EDITH updates, v12

I hope the end of what was an extraordinarily challenging week for many finds you well. We’ll jump right in: We want to get some EDITH test projects started in the next two weeks. We’ve heard from people hoping to take the next step with a long-languishing book idea, we’ve heard from someone who just needs to meet the right collaborator first. We heard from a long-lost friend who really needs a marketing ally. And meanwhile, we need more people to try out EDITH’s “checkout” transaction flow, and to give us feedback.

So here goes. Some needs and requests:

  • “I have a SUPER (by super I mean SUPER) rough draft of a children’s book called The Compassion Cafe that I wrote up a few years ago. I think the thing has some potential, but it needs a lot of work. It’s all sing songy…its…I don’t know.” But a developmental editor who specializes in children’s literature would know, which is where you, reading this, may enter the picture. If you are a developmental editor with experience in children’s books, who likes working with first-time authors, please get in touch and we’ll put you in touch with this individual, who is great.
  • A typesetter! I’ve a short manuscript that’s been 80% done for a long time. I hope to declare it 100% done later this spring and would love to have a professional ready to work on the interior layout. Are you a typesetter? Please get in touch, or send one our way.
  • Know anyone who speaks Italian, likes literary fiction, and is skilled at marketing? We heard from a writer / painter / tennis instructor who lives near the Italian Alps and whose publisher didn’t do much for his novel, which came out in 2017. Please note that he is not a character in a Wes Anderson movie but a real, lovely person. If you can help him, let us know.
  • EDITH needs a social media and marketing intern. Please write to megan@tryedith.co if you’re interested or wish to introduce me to someone who is.

And meanwhile:

  • Many thanks to Eli Zeger for bringing Wefunder to our attention. After sorting through some paperwork and other legalities, we hope to be up there soon.
  • Improvements to the UI to make EDITH a happier place for illustrators and graphic designers are underway, slowly but surely. 
  • “While they’re happening, most breakthrough projects look anything but extraordinary. Rarely does the Universe tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Dot your i’s and cross your t’s here because this is the one.’ Either every piece of work is special or none of them are.” The latest essay from The Maven Game was on point.
  • TNPS, or The New Publishing Standard, offers a glimpse into the global publishing world. It’s run by a fellow who lives in Gambia and is sponsored by StreetLib, an Italian digital content distribution company we are rooting for because we know their story and CEO (and CTO in a on-Zoom sense) and they’re truly dedicated to their cause of books, books everywhere, anywhere in the world.
  • Back in the U.S., in an email sent to literary agents earlier this month, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle sought to reassure agents that PRH’s acquisition of Simon & Schuster wouldn’t mean the bidding process for books would become less competitive. Indeed, he wrote, Simon & Schuster editors would be allowed to bid against PRH editors for book projects “at any advance level without the need for any external bidder involved.” This “long-standing commitment to allowing imprints to bid against one another,” Dohle continued, “reflects our belief that competitive bidding allows us to find the best match for a book and editor, therefore enabling PRH to publish great books.” Yeah maybe. I don’t believe competitive bidding for book projects increases the winning publisher’s chance of having a good author-editor match. I believe it encourages authors to sign with the highest bidder, even when that bidder’s editorial skills, or their whole vibe, may not be what the author or their project needs. It happens. I wouldn’t blame any author for making that choice (and I’ve made it myself!). But the idea that the powers-that-be in the current traditional publishing system have given any serious thought as to how to achieve good author-editor matches is funny because it’s not true.
  • What’s the bookstore situation in your area? Let us know. Here in New York, within a one-mile radius of the EDITH offices, in the last five years, we have gained one new bookstore (Yu and Me Books), one new bookstore / wine bar (Book Club Bar), one highly Instagrammed used bookstore (Sweet Pickle Books), one tiny new and used bookstore (Codex), and finally there’s another new bookstore opening up (P&T Knitwear) later this spring. This has to be part of a broader trend, no?
  • Along those lines, a friend of EDITH brought Dundee Book Company in Omaha, Nebraska, to our attention. “A couple bought an old home and made the front parlour into a little tiny bookstore.” Fun.
  • The ceramic doodad (Christmas ornament?) here is from Dots and Lines Pottery in Cary, North Carolina, which we discovered at the Lucky Tree coffee shop and bakery in Raleigh.

EDITH Office Hours will return this Friday, March 4, 12:00PM EST. The meeting link is here: meet.google.com/ouo-kwso-ibg

Thanks for reading.

EDITH updates, v11

Last weekend was a blizzardy, deep freeze weekend in New York, so we mostly stayed indoors, which given these last couple years of intermittent lockdowns and quarantines, felt like overkill. So we devoted a few hours to Kondo-ing the EDITH offices. The conversation during last Wednesday’s Office Hours proved inspiring. Talk turned to making space for new ideas and new prospects, and the possibility that one might have to make space mentally and literally—as in physically move actual stuff out of your way. So I opened the file cabinet in which I’ve stored papers pertaining to past client projects and upon sifting through a few folders, realized most of it could go. I no longer needed them for sentimental reasons or for ego reasons. And that was freeing. 

Which brings me to another conversation, this one held earlier today, in which Sofia (not her real name) mentioned casually that in freelancing years past she’d look at her bank statement and her calendar two months out and have no idea where the money would come from. No idea. No financial cushion. The point of this anecdote isn’t that a client always materialized, or that she made it through (though she did, and is now doing groundbreaking work that I believe will resonate with people, on the scale of, well, Marie Kondo), but simply this: It’s good to talk about economic anxiety without shame.

In some literary circles, an atmosphere so oriented toward celebrating success, admitting that you’ve suffered from intense money worries can be hard. We might know intellectually that being financially insecure is nothing to be embarrassed about. Feeling that is trickier. I hope that as the EDITH community grows, we encourage much more openness around these issues. 


  • Bookshop has announced its Golden Bookmark sweepstakes, and the Grand Prize winner will receive an annual gift card of $600 to spend on Bookshop, plus their bookstore of choice will receive a one-time, $500 donation. If you’re a resident of the U.S., you can enter by visiting this page
  • The people at Des Moines, Iowa-headquartered Moglea (pronounced Moh-glee), make beautiful hand-painted greeting cards, and we stockpile those cards for all occasions. Maybe you’ll like them too?
  • The Genre additions are nearly done! Thanks for your patience and suggestions.
  • A new slate of artistic works entered the public domain last month. Here’s a good list of the 2022 crop. This one from Duke Law School includes sound recordings that entered the public domain.
  • Want to join EDITH Office Hours? So far access is limited to those who’ve signed up for an account, But accounts are free. Just visit our home page and sign up.
  • This week’s image is of the Fisk University Jubilee Quartet, whose 1909 rendition of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was one of the recordings just released into the public domain. Remarkable story about the song’s origins here.

EDITH updates, v10

This one will be quick! Getting right to it:

  • Thanks to the designer Daniel Benneworth-Gray‘s newsletter, we learned the term deltiologist (for postcard collector), and of this online collection belonging to James Brouwer, and of the phenomenon of onlooker postcards. We happen to own some “onlooker postcards” in our admittedly meager collection but didn’t realize it was a thing. Why do we bring this up? You may have noticed some postcard-derived images on EDITH. We’re big fans of collage and repurposing vintage images, esp. if they’re indisputably public domain. If you’re similarly tacky and looking for image inspiration for your listing, you may want to check out flickr accounts like Brouwer’s, The Public Domain Reviewrawpixel, or the website of a museum you like, as many have online collections with hi-res downloads available to the public, for free. Here’s the Smithsonian’s Open Access site, which has…a lot, including some things you’ll wish you hadn’t seen. (“Owney the [taxidermied] Dog” I could have done without.)
  • “Be as open as you can be. Be as honest as you can be about who you are.” This New York Times wrap-up of their series on people who prove it’s never too late is sweet. Another insight, this from a gentleman who recorded his first album at age 85: “Getting out of a groove — sometimes you just need company. There’s this fantasy that creativity is something you do alone, by candlelight. No! Do something with other people who are as genuinely interested as you are.” Amen.
  • We are thrilled to welcome illustrator and author Kate Samworth to EDITH. Please check out her work.
  • Two people showed up for our first EDITH Office Hours last week. A fantastic two people. Because sometimes you just need company, we’re doing it again Wednesday, January 26, 12:00 – 1:00PM EST. If you’d like to join to ask a question, talk about an issue you’re having with the UX, or just chat, write to megan@tryedith.co and I’ll send you the link.

The image this week? An onlooker postcard, of course. Red clothing is a recurring theme.

EDITH updates, v9

We fielded many questions this week! So with the thinking that when one person asks a question, another person is likely wondering the same thing, we’ll repeat those questions, with apologies to those for whom the answers will be old news:

Is there an EDITH vetting process for service providers?

As of right now, we have an open-door policy to becoming a service provider on EDITH, but that may change soon, as the word spreads. Having no barrier to participation made sense in the very beginning because in essence we were still “undiscovered” by design as we worked out some kinks on the site—and frankly we hadn’t told many people we existed yet. There was also the pragmatic business argument that one can let the marketplace sort out quality control issues, e.g. in the way of Airbnb, where you can find entire townhouses renting for $2,500/night (this property happens to be down the street from our office,) and rooms whose main selling point is that they’re close to JFK airport for $70/night, and there’s an expectation of buyer beware, and that reviews will eliminate any bad actors from contention. I’m not saying I find those arguments entirely persuasive given how personal book projects are, or can be, but in summary, our plan is now to move up our date, currently set for March 30, for initiating an invite-only or vetting process for new EDITH service providers. 

Can you add more genres to the list of specialties?

Yes, and we will! Big thanks to those who pointed out that our Genres list contained some gaping holes. We’ll also add an N/A or “Prefer not to answer” option for those of you working in areas, such as coaching or mentoring, where genre questions don’t necessarily apply.

Why can’t I add this ISBN to my completed projects listing?

It may be because it’s an Amazon-only, 10-digit ASIN, which our system is not set up to accept. But given that this keeps coming up, we’ll change the system so that those of you with primarily ASINs can properly showcase your work.

Other news? On Wednesday this week we’ll meet with our tech team to talk about what’s next feature-wise. Aside from gift card or promo capabilities, we’re looking at adding the ability to favorite a provider’s page, plus some integrations that will allow us to automate some back-end tasks.

The image this week comes from an online workshop about unfinished projects we conducted late in 2020. The discussion that resulted was so, so rich, and we’d love to do it again. Do you have an unfinished project that haunts you in some way?

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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.

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!

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.

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.

EDITH updates, v3

This last week was back-to-school week for the EDITH extended family, so we’re light on big news, but a few things are worth mentioning:

The Sensitivity Review category is up.

We are looking to interview people who work as writing coaches, or creative coaches more generally. If you are involved in that kind of work, and would be willing to talk about your experiences, please get in touch simply by replying to this email. Or if you know someone so engaged who might be eager to talk to us about their work, please send them our way.

Literal is a sleek new app from a small team based in Berlin who are hoping to improve on Goodreads. While Googling to find the correct link to insert here, I discovered a second Literal app, this one bringing customizable character avatars to the experience of reading school-assigned texts such as Romeo and Juliet on your phone. Will they both be able to succeed and keep the name? Let’s watch and see. (I hope that doesn’t sound sarcastic. Yes, I’m typing this tired, late on a Friday night, but am genuinely, sincerely excited by all the activity in this space, and wishing them all good developments.)

Beowulf Sheehan’s offer to do a remote photoshoot with new EDITH signer-uppers still stands. Holler if you’re interested in a new profile photo (for free!) and we’ll throw your name into the hat.

And all you beautiful people who have listings in Draft mode but haven’t published them yet, please let me know if I can help in some way. Or if you perhaps have questions, concerns, or complaints I can address. I’m scheduling a couple of calls this next week along those lines, and am happy to schedule more. 

P.S. The CW Pencil Enterprise is closing in November, and selling out of remaining inventory quickly. If this news bums you out as it did me, hurry and buy your Mitsubishi Hi-Uni pencils now. The HB variety writes like butter—a great gift for the production editors and margin-scribblers in your life.