New Release: The Energy Shift, by Ritu Rao

This self-help book is now available for sale, e-book and paperback formats. I was substantive editor.

Ritu came to me as a referral from client and friend Shawn Inmon, of Feels Like the First Time and Rock ‘n Roll Heaven fame. During our initial discussions, she mentioned that she’d already published one book. With a previously published author, my job changes. If the first book succeeded, then part of my job is not to screw up a good thing; we must preserve the aspects that made the author a success. Whether I agree with the earlier work’s editorial decisions is beside the point. No one hires me to reduce a book’s success.

Well, Ritu seemed blissfully unaware that she’d kicked large-scale ass with her first release, at least by comparison to most new releases. It had twenty-three reviews, most of them persuasive and articulate, exactly the kind that help sell a book. I read all of them, and they said great things along the lines of: At first I imagined it was going to be another fluffy self-help book full of the same stuff, but it was practical, realistic, smart, and has helped me a lot. Those are the kind of reviews authors crave. People read those reviews and buy the book.

I could tell Ritu would be coachable because she could already write. I can almost count on a thing, in my line of work: those who need my help most are most likely to refuse it. The worse the writer, the more appalling s/he will find the sample edit. “I liked my own version better, sorry” and “I need to find an editor who believes in my work” are the standard kiss-offs, and I’m okay with them. I only want to work with clients who want to work with me to improve their books. If the potential client is so bad s/he doesn’t realize how bad s/he is, and is unwilling to learn that, then I truly am not the right match. Ritu wasn’t one of those who needed to go back to remedial writing class. I could see areas for improvement, but her style was articulate, friendly, and unpretentious. We agreed to work together, and I got cracking.

Authing, as I call it, is the meeting point between storytelling (or whatever is at hand; exposition, guidance, memoirism) and writing. The first is the message; the second is how well one conveys it. I already knew that Ritu’s message made a good impression on readers, so I would focus on refining its delivery. In the ideal scenario, readers would like this book a little better, but most would not be able to say exactly why. That was the sweet spot.

I’m like the umpire. When you can’t tell I was there, and everything went well, I just smile and know I was on my game.

As I was editing, Ritu was in the process of selling her dental practice. Just as I finished, she went on a silent meditation retreat, so that delayed her digging into the edited ms. She came back with good questions, showing every sign that some of my feedback sank in. I like it when clients ask for my reasoning behind a change, because that’s a chance to teach. The end result, I think, you will like very much. Ritu is exactly as her writing style suggests: friendly, unpretentious, practical. I know that her approach to things works well, because I have used variants of it in my own life. Anyone expecting the typical cryptic, mystic self-help book tone is in for refreshment, because Ritu’s viewpoint reflects firm grounding in real experience. This book could help you get off the dime and improve your life.

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