For this week’s post, I sat down with Jamie Markle, freelance consultant, editor and writer. Full disclosure, we’ve worked together and known each other for years. Also full disclosure, this is my first interview. We talked mostly about publishing (surprise!). Thanks to Jamie for taking time to talk to me, and make sure to visit his site at jamiemarkle.com.
Wendy: I just have five questions.
W: What do you do and how did you get involved in it?
J: I am currently a freelance consultant, editor and writer working with pulishers and artists. I help develop product lines, edit and write content. I got my start about 18 years ago as an associate book editor for an art instruction publisher. The whole company was focused on hobbies and making people’s lives better. I rose through the ranks from associate editor to editorial director, I was eventually the group publisher for a few different areas of the business.
W: What has been most surprising about what you do?
J: I think the most surprising thing is that there’s always something new to learn. It’s also probably the thing I like the best. Whether you’re interviewing an artist to learn about what they do, or you’re interviewing anybody, you’re learning about their topic. You know, if you really take an interest in what the person is talking about and the person you’re talking to, you tend to learn a lot.
I would also say that in publishing, technology has changed a lot, whether it is newspapers, magazines and books. Now we have the whole world of online, which includes video and social media, just to name a couple. Just trying to keep up with all that’s happening is very challenging. And I can’t say that I’ve succeeded in keeping up with all of it. There’s also the technology in how things are being made. You used to edit on a piece of paper, and now, you edit on a computer or directly on the web.
W: Yeah, sure.
J: Yeah, lots of changes.
W: Yeah, we used to do paste-up and now you do it all in the computer, and you don’t even get a color proof of it to see if everything looks right. That kind of segues into the next question, which is, what sorts of trends do you see in the publishing field?
J: I think the biggest trend is towards self-publishing, and the fact that people can now curate their own content. They can build their own audience and disseminate that content to people who are interested in it. The publishers are no longer the gate-keepers they once were. I think this is both good and bad. It’s great because people can have a voice and voices need to be heard. I think the bad part is that not everything is vetted. There’s fake news, and people can publish lies; they can make stuff up. If you’re not careful, you can be misinformed.
W: Yes! So if somebody was planning to self-publish a book, what advice would you give them?
J: That’s a really good question. I guess the number one thing I would say is: Figure out what it is you want to say. Think it through and write it down. Go ahead and start writing. At some point, you should find a freelance editor to help you. Someone who can check that what you’re doing is organized and being perceived the way you want it. One of the things that good editor will do is give you a reality check on your content, making sure that what you think is happening in your mind is really what is happening on the page. For some people, that’s a no brainer. For other people, they need a little help in constructing it, because they fill in the blanks in their head. An editor will point out those missing pieces of information. The other thing you really need to do if you’re going to self-publish is you need to have an audience to receive it. You need to become a marketer and business person to some extent. You need to build that audience through various means, whether it’s giving away teaser content or having a weekly or daily blog. You need to develop your own market, in essence.
W: Be an author-preneur.
J: Yes, an author-preneur, that’s awesome.
W: Give me the title of one book you love and why you love it.
J: Oh boy.
W: It can be something recent, you don’t have to dig way back…
J: Okay, so I’m currently reading the Harry Potter series. I am embarrassed to say, I’ve never read it, and I said, “I’m going to plow through this thing.” I’m halfway through the whole series. I mean it’s amazing; she basically came out of nowhere and created this universe that’s touched the entire world. If I were going to aspire to be an author, that would be my aspiration. I think that’s mighty lofty, so I think I’ll stick with editing and writing articles.
W: I don’t know, creating a really rich fantasy world takes a lot of effort and it’s really incredible when someone pulls it off.
J: Yeah, and I think the most compelling thing is the characters. Start with the characters. Who are these people and why do we want to know what they’re up to? if I were going to write a novel, that would be how I approach it. Who do I want to write about and why are they interesting and important.
W: That’s true too. What do you like to do for fun?
J: I love to run.
W: I knew you were going to say that. And drink milkshakes.
J: And drink milkshakes on the way. I also like to paint and make art. I really love working in the garden in the summer, and I like working on my old house. I enjoy movies, as well as reading. Pretty normal things. I don’t have any extreme, odd hobbies.
W: All right!
J: And I’ve been blogging about my artwork lately.
W: And you’re at…
Check out Jamie’s mixed media cats and dogs at Jamiemarkle.com!
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