasure we announce the arrival of several new partners in our enterprise. Since I last got in touch with you, we have been joined by three experienced and highly trained publishing professionals:
• An educator and IT guru who has developed an expertise in formatting e-books. A former teacher, Ken is a PC and Web technician proficient in code as well as hardware issues and so is in a position to format electronic books ideally for any desired platform. He looks forward to working with authors and business owners in developing literary properties for electronic distribution.
• A Ph.D. in microbiology who escaped the research lab for the world of publishing. Erinn is a journal editor with a string of peer-reviewed publications of her own in upper-tier science journals. She edits technical and popular copy in the life sciences and medicine.
• A science writer and editor experienced in metallurgy and software engineering. Mary edits a journal published by a research center at a prominent East-Coast university; she can do technical editing, science writing, and science journalism.
Business is booming. The number of clients served by The Copyeditor’s Desk has grown to the point where I will be able to step down from teaching at the end of the fall 2012 semester to devote full attention to building the company. Top priority: finding work for a what is now a crew of eight: two graphic designers, an e-book developer, a publishing project manager and scholarly editor, two science editors, a general-assignment editor and indexer, and of course, moi, a scholarly and business editor and all-around copywriter.
So, we now have the capacity to help you with almost all types of writing and editing needs, from scientific, scholarly, and technical content to all kinds of business publications, be they electronic or print. With a Web designer, a print book designer, and an e-book developer, we can package virtually any kind of document or book for you, taking it from the manuscript stage to a printed and bound product.
§ § §
The Copyeditor’s Desk is building visibility. We are joining the Council of Science Editors and the Society for Scholarly Publishing. Here in our local business community, we belong to the Scottsdale Business Association, the North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, and Local First Arizona, all active groups of business entrepreneurs and executives.
We distinguish ourselves from our competition in a number of important ways:
• Our professionals have advanced degrees in their disciplines and significant experience in publication management. Our writers, editors, and designers have all worked on journals and most of us have published articles and books of our own.
• We are all native speakers of English.
• We do, however, have facility with several other languages, among them French, Russian, Italian, and Spanish. We are experienced in working with authors whose first language is other than English.
• All of our work is done in America by Americans. We do not offshore assignments to editors or artists in India, Hong Kong, and waypoints.
• Each writer, editor, and artist associated with The Copyeditor’s Desk is a known quantity. We do not subcontract projects to hundreds of pieceworkers scattered around the globe. We limit the size of our organization specifically so that we can ensure the highest possible quality of work for you.
We look forward to serving you in the coming months and years and to helping all our clients as you develop your businesses, your professional practices, and your academic careers.
§ § §
News You Can Use
From a presentation I recently delivered to a business group:
Seven Routine Business-Related Jobs That Are Worth Farming Out
Too often, business entrepreneurs think they can do it all themselves, and office managers imagine that any admin with a word processor, MS Publisher, and MS FrontPage can create the publications and websites that represent their companies.
Wrong! It’s penny-wise and pound-foolish to assign expert jobs to people (yourself included) who aren’t prepared to do them and don’t want to do them. The old saying, do what you do best and hire out the rest, applies to employees as well as business owners. If you want to create a truly professional image or get a job done right the first time, hire a professional.
Here are seven jobs for which it pays to hire an expert.
1. Web Design
The Internet is awash in sites and downloadable programs that will let you patch together your own website. And it’s true, you (or, possibly a better choice, your 15-year-old) can put together a site that looks more or less creditable, at least on the surface,
However, to do it, you’ll need to go through a substantial learning curve, and chances are you’ll spend a great deal of time that could be better spent earning money. Consider the opportunity cost: if an expert can do a job in a third the time, you will spend less on getting it done than you will lose by devoting your valuable time to a project that could be done quickly and professionally by someone who already knows how to do it.
The very site you’re reading is a case in point. Its first iteration was pretty amateurish. When I hired a Web designer who knew how to write HTML and use cascading style sheets, suddenly the thing took on a more polished look while maintaining the minimalist style I favor. Right off the bat, the designer remarked that there didn’t seem to be any way for readers to get hold of us. Hence, the contacts page, and links to it from every page in the site. Who knew?
2. Back-end Website Maintenance
For a very reasonable monthly, quarterly, or annual fee, you can hire Web gurus who will ride herd on software updates, troubleshoot problems, and step into the breach should your site ever be hacked.
At any site, constant weird techie stuff is going on. Here, for example, is a communication to my website wrangler about a large monetized blog I publish:
I just updated a bunch of plug-ins that were asking for new versions. This resulted in the following message:
Your backup folder MIGHT be visible to the public
To correct this issue, move the .htaccess file from wp-content/plugins/wp-dbmanager to /home1/funnyabo/public_html/wp-content/backup-db
I have NO idea what that means or how to do whatever they want me to do. On the same screen (http://funny-about-money.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=google-analytics-for-wordpress) there are a whole bunch of “Update Google Analytics Settings” buttons. Clicking on them doesn’t seem to do whatever it wants me to do…the buttons remain, begging me to do something, but what….???? Can you fix this?
Then there are things like this:
Who knows what it is? I don’t, nor do I have any desire to know.
Someone needs to ride herd on even the simplest website. And that job is never “simple.”
“SEO” means “search engine optimization.” The idea is to get your site to come up on the first page of a Google search. All of us know some SEO strategies: the use of keywords, for example. Like this:
However, truly effective SEO is a mysterious and indispensable skill. Code needs to be written into the back end of your site to help make it visible to Google’s electronic “spiders,” which search the Internet looking for and categorizing likely candidates for the searches its users make. Some of the tricks used to accomplish this are “black hat,” meaning they’re disapproved by Google. If Google doesn’t like something in a site’s innards, it will “disappear” the site, effectively making it invisible to potential customers or readers. Without a clear understanding of SEO techniques and Google’s policies about them, it’s easy to go astray.
4. Accounting and Bookkeeping
Speaking of mysterious and indispensable, I can’t even begin to imagine compiling business and tax returns without an accountant’s help. My accountant saves me a ton of money in taxes and potential liability, provides invaluable business advice, and suggests strategies to streamline any number of operating procedures.
Recently, too, I learned that said accountant will also do the bookkeeping for the S-corp and for personal accounts, for a very nominal fee. This eliminates vast quantities of hair-pulling for me. So worth it!
5. Design of Brochures, Business Cards, Letterhead, and Other Business Documents
With its deceptively easy-to-use templates, Microsoft Word makes it altogether too simple to create things that look like business products. Unfortunately, the products too often end up looking like someone made them on a laptop perched on the dining-room table. Here, for example, is a brochure I tricked out in a Word template:
The yellow comment balloons contain exchanges between a Copyeditor’s Desk graphic designer and yours truly. Any wacky idea I might have had about printing this thing and handing it out to every stranger who comes up the street went away when I tried to print a proof: it sliced off half the borders and disappeared lines of copy.
Using professional design and layout software, the artist came up with this: a much more attractive result.
You get, in short, what you pay for.
6. Content Writing and Editing
Another pair of eyes can rescue you from embarrassment and improve quality of communication. Here’s a telling anecdote from a colleague writing on LinkedIn:
At one point I became interested in a new line of products. I received a letter from a man announcing the start of a new journal in this field. It was chock full of grammar errors. I knew he wanted to market to professionals—MDs, NDs—and I knew they’d be put off by such a letter. I responded to him, shared what I saw in his letter, and offered my assistance. He wrote back saying he had it covered. I went to a convention regarding the product line. The product company had asked this man to appear at their convention regarding the new laws concerning health products. He presented a two page multiple-choice handout,
The two pages were chock full of grammar errors, and he was publicly embarrassed, as there were questions that had no answers, and ones that made no sense—in front of 500 people! The next time I went past his booth, he came out, put his arm around me, and hired me as his editor—for even the letter of apology to the product line company!
7. Social Media Content
Social media, such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, are said to be one of the most effective ways to market products and services. But…who has time to write this stuff?
Not the business owner, that’s for sure.
Often the opportunity cost of a do-it-yourself job far outweighs the cost of simply hiring someone else to do the job right the first time around. And even if you don’t mind using your $100/hour time to do a $60/hour job, the result is usually better when an expert does it.
The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.
It’s Been Too Long…
Okay, we admit it: we’ve been remiss in keeping up with clients and old friends. Tina and I realized we want to keep in touch with everyone and, since we are — after all — editors, what better way than with a newsletter? So…here’s our first effort. Ideally, we’d like to share a newsletter about once a quarter. Time will tell if we actually stick to the schedule!
What’s New with The Copyeditor’s Desk?
Earlier this year, we decided to target a particular segment of our market more specifically: businesses and professional practices. We began as an editorial service catering primarily to scholars, scientists, and publishing houses. However, in 2011, by pure serendipity, we connected with a large family-owned plumbing company based in Chicago, PDM Since 1885. When one of the owners asked us to help with some marketing copy, we discovered we really enjoy working with this kind of content, and we appreciate working with business owners and executives. In the past, too, we have had wonderful experiences working with medical professionals; most recently we’ve been privileged to do a few projects for Dr. Ken Muhich, who owns Scottsdale’s respected Stetson Chiropractic Clinic.
To reach out to this clientele, we realized we need to do a lot more networking. We already belong to the Scottsdale Business Association. Now we’re looking at joining a new chapter of WOAMTEC, a nationwide professional women’s group, and we are considering BNI, the world’s largest business networking group, which has several chapters in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. After just a few months, this effort already is working. Recently a nice job for a community college came our way, as well as a paper authored by a German business executive and a project for a large nonprofit organization.
Tina is leaving Arizona State University to work full-time as an independent editor. She will continue, on a contract basis, as managing editor of Management and Organization Review, the official journal of the International Association for Chinese Management Research, and she also joins The Copyeditor’s Desk as an official corporate director.
By way of building our business, we are applying for a very interesting program cosponsored by the Small Business Association and Arizona Public Service, a large regional utility. Called AAAME, it is a two-year immersion in workshops, projects, and mentoring designed to foster and develop small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses. It’s highly competitive, and of course we don’t yet know that our company will be accepted. Even if not, though, we’ve already learned a great deal about ourselves and our business just in the exercise of writing a business plan and organizing our thoughts for the application.
Meanwhile, we continue to work with existing clients, among them our beloved Poisoned Pen Press and the talented and ambitious author, Jane Hampton Cook, whose lively popular history about Abigail and John Adams was recently accepted by HarperCollins.
Change in Pricing Structure
We were surprised to learn that business owners and government administrators much prefer to be presented with an hourly rate, rather than with our standard table of per-page fees. So we’ve created a new fee schedule, based on a $60/hour rate for moderate to heavy copyediting (a little higher for difficult projects, less for relatively easier tasks such as proofreading). From what we’ve seen so far, the hourly rate will make little difference in the amount we would charge most existing clients who are accustomed to the page rate.
What We Can Do for You
One of the things we learned in writing a new, more formal business plan is that we might want to articulate more clearly what we can do for you, our clients. Here’s what we do:
For Businesses and Professional Practices
- Enhance communication with customers, suppliers, and employees
- Write website content, or improve content that already exists
- Oversee website design and management
- Ghostwrite articles and books intended for business promotion
- Arrange and oversee design and production of print and electronic books
- Write or edit newsletters, either for in-house use or for external marketing
- Arrange for print or online publication of newsletters
- Package books and long documents, such as annual reports and employee manuals, for companies
- Edit advertising copy
- Write or edit press releases
For Scholars, Scientists, and Publishing Houses
- Edit scholarly and scientific articles and books
- Edit trade books
- Edit and proofread genre fiction
- Index books
- Edit technical documents
- Edit dissertations and theses
- Advise dissertation writers on how to convert their projects into publishable books
Our subject matter has ranged from business management and legal theory to health care, clinical psychology, and sociology — with a little fiction, popular history, and math thrown in for fun. One day we may produce content for the average man and woman on the street; the next, we’re editing copy for academics, scientists, doctors, or business executives. Because we’re extremely versatile, we can work successfully with a wide variety of clients.
We Value Your Business
We hope you’ll keep in touch, and that you’ll remember us the next time you need help with a publication.
And We Depend on Your Referrals
Many of our favorite clients have come to us through word of mouth. We appreciate it when you let friends and colleagues know about us.
Yours for a prosperous and happy summer,
Victoria Hay, Ph.D.
Tina Minchella, M.A.
The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.
We Put Words to Work