Last year, I edited a 350-page book for two Berkeley law professors on a rush deadline. The publisher, a major university press, had insisted on extensive work, but accepted the revision I edited two days after it was submitted. The editor at the press described my intervention as "invaluably transformative," adding that "the writing is much, much better while clearly retaining the dominant voice." She put my name on the short list for other projects. The professors wrote:
Behind every good book is an excellent editor. This one is no exception. Kerry Tremain stepped in at just the right time to assist us in making hard decisions, finessing prose, and architecting a narrative that is both true to our research and accessible to the range of audiences we hope to reach. We are grateful for his sage advice, excellent organizational skills, structural and technical editing, but, most importantly for the confidence he had in the book, and our project, and his constant reminder that at the end of the day, this is our book.
Similarly, a bestselling business author wrote of our collaboration, "What many people warned me would be a horrific experience was entirely divine." I like to help writers think through the book's structure and fine-tune the voice, as well as providing hands-on, sentence-by-sentence top editing. (Though my copy has been described by publishers as "very clean," I leave the copyediting to my grammarian superiors.) My standard rate is $360/day, and I like to start with a meeting with the author, an assessment of the manuscript, and usually a sample edit.
I wrote for several years for national and regional magazines, but currently write mostly for books, my own and others. I recently wrote three chapters and most of the short pieces for Yosemite: A Storied Landscape, and an essay on the related exhibition for American Art Review. Often, the books I edit require at least some rewriting. And I have written the copy for web sites such as The Magnificent 7o, which consists of 70 300-word stories on California State Parks. (I also co-designed the site.)
Editing and Creative Direction
All of the essays [in Yosemite: A Storied Landscape] have something to recommend them... This gorgeous, informative book is like having a museum exhibition at your fingertips. –Porter Shreve, San Francisco Chronicle
The cover of Yosemite: A Storied Landscape is memorable, beautiful, and demands to be engaged with. The bold typeface against what appears to be an inky woodcut mountain range creates a striking effect that owes more to manga than any conventions of what a book about a national park "should" be. This cover effortlessly communicates that it is *not* just a digital manifestation of a pretty coffee-table book. –Digital Book Awards, 2015
“Kerry has terrific ideas and instincts that he backs up with thorough editing and a sharp intellect. He is also a very steady and generous guy, a real pleasure to work with throughout.” —Quentin Hardy, New York Times
Kerry is the kind of tough, supportive editor that we need more of in this industry. He has an excellent ear for storytelling and a trustworthy news sense. He also has the kind of focused determination that allows him to demand the best from those that write for him and settle for nothing less. –Erik Vance, Contributing Writer, Discover magazine
“With his exquisite editorial sensibilities, Kerry Tremain created a Golden Gate ebook that multiplied our audience several-fold. He did it under tight deadlines, while also helping us fund and market the digital book.” –Anthea Hartig, Executive Director of the California Historical Society
Kerry is an acute, helpful, insightful editor who can criticize a piece in a way that leaves you encouraged and eager to rewrite it. And he's (almost) always right... a joy to work with. –Ann Monroe, former reporter and writer for Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and Mother Jones
Kerry isn't easily reduced to a single profession. He is a wonderful journalist and editor -- this I know as a writer who has worked with him. But, he is also an intellectual entrepreneur who envisions content, design, marketing and sheer feasibility beyond what you would imagine from his resume. There are few people whose mere involvement in a project would make me think the more of it, would make me want to jump in. Kerry is one. He's also just a very nice guy. –Laurie Becklund, author of Swoosh: The Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There.
“I did a consulting project for the Alumni Association at UC Berkeley when Kerry became editor of California magazine. Although I had met Kerry years earlier, and read his writing over the years, this was the first time I’d seen him in action. I found him a rare editor who could understand the business dynamics of publishing. He had to be an ambassador for the magazine amid what seemed to me to be a dysfunctional academic setting, with lots of politics. He managed to navigate through all of that, get the job done, and bring the team together. I still don’t know how he did it! And the result is obvious—UC Berkeley now has an alumni magazine to be proud of, after decades of publishing a pamphlet. Kerry did this with a slim budget but lots of smarts and ambition. It was a pleasure to watch.” —Robin Wolaner, Founding publisher of Parenting and former EVC of Time-Warner Inc.
“Kerry is making [California magazine] a lot more interesting than it used to be,” says history professor and department chairman David Hollinger. “It’s taking its subtitle, ‘a magazine of ideas,’ seriously.” —article in the San Francisco Chronicle
Writing and Reporting
“Kerry Tremain’s exposé of mismanagement at the Presidio Trust led to a change in leadership at America’s newest national park—giving new hope for the future development of an American treasure.” —American Society of Magazine Editors, National Magazine Awards 2002
“Kudos to Bruce Kelley, editor of San Francisco magazine, and intrepid reporter Kerry Tremain. Kelley and Tremain are up for a National Magazine Award for a terrific piece of reporting, “Trouble in the Presidio,” that ran in December’s issue. This article had impact. The then impresario of the Presidio resigned in utter disgrace after Tremain’s article appeared.” —P.J. Corkery, San Francisco Examiner
“Presidio Trust officials can deny it all they want, but it sure looks as if the latest San Francisco magazine had a big impact. It’s six-month investigation—’How arrogance, mismanagement, and infighting are threatening our new national park’—was barely on the newsstand for three weeks when Jim Meadows, the trust’s controversial director, resigned. [San Francisco] assigned the story to Kerry Tremain, a Berkeley writer and former Mother Jones editor.” —Dan Fost, San Francisco Chronicle
“Now the Presidio has a chance to get it right. The departure of executive director Jim Meadows should give all sides in the debate over the park’s future to reflect on its direction.” —San Francisco Chronicle editorial
“Kerry Tremain’s introduction provides valuable comment on such topics as purpose, credibility, and impact.” —Peter Skinner, ForeWordmagazine, which chose Witness in Our Time as one of the top ten university press books of 2000
“In a wonderful introduction [to Witness in Our Time], Kerry Tremain writes about ‘seeing and believing,’ core concepts of documentary photography… I wanted to read much more by Tremain, a co-founder and director of the International Fund for Documentary Photography.” —Keith Kenney, Visual Communication Quarterly
I co-founded a digital publishing firm, 36 Views, which won coveted Digital Book Awards two years in a row. I have also designed books using Adobe InDesign and iBooks Author, including Yosemite: A Storied Landscape. Many of my books have a strong visual component, and I like being able to write, edit, and design books start to finish.
I was a national award-winning art director and graphic designer for many years, and still design the occasional poster or web site when the project intrigues me. (Five of the posters I designed many years ago are in the Oakland Museum of California collection.) Other recent book designs include Flavors of Oakland and Wild Flight of the Imagination: The Story of the Golden Gate Bridge.
In addition to writing articles and essays about photography, I co-founded and directed the International Fund for Documentary Photography at Mother Jones, published a book, and curated exhibitions in Mexico (at the Centro de la Imagen), the U.S. (Friends of Photography), and France. I also worked with many noted photographers as the creative director of Mother Jones, and in other magazines and books.
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