Today we’d like to introduce you to Lynette M. Smith.
Lynette, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been self-employed through most of my adult career, and my career focus has always related to words. Prior to my current business, I owned a word-processing and editing business for sixteen years. Then for five years I directed a business-support-services trade association, where I was also sole editor of a 16-page monthly journal and six trade manuals.
In 2004, I established All My Best, initially as a copyediting service for final drafts of marketing collateral, business communications, résumés, master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, and book manuscripts. Seven years later, I added another service: on-screen (digital) proofreading of PDF book layouts, where I use Adobe Acrobat to flag corrections for the book designer to make.
In 2016, I decided to focus my editing and proofreading efforts exclusively on authors, publishers, and publishing consultants, working on their book manuscripts and book layouts. Within the next few months I completely revised my website, AllMyBest.com, to reflect that focus and to offer helpful tips to visitors.
Back in late 2008, something amazing happened: When our son, Byron, married Rachael on November 22, 2008, instead of buying gifts for their parents to commemorate the occasion, they created lasting memories that touched our hearts. They each wrote a loving letter to their own parents, describing not only their fondest childhood memories but also the values, life lessons, and ideals they would bring to their marriage. At the wedding rehearsal dinner, the two of them formally presented these letters in beautiful frames to my husband and me, and to Rachael’s parents. Everyone was deeply moved, and we will always treasure these loving mementos—so much more meaningful than a purchased gift could ever be. This made me realize that letter writing is fast becoming a lost art, yet thoughtfully written letters mean so much to those who receive them.
Their heartfelt gesture moved me to publish, a year later, four Good Ways to Write a Treasured Letter tips booklets showing brides, grooms, and their parents how to write heartfelt letters of appreciation to one another to commemorate the marriage. Three years later, in 2012, I published the award-winning comprehensive reference book, How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special. Since then I’ve also published six fully self-contained How to Write a Heartfelt Letter of Appreciation themed guides based on the book, and I’ve created a separate website, GoodWaysToWrite.com, for the indie-publishing branch of All My Best.
In 2016, I added my award-winning 40-page desk reference to this selection and gave it what I laughingly call the world’s most boring title: 80 Common Layout Errors to Flag When Proofreading Book Interiors. Despite that title—or maybe because of it—it’s been a popular seller on Amazon and in person, as it helps authors, proofreaders, copyeditors, and graphic designers.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I had run businesses before in which I marketed services, did the bookkeeping, and maintained good client relationships, so that part came easy for All My Best. I knew how to find copyediting and proofreading clients: Attend meetings of publishers and writers, joining trade organizations that published online member directories, and cultivate word-of-mouth referrals by offering quality service and treating clients with respect.
However, I’d never been in the indie-publishing business, and many lessons have been learned along the way. While the concept of tips booklets is a good one in terms of customizing for advertising premiums and other bulk purchases, I don’t have time to personally locate and pitch to prospective bulk buyers for either my four tips booklets or my six themed guides, so I’ve delegated that task to a specialist who produces a bulk-purchasing book catalog; he reminds me, “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” I’m still running the marathon as I await my first bulk-sale contract.
On the other hand, my comprehensive reference book on letter writing has been a steady seller, thanks to regular publicity from guest blogs, articles, podcasts, and radio interviews. I pay a nominal monthly fee for a profile-page listing with a gig-booking service, so interested interviewers/publishers invite me to be a guest. This is a great time saver, vs. having to chase prospects and beg for publicity. My 80 Common Layout Errors handbook also sells steadily, in both print and eBook.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the All My Best story. Tell us more about the business.
I offer final-draft manuscript scrubbing (aka basic formatting) and copyediting of Microsoft Word manuscripts, as well as digital proofreading of PDF book layouts.
I always “scrub” (basic-format) manuscripts first, to assure consistency in line spacing, font usage, and subheading treatment, as well as proper use of tabs, block indents, first-line paragraph indents, etc. This process allows me to copyedit without distraction, so I stay focused and do a better job.
In copyediting, I correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation; recast sentences for greater clarity; and refine wording to assure a better reading experience—all without changing the client’s unique writing style.
Proofreading a PDF book layout is the third service I offer. This activity occurs after a client’s book layout professional (graphic designer who specializes in books) has produced the first digital PDF “proof copy” for approval to print. Proofreading (“reading the proof”) is a two-stage process.
In the first stage, I study (but do not read) the two-page spreads (the way the book would look if it were open) and flag layout errors such as widows and orphans (when only the first or last line of a paragraph appears at the top or bottom of a page), inconsistent line spacing or fonts, inconsistent running heads, or lines of full-justified text that are too “stretched out.”
In the second stage, I return to the beginning of the book, read it carefully, and detect and flag content errors—errors that either survived the editing stage or were accidentally introduced during final editing, such as two periods at the end of a sentence or words repeated in succession within a sentence, such as “the the.” This is also the stage in which I find and flag end-of-line hyphenations in which the hyphen is not placed correctly between syllables. Egregious grammar errors can also be corrected at this stage, if necessary, but this is not the appropriate time to make major rewrites.
I’m known for my attention to detail, for treating clients and their materials with respect, and for keeping promises. I am the author’s advocate. Authors like the facts that I’m careful not to “walk all over” their writing style and that I strive to make their writing appropriate for their intended reading audience. “All My Best” is not only my business name; it’s what I deliver.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I’ve never even thought about it. Circumstances simply unfold as they will, and I cope with them. Of course, someone once said that lucky people tend to be hard workers. I do work hard, so I expect better outcomes.
- The comprehensive reference book, How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure, is $19.99 in print and $9.99 in eBook; see http://goodwaystowrite.com/index.php/for-letter-writers/comprehensive-reference-book. The desktop handbook, 80 Common Layout Errors to Flag, is $5.99 in print and $4.99 in eBook; see http://goodwaystowrite.com/index.php/for-authors-and-or-editors/layout-proofreading-handbook. Reduced pricing is available directly from me for bulk print orders of five or more of the same item.
- Address: All My Best
5852 Oak Meadow Drive
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
- Website: AllMyBest.com and GoodWaysToWrite.com
- Phone: 714-777-1238
- Email: Lynette@allmybest.com (copyediting/proofreading) and Lynette@goodwaystowrite.com (indie-publishing)
Image Credit for Final Photo: