We’re interviewing experts in book publishing for Bookgirl and will share some of their thoughts on the industry, the challenges of book writing and publishing, and the resources they offer or recommend to get you closer to a book deal and your book. Here’s the first of our “Experts Talk” series.
NAME: Mark Chimsky
TITLE/COMPANY NAME: President, Mark Chimsky Editorial Services Unlimited
WEBSITE: Mark Chimsky Editorial Services Unlimited | The Premier Source for Writers
Aliza’s Note: Mark Chimsky was the editor for the book Mom, Incorporated that I co-wrote with Danielle Smith. He initially contacted me to propose that we work together on a book project geared toward women with a business focus. I pitched him on my idea for a book called Mom, Incorporated and told him I even had reserved the domain name, MomIncorporated.com, years earlier. Months later, I brought Danielle on as a co-author, and we honed our book idea then wrote it. Our experience working with Mark was every writer’s dream. He was attentive, enthusiastic, involved, encouraging, and he really went to bat for us internally at the publishing house. In addition to being an expert in his field, he’s a gem of a human being. Here’s what Mark says about book publishing.
Bookgirl: What services do you offer authors?
Mark: I believe in helping authors throughout the creative and publishing process — whether that’s editing or evaluating manuscripts, helping authors develop book proposals, guiding them through the self-publishing process, or coaching them about aspects of working with a publisher.
I also provide editorial consultations by phone to discuss various questions an author may have about a particular writing or publishing issue.
Bookgirl: What recent projects have you worked on that showcase the type of work you enjoy?
Mark: I have recently enjoyed working with a number of authors on various projects: helping one author to begin organizing and structuring a book proposal, evaluating a new work of fiction for another author, and line-editing a nonfiction manuscript that an author was planning to self-publish.
Bookgirl: What kind of client do you like to work with?
Mark: I always believe in working in partnership with authors, being attentive to the kind of specific editorial help they might need. I have enjoyed working with first-time authors who are curious about the publishing process as well as seasoned writers who know that they will benefit from a comprehensive edit of their work before submitting it to their publisher.
Bookgirl: What are some key things you’ve learned about book writing and the editing process over the years?
Mark: What a great question! There are so many valuable lessons I’ve learned after working at major publishing houses and editing books by such wonderful authors as Johnny Cash, Melody Beattie, Beryl Bender Birch, and Robert Coles. One key piece of advice that I always share with authors is the classic maxim: “show, don’t tell.” In fiction, that means creating vivid, compelling scenes to bring your characters to life on the page. In nonfiction, it means using examples to illustrate your points — readers are engaged by anecdotes and dramatic vignettes that illuminate a specific idea or event you’re referencing.
Bookgirl: What are some mistakes you see aspiring authors commonly make?
Mark: Aspiring authors often underestimate the importance of turning in a manuscript that has been fully revised — and proofread — over time. I recommend that authors don’t rush to send a work out to an agent or publisher until they’ve spent some time away from the manuscript — that way, when they review it again, they see it with a fresh perspective. Authors usually have only one shot with a proposal or manuscript — they should make sure it’s in the best shape possible before submitting it. Also, authors sometimes don’t tailor their query letters to the specific agents they want to send their manuscript to — personalizing a query letter by showing a familiarity with an agent’s list can always help. Authors will want to remember to avoid the redundant phrase “fictional novel.” They should also make sure to double-space their manuscript and use a standard font (like Times New Roman), nothing fancy that will be too distracting.
Bookgirl: How should someone get in touch with you to discuss hiring you?
Mark: Authors can contact me via my website, markchimskyeditorial.com, or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (207) 632-8418. I am always happy to help authors get their projects “ready for prime time.”