This is another case of social media serendipity–Facebook serendipity, in fact.
I met Jennifer Wingard in a group on Facebook. When I first started freelancing as a web copy writer, I met Chris Anderson, a now-senior editor at Huffington Post. We were both freelancers at the time, and bonded over a particularly hysterically funny squirrel video (don’t ask). We also discussed the difficulty of finding good-paying freelance work, and Chris started a group of freelancers on Facebook so we could pool our resources. He made me a co-admin, and to help out, he also appointed Jennifer.
Right away I liked this feisty, snarky, and off-beat redhead. We had a lot in common. Heh.
Not only do I admire her Mad Copy Editing Skillz and an astounding work ethic (the woman is amazing and is my own editor), but I also admire and respect her as a person. There is no bullshit with Jennifer; what you see is what you get. She’s honest, works hard, and tells it like it is with a bucketful of humor. She’s good people, with a lot of integrity. I’m proud to know her and work with her regularly. You just can’t get better than that.
Here she talks about what it was like to read indie material and what’s changed over the years.
Several years ago, I bought my first stack of indie- and self-published books. I tore into the first with all the excitement of a child opening gifts on Christmas morning. My enthusiasm didn’t fade; it died a sudden, horrified death. Book after book joined the first in the stack headed for the garbage bin. The crisp pages lost their appeal as my eyes roved over error-riddled sentences, entire chapters without any logical ties to the plot, undeveloped characters, and dialogue or narrative that included nearly every known cliché. Not only did I throw away that first stack of books, I warned all the readers with whom I discussed books to shy away from purchasing from authors who didn’t get their works published via mainstream houses.
Fast forward a few years. In my unending quest for reading material, I stumbled upon a book and fell in love with the author’s style and the clean copy. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my newfound author crush had published through an indie house. Suddenly, my opinion of non-mainstream books experienced a shift. Determined to give these independent books another chance, I splurged on another towering stack.
The second time around ended with fewer books in the landfill. Poring over the books, the author’s websites, and the publishing houses associated with some, I found one common characteristic in the books I decided to keep: the authors or publishers had chosen to invest time and money to edit the manuscripts before publishing.
From inside the independent publishing world, this may not seem a big deal, but to a person who spent their life with mainstream works, who carefully evaluates the worth of a book and judges an entire industry on the spines of its works, this is huge. The determination of a few publishers and authors to turn out polished, professional books converted a mainstream reader to a fan of the independents.
Saving your hard-earned money only to hand it over to an editor hurts. What is the return on the investment? The payoff is readers, fans who will buy every book you write because you have a quality product, followers who may also become fierce proponents for the independent publishing industry itself. To the outsider looking in, quality matters.
Jennifer edits and sometimes manages to eke out a few words of her own. When she’s not editing or writing, she hangs out with her family and makes crafting or cooking messes. She lives on Virginia’s eastern coast and enjoys swimming with the dolphins, eating mountains of local seafood, and pretending she’s a pioneer during tropical storms.