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Episode 25: The Mystical Order of the Editors Templar

September 12, 2012

The month of April 2011 had slipped through our fingers with no real progress and resulted in the publishing date of our book slipping from a market-perfect sweetspot of Valentine’s Day, 2012, to the ultra-romantic month of … May. Even with a three month shift in publications dates, the deadline to deliver the manuscript had only moved only four weeks. I chalked it up to a Bookmuda Triangle math anomaly.

Affairs between the Publishing King and his subjects were in tumult. Timelines, expectations, and business practices were misaligned; our project did not have an editor; and the King had signaled that he was unopposed to breaking relations.

The lone bright spot was that Steve had agreed to us using a local editor. Now we just needed to find one. After losing April and half of May, we weren’t in the mood to stand still.

In Santa Cruz, not more than 4 miles away from our house, we found Laura Davis hanging on a corkboard. Okay, it was a flier, not Laura herself. Laura was a well-known local writing teacher and author. Unfortunately, she was taking the summer off and was trying to divest herself of projects, not take them on, but she kindly supplied the name of an editor she had worked with in the past. Steve also supplied a couple of editors, including Heather Hummel, who lived in Carmel, about 40 minutes south of Santa Cruz.

As Steve had asked that the editor selection be a team decision, we set up interviews to speak with the candidates, but Steve was unavailable to join us. Instead, we received these instructions:

    1. You want to find an editor who not only feels like a good match for you to work with but who also has a good feel for the material.

    2. You should feel free to ask for a sample edit of 5 pages just to see how the editor is planning to work with the material. Make sure different editors work on the same 5 pages to see differences in their approaches.

    3. Make sure that you establish clear communication plans, costs and schedules.

And with those golden nuggets of royal wisdom, we, who knew nothing of writing or publishing, had been knighted into the Mystical Order of the Editors Templar–empowered by the Sovereign to scourer Silicon Valley for the perfect, local editor, and, when we had found that editor, to perform the ancient Right of Selection, a hiring ritual bequeathed by Gutenberg himself.

Well, we still didn’t know much about hiring an editor, but at least the ball was in our court.

Unimpeded, we went to work. We contacted all the candidates, and within four days we had signed NDAs, sample edits and prices from each. We beamed all the submissions into the publishing universe, but the Bookmuda Triangle was in full effect—-we received no reply. It didn’t matter; after losing all those previous weeks, we weren’t waiting. Within 5 days of receiving all of the sample edits, we met with Carmel’s Heather Hummel and on the next day, Monday, June 13, we hired her.

Thus a perfect example of one of my mottos in action: Movement equals Success!

Click here for Episode 26: Editor On Board

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