Stop or my dad will write
September 9, 2012 10:27 AM Subscribe
Help me figure out a way to save my dad's nonfiction book manuscript from doom.
My dad is a noted expert and researcher on a subject, but composition and writing are not his thing.
Because he knows so much about his subject, and has given well-received talks about it, a major university press invited him to submit a proposal, then later a manuscript. I helped him with both, acting as his literary agent. I'm now over my head and need to figure out how he can get help without me, his frequent co-writer. Maybe by hiring some kind of book editor? If so, what kind would be appropriate?
It was one thing polishing up a sexy book proposal that got him through the door. But it has been another thing to try and corral his manuscript, a 500-page trove of unorganized and often puzzling and redundant research. I tried my best with the first draft, but he insisted against my warnings that it was ready to send into the publisher, and was rejected.
The publisher is giving him a second chance. But I don't think his nonfiction writing skills are up to something this big and I don't have the time to rewrite this m.s. from the ground up. My dad is the kind of guy who can write about a single incident with a beginning, middle and end, but has trouble weaving together an overview or a theme, or sounding a tone. (The nature of the book requires that it be both a smooth narrative and something that argues for significance, but it's not all that academic.)
The main challenge is that the way he writes, it takes serious work to try and dig out what he's trying to get at. The facts are all there, laid out without the topic sentences I have been trying in vain to get him to use. Like an AP History teacher, I just want to write "Sig?!?" [significance?!] next to every paragraph.
This actually could be a really good book in its field, but I just don't have the time or resources to redo everything in it. Any suggestions would be really appreciated, including what kind of editor we might be able to go to who would be willing to work with him and tease out themes and stuff.
(Not looking for advice that I back out of this as I'm pretty committed to the project's success for reasons that I can't go into here.)