Rebecca Wood – Development Editor and Author Coach

What is your specialism within book publishing? 

I’m a development editor and author coach, specialising in helping independent authors to overcome their barriers to success. I work with fiction and non-fiction, and in my almost 20 years in the publishing industry have worked in many specialist subject areas. As a coach, I’m more focused on the author than the writing, but it does help to have experience in the subject area too.


Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?

I help independent authors to overcome their barriers to success.


What led you to go freelance? 

I had always wanted to be location independent. As an in-house editor I worked frequently with freelance writers and editors living in exciting far-flung places, or just living their best life out in rural France. I decided that I wanted to do the same, and in 2012 I left full-time employment and have been freelance ever since.


Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix? 

It’s a mix. I’m a Partner Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and I contribute regularly to their weekly Twitter chat. I was a guest on there back in May, and it was an excellent opportunity to share with indies what working with an author coach entails. However, I did work in-house for publishers for 12 years, and I use that experience to support publishers too. That’s the wonderful part of being freelance – I can work with anyone who needs me.


What’s the best part of doing what you do?

Personally, the best part of doing what I do is that I get to live and work in rural Somerset with my partner, and the most traffic I encounter in a day is when horses go by our kitchen window. I get to travel too. I spend my summers driving around Europe in our converted van, editing in the back while seeing the world. When I’m away I tweet with the hashtag #editorinthewild.

Professionally, the best part of doing what I do is that I get to help authors with their writing journey. I get such a kick out of supporting them, be that with their story, their writing craft, or their motivation to write.


What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey? 

So much! Just this month I had to go back through all of my records – right back to my first freelancing gig in 2005 – and it was enlightening to read through my emails with those early clients. In the beginning I didn’t use contracts, or take a deposit, and I hadn’t learned when or how to cut bait with a difficult client. I learned the hard way how to run a business.


How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually? 

So many! I love to collect old, out of print and obscure books. My preference is for non-fiction and I have bookcases full of vintage craft books and cook books.


Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

Physical books, hands down. I love the way they look and feel, and especially with old books how they reflect their previous owners. I have one cook book that I bought when I moved to Somerset that falls open on a single recipe. The page is stained and dog-eared, and I like to imagine that it was used by someone who loved baking as they made Somerset apple cake for their grandkids. There’s so much history there. You don’t get that with an ebook.


Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing? 

When you’re just starting out, if you ever get the opportunity to learn from a more experienced mentor grab it with both hands because there is so much to learn about freelancing that you won’t find in any books.


What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book? 

I love The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch. It’s so quirky and eccentric. I also love the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

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