As I’ve been expanding my skill set in the publishing process, I’ve been thinking about what to call what I do, and about a month ago, the idea of shepherding came to mind. I’ve been informally advising some self-publishing authors about that particular process and the basic aspects of editing that they’ll have to go through, along with the book design process. So, I thought, hey, this guiding stuff is just like being a shepherd, a publishing process shepherd.
Of course, once I went to Google and searched, I found out lots of folks had thought of this already, and bookshepherd.com was already spoken for. Figures. 😉 So, for me, the title Book Shepherd will be more of a role identity than a branding identity. For a good article on what this means and to decide if you need a book shepherd or not, go to Cathy Stucker’s article on book shepherding here.
One thing I want to make sure I do with this role is to focus my direct efforts on the aspects I have experience and talent in and refer the rest. Any one individual who says they can do everything for you in a long and often complex process like publishing is spreading themselves too thin, in my opinion, not to mention that more than one or two pairs of eyes on a document will almost always produce more accurate results. Remember that publishing has traditionally been a collaborative effort using a staff of editors, proofreaders, typesetters, printers, and marketers to support the writer’s creative effort. Just because we are self-publishing now doesn’t mean all these tasks must be done by one individual, whether it be the author or a single “book shepherd.” So, if I end up copy editing your book, I’m likely to recommend someone else to proofread it; I think you’ll get better quality copy that way.
Well, I’m off to rework the main page on my website, then. Book shepherding it is! In the meantime, in the interest of quality referrals, here are my publishing champions for the week (these will always be folks whose work or perspective I respect and not just mutual marketing favors):
Brian Klems at Writer’s Digest has written a great article on the editor–author relationship: “10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You—But Should.”
Sue Gaines, is a copy editor and proofreader who has a better eye for errors than I do. I’ve worked directly with her on numerous projects. 🙂