January speaker Q&A: Nina Munteanu, ecologist and author

Nina MunteanuOur first members’ meeting of the year for EAC’s Toronto branch is coming up soon, so we wanted to give you a taste of what to expect from this month’s speaker. Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories, and non-fiction. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Nina has been coaching writers through the process of successful publication for over a decade and gives workshops to writers on editing, marketing, and promotion.

In Nina’s presentation, “Keeping Up with the Changing Face of Publishing: What it Means for Freelance Editors,” you’ll learn about different forms of publishing (including self-publishing and indie publishing), publishing myths, where to find new editing opportunities, and how to market and promote yourself to writers who need your help.

Meeting details
January 28, 2014
Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Room 318 (southwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Bloor Street West)
7 PM: Open discussion session for new and prospective EAC members
7:30 PM: Information session and program (Nina Munteanu’s presentation)
9 PM: Mix-and-mingle over coffee, tea, and cake
Meetings are FREE for EAC members and students, and $10 for all other attendees.

Q&A conducted by Laura Godfrey

Why do you think self-publishing and indie publishing have grown more popular recently compared to larger, more traditional book publishers?

I think it’s because we’ve grown out of that constricted and limited model. The traditional model consisted of the following scenario: a reputable publishing house screened works by hopeful writers and determined what got published and how, based on the current market; books were typically sold to bookstores via a distributor; what the bookstore didn’t sell, it sent back to the publisher. Publishers relied on reviews from professional sites and traditional marketing to sell their top authors.

With the advent of the Internet, along with social media platforms and smartphones, people are no longer restricted to that model. And they don’t care, either. Close to 80 per cent of titles brought out come from an indie or self-publisher. More than half the books sold are not in bookstores and at least a quarter of the top 100 Amazon ebooks are from indie publishers. Readers prefer reviews by other readers (e.g., on Amazon or Goodreads) instead of professional reviewers to help determine whether they want to buy a book. As I mention in my upcoming talk, we are in a revolution—a renaissance—of free expression in a global setting. Part of that is the dissolution of traditional restrictions on artistic expression. Purely and simply, the Internet—and the Internet user—has come of its own. Readers are eagerly downloading ebooks, listening to audiobooks, buying print books online, sharing their experiences, and finding cool stuff all over the Internet. This is a new and exciting time of self-expression and global sharing. Now, more than ever, the freelance editor is needed.

What is one of the biggest myths about where traditional publishing is heading?

I don’t know about any myths per se, but I think a lot of people are fully expecting the traditional publishing houses—along with the whole traditional publishing model—to cave in and die a miserable death. We’re already seeing some aspect of this in the closure and bankruptcy of some major bookstores in Canada and in the States and in the flourishing of micro-publishing and ancillary providers of services such as printing services, interior formatting and layout services, cover art services, ebook design, editing, author coaching and promotional services. It was a bloated industry, just waiting for a change. That change was social media and our altered perceptions about communication.

I’m an ecologist by trade and what I see happening here is a kind of natural succession and “niche partitioning” in response to emerging opportunities. That’s an ecological term for adaptation and jostling for a place in a market where new technologies or social paradigms have emerged. The traditional publishing house will remain. But it will either have an arm—like several already do—associated with what we used to call vanity publishing, or it will become very specialized in a certain area or kind of product.

How can freelance editors looking for work use these changes in publishing to their benefit, and promote their services to self-publishing authors?

This is an exciting time of change and opportunity for freelance editors particularly. How you gain from these changes will rely on your ability to make yourselves known, target new potential clients, and convince them of a need for your service. The latter endeavor will be a challenge, because it requires embarking on adventure, learning some new skills, and engaging in extrovert behaviour—something we all know most editors, and many writers, don’t do very well.

I provide several resource areas and specific resources in my upcoming presentation. Briefly, here, I would say that, in order to capitalize on this emerging market, the freelance editor will benefit by rising out of his or her comfort zone of static databases and associations. The opportunities lie in change and that’s where you’ll have to go too. Successful editors will pursue market sources in places they haven’t been before.

In what ways does editing for a self-published author differ from editing for an author published by a larger publishing house?

You’ll have to come to my talk! But, briefly, in the latter case you’re really dealing with the publishing house and its house style, so as an editor, you are helping the author achieve excellence using the house rules. In the case of a self-published author, you have a more open arena for achieving excellence. You have a scenario with much higher opportunity, less constraint, but much more challenge. The relationship between self-published author and editor has a higher potential. However, without the publishing house as mediator, buffer, and restrictor, professionalism in the relationship—because it remains more open to definition—must be carefully protected.

Laura Godfrey is a Toronto-based copy editor, book reviewer, and editor-in-chief of EAC Toronto branch’s BoldFace blog.

8 thoughts on “January speaker Q&A: Nina Munteanu, ecologist and author

  1. Thanks so much, Laura, for a terrific interview and arranging this. I really enjoyed sharing with the EAC crowd, both here in the interview with you and in the presentation last night with EAC members. All the best!


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