Category Archives: Writing

Free Work

Josh Olson, writer of the screenplay A History of Violence, explains (in vehement detail) why it is so difficult, yet necessary, to turn down unwarranted requests for reading beginning writers’ work.

The whole article is great, but this sums up the argument:

[W]hen you ask a professional for their take on your material, you’re not just asking them to take an hour or two out of their life, you’re asking them to give you–gratis–the acquired knowledge, insight, and skill of years of work. It is no different than asking your friend the house painter to paint your living room during his off hours.


Why Aren’t Freelancers Free?

Freelancers and freelance employers met and mingled at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday, October 1, discussing the pros and cons of freelancing.

Moderated by Chris Kelaher, the discussion featured three panelists: Theresa Walker, of Catholic University Press, who shared her experiences as an editor managing freelancers; Jayne Sutton, of EEI Communications, who mediates between customers and freelancers; and Pete Lindeman, of Oakland Street Publishing, who has freelanced for several years in design.

Theresa stressed the importance of having book experience, not just expertise in the field of editing.  Books are longer and contain more “scholarly apparatus” such as footnotes and bibliographies, she commented, and those with editing experience in other media such as magazines or websites may not be as well prepared for the job.

Jayne observed that for those with a role in managing editors and customers, it is important to be familiar with the editor’s skill level and ability to produce quality work while simultaneously elucidating the customer’s needs.  She also noted that copyediting is moving dominantly toward work on a fixed price basis.  However, she stressed the great importance of defining the work up front.

Pete confirmed flexibility of schedule and setting as positive benefits of freelancing, but also cautioned that discipline and drive are crucial to a freelancer’s success.  He commented, “You do your best job, turn it in on time, and never hear from them again – kind of like dating!”

The session offered equal parts information and discussion.  In addition to strengthening the freelancing network in the D.C. area, attendees also received valuable tips and strategies for success on both sides of the freelancing relationship.

The session offered equal parts information and discussion.  In addition to strengthening the freelancing network in the D.C. area, attendees also received valuable tips and strategies for success on both sides of the freelancing relationship.

Appeared in BookNotes, the Washington Book Publishers’ monthly newsletter.

2008 Book Design and Effectiveness Awards

With an air of animated curiosity, attendees of the 2008 Book Design and Effectiveness Awards on Tuesday, June 10, accepted the invitation to “riffle through the pages” and admire the beautiful and intriguing designs of wide-ranging books, from the artwork of toddlers to A History of Sin. The evening celebrated design innovation through various means, such as illustration and typography, and the challenges the designers faced and effectively overcame.

Tasty hors d’oeuvres in hand, book-loving members of the DC community chatted with local colleagues and perused the array of books offered by their contemporaries at the annual awards ceremony. Forty-nine publishers, varying in size from small to large and in organization from nonprofit to commercial, participated in the event and provided a wide array of stimulating designs for equally interesting and varied topics. The judges for the competition were Robert Anthony, ADA Books; Becky Brasington Clark, Johns Hopkins University Press; Michele de la Menardiere, National Academies Press; and Bonnie Kogod, Politics and Prose bookstore. Debra Naylor of Naylor Design graciously stepped in at the last minute to help Becky and Michele describe the merits of the award-winning books.

Several titles stole the judges’ attentions for the category of Illustrated Cover or Jacket. Destination Dissertation, designed by Piper Wallis for Rowman and Littlefield, was praised as having a highly entertaining design for a more studious topic. The cover design of Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution, by Michelle Furman for the Woodrow Wilson Center Press, garnered admiration for effectively symbolizing the changing face of revolution. Great Growing at Home, designed by Jennifer Huppert for Taylor Trade, and African-American Bioethics, designed by Tim Green for Georgetown University Press, also shared the spotlight with eye-catching cover designs that succinctly and effectively represented their respective subjects.

Biography: A User’s Guide, designed by Jennifer Huppert for Ivan R. Dee, combined two very different typefaces to create a unique and appealing cover, and The Sanctity of Human Life, designed by Jim Keller for Georgetown University Press, achieved its goal of presenting a religious standpoint on a pressing issue with subtle, classic typography.

For the category of Technical Text, The Impact of Early Art Experiences on Literacy Development, designed by Bill Glover for the National Art Education Association, presented its highly technical content in an interesting and engaging manner.

Arguably the most fun entry, the engaging and amusing Pocket Paper Engineer, How to Make Pop-Ups Step-by-Step was designed by Carol Barton for Popular Kinetics Press in the category of Illustrated Text.

Awards for Typographic Text included Poets on Prozac, designed by Ellen McKie for the Johns Hopkins University Press, and To Know God and the Soul, designed by Rebecca Birch for the Catholic University of America Press. Both text designs delicately and beautifully express their respective topics.

The Best of Show was awarded to Muraqqa’: Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. The cover and text were designed by Lynne Komai for Art Services International, and project manager Sara Rycroft accepted the award. The project was many years in the making, and Rycroft noted that under her leadership, the book doubled in size due to the many beautiful illustrations. Luxuriant gilding provided unity throughout, and well-chosen illustrations enhanced the text, with each image integral to the whole. The judges commented that the inside panels and introductory pages were refreshingly simple, creating a peaceful, unhurried look for the rest of the book of art. The judges also noted the sturdy yet flexible binding that is resistant to creasing, despite the thick stock of the pages and the thorough handling and admiration of judges and event attendees alike.

In other announcements, Betsy Kulamer and Christopher Kelaher took office as the new president and vice-president, respectively, and past-president Laura Lawson, membership chair Barbara Hart, and past hospitality chair Christine Hauser were recognized for their valuable service and contributions to WBP. Many thanks were expressed to those who volunteered their time and resources to make the event a great success. All entries were donated to D.C. Public Library.

Appeared in BookNotes, the Washington Book Publishers’ monthly newsletter.