Reflections on a Mini-era: An Editor’s Inside Look at Cedar Fort

Guest post by Heidi Doxey.

It’s been four years.

In the spring of 2008, I sat behind a brown-haired girl in my fiction editing class at BYU. She was pleasant and intelligent, but so were most of the students in that class.

One day she mentioned an internship opportunity that piqued my interest. I wouldn’t be compensated, but I also wouldn’t have to drive all the way up to Salt Lake City, which meant I could keep my paying editing job on campus and still have time to take a class that summer. That was how I met Cedar Fort, Inc., in a basement classroom inside the brand newly renovated Jesse Knight Building.

In the four years since then, I have worked as an editorial intern, an editor, and a remote copywriter for Cedar Fort. I have also authored two books and a journal for them, with another book coming this fall — as soon as I write it. I’ve sent emails to authors, printers, and publicists. I’ve watched a book I edited jump up the bestseller list on Amazon after the author’s appearance on Oprah. I’ve celebrated victories large and small with first-time authors, fellow editors, and friends. It’s been a crazy, busy, eye-opening four years.

But it hasn’t been easy. Keep in mind that those same four years have burst an economic bubble in our country. Despite what we as devoted bibliophiles may feel, in a purely economic sense, books are not a necessary commodity. We don’t actually need to buy them the way we need to buy bread and milk and gasoline. So when money gets scarce, so do readers, and so do publishers. I’ve watched as friends were forced to leave their jobs or cut back their hours at work. I’ve seen others work long, long, long hours with no overtime pay to try to keep up with tasks that used to be done by multiple coworkers. All so that Cedar Fort could stay alive.

I remember rallying together to meet our deadlines each month and celebrating with an exhausted sigh and a tip back in our office chairs as we sent the last files for a would-not-end project to the press. And I remember thinking, even in the worst of times, that I had the best job in the world. But life doesn’t always run as smoothly or as straightly as you expect. Sometimes you’re forced into something new or sometimes your dreams just change.

So even though I gave up editing for Cedar Fort last fall, and I will soon stop being their copywriter too, I know I’ll always feel a familiar thrill when I see their logo on the spine of a book at a friend’s house or in a bookstore.

And I know that the energy and passion I put into my work was worth it because we did make it through those tough four years. We did it as a company and as friends. In my estimation, the greatest thing about LDS publishing is the totally human scale of it. We are not a huge, unknowable mass. We are few enough to be friends. And we are Christlike and personable enough to want to be friends.

To all the authors I claimed as mine while I battered your words into what I hoped was a better shape, thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for your graciousness and pride in your work. Thank you for being good examples and for stretching my grammarian limits. I needed all those things. I hope they will make me a better writer and editor in the years to come.

To all the publishing folks, authors, and readers who will interact with Cedar Fort in the future, know that this is a company made up of dedicated, ambitious, eager professionals — people with a passion for books and those who read them. In this time of personal and economic change and growth, there is nothing quite so satisfying as knowing that I’ll always have a small place in the history of a company like Cedar Fort.

As for the brown-haired girl in my class, she spent the past four years serving a mission, finishing up her linguistics degree, and returning to Cedar Fort to become a stellar editor and a great personal friend. She’s just one of the reasons I know I’m leaving Cedar Fort in good hands.

Heidi Doxey graduated from Brigham Young University in 2008 with a BA in English and an editing minor. She served for four years as a book editor and copywriter for Cedar Fort, Inc. She now lives in idyllic northern California and currently splits her time between working as an author, a freelance writer and editor, and a nanny. You can learn more about Heidi and her books at TinyTalksBooks.com.


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2 Responses to Reflections on a Mini-era: An Editor’s Inside Look at Cedar Fort

  1. Jonathan Langford says:

    There’s something about working as part of the team to get a book published that’s quite satisfying. Part of it, I think, is the sense of being part of something larger than yourself. Part of it is the sense of being able to point to how your contributions (hopefully) made the final product better than it would otherwise be. Part of it, I think — especially for many of us in the Mormon market — is a sense of contributing to a community. There has to be something to make up for the long hours and low pay…

  2. Wm says:

    Did the Oprah appearance lead to a bump in sales?

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