Dude Lavington was the first person to ask me to edit his book.
That happened around 1978, when I was living on Douglas Lake Ranch, and I had a contract with Douglas & McIntyre to publish my book about the ranch. That book became Cattle Ranch: The Story of the Douglas Lake Cattle Company by Nina G. Woolliams.
Back to Dude. He approached me at a Canadian Cattlemens Association meeting in Kamloops because he’d heard that the book I’d written about the history of Douglas Lake Ranch was going to get published. He wanted to get published too and he wanted to know whether I would read his book manuscript and give him some advice. He didn’t know much about the book publishing industry.
I didn’t know much either.
But anyhow I agreed to do what I could. He gave me a three-inch stack of handwritten sheets. This was his book. Later his niece typed it out. Many hours later, after reading through his amazing stories of growing up without a mother (she died when he and his brother Art were very young), my advice to Dude was to split his manuscript into two books and send them off to a publisher. He did and they were published not many years later.
So that was the simplest possible edit: a structural edit, suggesting an author split his story in two. Little did I know that all these years later structural editing would be one of the favourite parts of my job as a book editor.