By Ann Rennie
When I first approached Laneway Press with my manuscript, I had a baggy thing of 120,000 words and no clue what to do with it. Apart from collecting the various writings and fine-tuning them, I didn’t know how to make them appealing to the general reader.
This is where my editor, Liz, did her magic. She was able to develop the ‘through line’ – a term that was completely new to me. Now that I know about it, of course, it makes absolute sense to have a considered approach thematically, rather than words and ideas splattered randomly in the hope the reader will ‘get it’. She was able to thoughtfully select the articles that give it a chronological impulse – choreographing something of a life story out of which reflections, commentary and occasional whimsy can emerge.
Our writer’s voices can always be improved. How fabulous to work with an editor who could be both objective and discerning and who understands that what an author wants, above all, is to see their words be the best they can be. We all need that critical friend who can say enough or too much or more.
It isn’t always easy. There is an ego at play in every writer’s life – we want to be read! But I want my work to be published, too. I believe in writerly humility. Over the course of my writing life, I have always deferred to an editor because this is their area of expertise AND I have wanted my work to be published. That’s where an editor helps. Liz has been able to work sensitively with the material and work out where I have doubled up, waffled, or needed to be more succinct. This shaping is a delicate thing and sometimes the writer is so invested that they can’t see their own work clearly. We can develop blind spots and it needs a good editor to shape the manuscript so that it becomes the best possible book it can be.
And how to make it appeal to the general reader? Liz made the excellent point that if I wanted this book to be relevant and readable in years to come, then sometimes a more universal application is appropriate. I loved that Liz could make good suggestions and check out some of the phrases or references that were clunky or outdated. Even though it is part-memoir, it now feels more timeless than dated.
Alongside the excellent editorial input, Liz and Regina are helping me with the marketing and promotion of the Blessed: Meditations on a Life of Small Wonders. This is not my area of expertise. Simply publishing a book isn’t enough to sell a book. Today, social media visibility plays a key part in word-of-mouth and sales—so why not follow my journey on my new (and first ever!) Instagram – @ann.m.rennie?
Regina and Liz make a great team. Since the beginning, they’ve been in constant contact with me clarifying things, making suggestions, and working to see how it can be marketed so that its essential impulse – the blessings all around us in our daily lives, those small wonders – can be read far and wide. They have really cared that this work of mine, soon to be out in the world, stands for who I am and the things that matter to me.