EDITH updates, v8

I’m not resisting the temptation to reference Joan Didion, though it’s been a while since I’ve read her, and I’ve not yet followed through on my resolution from earlier this week to reread some bell hooks. But here‘s a link to “On Self-Respect” as originally published (under a different title) in Vogue in 1961, with this editorial comment added by anonymous Vogue staffer:

Didion wrote the essay as the magazine was going to press, to fill the space left after another writer did not produce a piece on the same subject. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count.

I hope that inspires you as it did me. And here’s a Didion paragraph that gets me every time—and I’ve read it dozens of times—with apologies for the retro language about Native Americans (which refers back to a historical diary account she related earlier in the piece). Apropos self-respect, Didion writes:

Again, it is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has its price. People who respect themselves are willing to accept the risk that the Indians will be hostile, that the venture will go bankrupt, that the liaison may not turn out to be one in which every day is a holiday because you’re married to me. They are willing to invest something of themselves; they may not play at all, but when they do play, they know the odds.

Here at EDITH we’re fully embracing the risk. Actually that’s not exactly true: the bigger gamble would have been not building EDITH at all.

Anyhow, on to quick items:

  • Our new project manager is asking us what big feature developments we’ll prioritize in Q1. Voucherify integration is near the top of our list. 
  • If you want to check out the social reading and book discovery app Literal, still closed to the general public, I’ve three invite codes to give away. Just write to partners@tryedith.co and request one.
  • In January we’ll gather a small group of deep thinkers interested in helping us define the EDITH service offerings on the coaching <-> therapy spectrum, referenced in updates v5 and v6, for an hour or two on Google Meet. Please stay tuned. We have some time-zone challenges to contend with when scheduling, which is a nice problem to have.
  • Image below from Wunderzeichenbuch (Book of Miracles), c. 1552, recently brought online by the David Zwirner gallery, which incidentally is also a lovely small publisher.

Lastly, a big thank you for being on this venture with us. We’re grateful and excited for 2022. Wishing a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and a shiny Happy New Year to all. 

To receive these updates via email, please write to megan@tryedith.co and ask to be added to our newsletter list.

EDITH updates, v7

The to-do list ballooned this week, so after some housekeeping concerns, we’ll pivot to championing two people doing interesting things online: 

  • Are you experiencing trouble with the listing wizard rejecting ISBNs? We’ve heard one such report, and are eager to know if there are others.
  • We are seeking recommendations for a good newsletter service. Please note: By this we specifically mean not Mailchimp. I’ve worked with Mailchimp plenty, and in many ways sticking with it would be easiest, but it’s a mediocre product, and poised to get worse now that Mailchimp has been acquired by Intuit. Intuit runs QuickBooks, and here’s a fun fact about QuickBooks as it pertains to EDITH: We took out a small QuickBooks Capital loan to help finance aspects of the site build. And every month we receive an email from them announcing “Everything’s on track for your upcoming loan payment” several hours after they’ve auto-debited said payment from my account. Something about that strikes me as deeply cynical, or perhaps it’s merely sloppy, and maybe that’s a distinction without a difference.
  • We’re intrigued by The Study Newsletter, compiled by Ivaylo Durmonski, a fellow writing from Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Durmonski is a voracious reader, and his newsletter is essentially a biweekly ode to learning and sharing. He always had tidbits on historical figures—Emmy Noetherfeatured recently—and while we read it wanting badly to edit it, we love his earnest enthusiasm, and it seems to be catching on. Recently he announced it took him three years to accumulate 1000 subscribers and less than six months to grow that number to nearly 3000.

Thanks for following along. We’ll leave you with a snapshot taken at a charity thrift shop near Tucson, Arizona, the day after Christmas in 2013. How many things had to go wrong—or right—to create this book? The question haunts and inspires us in equal measure.

Still finding tiny things

Like this bit of copy that is just not right! Thanks to anyone who finds hiccups like this that stem from the EDITH code base’s Helsinki origins, and promptly tells us about them. We like emails from people with an eye for clean copy. (Also, does that orphan “you” bother you? We get it.)

EDITH updates, v6

It’s been a busy month! And if you follow tech or business news, you undoubtedly saw a lot of commentary on Facebook’s rebranding as Meta and pivoting to virtual reality. For some observers it conjured up queasy-making questions of “what data they might be able [to] sell now they can see not only your social network, but also the contents of your home.” I haven’t logged onto Facebook in years, so won’t have to change my habits to accommodate (or foil) their plans. But speaking as just a person in the world? I believe it’s objectively bad news. We should not cede more space—real or virtual—to Big Tech.

However, the reports did strengthen my conviction that as creative people who are deeply invested not only in making things, but also in supporting other people who make things, we need to band together and build structures and platforms that serve our interests. We can’t let Amazon’s K.D.P. suck up people’s intellectual property at rock-bottom prices simply because they can, and will continue to do so until advances in artificial intelligence let them get rid of human authors the way they’re aiming to get rid of traditional publishers. 

Here’s the thing: As editors and other book professionals, the value we add is not solely, or even primarily (in my view), in the output we help generate—a better book, a more beautiful package. It is in the relationships we develop with clients, our care, our linking arms with them as they struggle through the act of creation. EDITH is ostensibly a publishing services marketplace, and that’s how we’ll publicly be known, but in my mind we’re really about people, and connecting people who have skills with those who want them—and letting that collaboration transport people into whatever realms, intellectual, geographic, or otherwise, they wish to go. We’re going to be a small but highly visible part of a more globally distributed, disaggregated book industry that operates without middlemen, that restores creative collaboration and community to the center of the action.

You know the nature of EDITH’s business and, while we’re on the subject of Facebook/Meta, selling your data isn’t our business. What you enter in your profile and on your listing page—that’s all we need or wish to know. If that ever changes, you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Now some quick updates: 

  • The Payment settings tab in the listing wizard is done. No more unhappy Stripe surprises.
  • Switching “Therapy” to “Coaching” spectrum is underway, as half-measure before expanding that service sector even further.
  • Via our connection to the House of Beautiful Business, we contributed ideas inspired by our developmental editing work to a podcast episode produced in collaboration with Salesforce. You can listen here to insights from Esther Blázquez Blanco, Fred Dust, Aditi Khorana, and Lindsey Wehking, narrated by me, Megan Hustad, with music by Mark Aanderud.
  • If you want to discuss your profile or anything else EDITH-related with me, you can now click the link in my signature below and schedule a conversation.
  • We have a new project manager on the tech side! Stay tuned for more features updates.
  • Our image below comes from art created for the aforementioned podcast by the wonderfully talented graphic designer Holly King.

Last but not least, please complete a listing page and consider being aggressive with your pricing. You’re worth it!

Back in New York

Many small fixes went live! Here’s a quick list:

  • “Next” Button on Genre listing page still said “C.V” (not “Experience”). Fixed!
  • Tiny text fix on sign-up page: Done
  • Tiny tweaks to Location page: Done
  • That thing where it was hard to hell whether you’d entered your working hours on the Calendar page, because the placeholder text wasn’t sufficiently grayed out? Fixed.
  • And finally, a fix to the problem thinking they were done with the listing wizard, only to be surprised (mostly unpleasantly so!) by the notice that they still had to complete their Stripe payment settings. No one likes thinking they’re done, only to be told they’re not yet done. We’re pretty pleased with this one!

Meanwhile, in Lisbon

We’re taking part in the House of Beautiful Business “Concrete Love” conference in Lisbon this weekend, and preparation for that has us thinking about what people want when they say they want a book published. I think that the aspects of the process—most importantly, the relationship with one’s editor and other collaborators—are desirable in and of themselves. We don’t talk about that enough, but should.

More on that once we’re back in New York, without this view from the balcony.

Also happening today: The first EDITH profile photoshoot gifted by Beowulf Sheehan. There’s one spot left, so be in touch if you’ve published a listing on EDITH and are ready for a headshot upgrade.

EDITH updates, v5

First of all, big thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with us since v1. And to those of you who have replied to these updates, I want to give you a bear hug.

This week’s grab bag:

  • Some tiny improvements to the listing wizard went live this week. It looks sharper. 
  • We are working on text to help those new to publishing processes think about what array of services might best fit their needs—essentially a “potential pathways through EDITH” page. Lynn, one of my first clients as an independent editor, was one of the first people to look at EDITH after launching, and this was her comment: “I very much like the tone of it, but what I think is needed is an intro to the process of publication—including marketing. I think there needs to be a greater assumption of ignorance and need for a greater degree of laying down of the predicates to be addressed in the presentation of a ‘good book.’” (She is in her mid-80s and does not mess around.) We agreed she had a point. Then when Shannon Mullen O’Keefe had much the same reaction as Lynn, we knew we had to make it a priority. The moral of this story is that if you see something on EDITH that doesn’t sit well with you, say something.
  • In the news: The New York Public Library has forgiven all late fines and ended the practice of charging fines altogether. Read more here.  
  • “The Nerdletter” produced by Hell Yeah, Bookkeeping, a Los Angeles accounting firm that works primarily with creative people and agencies, is nicely done. It’s written and produced by company founder Paco de Leon, who approaches finances in ways friendly to those who don’t relish thinking about money or finances. More on her team here. They have Spotify playlists
  • Speaking of money, we need to add a Payment Settings section to the listing wizard. That should happen before the gift-card integration mentioned in our last issue.
  • We are gearing up for a big getting-the-word-out-about-EDITH push. Please let us know if you want to get involved. 
  • And finally, here’s the “therapy” to “coaching” spectrum, from the pit to the YAY, as helpfully illustrated by friend of EDITH Lior Locher:

More on this front soon. Thanks for reading.

Stripe concerns

One piece of feedback we’ve received is that filling out the listing wizard is pretty easy but then, right when you think you’re done, you are greeted with a pop-up window that (a) comes as a surprise, and (b) demands that you complete a Stripe registration that can feel invasive—and takes more time.

To the first problem, there’s an obvious answer, which we will try to implement soon: Adding “Payment Settings” to the sidebar, so you know it’s coming.

To the second problem there is not much we can do. Amending the UX so that someone creating a listing page didn’t have to complete Stripe set-up until after they’d found a client or agreed to a gig would mean creating pages, workflows, and new email notifications to deal with the new scenarios that suddenly become possible.

For instance, say you were on EDITH looking for a cover designer, found someone you wanted to collaborate with, reached out to them and this designer was excited to work on your project and accepted your price offer. That would feel great (I hope). But then if you received a notification that this designer hadn’t completed their payment settings, so the work would be on hold until they did, you might feel less great. If this designer happened to have a particularly leisurely approach to administrative stuff, and it took them two weeks to get around to completing their payment settings, or if they somehow encountered a problem with their bank, you might get impatient.

And if their payment settings problem couldn’t be fixed, then the job would have to be canceled—and you’d need to start your designer search all over.

All this to say that the inconvenience of requiring that the Stripe set-up be dealt with right away is smaller than the potential inconvenience (and frustration) created by not requiring Stripe be dealt with right away. That’s the present thinking, in any event, and we welcome your input anytime. Thanks for reading this too-long post!

P.S. Stripe is a big, multinational payment processor much like PayPal, and a book publisher too. Stripe Press does really interesting work.

EDITH updates, v4

Biweekly newsletter number four! In the past two weeks we had our first user from Warsaw, Poland, which is exciting. Then after much back-and-forth with one user in Stellenbosch, South Africa, we finally determined her profile couldn’t be published because Stripe, our payments processor, is not yet available there. Here’s hoping it’s soon on the way. We also coincidentally heard from someone from Stripe Press, their publishing arm, and very much worth checking out.

We also talked to a coach in Brighton, England, who is a licensed psychotherapist (in Germany) and it was one of those great conversations that slashed through mental knots with a surprising economy of effort. The gist was that she believed, rightly so, that we’d been looking at a problem too narrowly—and the best solution had a wider scope than we’d been considering. All this to say: We will change the name of the “Therapy” service category, but it’s not a matter of switching it to “Coaching,” because many people will assume we’re talking about writing coaching, and what we’re aiming at is something deeper, something that could speak to the person making the book as a thinking, feeling, sometimes hurting person, not just as craftsperson, professional, or artist.

By way of illustration: When I handed in the manuscript of my last book to my publisher, and was semi-enjoying those months of waiting for editor’s comments and page proofs, my publisher wanted to talk about publicity and social media strategy, and I wasn’t ready for it. I needed to have a conversation far further upstream. I needed to have roughly five conversations about other matters before I could talk about self-promotion. But those aren’t conversations you can easily have with your publisher. They literally don’t have time for it. So my thinking with EDITH was that we needed to make it OK for an author not to be totally together, poised to conquer the world. We should acknowledge that not everyone comes to the point of publication with the support they need, and sometimes their need has more to do with mental or emotional health than with financial resources or having enough hours in the day in which to tweet effectively. 

In other EDITH news:

  • We are making small improvements to the listing wizard. It’s incredible the number of tiny things that have to go right for a web page not to look a bit “off.” Just so, so many. But we’re getting there.
  • A few of you have questions about pricing, which underscores the need to revamp the How It Works and About pages, and perhaps add another. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while, and your suggestions are most welcome. Just a reminder here that the EDITH commission fee is 6% as opposed to the 10% and even 20% seen elsewhere.
  • The project manager on our technical team, Kate, is leaving us to work on sites built on the WordPress “tech stack” (this is developer-speak for “you don’t know what I’m talking about”). We’ll miss her but have confidence we’ll cross paths again.
  • On the horizon: gift-card integration. Would it be fun to receive, say, a book cover design as a present? It’s one way to sidestep the supply chain breakdown we’ve been promised in time for the holidays.

Mood around the office lately:

Thanks for reading, and please be in touch with any questions or concerns. If some aspect of EDITH is not working for you, let us know. If there’s a feature you want to see, let us know that also.