Have you ever dreamed of writing a book but weren’t sure how to go about it? As a freelance writer and editor, one of the services I offer is helping my clients get their ideas out of their heads and into a fully completed book. Whether you’re starting from scratch and you need help getting words on the page, you have a completed manuscript and you’d like to have someone review and polish it—or you’re somewhere in between—I can help you keep your momentum going and make it easier to cross the finish line.
At the time of writing (January 2024), I’ve participated in the book editing process for three books: Continuous Discovery Habits, STRONG Product Communities, and Product Operations and I’d like to offer a look behind the scenes so you can know what to expect if you’re considering working with me.
I caught up with Petra Wille, my client and co-author of STRONG Product Communities, to chat about what the process was like from her perspective.
Petra, why did you choose to work with Melissa on STRONG Product Communities?
It was the obvious choice since we’d already been working together for more than a year, creating amazing blog posts. In fact, we’d already collaborated on some blog posts on the topic of product Communities of Practice, so when I decided that maybe this series should become a book, it made sense to reach out to Melissa.
And because a large portion of the content was going to be based on interviews with my product peers, friends, and clients, I knew that it would be better to have someone else conduct the interviews to provide a more neutral perspective or catch things that I might miss. Melissa had already done a few case study interviews for me, so I knew she was up for the task. And since Melissa conducted and edited the interviews, when I decided to turn this content into a book, it felt appropriate to list us as co-authors since we’d both contributed equally to this project.
What was the collaboration process like?
Having Melissa conduct many of the interviews helped not only free up time in my calendar, but it was also an elegant way to work around the potentially awkward situation of interviewing my friends.
The process we followed was quite simple: I’d choose the person to be interviewed, brief them on the project and confirm they’d be open to participating, and then introduce them to Melissa, who handled scheduling the interview, editing it, and getting the participant to review and approve it.
Because this book began as a series of blog posts, our collaboration process was similar to what we’d done in the past. Melissa always helps me by giving my blog posts a better structure, writing more compelling headlines, and improving the formatting by adding subheadings, bullet pointed lists, etc. Melissa really thinks about the reader’s experience—I think of her as my usability agent when it comes to my writing.
Melissa really thinks about the reader’s experience—I think of her as my usability agent when it comes to my writing.
Because this book started out as a compilation of blog posts, she worked with me on the overall structure as well as supplementing the content we already had to make sure we were providing enough context.
How do you feel about the process and the results?
I really liked the collaboration. It’s always super easy, super low key. We use asynchronous ways of working—you could even say we’re following the sun—because Melissa is in California and I’m in Europe. This time difference actually works quite well because I can often make comments during my office hours and Melissa can address them during hers, so when I come to the office the next morning, it’s already done.
I worked with a company to self-publish STRONG Product Communities. They take care of typesetting, cover design, etc., and they were amazed by the precision of Melissa’s work and how few typos—if any at all—remained in the manuscript when we handed it over to them.
Is there anything else you like to share?
I’ve now published two books and worked with an editor on each of them. I always wonder how people write books without them because it’s so helpful in different phases—and Melissa was helpful every single step of the way.
I know that some people work with a developmental editor when they’re more in the brainstorming mode and structuring the table of contents, which I think we did to some extent because of the structure of the blog posts, but I totally picture us being able to do it for a new book. The writing process and reviewing process was very smooth, as I mentioned earlier. And Melissa also did the final proofreading once we had the final layout.
I really wonder how people work without a Melissa (or any professional editor) if they are releasing books.
I really wonder how people work without a Melissa (or any professional editor) if they are releasing books. It would have taken me ages, and the quality would not be as good as it ended up being.
Interested in working together on your book (or any other content project)? You can fill out this form and I’ll get in touch with you shortly!