Preserving brand voices in a multi-authored book

30th August 2012 | Posted in Editing

A few months ago, I edited an e-book bringing together the knowledge and skills of networking colleagues to give advice to anyone setting up a small business. Our contributors could talk from experience and training about finance, marketing, creating content, time management and how to still take time for yourself as an entrepreneur.

In a past life I’ve subbed many an article for the journal that I edited for Butterworth Scientific, and plenty of multi-author books for non-fiction publishers. I’m trained and practised. I know about not just making sure that the grammar and language work, but also that there is some consistency in tone. That was always important in co-authored books. This wasn’t the place to let too much of the individual author’s personality shine through.

This book was different though. We’re talking about entrepreneurs for whom their style is part of their brand.

When I’m copywriting for any company, I don’t insist on a regulation tone. I talk to my clients about how they talk to their customers and reflect that in their content.

So in this book we have a dozen authors, all with different styles that are part of the way they project their business. How do you balance the highly professional tone you need when you’re talking about tax affairs with the excitement of a leap into the unknown as you leave the corporate world? Does the personal approach of a life coach work well beside tips on marketing and creating web sites?  Should there be winners and losers?

The answer was to forget about sweating about consistency of tone. Let everyone speak in the way that’s right for their brand, and I would focus on supporting them if they were lacking in confidence, and then making sure the writing let the message through clearly. That meant making each piece flow smoothly and logically, taking out repetition, and working to a common plan for structure – headings, subheadings and captions.

It’s a light touch copy-editing job, and it certainly doesn’t reflect my style and only my style. I get to exert my writing muscle in the two chapters I’ve contributed and the top and tailing bits – preface, biographies and contents page.

If you’d like to see the result, just mail me at [email protected] for a copy of our book. It is bursting with great advice for entrepreneurs.

If you liked this article, you may like to read We’re making ourselves an e-book and Lessons in creating e-books

You can also download my own ebook on creating content that sells and sign up to our newsletter giving news and tips on effective copywriting.

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