Monday, February 19, 2024

Book Recommendation: The Mussorgsky Riddle by Darin Kennedy

(Following links on this blog may result in my earning a small fee. As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.)

Last year at ConCarolinas (a convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina, every year), I purchased a book from author Darin Kennedy. I was attracted to the book's cover as I passed by his table on my way to a talk and stopped to look at it. The Mussorgsky Riddle is the first book in the three-book Fugue & Fable series, and once Darin told me the gist, it was an easy sale for him! 

My copy of The Mussorgsky Riddle

Psychic Mira Tejedor is hired by a family to help their son, Anthony, a very special boy who has been catatonic for several weeks. She possesses the ability to connect with the boy inside of his mind, and what she finds there is a fantastical world as Anthony's fractured psyche reveals itself through Modest Mussorgsky's suite, Pictures at an Exhibition. As she works with him, it becomes evident there is a link to a real-world missing person's case: a local teen with a tie to the family has gone missing, and it's tearing both the family and the community apart. Mira, the local police, the family, and an eminent psychologist work together to solve the riddle, but the stakes, both psychological and in the real world, are higher and more dangerous than anyone could have imagined.

This was a book unlike any I have ever read. Between the thrilling fantasy world based on Mussorgsky's work and the suspense of the missing persons case, this book was "un-put-downable"! I read it in a weekend and was so into it that there were several moments when my husband spoke to me and I simply did not hear him. 

The book's experience is enhanced if you listen to the music as you are reading. While the focus is on Mussorgsky's work, there is also a reference to Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. The musical aspect spoke to me particularly because I am a classically trained musician and I majored in Russian, but anyone with an appreciation for a good fantastical thriller and classical music will become hooked by the musical theme as it weaves through the story, giving even more texture and context to this richly layered work. 

[And as a side note to the author if he reads this, I am completely ear-wormed by those thirteen notes, now, myself. I can't get them out of my head!]

I plan to be patient and buy a signed copy of the next book from the author when I see him at ConCarolinas in a few months. Meanwhile, you can find this book and others by Darin Kennedy at any of the following places: the author's siteAmazon, or the publisher's website at Falstaff Books. Your local bookseller can most likely order it, too.

Five stars!

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Essential Editorial Project Management Course

I took a course in Essential Editorial Project Management this weekend, and it was very informative. I've been feeling drawn to editorial project management mostly because I have experience managing projects in former jobs, and I'd love to be more involved in book production beyond copy editing and proofreading, so I felt an overview was a good place to start.

I found this little gem of a course offered online through the Publishing Training Centre in the UK (a well-respected place to get editorial training; I found it either through the EFA or through CIEP). I wanted to know the gist of how to apply project management principles to the lifecycle of a book's publication. 

The course was a self-paced e-learning course, with six modules. The first module consists of instructions on how to use the platform, however, so it's really five modules. The course discussed assessment of a project, timelines, project management tools (e.g., Kanban, Gantt charts, etc.) and other considerations when managing a book's publication process.

It was a good introduction, and showed me how to apply those skills I used years ago to publishing specifically. Plus it should come in handy when I publish a book of my own! 

If you're interested, the PTC also has a more robust three-day live course available, but at £720+VAT, I can't do that right now. I'll tuck it into my bookmarks for later consideration, though! 


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Giving an Editor Credit or Not: What Should You Do?

I've had many conversations over the years about whether an editor should be credited or acknowledged in a book. It has led to some great discussions, mostly with newer editors who want to know how to navigate the issue, but occasionally with authors too. After another of these discussions with colleagues a while back, I came across this article and this one and bookmarked them because I found them to be a good overview of the topic. 

The gist is this: while it's lovely you want to credit your editor in your book, consider asking them for their preference, first. If your editor says, “No, thank you” and you’re confused by this, then below are some reasons your editor may politely decline being acknowledged in your book.

Editors' reputations rely on how their work is viewed by the public, and many people don't understand the scope of different types of editing. For instance, if you worked with a developmental editor to nail down the structure and plot of your story but didn't hire a copy editor or proofreader to clean up the grammar and spelling, you could accidentally create the impression that the editor you credited in your acknowledgments didn't do their job cleaning up the text. But it’s not a developmental editor's job to clean up the text...and because readers don't know that, they may blame the developmental editor unfairly for any typos.

Or let's say you hired a copy editor or proofreader to clean up the manuscript, but then before publishing, you added some last-minute text...including that unfortunate typo right on the first page that Word's spellcheck didn't catch. This actually happened to me with a book that got a lot of visibility, and several people thought it was funny to tease me for that one typo in a piece of writing I never even saw before the book was published. It’s not a big deal at the end of the day, but based on some people’s reactions, you’d think it was the Great Typo Debacle of 2023. 

(And just a note to editors who work on high-visibility projects: get ready to develop thick skin. There’s something about the internet that causes people to poke at minor things. In my case, I was touched that the client was happy with my work and came to my defense, even though he didn’t have to.) 

Here’s another thing to consider: everyone involved in the production of a book—author, editors, proofreader, layout person, cover designer, your cat walking across the keyboard—is human. (Okay, not that last one. 🐈) A mistake can be introduced at any point in the process, and one or two will absolutely slip through. There is no such thing as perfection...but we copy editors and proofreaders will do our utmost to get your work as close to perfection (grammar- and punctuation-wise) as we can. In our industry, there is an acceptable error rate (and depending on who you ask, you might get a different answer), but even the best editors will miss a few things here and there, and we can't control anything that happens to the file after we've handed it off.

At the end of the day, all decisions regarding the book, whether it be research, creative direction, art placement, adding text at the last minute, or accepting/rejecting an editor's suggested changes (and they are suggestions based on our expertise, but suggestions all the same) are up to the author. 

So what should you do if you’re happy with your editor’s work and you’d like to acknowledge them? Simply ask them if they are okay with acknowledgment, and if they say yes, ask them how they'd like to be acknowledged. If your editor chooses not to be credited for editorial work, please don't be offended or worried about it. Other ways to support your editor include:
  • recommending their services to other authors
  • writing a testimonial
  • mentioning them generally in the acknowledgments along with anyone else who helped you
I'm always touched when an author wants to give me some sort of credit, but I am fine with staying in the background too. (Though getting a shoutout from a client during his band's concert was REALLY sweet, I have to admit! 😊) These days I usually opt for a general mention in the acknowledgements. I feel it's my job to support my authors' work and not take any more credit than helping them polish it up, and I try to make that very clear when people ask me about editing anyone's book. Any credit truly should go to the author for the content itself, so if you think you've read a great book, please consider leaving a five-star review for that author and/or reaching out to them (via their newsletter, website, or social media) and letting them know how much you enjoyed it. Authors deserve (and thrive on) that feedback. 


To all of the authors who have so sweetly supported me in my journey as an editor by giving a referral to your friends or colleagues, writing a testimonial, or thanking me in the acknowledgments, thank you! I really like you, too! 😃

PS: Thanks to the editor who helped me make this a better article than the first draft had been. You rock!

Book Recommendation: The Illumination Code by Kim Chestney

(Following links on this blog may result in my earning a small fee. As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.) [Adapted f...