We're the heroes, not the sidekicks. Nothing Without Us cover shown on a cellphone, tablet, and as a paperback.
Editing

Where did I go in 2019? Well, I'll tell you!

Whew! It’s now 2020, and I’m back to my regularly scheduled program as a freelance editor. But where the heck was I for most of 2019? Assigned to an amazing project!

In 2017, I pitched an idea to the Director of Renaissance press about an anthology where all the authors would be disabled, in order to elevate their voices, because our representation is often so poorly written in fiction. By the summer of 2018, we were given the okay to post a call for submissions for the Nothing Without Us anthology that fall. The title was inspired from the anthem “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

Stories poured in for co-editor Talia C. Johnson and me to read through. We were specific in saying we wanted protagonists who identified as disabled, Deaf, blind, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who managed mental illness. We ended up with 22 own-voices, multigenre short stories that we simply loved.

Working with a small press meant we needed to crowdfund the project to pay our authors. In April of 2019, we exceeded our goal on Kickstarter, which meant we could pay our contributors professional rates! Talia and I were so thrilled. Nathan Fréchette of Renaissance had been instrumental in the success of it. It’s so nice to have an expert by your side when you’re a crowdfunding noob.

But wow, I had no idea being a co-editor in chief of an anthology was year-long work. From this point forward, if I meet an anthology editor, I think I’ll salute them or bow or something. Still, it was a labour of love, and now Nothing Without Us is available on Kobo (ebook and audiobook), Amazon (ebook and paperback), and of course, from Renaissance (audiobook, e-book, and paperback). It’s also sold at Glad Day Bookshop (499 Church St., Toronto) and will soon be at Another Story bookshop (315 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto).

Being a disabled and neurodiverse author and editor myself, it’s fantastic to meet creatives with similar lived experiences and with other lived experiences, so we can grow in knowledge. The authors of this anthology were also really excited for each other’s stories. We built a little community that’s supportive and accepting.

What a wild and wonderful ride.

And now, back to nurturing the upcoming works of my lovely clients!

Happy new year, everyone! May it bring joy and peace to you.

Cheers!

ID: Person in a business suit holding a sign that obscures their head. The sign says: THEY
Customer relations, Editing

A few words about using the singular they…

We will respect your gender and your pronoun.

That’s it. No argument or debate from us.

Cheers!


Cait Gordon
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc. She is also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers (2019). When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She has recently teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until January 31, 2018.)

Woman typing on laptop on a wooden desk, with a coffee.
Editing, Tips, Writer's cramp

Editors aren’t your friends. That’s a good thing.

What makes me laugh about the title of this article is that I am friends with many of my clients. However, when I’m editing their work, I put away my friendship hat and don my editor’s cap. Once my red computer glasses go on, I’m all about making things professional.

While it’s great to have buddies who will encourage your writing no matter what, if you’re an indie author who’s serious about publishing a polished product, you need an editor. I’m not saying this because I want more clients; I’m an author myself, and I cannot edit my own work like someone else can. The reality is that after a while, you don’t recognize your own manuscript’s flaws anymore. You’ll perceive what you’ve intended to write and not what you’ve actually written.

Editors who are worth paying for will be on board with you, so you have a shared vision of making your manuscript the best it can be. That might come with a sting at times. I’ve had to deliver news where I needed to request a resubmit, because there was too much to change. Sometimes there’s homework the author must do to get a manuscript editor-ready. (By the way, I wrote Seven Tips for Preparing a Happy, Shiny Manuscript to help authors with this!) Other times, I’m marking up my findings and adding comments in the margins when I need to question things, make suggestions, or explain my reasoning behind changes that I think should happen.

My job is to tell you what your friends might not want to say. You want that, trust me, because if I spot things, then most likely people who aren’t your friends will notice, too. The last thing an author wants is for someone to leave a bad review or put away your work altogether because it read poorly. Unedited pieces often become distracting to readers.

I do know that it’s expensive to hire just one editor, even one who has reduced rates. But these days indie authors are using crowdsourcing tools like Kickstarter to help raise funds to pay for their team (editors, proofreaders, interior layout designers, and cover designers). I’ve seen successful Kickstarters and think they’re an awesome idea. My client, Dianna Gunn, ran a great one for Moonshadow’s Guardian.

Writing takes a lot of time and effort. Your manuscript becomes your baby. Best not to do shortcuts but have it professionally edited. It’ll read so much better and hopefully will lead to shares and positive reviews!

So, if you have a friend who’s an editor, make sure they are committed to putting their professionalism above stroking your ego. Like I said, sometimes editorial comments can throw you off guard, but a good editor will deliver the news in a constructive and helpful manner.

Don’t be afraid to ask for references! You want to make sure other authors have been happy with the editor you’re considering. A serious candidate will be happy to supply you testimonials from their clients.

Even if they’re your friend.


Cait Gordon
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance 2019). When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Cait has also recently teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)

 

 

 

ID: Woman at desk (with a cell phone, and a cup of tea) writing in a notebook.
Author Life, Editing, Writer's cramp

Indie Authors Are Real Authors

Last week I felt rather dismayed to read about a writer on Twitter who felt they needed to defend their position as being a real author. They are an independently-published (indie) author, and I can’t believe there’s still this ongoing debate as to whether indie authors are as “valid” as traditionally-published (trad) authors.

Actually, I wasn’t dismayed; I was downright upset.

My books were published by a small press, so I suppose I’m technically a trad author, but what if I hadn’t been signed by Renaissance? Would Life in the ’Cosm not be a real book just because I would have published it myself? If the book and myself weren’t real, then what were we? Imaginary?

As an editor, I mostly work for indie authors, or those who have had both indie and trad published works. Let me tell you, if they are hiring me, right from the start you know they care about their work. Anyone who employs one or more editors wants to publish a good quality product. And it’s not just editing that comes into the equation. My clients have even budgeted for cover and layout designers. One client told me they wanted to know exactly who they were working with, and fiercely chose to independently publish their book.

Are there “self-pubbed” authors who release poor product? Sure. It happens. But painting every indie author with the same brush is dead wrong, in my opinion. They work hard at writing, gathering their team, raising funds through kickstarters, and promoting their work. They are more real than a lot of people I know, and I admire the work ethic of my clients and other indie authors I know—immensely.

They’re rock stars, really.

One of the worst things we can do in the writing community is to be snobs. That is so unproductive and well, icky. What I love is to see authors—whether indie, trad, or not-yet published—coming together with encouragement and support. I’ve met some wonderful people in the Canadian speculative fiction world and on Twitter. Some Twitter chats like #JustAddTea, #HappyWritingChat, #WriteStuff, #WeeknightWriters, and #StoryDam have really fun people in it. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and provide virtual support when one or more of us feels bleh.

But this putting-down thing? Don’t do it. It only makes you come across as snooty and frankly, is a career-limiting move. Remember that every writer you encounter is also a reader. Be kind, generous, and encouraging, and people will recommend you as a nice human. They might even signal boost your work to others.

But really, be nice without expecting that reward. Because as Major Frank Burns from M*A*S*H used to say, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”

So, say it with me: All writers are real writers.

Unless of course, they are imaginary. But writers in novels count, too, even though they’re not real.

Hmm. I’d better stop this train of thought before I get metaphysical…


Cait Gordon
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance 2019). When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Cait has also recently teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)

 

Recommendations

New client: Jennifer Carole Lewis

Book cover
Book cover, mostly in shades of blue: A woman with whisky-coloured eyes stares at us as a snake dangles beside her. Text reads: Revelations: Book One of the Lalassu, Jennifer Carole Lewis

I met Canadian paranormal romance author Jennifer Carole Lewis at a writers conference in 2017 and found her to be a lovely soul. So, it was a happy surprise to be asked to do a stylistic edit of two of her short stories. Just based on the titles and the few lines I’ve peeked at, they look intriguing.

I’m really looking forward to working with her!

You can learn more about Jennifer, her other short stories, and especially her Lalassu novel series on her website.