by Ken Walker
I have helped write/edit two books in recent times, one of which is still in process.
The first, which will be self-published this fall, is by a doctor who writes about the parallels between the human body and the body of Christ. The second is the spiritual memoir of a friend I’ve helped with several previous books.
The latter has been especially enjoyable. When my friend started on it last year, he didn’t think he could come up with more than a few chapters. He recently completed the tenth, and we are now examining several publishing options.
The thing both books have in common: they were finished at a leisurely pace. The reason I mention that is because I so often encounter the opposite with books. Especially from would-be authors who develop a manuscript for two or three years and then—suddenly—they just have to get it into print right away.
This kind of irrational rush leads to mistakes, poor judgment, and frayed tempers. If you encounter an author who thinks they must finish their book by a special anniversary, birthday or conference, I suggest advising them to wait until next year’s meeting.
A pastor told me once about a guy he knows who rushed his book into print. When the pastor asked if his friend was satisfied with the publishing company he had used, the man gave a hesitant “okay” before mumbling, “There’s a mistake on page one.”
This author just had to rush his book into print and has regretted it ever since. As an editor, you are likely to encounter similar situations. Remind authors you work with that there literally is no rush. Haste makes waste.
There’s a larger issue at play than making glaring mistakes because of a mad dash into print. This kind of frantic habit may reflect a stance that insists on going through life at the same 24/7 pace as the rest of the world.
Remember, God rested on the seventh day of creation, not because He needed to, but to set an example for humans to follow.
Now, when an author is ready to pay you good money to proceed, sometimes you can’t temper their enthusiasm. That’s what happened to me in late December when a previous coauthor told me he was ready to write his next book—and willing to send me a $1,000 deposit.
He plans to self-publish and, for reasons not fully explained, said he needed to get it into print ASAP. He vowed to have his draft done by the end of January. Though I doubted he would make it, I agreed to have my revisions done by the end of February.
As you may have guessed, it took him until late March to finish everything on his end. Since the book is only about 30,000 words, the pace didn’t prove too intense for me. However, it will be a while longer before he completes the proofing and other steps. Some things just can’t be rushed.
Experienced. Award-winning. Skilled. For years, Ken Walker has been shaping stories—thousands of them—for books and articles in various venues. He uses his writing and editing talent now to help edit and refine authors’ material, as well as coaching bloggers and other writers on how they can improve their material. In recent years Ken has co-authored or edited more than a dozen health-oriented books. This specialty began with co-authoring Winning the Food Fight, a book that emerged from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, an Emmy-Award-winning mini-series on ABC.