Things I Learned Editing A Book

Yesterday I read a nice review of a book I co-edited with my friend and colleague Ray in Library Journal. As someone writing in the library sphere, there’s something delightfully meta about that.

Editing the book was, frankly, painful at times. There was paperwork at varying stages of the publishing process, a lot of author tracking, a few panicked moments when we realized certain sections were anemic as compared with others, a lot of back-and-forth regarding cover design, and then of course we needed to request an extended deadline… and still took advantage of the fact that the extended deadline fell on a weekend.

But like the achievement of any long-term goal, the outcome exceeds the various ups and downs. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

With a few tweaks, of course.

The things I wish I’d known before I embarked on this project apply specifically to works in which authors contribute individual chapters.

Ask the publisher for all copyright info up front

Develop a decent chapter tracking method

Which maybe could work, after all, with a few slight tweaks (like a controlled vocabulary, and a more consistent method of trading comments on the status of any given chapter). Although I might recommend a more powerful project management system, like Trello.

Create a shared system of author recruitment

Set rolling author deadlines

Assign the task of indexing to one or the other of you

Keep your laptop on hand when traveling during a deadline

If I’d known all of these things… well, I’m pretty proud of how the book turned out. As for next time: watch this space for a list of new lessons learned