Posts filed under ‘News about authors I’ve worked with’
These are authors with whom I’ve worked on book proposals or sometimes full manuscripts, or in some cases have served as co-author. You can find links to their own blogs or web sites under “Related authors” in the sidebar at right.
Around this time last year, I had the pleasure of working for several months with nonprofit consultant, trainer, and fundraising specialist Andrea Kihlstedt on the third edition of her book, Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work.
When we first got together, Andrea showed me a copy of the second edition. Being familiar from visits to the Foundation Center in New York City with the existing literature on fundraising, I knew at once the book was good: unusually authoritative, and also unusually practical. Andrea told me she didn’t want to just update the content – she wanted to make it more readable as well. She’d surveyed clients who relied on the book, and the only negatives they had reported were that some of the chapters seemed long, and the prose a little intimidating.
Andrea had gotten her publisher to agree to a friendlier, more modern layout for the new edition. That by itself would be a help. She also hoped to make chapters shorter by passing drafts to me as she completed them, so that I could recommend cuts. Beyond that, she asked, did I have any other suggestions to improve readability? In fact I did. Based on a close analysis of several chapters, I came up with some simple recommendations she could use while revising.
I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog that a couple of years ago, I worked as a book doctor and writing coach with Robert Plotkin, a Boston-based patent attorney. At the time he contacted me, Robert had been working for several years on an idea for a book about a new breed of software applications, which he dubbed “genies.”
Prototype genies were already in use at NASA and in the consumer products industry; the wishes they’d made come true included everything from other computer programs to radically enhanced satellite antennas and toothbrushes. Based on interviews with the computer scientists who’d come up with the genie concept, Robert estimated the eventual impact on society would be staggering. Genies can come up with designs a human being working alone could never even conceive of, and can work far faster as well. It may sound like, well, a fairy tale – but one of Robert’s predictions is that someday you and I will have access to consumer versions of genies. In which case, we’ll be able to find out for ourselves.
It was exciting to get an e-mail the other day from Robert Plotkin, the Boston-based patent attorney whose book manuscript I helped with back a couple of years ago. Robert is an expert in software patents, and his book is about how the patent system must evolve to cope with a new order of software – “genies” capable of replacing human engineers in the design of products ranging from cars to toothbrushes to pretty much anything.
Like most expert authors I’ve worked with, Robert is not only deeply knowledgeable but inherently a good writer. Most of my critiquing had to do with introducing him to the conventions of book-length nonfiction and helping him develop a writing voice that was clear and relaxed, yet authoritative. Needless to say this was a lot of fun.
At any rate, Robert’s email was to let me know the pub date is in April. Edit: Since this post was put up, the pub date has been moved to May 1. If you’ve got any interest in software, patents, or the future of business in a world increasingly dependent on genie-style technology, check out Robert’s blog, Automating Invention: Computers, Invention, and the Law. You can preorder from Amazon, too. Beyond that I hope to do an interview with Robert shortly and post it here – stay tuned.