I’ve edited pretty picture books, encyclopedias, regional guides, how-to manuals, and specialist books by noted garden writers.
Each book project is different, depending on the needs of the publisher. For most books I work as the Project Editor, steering the project from concept to printed page. I work with an editorial and design team and an in-house production staff that may be a few states—or even a continent—away. I start by drawing up a page-by-page outline and bookmap, set the schedule and budget, find the collaborators and contributors—garden designers, horticulturists, and other experts—commission the text, find the photography (sometimes in conjunction with a photo editor), edit the text, supervise the copyeditor, proofreader, and indexer, and generally shepherd the project through the design and production process. It means putting together each page and shaping all the elements of the book, from the headline at the top of each page to every photo, caption, plant list, illustration, and special feature.
As a Contributing Editor, I might oversee a section of a book—such as a gardening dictionary or a series of essays by prominent gardeners. Or I may revise a book originally developed for one market for a different audience or region, such as adapting the original Western Garden Book so that it became a resource for Southern Gardeners, or modifying a British manual of edible gardening so that it applies to conditions in different regions of North America.
In another life I owned a vineyard on the Central Coast of California. It wasn’t really my passion (long story), but I certainly learned a lot about the challenges of grape-growing. So for this project I was able to draw on my experience to back up my editorial expertise. The author, Tom Powers, had originally self-published the book with fairly primitive illustrations and photographs; the publisher wanted it revised for the trade market. I completely reorganized the material, found new images, did an extremely heavy edit of the existing manuscript, and wrote thousands of words of new text. For such a huge revision, I was lucky that Tom trusted me with the material. An all-around great project. (Timber Press, 2012)
I collaborated with the editors at the American Horticultural Society to adapt this volume, which was originally published by the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK. Because I’ve lived and gardened on both coasts as well as north of the border, I have a good overall understanding of regional gardening practices across North America. That’s why I’m always advocating the inclusion of more native plants, irrigation techniques, and ‘right plant, right place’ philosophy. I was in charge of approximately half of the material in this encyclopedia--and it had to pass horticultural muster with the experts. (Mitchell Beazley, 2009)
Carol Klein is extremely well known to British gardeners; she's television personality whose writing appears frequently in magazines and newspapers. She has a distinctive voice, and a friendly and accessible style. The challenge was to translate not only the gardening information for the North American market, but also to try and retain some of her personality. In addition to editing the text, I added new plant entries, such as heat-loving crops like sweet potatoes, and chose recommended varieties for all the vegetable categories. Oh, and I sourced all the replacement photos too. (Mitchell Beazley, 2010)
I’ve edited many books for Sunset Books (based in Menlo Park, California), but this one is close to my heart. For most of my Sunset Book years I was a freelance Project Editor. This meant taking a book from concept to final pagproofs, with everything in between: writing large chunks of copy, hiring other writers and experts, organizing photo shoots and choosing photos, working closely with the designer to lay out the pages, top editing, copyediting, and proofreading--the whole nine yards. I loved this book because I wrote a great deal of it, which I felt qualified to do as I’m bonkers about grasses and bamboos. I also got to hang out with some great grass experts, and have happy memories of hanging out in John Greenlee’s amazing nurseries in Pomona and Malibu. Plus, I think it’s still an excellent resource even a decade after publication. (Sunset Books, 2002)
Editing a book by Graham Rice is barely like working at all. He’s such an accomplished and professional writer, and such a pleasure to deal with, that this was one of my all-time favourite projects. Graham has written dozens of books, won awards, and blogs about as consistently--and consistently well--as any garden writer out there. (Better than most, actually.) I filled in a few captions for judywhite’s photos and made some suggestions for the text, but for the most part I simply removed some of Graham’s Anglicisms, and otherwise provided a straightforward copyediting job. (Timber Press, 2011)