Editorial case study: Big Enough

When leading entrepreneur Lee LeFever set out to write his second book, it made sense to appeal to the business readership he had captured with his first book, The Art of Explanation. Lee and his wife and business partner, Sachi LeFever, are best known for their business Common Craft, one of the earliest e-commerce companies.

The trouble was that the first draft Lee submitted, while lively and moving, wouldn’t reach that audience. Lee wasn’t yet known for his personal writing about his travels or his beloved Pacific Northwest lifestyle. It would be difficult to pivot without first building that base.

So, through our work together, we decided to focus on the business angle over the personal story. Lee didn’t throw out the personal material, but repurposed it (and then some!) in his wonderful newsletter, Ready for Rain, which is steadily building an audience. In the newsletter, Lee shares his personal perspectives about life on Orcas Island in Washington, as well as his passion for homebuilding—check out Build Livable for more info on building your own home.

Over regular Zoom calls, we worked out the components of this new book (developmental editing: nailing the idea). Then Lee got to work. He quickly turned in a new manuscript that told Common Craft’s story—which was of course his story, too, but would appeal more to his ready-made audience.

Then, over several months, I edited the manuscript, tightening and honing the idea through written feedback, in-text edits, and more Zoom calls (substantive editing: shaping the manuscript). Gradually we moved toward a finished draft.

A theme emerged—how to build a lightweight business that supports a life you love—and that inspired a title: Big Enough. The title then dictated the length of the book (just long enough, which turned out to be 176 pages) and the adorable French bulldog on the cover.

Along the way, I helped write the descriptive copy and position the book for the marketplace. I also supported Lee with his endorsement strategy, and he secured blurbs from Seth Godin, Austin Kleon, Jason Kottke, and Paul Jarvis.

The result was a book that landed perfectly with its target audience, and that’s still going strong almost two years from initial on-sale. Plus, Lee and I had a great time in the process!

I am now taking on editing clients. Please check out my services and the range of my experience, and be in touch for a free 15-minute discovery call. I’d love to hear about your project.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: