Nonfiction Author, Ethical Leadership Book
How Values-Based Leaders Acquire and Preserve Their Credibility
Why George Brymer Worked with Blue Horizon:
After working as a leader in a Fortune 500 bank for nearly two decades, I left corporate America to chase my entrepreneurial dream. I wanted to use the lessons I’d learned — during my years of working in the trenches at a large company — to help businesspeople become good, if not great, leaders.
My first step was to create a three-day training program called The Leading from the Heart Workshop® to teach values-based leadership to managers at all levels — everyone from brand-new supervisors to seasoned bureaucrats. I structured the workshop around six standards critical to establishing and maintaining leadership credibility, and I called those principles “vital integrities.” The workshop was an immediate success, and I’ve trained hundreds of leaders from both major corporations and small nonprofit organizations since its debut.
But I wanted to give workshop participants a guide they could refer to long after the seminar ended, and decided to pursue another lifelong dream and write a book. I am not, however, a trained writer. And as I neared completion of my manuscript’s first draft, I was uncertain about the proper use of certain words, grammatical constructions, and even punctuation. I learned that the website of The Chicago Manual of Style had a question and answer section in which CMS editors addressed commonly posed style questions and writing dilemmas. So I used the Q&A section as a guide to editing my work. I read each question and answer, then scanned my manuscript to be sure I had used proper editorial style. Although this was a time-consuming process, it was quite educational.
Originally, I intended to seek a traditional publisher for my book. But after speaking with other first-time authors, and hearing about multiple-year waits for publication, unpaid royalties, and countless other horrors, I decided to self-publish. Another author recommended Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual, a step-by-step guide to publishing and promoting books, and I was off and running. Having decided to self-publish, I scoured my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and taught myself how to lay out my book. Following CMS guidelines, I set up the complete layout, from title page, to table of contents, to endnotes.
To ensure that my book had a professional look, I hired a graphic artist to design the dust jacket. The designer submitted several layouts, and I took them to area bookstores to ask store managers which one would draw the most attention on their shelves. Their choice was always the same, and the jacket, I think, is an eye-catcher. After finishing my book, I coaxed a few trusted friends into reading the manuscript, hoping they’d spot spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes in its pages. My amateur proofreaders all said they liked my material, but politely added that following the book’s “train of thought” was difficult. I wasn’t sure what they meant, but realized I needed professional help to improve my book’s readability.
What George Brymer’s Editorial Needs Actually Were:
What struck me about George’s manuscript presentation was the fact that he had really “done his homework.” He’d used The Chicago Manual of Style to produce a text that required very little basic editing (his endnotes, for instance, were practically perfect). And he’d read the “Bible” of self-publishing, Dan Poynter’s book.
The one area where his manuscript needed some attention was in creating clear, reader-friendly transitions between information segments — whether paragraphs, sentences, or even thoughts. It was as if the loose threads holding his book together needed to be tightened, then woven into a seamless fabric of meaning.
But creating transitions, or “connecting the dots,” is an aspect of writing that most authors find strenuous, at best. Often, as writers, we are so close to our material that we think we’ve said more than we actually have. Being able to see what’s actually on the page, as opposed to what we had in mind when we wrote that page, requires a bit of objective distance — or other readers who can tell us what’s missing.
Once George agreed that installing transitions, tightening threads, and creating smooth bridges for readers was the solution, he was a delight to work with: always willing to make changes to benefit his book, and asking well-thought-out questions in order to understand the rationale behind major editing choices.
The Editorial End Result:
I’d never worked with an editor before and was unfamiliar with the terminology, so I contacted Laurel for copyediting. But after reading the introductory chapters of my book, she explained that what I really needed was a “substantive edit.” In her manuscript evaluation, she clarified why my friends were struggling to locate the flow of ideas within my book: she pointed out the need for better transitions between paragraphs — and even between sentences within paragraphs — and she drew attention to weak connections between some of my material and the points I was trying to make.
Laurel’s suggestions for improving the lead-ins, structural framework, and overall organization of my writing helped me fill the “communication gaps” in my manuscript. Thanks to her expert guidance, I produced a polished book that readers regularly describe as easy to follow.
George Brymer’s Book in the World:
Several newspapers in Toledo, Ohio have reviewed George’s book, and he’s been a guest on a local morning talk show. Nationally, HR Magazine reviewed Vital Integrities in its December, 2005 issue, noting that the book was “raising leaders’ awareness about their actions.” Midwest Book Review gave Brymer’s work five stars in January of 2006, dubbing it a “highly recommended” business book.
“Writing Vital Integrities,” says George, “has helped me become a widely recognized expert in the field of leadership development. As a published author, I’m now in greater demand as a public speaker and audience members eagerly purchase the book after my presentation. Best of all, Vital Integrities is a valuable takeaway for participants of my leadership workshops. It helps them recall the lessons they learned long after the workshop ends.”
George is now planning his next book project, the working title for which is: Impact: How to Add Substance to Your Leadership Voice.
“Becoming an author,” he says, “is a profoundly meaningful way of making an impact — wherever you choose to make your voice heard in the world, using the lessons of your life.”