Journey

2008 – 2010

Writing and authoring

Around this time Alex started reading books from his local library and shortly after began writing his own science fiction story about an ‘antpod’ with a different neurological condition among a race of ‘antpods’ on a desert planet – something that chimed with his feeling of detachment from society after leaving university, and his feeling of uniqueness at discovering that his life experiences were due to autism (known as Asperger Syndrome back then).

Proofreading and copy editing

Alex started learning proofreading in 2008, and he completed the Publishing Training Centre’s Basic Proofreading course in 2010. It taught him much about how traditionally published books were proofread and where the profession came from. What appealed to him in proofreading was the freedom to work on his own, and at his own pace, and this hasn’t changed.

2010 – 2014

Writing and authoring

Alex started writing in 2009/2010, and for a few years starting a proofreading business was on hold while he wrote full-length science fiction and fantasy stories. He approached literary agents and publishers with submissions in the hope they’d publish either his science fiction novel, The Antpod Faction, or his fantasy novel, Roc Isle: The Descent. Unfortunately, getting accepted for publishing was much harder than he first anticipated, and he stopped to assimilate the feedback he’d had on his writing, although he had lingering thoughts that while many writers were forming a slush pile at agents’ houses some were able to bypass the system and get published through word of mouth. The latter did not give him confidence he had good chances.

After a friend sent Alex links to self-publish his own books, Alex decided to pursue this route in the belief that if readers saw his books on a platform then he’d at least have a fair shot at having his books read. He published his first book, The Antpod Faction, in November 2012, and his book was featured on author Charlie Holmberg’s blog as a guest post as a digital ‘launch’.

The launch of his paperback book was at Leeds Steampunk Market in March 2013. Alex had a lot of initial luck with sales at events and manned over fifteen stalls with his family at science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk events. However, he laboured under the mistaken belief that the more books he published the more sales he was likely to get and this didn’t translate in the way he’d hoped.

Books published:

  • The Antpod Faction by Alex James
  • Roc Isle: The Descent by Alex James
  • Roc Isle: Tempest by Alex James

Courses:

  • Creative Writing Course at The Bowery Café

Proofreading and copy editing

His background as an indie science fiction and fantasy author from 2012 taught him how to write, self-edit, format, and publish to ultimately prepare a book for publishing. He learnt best practices and how to work in MS Word. From 2014 his skills and experience as an indie author led to proofreading and copy editing the stories of friends and author contacts for experience, helping him gain confidence carrying out the work and dealing with clients.

2015

Writing and authoring

Early on in 2015 he published his fourth novel, another science fiction story. He toned down his marketing efforts for his books after he felt the initial three-year buzz had dwindled, and stopped booking stalls at events and conventions, instead focusing on his proofreading and copy editing business.

Books published:

  • Marcellus: The Mantle by Alex James

Proofreading and copy editing

In 2015 he took further qualifications in both copy editing and proofreading by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (now CIEP), which had sections relevant to working on projects online and for individual authors rather than just on paper and with publishers.

Courses:

  • Proofreading Progress by SfEP (now CIEP)
  • Introduction to Copy Editing by SfEP (now CIEP)
2016

Writing and authoring

Alex spent more time on writing itself, hoping to improve his stories, and therefore his book reviews, for the future. He asked friends to provide feedback on samples of his new stories to help him.

Throughout 2016 he researched author and editing best practice to decide on next steps: a new system of publishing to choose a better method of reaching his author goals and aspirations. He learnt from websites such as the Alliance of Independent Authors that a quality book and a professional approach to writing and publishing were essential. Doing his best on his own terms wasn’t good enough. He decided that where work was concerned he could help best by copy editing and proofreading authors’ stories on their path to publishing.

Alex visited the Lighthouse School for students with autism spectrum conditions to speak about his writing, answer questions, and hopefully inspire a new generation of writers.

Proofreading and copy editing

Alex took a course in fiction editing, which was the next logical step, which helped him become familiar with what was expected in fiction editing, rather than proofreading and copy editing in general. It allowed him to revamp his website and branding, and to start a blog where he could post his book reviews that were mostly science fiction and fantasy. In addition to this he posted resources to help inform writers about his services.

As an author he learnt some formatting and editing tools before taking formal qualifications, and he later researched best practice for writing and publishing books, and he believes this gave him an advantage before he took copy editing and proofreading qualifications. Over time he became aware that he found preparing a book for publishing immediately applicable to his particular set of skills, rather than reaching out to readers as an author, which made him respect the creativity authors have in both writing and promoting.

Alex had been making use of two websites since 2014: www.alexjamesnovels.com and www.alexjameseditor(dot)co(dot)uk.

It was around this time that he began to recognise the benefit of proofreading and copy editing as a series of revisions, tools, and techniques for improving quality for writers and readers before publishing.

2017

Writing and authoring

Courses:

  • Northern Short Story Festival

Proofreading and copy editing

In 2017 Alex became an entry-level member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (now CIEP) and he attended local group meetings regularly.

Courses:

  • Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme
  • Introduction to Fiction Editing by SfEP (now CIEP)
2018

Writing and authoring

Courses:

  • Specialist Autism Services – Autism Gifts

Proofreading and copy editing

Alex started the beginning of the year learning about MS Word macros that could help him edit his own writing and speed up processes in editing and proofreading.

From April 2018 he developed his blog and resources to specifically help writers, autistic and non-autistic, and he wrote about a range of other topics about freelance life, creativity, and being an author. This accompanied his copy editing and proofreading 2016 posts. He uploaded a few editing examples of his published book The Antpod Faction that he later took down because he wanted different examples on his website.

From Summer 2018, with support, he made contact with a number of publishing professionals, through various means.

Courses:

  • Prince’s Trust Level 1 Award in Exploring Enterprise

Alex visited the Lighthouse School for students with autism spectrum conditions to speak about his writing, answer questions, and hopefully inspire a new generation of writers.

2019

Writing and authoring

Alex hired a developmental editor for the first time, to help him work on his rewrite of The Antpod Faction.

Proofreading and copy editing

New editing examples were created and posted to his editing website, alexjameseditor(dot)co(dot)uk; the first were called Human Dystopia. This was because Alex had sought a means to demonstrate his editing without being gung-ho about offering samples to writers who got in touch.

Alex decided to be a science fiction and fantasy fiction specialist – it made sense in hindsight – and he updated his about page to reflect this.

2020

Proofreading and copy editing

Alex upgraded to an intermediate member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).

Later in the year he attended the first CIEP conference, which was online due to coronavirus restrictions.

Courses:

  • Word for Practical Editing by CIEP
2021

Writing and authoring

Alex hired a copy editor and line editor for the first time, to help him work on his new fantasy story that had the provisional title ‘Aerol: Mega-Fortress’.

Proofreading and copy editing

Alex decided to move his editing website, alexjameseditor(dot)co(dot)uk to his former author website, alexjamesnovels.com, to benefit from the advantages of both and to save costs.

Courses:

  • Edit a Memoir by Tanya Gold