An Exceptional Editorial Bootcamp

Latoya West-Blackwood has her pulse on what drives the creative industry. She is an official Branson Centre entrepreneur and Young Leaders of the Americas Fellow who turned her love of books into a business.

In 2015, her company facilitated its first event, a Publishing Bootcamp, which was a success. I know, because I was there. So when she invited me to attend their Editorial Bootcamp, I knew that it would be worth my while to go.

The day of the event, Saturday, March 25, dawned with sunny approval as if hinting at what lay in store. Since I arrived early, I wandered around the grounds of the University of the West Indies, people-watching.

Grounds of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.

Grounds of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.

As the attendees arrived one by one, I noticed that our group would be a small, intimate gathering. I must confess that this appealed to my introverted nature. My fellow participants included an anaesthetist (the only man in the group), various professionals, a university student, and an activist. I liked our motley crew.


First up was Latoya. She shared her story of how Ian Randle, one of Jamaica’s leading publishers, started her on her publishing journey.

Latoya West-Blackwood, CEO of iPublish Consultancy and Creator of the Editorial Bootcamp.

As the founder and CEO of iPublish Consultancy, Jamaica’s first registered full-service publishing business, Latoya taps into people’s need to understand each other through stories. Her business platform provides support to those who wish to either self-publish or go the traditional route.

Latoya, talking about her imprint.

Latoya, talking about her imprint.

I was thrilled when she said, “We’re missing out on the big picture and the content here in Jamaica by not focusing on books outside of textbooks.” Personally, I’ve come across persons who turn up their noses at fiction. They scoff, calling it make-believe. So I was happy when Latoya stressed the importance of fiction books. She even mentioned some Jamaican authors who have won many illustrious awards. These include Olive Senior, Marlon James, Kei Miller, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Erna Brodber, Roland Watson-Grant, and Ishion Hutchinson. I loved it when she said that Mr. Watson-Grant writes stories that are unique to Jamaica, but with a global resonance.

In her final remarks, Latoya pressed home two points. First, editing is more than grammar. It’s a skill for distinguishing structure, fact-checking, and accuracy. Second, storytelling is not just about the fiction genre. It’s about how we craft content.


La-Raine Carpenter-Andrews.

Mrs. Carpenter-Andrews is an expert in her field. She ably covered the areas about the publishing and editing processes, style guides, and author queries.

She also gave us two helpful tips for editing. One was to use a ruler as a guide when going through the text. The other was to make a list of things to look out for, such as “of” and “or”, and commonly misspelt and misused words.

We had three activities but the last one was the funniest. We all learned a new word —“enfilade”— and were reminded that it’s always better to use a simpler word than to scramble for the nearest thesaurus. Mrs. Carpenter-Andrews shared that she uses an online dictionary because it’s usually more updated than a print version. (She’s right. I rarely use my dictionary and thesaurus.) She also recommended AutoCrit, a tool for fiction writers, and the popular Grammarly software.


Cherry-Ann Smart.

Miss Cherry-Ann Smart is a seasoned librarian, academic editor, and runs an editing services business. She presented on “The Business Side of Editing”, which can be fraught with problems like any other business. That’s why she cautioned us to always provide contracts.

One thing from Miss Smart’s presentation that jumped out at me was the broad meaning of plagiarism. It’s so broad that there’s the danger of plagiarising oneself! I didn’t know that could happen. As such, always give credit, even if it’s your own work.


The venue was centrally located and a good choice. The Multi-function Room was air-conditioned, with good lighting, adequate seating, and an adjoining restroom. (Hallelujah for the latter!) The acoustics were great, so there wasn’t any need for a microphone.

The presenters were great. They were articulate, knowledgeable, down-to-earth, and had a great sense of humour. Their visual aids showed thought and preparation. They handled minor glitches like pros.

The length of time for the workshop was enough to cover the material without causing information overload.

The Certificates of Participation were professional and a lovely addition. Two thumbs up!

My Certificate of Participation.

So those were the positives of the workshop. However, if I were to subtract a point, it would be due to the late start. I understand, though, that things will go wrong, even with the best-laid plans. All in all, the workshop was so good that the lateness wasn’t an issue. I would suggest, though, that enough time should be given to do the evaluations.

In closing, I’m grateful that I was able to attend this Editorial Bootcamp. Weekends are sacrosanct for me. However, I was glad that I used this one to learn new things and be empowered at the same time. Kudos to Latoya and her company! I love that they’re creating a generous space for storytellers.

The Editorial Bootcamp has ended. But, like any story, it’s just the beginning of another.

Group shot. A couple persons had to leave before. (Used with permission.)


You can contact Latoya West-Blackwood at ipublishja [at] gmail [dot] com and on Facebook.

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4 Comments on "An Exceptional Editorial Bootcamp"

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K E Garland

This sounds like a really valuable event.


Hi Katherin! Thanks for stopping by.

You’re right. It was.

Leslie Reese

Thanks for sharing your experience of this event, Nadine. And kudos to you for enriching yourself by attending a range of conferences, bootcamps, and author events! I tend to shy away from some of the “nuts & bolts” of the business side of publishing, and I’m probably missing out on some helpful information and networking.


You’re welcome, Leslie, and thanks, too! Whenever I get the chance, I make an effort to attend these events. I encourage you to do the same. There’s so much to learn, and the landscape keeps evolving. I’d love to go to at least one writing workshop and conference each year.