Saturday, March 23, 2019


Career publishing professional and longtime independent publishing-services provider M. Jane Ross offers a unique menu of services with the self-publishing author foremost in mind, and especially authors of memoir and family history. From self-publishers interested in understanding the new rules of publishing to lifewriters looking for ways to go deeper in their writing, her website and blog offers insights, tips and resources.

To learn how I can help you turn your manuscript into a published book, visit the Services page to read about my publishing services business, MJR Publishing Services. I provide: editing; publishing assistance for self-publishers, businesses and non-profits; author coaching; writing workshops; and writing group facilitation. I work in a variety of genres including memoir, biography, general nonfiction, and scientific and technical.

janeross08r1Jane’s experience as a career publishing professional and longtime independent publishing-services provider is the springboard for articles and reflections on

  • What writers (and especially lifewriters, those writing personal story, memoir, personal essays) need to know about publishing,
  • The writing life and how to delve deeper into the real story you have to tell,
  • The work of an editor,
  • What’s happening in the world of publishing during this period of sea-change for the industry,

as well as more general reflections on the reading, language and the mind, story, and the book.

Bearing Witness to Publishing Industry History

The year the Apple Macintosh was released (1984) was the year I began working in publishing as a recent college graduate. Working in London in the early 1980s for scientific publisher Chapman and Hall, my first job as a copyeditor saw me marking typewritten manuscripts of mathematics, computer science and business books with a red pen. Old school and the end of an era.JaneinLondonR3

As a commissioning editor for Chapman and Hall in 1985, I signed up the first computer book in their catalog to come with a floppy disk—groundbreaking stuff.

By 1987, the publisher I worked for was experimenting for the first time with laying out books in-house using Pagemaker on a Mac.

Fast-forward to 1996. With my daughter starting elementary school, I went back to school myself, signing up for classes in HTML, web design, and Photoshop at Austin Community College. This was cutting edge stuff at the time and it seemed to me these technologies had the potential to transform how writers reached their audience. I could not have imagined how or what that transformation would look like when it finally happened!

I launched my freelance editing business in 1996. In the early days of the web, my services included web design. But as the parameters of web design became both more technical and more sophisticated in terms of graphic design values, I chose to return to my roots and specialize instead in editorial, focusing on print production and publication.

In the mid 2000s, I followed the growth of print-on-demand very closely and oversaw production of print-on-demand publications for a non-profit organization.

And here we are in 2009. The crash of 2008 dealt a crushing blow to the old models of print publishing and gave a huge boost to digital and online publishers.

A vibrant conversation is going on (largely online) about digital publishing and the future of the book and I’m excited to be a part of that conversation. I worry that the discussion of the formats and technical issues has pushed to the sidelines the issues of the role and meaning of reading and writing in our culture. So part of my contribution will be to raise those issues in the conversation.

I invite you to participate in this conversation by posting comments.

My Work As an Advocate for Lifewriters

I have had the great pleasure to be a writing-group facilitator for six-plus years for a group of senior women lifewriters. Originally formed under the umbrella of the non-profit Story Circle Network (SCN), which encourages women to write about their lives, my writing group has gone on to privately publish (through PoD publisher its own anthology and three members of this group have successfully self-published their memoirs.writingcircle1

I have presented at SCN’s writing workshops and three conferences. I was the Editor in Chief of the Story Circle Journal, SCN’s quarterly newsletter, for 4 years, and editor and publisher of several SCN anthologies.

My involvement with women who write about their lives for their families or for the general public has allowed me to witness the extraordinary transformative experience of sharing personal stories.