What's in a name? Help name my freelance book editing business.
July 22, 2010 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I need help naming my freelance book editing business. I do developmental editing--critiquing "big picture" elements of a story like Point of View, character and plot development, pacing, etc.--but it's not a term that most writers are familiar with and it goes by other names as well, which confuses authors. I don't do copyediting (grammar and punctuation). I'd like something that's either self-explanatory but not boring, or is witty/irreverent/intriguing, with extra points for a literary allusion.

For the business name, I've had ideas that range from the generic ( "Attentive Reader" "Manuscript Critique Services" ) to the more oblique ( "Book Mapping" or "Invisible Editing" ) but the right one hasn't grabbed me yet. I'm open to almost anything but would rather connote someone straight-shooting, smart, and insightful rather than someone fussy or hung up on rules. I typically work with authors who have finished a significant draft of their manuscript and who want an unbiased and fresh perspective on how to take their story or writing to the next level. What I produce is a 10-20 page written evaluation with examples from their manuscript to illustrate or support my critique.

Other relevant information: I work on genre fiction, literary fiction, creative non-fiction, sci fi, and memoir.
posted by Yoshimi Battles to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you mentioned the phrase "big picture" right there above the fold.

Big Picture something-something?

I'm guessing you want to have something in the name that tells you what kind of business it is. Hence the "something-something" above. Big Picture Editing won't work, it sounds too much like a film post-production house. Big Picture Solutions, maybe?

Other suggestions: something with "Story" or "Narrative" in the name. Narrative, Ink? Or Inc, if you're not a pun person.

I like Book Mapping, actually. I think you might be onto something with that one.
posted by Sara C. at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2010

I'm a book editor myself (not freelance, though). I'd call the business "Big Picture Editing." It gets the idea across, doesn't appear to be taken as a name for someone else's business (as of now, the URL is available), and isn't likely to get you confused with a copyeditor.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:36 PM on July 22, 2010

Big Picture Editorial might work well, too.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:37 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I went to Thesaurus.com and typed in "big picture" just to get an idea of what else you might call it. What about Essence Editing? Or Tout Ensemble Editing?

Another idea: "Your Book, Only Better"? (yes, I put the punctuation outside the quotes.)
posted by CathyG at 2:43 PM on July 22, 2010

Ooh, Editorial. Perfect.
posted by Sara C. at 2:44 PM on July 22, 2010

I also do this sort of editing, and I think emphasis on the word "story" is a good idea.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:46 PM on July 22, 2010

* The Bookie
* The Preditor
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:47 PM on July 22, 2010

With "Big Picture" there's a risk that people might infer that you're focused on screenplays rather than prose fiction. Have you considered referring to what you do as consultancy rather than editing in order to make the distinction between critiquing and proofreading? Some people hear "editing" and they think grammar and punctuation. Narrative Consultancy?

Full disclosure – I freelance for a UK company called The Literary Consultancy who provide a service very similar to the one you describe. Don't steal their name by accident!
posted by him at 2:58 PM on July 22, 2010

I love this question - my partner works in a similar field.

I'd go with:

Rising Action Ltd.
posted by generichuman at 3:58 PM on July 22, 2010

The Better Self Company
posted by ouke at 4:47 PM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: I considered Big Picture Editing as one of the self explanatory names in my initial round, but it leans too much toward film, photo or screenwriting (as him suggests). Since many writers are sensitive when it comes to critique, "Your Book, Only Better" is out, though it aims in the right direction.

Consultant/consultancy is a good idea. I'll throw that in the mix. So far generichuman's "Rising Action" gets close to something "bigger" than grammar and spelling, and has an element of being a secret handshake with writers.
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 4:52 PM on July 22, 2010

I'm (almost) in the market for someone with your expertise. I'd be drawn by something dramatic, like Climax Editing Services -- double entendre and all.

Rising Action Ltd is also okay, but Big Picture does not grab me.

(I guess it's a good sign I know exactly what you're talking about.)
posted by rw at 5:34 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: Inside Story
Story Line
Gentle Reader
Cover to Cover
Between the Lines
Shelf Life
Prose and Cons
Vox Veritas
posted by carmicha at 7:34 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have any good/clever ideas but perhaps you could market yourself more as a "book consultant" to authors and then you can clarify what that means (developmental editing) in your literature. Or something like Author's Best Friend, Inc. Bah, I suck at this stuff :) I'm hoping to do copyediting one day so I can forsee myself asking the same question in a couple years.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:21 PM on July 22, 2010

My experience (as a professional editor who does developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading, among other things) is that authors who want to hire you do not care what your business is called, and only about 25% of them read the literature on the website. As long as you are highly rated on the websites devoted to this kind of thing (like Preditors & Editors) and/or recommended at the various messageboards and other places on the internet where writers congregate, they will e-mail you and ask about your services.

I recommend something like, "[Your name/last name] Editorial Consulting" -- keep it simple. Explain what you do on your website, but don't expect that too many people will actually read it. And have on hand the names of several professional copyeditors/book polishers who take on private clients to give to the people who are looking for that -- being able to refer them elsewhere means they will probably recommend you to their friends who are looking for what you do. (I know that sounds backward, but it works!)
posted by shamash at 8:56 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

My addition = 30,000 Foot Editors. It's funny, and gets the point across too (you're only concerned with the "30,000 foot view" of a book, the big picture stuff).
posted by smistephen at 6:04 AM on July 23, 2010

Prose and Cons (by carmicha)
I like this one.

And if you go with the 30,000 foot idea...I always heard it as 50,000. You might want to check which one is more common usage.
posted by CathyG at 8:39 AM on July 23, 2010

I'd like to put in a vote for "Inside Story," as suggested above. It has a double meaning without being a groaner, it makes clear that you're concerned with structure and narratology rather than minutiae and it subtly suggests the kind of behind-the-scenes, backdoor-to-the-industry knowledge that many of your clients secretly crave.

In my experience, no matter how much aspiring authors tell you that they just want advice, feedback, guidance etc., most of them are secretly hoping to be told that their work is already perfect and here's a super-secret hotline to the best agents in the business that will allow you to shortcut the slushpile. It's no bad thing to market yourself with a subtle suggestion that this might, in fact, be the case.
posted by him at 9:00 AM on July 23, 2010

My suggestion: Speaking Volumes, I Speak Volumes, We Speak Volumes, or some variant thereof.

It gets to many points while being clever and memorable:

1. You're a book editor; you translate their writing into a format that can be sold to a publisher or distributor.

2. Not tied to a literary genre or traditional format (can be audiobooks, e-books, print, etc.).

3. There's a band that uses one variation of the suggested names, but nothing with "I Speak Volumes" specifically.

4. Implies levels of experience as well as ambition, which could conceivably come with time if the business is successful.

5. None of the verbiage carries the actual implication of you being a proofer, copy editor, or publisher yourself - using words like editor, etc. are dangerous and could pigeonhole you. By being purposefully vague, you have the chance to expand the business or add employees with different skill sets as you see fit.

Consulting and critique are two implication-heavy words, and rightly so. The former is too businessy, in my opinion, and smells like an MBA's behind it, trying to force money to squirt out when other people's ideas get squeezed hard enough.

Critique is something that lit-crit people are used to hearing and understand that getting feedback is essential before final drafts get sent around for vetting, but there are some fledgling writers who won't understand it's necessary and assume you write book reviews for a site or magazine or something. That's my two cents.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:28 PM on July 23, 2010

Man, on point 1 I shouldn't have written "book editor." My point was that your business would be naturally associated with the written word but that the delivery format wasn't necessarily print-based.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:30 PM on July 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - this knocked some really good ideas loose! carmicha got closest to what I was looking for. And I appreciate the advice shamash. I get where you're coming from but my last name is too easy to forget/transpose (think Woldstone -- Woodstone? Woodstun? Wordstun?) and I do want something memorable. Point taken about having good recommendations and not just a good website. I'll put my site in my profile once I finalize it.
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 8:42 AM on July 24, 2010

« Older Can I move a modded xbox classic's HD to another...   |   Turtles all the way down Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.