Kristov Atlas, a blockchain security engineer, contacted me in late 2013 as he was writing his book, Anonymous Bitcoin: How to Keep you ฿ All to Yourself. His March 2014 deadline approached and he wanted an editor who could both provide valuable feedback and do the job quickly. He had heard through a mutual acquaintance that I was trained as a copyeditor.
“The book editing process is really boring and tedious for me overall, but if you have a great editor, it’s REALLY neat to see the way she polishes your language. It’s like handing someone a rough hunk of mineral and getting back a crystal egg.” (Kristov Atlas, January 2014)
I had started exploring Bitcoin technology only a couple months prior, so I had no professional experience in the space. I made it clear to Kristov that he would be responsible for the technical integrity of the book, while I would help him with the editorial aspects.
Contrary to the way I would usually edit, which is to work on an entire manuscript in final draft, Kristov wanted to send one chapter at a time as he completed them. I agreed to do the work, but I let him know it would be more difficult to achieve consistency of style if I didn’t have access to the entire book. He decided to take the risk and we got to work.
As with any book copyediting project, I created an editorial style sheet. I informed Kristov of global editing suggestions as I went along and he incorporated many of them into new chapters as he wrote. Likewise, I informed him of issues he might want to go back and edit globally from previously edited chapters. We worked together to decide on consistent spelling and capitalization of the technical language involved.
I alerted him to a couple of possibly embarrassing issues, such as an instance where he had reversed two images and another where he discussed a company that no longer existed.
He also asked for feedback on the title. In the draft, he called it Anonymous Bitcoin for Everyone. In January 2014, Amazon listed several basic books about Bitcoin, but none specifically about privacy and anonymity. I told him a two-word title would be more catchy and memorable, and that the phrase “for everyone” watered it down.
The subtitle carried an emotional appeal with the use of the Bitcoin symbol. How to Keep Your ฿ All to Yourself emphasizes a protective anger, which the book’s reader would naturally feel at the thought of someone trying to steal a prized possession.
“This feedback is ideal… Really happy with and appreciative of your thorough and quality work.” (Kristov)
As a Bitcoin noob at the time, I learned a ton about Bitcoin and blockchain security while editing the Anonymous Bitcoin book. You could say it sent me down two rabbit holes – into the topic of blockchain and into the business of editing books for self-published authors.
Kristov, the author of Anonymous Bitcoin: How to Keep your ฿ All to Yourself (2014) currently lives in Texas and works as a Bitcoin security and privacy engineer at Blockchain.info.