Jennifer Wingard–Guest Post Tuesday

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.

I only wish I looked this good. I'd hate her, but she's just a gorgeous inside.
I only wish I looked this good. I’d hate her, but she’s just as gorgeous inside.

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.

Bio
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.

Website: The Independent Pen
Facebook: The Independent Pen
Twitter: Independent_Pen


4 Comments

  • Catie Rhodes

    January 15, 2013

    When I received my Kindle as a Christmas gift a year ago, all the free and cheap books excited me. I quickly learned the same thing you did–most of the books received no editing whatsoever and had either huge story problems or were riddled with errors…or both.

    At that point, I had not yet decided to indie publish, and that introduction didn’t to indies didn’t push me in that direction. As the months passed, though, I learned lotsa stuffs about both traditional and indie publishing. And about small presses, too. I decided to go indie for a lot of reasons. When I began researching what *really* getting my book edited was going to cost, I almost fainted. But I figured out a way to pay it.

    Here’s why: I’d rather have people hate my stories because they dislike my style or the things I write about — not because what I publish is poorly edited.

    Hiring Annetta is in the top ten of best things I’ve done for myself as a writer. I’ve learned so much from her, and she was worth every penny. Jennifer, I am looking forward to working with you. That Netta recommended you is big. Very big.

    Reply
    • netta

      January 15, 2013

      Catie, you have a fabulous story and I can’t wait for its release. And I’m REALLY looking forward to the big things to come from you. 🙂 You are a joy to work with, and I know you’re in good hands with Jennifer!

      xoxo

      Reply
    • Jennifer Wingard

      January 15, 2013

      Catie, the fact you’ve taken control of your manuscript’s improvement puts you head and shoulders above many indie writers. I hate using broad generalizations, but when so many choose to be lazy or apathetic, it’s difficult not to lump them into one big group of people who don’t value either their talent or the effort they put into writing their books. I feel bad now, for my automatic dismissal of indie publishers several years ago, but I’m thrilled I’ve been proven wrong about the indie industry as a whole.

      Taking the editing plunge is huge–I’m saving money for my own editing and cover work so I don’t faint when it comes time to pay. I’m right with you on that count. I had a bit of sticker-shock myself. It’s worth it to me, though, to make sure I get my bad reviews and rejections because people don’t like the writing or story, not because they couldn’t get past page one. 😉

      I can’t wait to work with you! I’ve heard nothing but good things.

      All the best!

      Jen

      Reply
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