We are pleased to announce a new edition to the BookWorks Team. Please join us in welcoming aboard, Karen Conlin, our Indie Editor at Large. We discovered Karen via her Grammargeddon! posts on Twitter and liked her refreshing, take-no-prisoners accounts of her indie editor biz. Part strict schoolmarm and part tattoed punk diva, this former schoolteacher (among many other hats worn) knows her stuff and is passionate about helping indie authors make their work sparkle. Be sure to catch up on Karen's prior posts on register and on hiring and working with freelance editors if you missed them.
Now, in her own words, Karen shares the circuitous trajectory that spawned her editing career...
A Long & Winding Road
My indie editing gig came about quite by accident. In 8th grade, I decided I would become a teacher because I adored my English teacher that year. And I did become one, majoring in British Lit with a secondary teaching certification (grades 6–12). I taught for one year, right out of college, and that spring got married. Well, that meant moving, and that meant no more teaching. It was 1980 and there was a surplus of teachers. As luck had it, my husband’s employer needed a temporary editor to fill in for someone on vacation. I got the position after a short interview and a very basic test (nothing but grammar, if I remember right), and proceeded to tear into the project they handed me.
It was a disaster. A five-part training course (I don’t recall the hardware it was for)—printed manuals to go with videos—and no two title pages matched. The series name was different on at least three of them. There were discrepancies between the printed material and the videos. The typography wasn’t consistent. And I hadn’t even gotten into the actual text yet.
They kept me, and let the other editor go.
My Editing Skills Evolve
After that, I worked in educational software publishing, mostly on school management software. From there I wound up in the role-playing game industry, where I stayed for better than a decade. I went from “editor” to “creative director,” which is akin to a production editor at a publishing house. My duties included wrangling a stable of thirty or more freelance editors overseeing the in-house production of each of their projects.
I had plenty to keep me busy.
But life takes odd turns at times, and I wound up working retail and factory and the like, far from the editorial cubicles. I also had a daughter and got remarried (which brought me two more daughters). I got a second degree, this one in healthcare administration. Eventually, I realized I needed to edit or perish.
Taking the Plunge as Indie Editor
And so I hung out the virtual shingle, and here I am.
From the alcove off the bedroom, I run my tiny empire. I have my workstation, my bookshelves, my assistant editors (Moose and Mookie, most often), and my lap warmer (Li’l Bit). My granddaughter is across the hall and my daughter is here when she’s not working. And, there's my husband, without whom I would be lost on many levels.
Here at BookWorks, you can expect me to hold forth on the indie editor + author relationship. I call ‘em like I see ‘em, and sometimes take a "tough love" approach. My monthly column will be a mix of “praise and peeves” based on my experience in the trenches, editing for indie authors. My hope is that you'll find my perspective on this all-important partnership both edifying and entertaining. I'm not exaggerating when I say that my clients and I have fantastic, near-symbiotic relationships. The thing they’ve all said in one form or another is how they appreciate my ability to get inside their heads.
It’s dark in there most of the time. I always bring a flashlight. 😉
If you haven't seen the new version of BookWorks, please check us out for more great content like this and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers and other self-publishing pros.