|Honest Reviews||Private Oral Histories||Ten Endorsements|
Thank you for looking into ExactingEditor.com during its 11th year.
What does the creator of this site do? Helps you design,
build, and perfect your nonfiction manuscript. But, you more or less knew
that, in which case you’ll be more interested in the “how.” For the aspiring
nonfiction author, and anyone trying to salvage a "stuck" manuscript, these
are Frank Gregorsky’s principles and premises…
1. It's impossible to create a modern classic by using the gimmicks and buzzwords that websites imply are necessary for a so-called bestseller. You should plan to cause the echo, rather than set up camp in the echo chamber.
2. A "modern classic" is so rigorous, and so innovative, that it's unlikely to be topped or otherwise superseded, in its category or on its topic, for at least 20 years. Up the Organization and The Effective Executive have more than doubled that time span, and the Ries and Trout masterwork Positioning will reach the age of 40 in 2021.
3. Don’t begin with a dream of selling 100,000 books. Instead, aim to produce something that will transform, rescue, or otherwise elevate the right audience of 5,000 to 10,000.
4. See that audience -- two or three different professions, generations, personality types -- watching from the front rows. Serve them, but without pandering; and expect them to react. Any reaction, including throwing tomatoes, is better than blank looks. Form a loose group of editorial advisors -- ones who can represent the audience(s) -- and test structures and chapters on them.
Characters + Dialogue for Nonfiction Purposes
In 2013, my system of nonfiction writing and editing fell apart. Thirty years of operating doctrine were suddenly called into question. As part of that, a client or two had shown up favoring book approaches that depart from the think-tank and governmental-analytic modes.
And yet -- I still believe that Reality, quote-unquote, needs to be conveyed in all its complexity and contradictions. Books with a few hundred footnotes bolster credibility. This website will continue to celebrate authors and methods that embody a search for truth while they avoid one-dimensional treatments... (read more)
5. If you find that the book you aspire to write has -- more or less -- already been written, don't curse or get depressed. Give thanks! That author has check-marked a big fat box, saved you hundreds of hours, and freed you up to produce something more original.
6. If you come out of the Fortune 500, deep-six these terms: Best practices, value-driven, disciplined focus, track record, competitive advantage, managing change, changing management, the speed of change, the need for disruption, and the death of [whatever]. Also of no help: Sick Sigma, squaring quality circles, and "envisioning" anything. (Your suspicions are correct: All I did there was to dramatize the first principle.)
7. To escape being distracted by the electronic mob, have an e-mail program where -- each and every time you log on -- you see no "news" beyond a weather report and one other daily concern. Given their tabloid tilts, the front pages of Yahoo, MSN and AOL can replace the Information Age with Inflammation Rage. Much wiser to use websites in the manner of two decades ago -- for research and new professional ties, not entertainment and distraction.
8. What people call "good writing," nine times out of 10, is actually good RE-writing.
9. “Micro-editing” refers to the smaller corrections that tell a reader your book is reliable on its larger points. If you insist on doing most of your own micro-editing, watch this six-minute video every other week for three months. No need to bring in the maid service to run the vacuum cleaner.
10. If you’re still on the fence about whether to make an inquiry, then perhaps you have a book idea and/or a publishing project that seems bigger than the both of us. If so, it would be my privilege to hear about it. Even if you reject several of the preceding points, there's a fair chance we can work together productively.
-- Frank Gregorsky, The Exacting Editor
P.S. – These are the other key parts of the site: (1) Objective and concise book reviews by my publishing partner Chris Loyd; (2) Craft a proposal and avoid the agent; (3) Two dozen in-depth discussions with nonfiction authors from 2005 to 2012; (4) See an author track her book from start to finish. (5) And, for the resolute business planner, the manuscript as a mappable venture.