I sat nervously at the keyboard, waiting to hit “send” as I practiced some breathing exercises designed to increase my sense of calm. Then, with a steady exhalation of breath and a click of the left mouse button, my manuscript was off for coaching and editing review. I was nervous about how the publisher would receive it. Was my topic good enough? Was I able to convey my intended message to the target audience? And what would people think about me once they read my book?
Typically, I am a confident man. I approach speaking engagements with ease. Whether preaching to a congregation, teaching a class, or delivering a conference lecture, I deliver my message with practiced competence backed by expert knowledge. As someone involved with academics at a high level, I am used to reading, critiquing, and grading research documents from around the world as doctoral students present their final works for graduation consideration. I’ve been that student myself, having written many academic works as part of my education and career.
However, this time it wasn’t about academics—I was sharing my personal fears, failures, and joys as a man walking through the process of adoption. Could I effectively communicate these deeply emotional experiences in a personal, engaging way? The skills I developed over the years to deal with academic research requirements seemed inadequate, and my confidence was low.
I knew my manuscript was not up to even my own standards, let alone that of the publisher, but I lacked the ability to identify the specific improvements necessary to elevate my manuscript to the level I desired. Over the next several days, I felt anxiety when checking my email inbox. I wanted to see the response from the writing coach and editor, but I was also pre-emptively embarrassed for what I perceived as a manuscript lacking some necessary elements to be successful.
This is where Redemption Press and Managing Editor Sandra Byrd came to my rescue.
Sandra’s mail back to me was very encouraging. She understood the purpose of the book, the intended audience, and exactly how to reach that audience as effectively as possible via this written medium. Between emails and Skype conversations, Sandra gently walked me through fundamental structural issues that simply are not a part of academic writing, but they were the missing ingredients in my adoption memoir. Using general coaching guidance paired with line-by-line editing,
Sandra introduced me to a modern style of writing that elevated my manuscript from a clumsy collection of firsthand experiences to a powerful presentation of a central theme. From her first response through to the end, I never felt embarrassed or insufficient in my skills. Rather, she gave me the opportunity to learn and apply added communication strategies that augmented what I already knew. This was not impersonal editing; this was a personal approach that improved my overall abilities to communicate in any environment.
These skills quickly came into use in the corporate world. When faced with contributing to a conference presentation that was informative, but dull, I realized I now had the knowledge necessary to bring about improvement in this space. Even though the context changed from written memoir to a data-driven business recap, I was able to identify the missing ingredients, bring arc, tension, and hooks into the story we were going to share with our business partners.
Redemption Press and Sandra Byrd did wonders for my writing skills, and my book is an exponentially better read than it would have been without their aid. Now, when I look to my email inbox, I no longer have the nagging worry about inadequate writing or being embarrassed by my manuscripts. Instead, I crave the constructive, actionable feedback and look forward to applying it to many areas of my life.
Eric Odell-Hein, President
Columbia Evangelical Seminary
Senior Program Manager for Microsoft