Working with Editors and Publishers to Author Great Books 

Person typing on a laptop

Whether you write for personal enjoyment or professionally, becoming a good writer requires practice, talent, education, and perseverance. The career possibilities in writing, editing, and publishing currently open to a person living with blindness or low vision are more attainable today thanks to recent improvements in electronic resources and tools designed for blind and low-vision individuals. 


For example, my first book, Upwelling, a poetry collection, was released in 2016. Back then, I could not access the publishing platform to view or order copies of my book. This is no longer a problem thanks to customers like me who pressured the e-commerce mega-giant to improve accessibility on all their user platforms. Today, I can access my author’s dashboard, view sales, create ads, read reviews of my books, and order author’s copies.  

Another advancement influencing the increased opportunities for blind and low-vision writers is improvements in assistive technology. One could focus on becoming a poet, novelist, essayist, or journalist and collaborate meaningfully with colleagues, students, or clients thanks, in part, to advancements in assistive technology. 


But what about preparing your work for others to read? Sharing your work with a critique group, editor, or publisher is part of becoming a better writer. It is also the aspect of writing authors find the most difficult.  

Do your best not to give in to doubting your work or your ability to write. I like to think of this part of the process as stepping from the protective bubble and opening up to fresh air. I want to know what others think of my work and if I should consider improvements. Keep in mind not every editing suggestion should be included in your draft. It is your work; remind others to treat it with respect. If you feel an editor or test reader is pushing for too many changes, it’s time to step away and give yourself a chance to find the objectivity your work requires when it is time to return to it. 


The key to being a good teammate is cooperation. Some editors insist on using collaborative tools like Track Changes in MS Word; others prefer to work with a team or individually with shared documents on Google Docs or Microsoft Teams. 

If you are a blind or low-vision JAWS user, Track Changes is a feature in Word that allows you to share and comment on a document. JAWS will read the changes in your document as you navigate with reading commands such as the ARROW keys. Listen to the webinar on demand

Or, if you are a NVDA user, reviewing online tutorials is another option.  

Skills to Practice 

This is the opportunity for me to state that to step up your game, try to get to know your word processing program and the tools your editing team uses to communicate. Think of it as continuing education credits for a license or certification. Below is a list of some of the skills I rely upon for personal and professional writing. 

  • Subscribe to email alerts for your preferred brand of assistive technology training. 
  • Join an email group or organization reflecting the type of writing or genre you wish to write about.  
  • Practice your online browsing skills to help in researching topics and projects.  
  • Purchase a recorder for voice notes or use the notes app on your smartphone.  
  • Increase your video conferencing skills and practice facilitating them.  
  • Create a document with shortcuts, web links, and directions to save time searching for instructions. 
  • When writing articles or essays for blogs, follow the style guidelines. Know how to insert bullet points or lists and familiarize yourself with Search Engine Optimization, referred to as SEO. Learn how to insert hyperlinks in your online material.  

The more you learn about marketing, blogging, and critiquing, the better prepared you will be when pitching your work. 

Disability Disclosure 

I choose when to disclose my disability. Some publishers never know; others, by virtue of the project or content, are informed in passing. Other times, the disclosure is partnered with an access issue. An example could be using a table in a document for editing or inserting graphics my software cannot interpret. Then I educate my colleagues, and we make accommodations together or decline to complete the project because of the lack of accommodation. It does not happen often, but it does happen.   

Working with an Editor 

Despite these blips, my experiences with editors have been and continue to be positive and productive. The team that assists me in preparing and publishing my books, DLD Books, meets my needs and understands when to step in and attend to vision-related decisions. 

We complete the editing via email. Accommodating my request not to use track changes came as a relief to them because they don’t like to use it, finding it unreliable. Once I finish a manuscript draft, I send it to the copy editor. She and I work through the manuscript by chapters using email. She will copy and paste sections or send an attachment of a longer manuscript section marked for review with her initials and the comment in parentheses. We work together on fact-checking and verifying details or references missed when writing the manuscript.  

Accessibility of Writing and Editing Tools 

A common discussion I engage in with other writers is the accessibility or lack thereof in writing programs like Pro Writing Aid or Grammarly. Whether either of these pro writing tools becomes accessible and usable, as MS Word, is anyone’s guess.  

Software and Hardware Tips 

  • Know your software, whether JAWS, NVDA, Zoom Text, or  Fusion magnification software native to your computer.  
  • Learn more about MS Word and Windows. Or, if using a Mac, Chromebook, or tablet, find a class to learn more about your program. I have lost count of the times I’ve given a Windows keyboard command to a sighted colleague struggling with something mouse-related and fixed their problem.  

It’s important to be proficient in operating your assistive technology. Trust your abilities when interacting with editors and publishers. Be ready to provide them with a document or video describing any barriers from a collaboration tool. Supply a workaround. Most people will participate in a problem if the solution is part of the discussion. 

Be determined and patient; your writing groove will improve the more you try.