K. Donnelly Communications—Rebooted

As of 1st February, I am officially fully retired from my post as Senior Lecturer in the Business School and School of Media in Birmingham [UK] City University.

However, I prefer to define it as a return to my free-lancing life—now known as the ‘gig’ economy—with the US Social Security Administration as my most lucrative client. And a return to BCU as a Visiting Lecturer in March.

So, as my friend Maura often posts, What have you got for me Universe?! I’m available!

Need some marketing advice on your next project? [Buy me lunch.]

Need someone to sit in your house and wait for the delivery guy? [Do you have cable?]

Need some copyediting or proofreading? #yetanotherreason #whyyouneedacopyeditor

Need a speaker for your group about my fascinating writers, and the times and places in which they lived? www.suchfriends.wordpress.com.

Better yet, need a personal tour guide to the city homes and country homes where they ‘hung out’ together—Ireland, England, France, America?

Or do you need to trace your own Irish roots and then drive around with a local trying to meet them? Have I got a tour guide for you—right Tony Dixon?

Maybe you need someone to teach in exotic locales. Like…Pittsburgh!

Or recruit students from around the globe?

Or another creative activity that K. Donnelly Communications hasn’t even thought of yet?

I’m available!

And at reasonable rates.

We can provide samples and estimates up front, as well as glowing references. Email me at kdonnellycom@aol.com, or post a comment below.

And speaking of editors…

…My new book, Manager as Muse: Maxwell Perkins’ Work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is about legendary Scribner’s editor Max Perkins and how he motivated his writers to produce classic novels in the 1920s and 30s.

The dirty little secret is—he was a terrible copy editor. As bad a speller as Fitzgerald, his letters are riddled with mistakes. Unfortunately, this also happened with the first edition of the books he worked on with his writers. Sometimes he was in such a rush he would try to edit and proofread himself, keeping the galleys away from the Scribner staff. Bad idea.

The top Manhattan columnist of the day, FPA of the Algonquin Round Table, made the search for mistakes in Fitzgerald’s first novel, The Far Side of Paradise, into a parlour game among New Yorkers.

If you want to read more stories about Perkins and his writers, you can find information about the book on my blog, Such Friends [www.suchfriends.wordpress.com], and buy it at either Amazon.com in the US and Amazon.co.uk in the UK.

And if you want a copy editor, drop me an email at kdonnellycom@aol.com!

Manager as Muse by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly
Manager as Muse by Kathleen Dixon Donnelly



The Creativity of Non-Fiction

My fellow blogger Liz Broomfield, who publishes helpful books for small business owners and the self-employed, has been running a series on ‘Fiction, Non-fiction and Creativity.’ She did an informal survey of some writers, asking some really interesting questions, and now she’s posted my answers.

As you might guess, I am a big fan of the creative possibilities of non-fiction:


Another reason to hire a copy editor…

‘When you encounter a truly great copy editor, they are worth their weight in gold. They were, and are, a rarity.’

                             –Carmen Callil, author, founder of Virago and former publisher of Chatto & Windus.

 And a truly great copy editor would have changed that quote to ‘he is worth his weight…’

Reading through some old copies of the Guardian [don’t ask], I came across an article, ‘The Corrections,’ by Alex Clark [http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/feb/11/lost-art-editing-books-publishing].

Clark takes as her starting point the scandalous version of Jonathan Franzen’s novel, Freedom, which was published with so many typos he insisted that it be pulled from the bookstores and fixed. And this came from a mainstream publisher, in both the US and the UK.

Of course, this is not the first case of a major publishing house being less than obsessive in the copy editing and proofreading department. When Scribner’s published F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel, The Far Side of Paradise, in 1920, his editor Maxwell Perkins was in such a hurry to get the book out, the first edition was riddled with errors. Perkins was legendary as an editor who could find and nurture talent. But he was an even worse speller than Fitzgerald—who later recommended to Scribner’s a writer he heard about in Paris:

‘Hemmingway. He’s the real thing.’

Typos aside, Clark’s article makes some interesting points about the overall ‘decline in editing’ throughout the publishing industry. And she is talking about mainstream corporate publishers who should know better. Novelist Blake Morrison is quoted as saying,

‘There are still some brilliant editors in publishing today. But it’s harder for them to have the autonomy that, say, Maxwell Perkins enjoyed when taking on Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, let alone to spend the acres of time he did improving typescripts. The rise of marketing departments is often blamed for this…What has changed is that editors are no longer the people expected to identify and nurture a young talent. That role has passed to agents and, before them, to the creative writing tutors through whose MA programmes…the majority of today’s new writers emerge.’

NB: Wolfe studied playwrighting at Harvard, but neither Fitzgerald nor Hemingway ever took a writing class.

So what does this mean for those of you self-publishing? If the corporations with all the resources don’t have the budget to spend enough time on manuscripts to polish them, what chance do you have of turning out brilliant, error-free copy on your own?

A few years ago, someone in the publishing industry absolutely winced when I mentioned the self-publishing site Lulu to him.

‘Oh! Awful! I saw a book published there and it was filled with typos and looked terrible!’

I explained to him that any formatting or textual errors wouldn’t be Lulu’s fault. It’s up to you, the author, to create a perfect, error-free manuscript before publishing it on Lulu. And you do all the marketing yourself too!

All of this is designed to convince you that, whenever you are putting your work out there, it is worth the time and money to edit, proofread—twice–and have someone else look at it. Even if it’s just a blog post—run it by someone who knows his or her grammar. Choose somebody who went to Catholic school–Those kids really know how to spell…

And if you are going to invest in self-publishing, or putting up a website, or promoting your latest project, hire a professional.

If you would like to know more about Maxwell Perkins and his work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, here is a suggested reading list:  http://suchfriends.wordpress.com/the-american-ex-patriates-in-paris/such-friends-reading-and-viewing-lists-f-scott-fitzgerald-his-scribner%E2%80%99s-editor-maxwell-perkins/ from my other blog, Such Friends [www.suchfriends.wordpress.com]

Honey—was that okay? [I always have my husband read through anything I’m going to post…]

Why you need a copy editor…

A debate has been developing among my Facebook friends as to whether anyone needs to be taught spelling and grammar now that we are fully into the age of Spellcheck and Autocorrect.

Thank you Karin Scott for posting the poem below, which I have used in my classes for years. If you want any help finding all the errors in here, or want to take advantage of our lunch offer [see previous post] email me at kdonnellycom@aol.com:

Spell checker

‘I love lunch.’ –Victoria Coren Mitchell

Me too!

As an introductory promotion to those of you who have found our web page, K. Donnelly Communications is reviving its standing offer,

‘I’ll tell you anything for a lunch.’

Need help with your marketing?

Trying to get started on that self-publishing venture?

Just need someone to bounce ideas off of?

Take me to lunch! Happy to listen and give professional advice.

Now, if you want me to actually DO anything—such as research, marketing planning, publicity, copyediting, proofreading, etc.—that’ll cost you. But we can talk.

Let me know by email to kdonnellycom@aol.com what you’re working on.

Our job is to help you be more creative.

Welcome to K. Donnelly Communications!

Back in the early 1980s, in Pittsburgh, PA, I went from free-lancing to running my own company, K. Donnelly Communications, providing marketing and public relations services to arts and health care organizations. Altho I eventually sold the business to a local agency, I kept the name. In the intervening years, I have used the sole proprietorship imprint to publish the series of Gypsy Teacher ‘blooks’ [books of my blogs, available at http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=gypsy+teacher&categoryId=100501%5D, as well as give presentations and publish about the ‘Such Friends’ [www.suchfriends.wordpress.com] whom I have researched.

While still teaching at Birmingham [UK] City University, I am now ‘sliding into home plate,’ as we say in baseball. As part of my ‘phased retirement’ from full-time academia, I am reactivating K. Donnelly Communications to pull together all of the activities I plan to expand: consulting on marketing for small businesses and non-profit organizations, writing, editing, proofreading, and anything needed related to communications and making people more creative.

As a good marketer, my first job is–well, to set up this web page. And now I have to pick a logo. Wordpress won’t let me use different typefaces in this post, but if you send me an email at kdonnellycom@aol.com, I will send you my alternatives and you can help me choose one. In return for your vote before the end of September, I’ll offer you the opportunity to take me to lunch and pick my brain about any of your marketing needs. How’s that for a deal?!

Looking forward to working with you in the future…