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The heart of the editorial challenge….

Perhaps I’m just a grump, but one of the things that irritates me, is when I pick up an edited book, look through the contents list and wonder what their thinking was when they brought these particular topics together. The grumpiness continues when I read one chapter, enjoy it, then move to the next one and it feels like I picked up a different book.

I understand now that this reflects that central challenge facing an editor – how do you bring together a collection of voices into a coherent whole?

I learned many years ago in my corporate life, that while in the main I enjoy spontaneity and am an emergent thinker… when faced with something new, paradoxically, I welcome structure. Some sort of scaffolding to give all the newness some kind of shape.

My current book is organized into ten philosophical chapters, working with the idea of scaffolding, and wanting to provide the reader with a sense of continuity, each chapter has been structured using these six questions:

1. How is this philosophy described?
2. What are the underpinning principles / beliefs of this philosophy?
3. What is the role of the coach supervisor in the context of this philosophy?
4. How would you prepare yourself to work congruently with this approach?
5. How might this way of working be particularly useful to the supervisee?
6. What else might the reader need to consider before using the techniques that follow?

My hope is that this guides the reader from a big picture perspective right through to helping them think though how they could personally work in this way.
This scaffolding principle is repeated in the way in which each of the 101 techniques are presented. To help provide a sense of alignment across each chapter, each technique has been structured using these six questions:

1. When is this used?
2. What is the technique?
3. How to work with the technique…
4. What else might need attention?
5. A word of caution (ie. When not to use this technique)
6. What other uses are there for this technique? (including coaching clients)

Again, my hope is that these questions accelerate the reader’s understanding of how the ‘technique’ will work in practice.
Working with the contributors was a colourful experience, for some these headings helped them structure their work quite naturally and for some we had to literally shoe-horn them into these frameworks! Layered on top of this we were constrained by word count from the publisher – and I quickly realised that if I went over by 10 words on each of the techniques … suddenly I would be 1000 words over in total!

It took many hours, much tolerance and a healthy dose of flexibility to create the final volume. I hope the structure of the book provides a sense of rhythm for the reader, with each piece showcasing the distinctive voice of each individual contributor. I’m quite delighted with what we achieved – but more importantly I would like to know what do you, the reader, think?!?
I’d love to hear your experience of reading this edited book… please do join in the discussion through our LinkedIn book club –

Posted by Greenfields Consultancy / Posted on 29 Jun
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