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Ts dotted, eyes crossed... confessions of a book editor

You know what I hate? When a word — a common word that you’ve seen a gajillion times — all of a sudden one day looks…. wrong. There you are, writing away, and you write the word “bridge” or “magazine” — and it stops you in your writing tracks because even though you know it’s spelled correctly, your brain won’t accept it and let you move on. It drives me crazy.

Anyway, that’s happened to me a lot this past month. In case you hadn’t noticed, I took a month off from blogging here because I was editing my husband’s new book, What’s Up Ditch! The Ins & Outs of Cruising the Atlantic ICW: America’s Secret Highway, which is a personal perspective of what it takes to do the ICW. It’s filled with practical and useful information about what you’ll need, including tips on everything from anchoring to hailing a bridge on the radio.

What's Up Ditch! The Ins and Outs of Cruising the Atlantic ICW: America's Secret Highway

It’s his second book, so I thought it would be much easier since we knew more about what we were doing, but nope. This book was about three times as long as his first book, so the editing process was naturally longer. In addition, this book is more of a guide than a story per se, so I had to pay careful attention to make sure everything made sense, that it flowed well chronologically, and that it was informative while still being entertaining and interesting to read.

It’s funny because with his first book, You Gotta Go To Know, we honestly weren’t sure it would even sell. It was a short story that he wrote about our experience of downsizing, selling the house, moving onto the boat, and our first 9 months or so aboard the boat, and it was written more as a way to burn some creative energy than to become something we’d actually make money from.

The beauty of it was, since we weren’t really trying to sell a bunch of books, there wasn’t much pressure at all to be “perfect” so we did our best, threw it up on Amazon, and it ended up spending 2 months straight as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in the sailing niche and has sold a few thousand copies. Not bad for a first try.

In fact, our friend John Kretschmer, a fellow author who is hugely popular in the sailing niche, couldn’t believe it when we told him how many copies that first book sold, especially since we did the publishing and marketing ourselves, without any outside help. We didn’t know anything about Amazon’s algorithms, what would work, what wouldn’t work, so we just got it done. That’s the beauty of not knowing any better sometimes.

This time around, it was a little different. Over the past couple of years, we’ve learned some of the tricks of the trade as far as Amazon goes, so we knew we couldn’t just throw it up there like we did the first time and still see the same success. We took a much more strategic and professional approach, and that’s why it took longer this time around.

So far, we’re thrilled with the success and feedback! As of this writing, it’s only been out for 2 weeks, but it has hit the #4 spot on Amazon in the sailing category, and #11 in boating. It has a 5-star rating from all 3 reviewers (none of which are our friends or family!), and… my favorite part… my moment to shine… check out what this reviewer had to say:

The editing of this book was great. I’m a grumpy reader when spelling and grammar errors are on every page. I was able to enjoy the prose without any distractions.

YES! My life is complete.

Honestly, it was really hard editing this book because, well, it’s my husband. Editing is so much more than just proofreading, and there was a fine line for me between being critical (not for the sake of being critical, but to help him), and maintaining the integrity of his writing. I was so nervous to show him my suggestions, because I didn’t want him to take them personally. Luckily, he’s freakin’ awesome and embraced my feedback, and the end product is something he and I both are really proud of.

Writing is definitely something that he’s found a lot of satisfaction in (not to mention that it helps feed the cruising kitty!), and is something I want to explore more, too, both in terms of books and writing for magazines.

Speaking of writing for magazines, I’ve got a cool guest post coming up that I think you’ll really like, plus a giveaway, so stay tuned on Friday!

In the meantime, have any of you considered writing a book and self-publishing on Amazon? Leave a comment and let me know what you’d write about!