Monday, May 12, 2014

The Indie Author's Guide to Book Editing by Sarah Kolb-Williams

Title: The Indie Author's Guide to Book Editing
Author: Sarah Kolb-Williams
Publisher: Ascraeus Press
Rating: WORTHY!

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review.

I pretty much exclusively review fiction on this blog, but this is one which isn't fiction and which certainly needs no discussion of the writing quality. Written by a professional book editor, this is short, solid, and to the point. It's a tour-de-force of the ins and outs of editing in all its varied hues, and it's an engaging work from which I learned a lot.

To me, editing was this vague and nebulous thing tied to getting a book out the door. I know a lot more about it now; it's the difference between looking at fog, and looking at the same scene when the sun has burned it off and you can see clear across the bay. The fog is intriguing, even fascinating, but the view's the thing. Not that this makes me an expert editor of course, but at least I have a better handle on where to look for my flaws, on what kind of flaws they are, and on how to find someone who can help me fix them.

The importance of editing is easy to overlook. You can be on the one extreme and do it all yourself (or think you have done!) or on the other, where it's all effectively taken out of your hands, and taken over by some Big Publishing™ types. But most people are not at the extremes. They have something they've labored over, and and are looking to get some professional insights into it. This is where this book shines, and shines a strong light into some dusty and dark corners.

This will take you through the process of getting your book from first draft to submission-ready, explaining as it goes what each editorial function is for and more importantly, whether or not you might need it. It pulls no punches and hides nothing under the carpet, including what it might cost you. It's full of references and notes, including some interesting URLs, including one which I already availed myself of (and yes, I know that's bad grammar!).

If I had a complaint about this book, it's been edited out of this review. Just kidding! Seriously, if I had a complaint it's really more about my aging Kindle than about his book, but some of the text (such as an occasional side-bar or a brief start-of-chapter summary) was presented in a font which was much lighter than the main text, and it was difficult to read this on a gray-scale Kindle. Presumably this will not be a problem in a print version, or on a more modern reading medium.

That aside, I loved this book and I have no hesitation at all in recommending it to anyone who would like to get on the inside track for figuring out how to get their book polished to a high and very sale-able sheen. The only question I had left after reading this was: if you write a book on editing, how do you ever pluck up the courage to ask an editor to take a look at it? Sarah Kolb-Williams must have immense confidence and nerves of steel!


  1. Ian, thanks so much for this lovely review!

    And for the record, sending the book to an editor WAS terrifying -- now I know how my authors feel! Nerves of steel, you practiced publishers, nerves of steel...

    1. Thanks for the chance to read it. it's a great book and I meant every word. And thanks for comenting on my blog!


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