Value Adds

“Value Adds” is marketing speak for “stuff I do/know/understand that not necessarily all my competitors can do/know/understand.” Wiser marketing heads than mine (that’s most heads) have prevailed upon me that I am committing an economic crime against my own interests by refusing to highlight the knowledge areas that may be of special interest to potential clients.

Very well. I try not to commit crimes.

The phone: I’ve learned that a significant demographic nowadays considers actual telephone calls (where the people speak aloud, listening and talking in turn) rude, bothersome, and obsolete. I do not. I consider phone conversations excellent opportunities to communicate. I do not plan to reconsider that. I also have never charged anyone for phone conversation time, and I don’t plan to reconsider that either. If you’re my client, I’ll give you my phone number, and if it will help you, we can talk.

Reading genres: I read a great deal of history, sports, travel, religion, and science fiction. I believe I can offer notable insights into fiction and non-fiction that touches on these.

Languages: Languages I have studied include Spanish, French, Hebrew, Russian, Swedish, Irish, and Arabic. I have lesser backgrounds in several times that number more. While I do not claim to be a linguist–to me, that means a student of the discipline of linguistics–it does mean that with regard to real or invented languages, I may be able to offer an author valuable insights.

History: While touched on earlier, this was my college major. I have not wasted the intervening thirty-five years. Whether it relates to real events, or the fictional history of a world that an author invents, I can bring broad-based perspective.

Geography: The Trivial Pursuit category I have on lockdown. Whether your world is our world or one of your own design, I may have creative insight that will help. Extensive travel reading contributes heavily to this understanding.

Sports: On some level, I was an amateur athlete between the ages of eight and forty-four. I can relate to team and individual sports, even those I haven’t played. If sports are part of the story, I can help. While I’m not the only editor who ever threw a knuckleball or rattled a goon into the boards, we may suppose that the percentage of editors who did so is below the national average.

Empathy: One of the most challenging tasks facing a writer, especially in fiction, is writing what one is not. As a man, with only a man’s life experiences, how to write from a woman’s perspective? Many writers do it badly; they either assume that life is the same, or they fall back on stereotypes. Rest assured that members of the group being portrayed will know fake from real within seconds. I keep a special eye out for ways to help clients improve these portrayals.

Brutality (experience therewith, not editorial brutality of my own): It’s not easy to talk about this one, but I suppose I must. Some people have lived relatively safe, happy lives. I can identify them because, when confronted with some horrendous misdeed, their first question is “why would/how could anyone ever do something like that?” I’m happy for them; they have not met authentic evil face to face, and resist belief in authentic evil even in the face of compelling evidence. I do not envy them; envy is not one of my failings. Long may they live in complete ignorance of authentic evil. As for me, however, I’ve met authentic evil. I’ve survived it. And if you yourself are a survivor, writing about that survival, I might understand you–and your writing–better than many.

Flexibility: It might amaze you to know how many editors just hand out a list of services like a restaurant menu, and you either want one of these or one of those, no room to maneuver. To me, the menu is the starting point, but since we begin with the goal you seek to achieve, the solution could (for example) be a conflation of two editing formats plus some other service. My brain won’t spasm if your needs involve special orders. Every client is a person, unique and bringing a unique creation, and the standard choices do not necessarily fit all. We communicate, we examine, we decide, we move forward to help your ms become the best it can. If that colors outside the developmental editing lines, for example, we’ll decide where to move those lines for the best outcome.


Tags: manuscript editor, fiction editor, non-fiction editor, freelance editor.


Blogging freelance editing, writing, and life in general. You can also Like my Facebook page for more frequent updates: J.K. Kelley, Editor.

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