The editing + publishing blogs I can’t stop reading

The Australian blog world (blog nation?) is going crazy about the Sydney Writers’ Centre’s Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition (#bestblogs2012). It’s got me thinking about the blogs I visit all the time and why they’re great.

PublishEd Adelaide is in the competition in the ‘Words and Writing’ category this year, which Angela Meyer (@literaryminded) is judging. Most blogs are also up for a People’s Choice Award and, if you like what I’m writing here, you too can vote (there’s an enormous blue button right next to this post!). If you do, a massive ‘thank you’ for your time and enthusiasm.

Of course, I’d love people to vote for PublishEd, but the competition is also a great opportunity to explore what other bloggers are writing about and to reach out to new readers. If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that this is one of the themes I obsess about: to build deeper understanding of your life in editing, you’d better be ready to talk to other people!

In the spirit of spreading the love, here are a few recommendations for blogs I read all the time. (Keeping in the spirit, you’ll find one blog by a current Aussie resident and one by a Brit who lived in Australia until recently!)

Jane Friedman. Jane Friedman is, as far as I know, not Australian. However, she is a key influence for people who think about the future of publishing. Yeah, I know – everybody’s writing about that. But Jane has been doing it longer and is really good at it. Why? Because, for all that she’s clearly a gifted analyst, she writes like a normal human. She certainly comes across as an expert – and as a former acquisitions editor, editor of Writer’s Digest, university professor, and now web editor, she’s definitely a polymath with broad and deep experience. But she doesn’t put herself out there as knowing it all – more, she wants to find out. My kind of publishing thinker. I visit her blog whenever she posts. You should too.

Brain Traffic. The people at Brain Traffic are astounding. Confident, focused, and just a tiny bit brass-ballsy, they’re all about content strategy. Before I discovered the work of Kristina Halvorson and her colleagues, I hadn’t given much thought to content strategy. But that’s all changed. Content strategy, for me, is a powerful way to bring together the focus and drive of publishing strategy with the attention to detail of hands-on editing. I love the idea of it and I want to do more of it in my work. Oh, and although everyone writing about content strategy talks about web content, it isn’t just about that. I think content strategy is actually most powerful when you apply it across media – something that many publishers need to know how to do. I read a tweet this week from someone at London Book Fair (sorry, can’t remember who – too much going on/brain snap), which said that publishing is thriving but many people are still ‘in transition’ – embracing ‘e’ in their planning but still publishing in mixed media. Getting in on content strategy now could help with that transition.

The Creative Penn. The British ‘author-entrepreneur’ Joanna Penn writes thrillers and loves the world of self-publishing and indie publishing. That passion carries through everything she writes, and you can’t help but pick up some of her good thinking in your work. I’m not a fiction person (I read it but don’t write it, don’t edit it) but still, I find the blog compelling. I think that’s because what Joanna is writing about is actually embracing the creative life that publishing can offer. She’s recently moved from her adopted home in Australia back to the UK, where she’s pursuing her writing activities full time (and ‘blogging the journey’ of her writing adventures too). At core, there’s an unshakeable belief in the value of writing and in the entrepreneurial spirit that makes the difference between an author who ‘wants to’ and an author who ‘does’.

Joanna also believes in great editing and hosts bloggers who share that belief – Matt Gartland’s post this week on a ‘new breed’ of professional editor, working with an entrepreneurial mindset, is fascinating.

The Subversive Copyeditor. When I’m feeling fed up with copy editing – yes, it does happen – I visit Carol Fisher Saller at The Subversive Copy Editor (I’m going to review her blog-to-book collection, Moonlight Blogger, very soon). Carol is something of a copy-editorial star, as the editor behind the Chicago Manual of Style’s Q&As. Does that mean she cares about comma placement and the thousands of other style issues CMOS tackles? Absolutely. Is she pedantic? Never. Carol writes with the confidence of an editor who knows her stuff and – even more importantly – is great at talking about it. Everything she writes is grounded in expertise but not stilted by it. An inspirational copy editor? So she does exist. Hurray for Carol Fisher Saller.

Hang on, where are the Aussie blogs? Of course! I couldn’t finish up without an Aussie blog. The winner of last year’s Best Australian Blogs stoush in the Words category: Bothersome Words. The blog has been fairly quiet recently (due to the demands of what its author calls ‘Real Life’), but it’s still worth checking out because it’s so damned sensible about editing. The Bothersome editor not only loves the work but, as if after my own heart, wants to talk about editing too. If you visit, be sure to check out the extensive footnotes (the fine art of footnoting with humour).

So there you go. I appreciate people who share their expertise in writing, editing, and publishing wherever they are, and it’s great that the Sydney Writers’ Centre is once again recognising the creativity Australian writers put into their blogs about words. I hope you visit the folks I’ve talked about here, and that you enjoy their writing: if you do, why not tell them? And don’t forget, you can vote for your favourite Australian blog, even if you don’t live in Australia. You can find out more at Twitter (#bestblogs2012) and vote at the People’s Choice Award website.

Next week: Louise Harnby of The Proofreader’s Parlour on learning to say no to freelance work. Honestly, it can be done!

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