editors

After the Book Deal

So it's been a little over two months since I announced the fact my book will be in print. It's been fairly quiet since then. Well, my brain won't shut up. So not in that respect. I've discovered that as with most things, there is a process to go through after something like this happens. Something so wonderful and huge and life-changing. I know I haven't talked much about it, but as you read on, you'll see why. Basically, because I don't have anything particularly coherent to say. Still.

1. Disbelief

At first - and I'm not quite sure it's worn off yet - I was just in a state of shock. Did this really happen? There has to be some kind of mistake. In the midst of all my euphoria, there was a small part of me that felt as if it was too good to be true, that the entire thing wouldn't happen. Don't get your hopes up, I secretly told myself. But the days went by, and there was no "Sorry, we realized your book isn't as good as we thought it was" or "Ha! Just kidding!" e-mails. The deal went up on Publisher's Marketplace. I told the world. Then I got the editorial letter. So... okay. It's happening. 

2. Fear

Wow. It's really happening. Okay, so, this really did happen. (And this thought circles around in my brain until it becomes meaningless.) Okay. All I need to do now is focus on revisions and make this the best book it can possibly be. Nothing hard or complicated.

But then... I comprehend the truth of what I'm doing. I'm revising a book so everyone can read it. My mother. My friends. My professors. What if it isn't good enough? Yes, I'm still overjoyed. That doesn't stop the fear. It may seem melodramatic - believe me, I'm irritating myself with all these insecurities - but I think this is pretty normal. I hope it is. The intensity of this stage comes and goes. 

3. Acceptance

Now, I haven't actually gotten here yet. This is where I want to be, this is where most authors get. I think, the closer I get to the book being out in the world, or maybe just as time passes, I'll reach it. The idea of people seeing my work - loving it or hating it - isn't something I will constantly wonder about. The feeling of unworthiness. I'll just be purely excited and content that this happened. 

So there you have it. You all now know what the inside of my head looks like. It's embarrassing, a little, but it's real.

I hope you guys like the book! Guess we'll find out in eleven months or so.

My Own Editorial Letter

I was always really curious about this big, ominous-seeming thing. The editorial letter. I'd read blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts. Some were ecstatic, some resigned, some neutral. I know that every one is different in regards to length and detail. How could it not be? All manuscripts and editors are different. But I finally have one of my own, and I can tell you guys what mine is like.

Wonderful.

Yes, you read that right. It might seem boastful or optimistic, but it really is just an amazing thing. Someone loved your book so much they made all this time and effort to make it better and put it out into the world. They painstakingly combed through every page with just as much care and attention as the one who wrote it. 

My agent and I went through revision after revision before sending it out, wanting it to shine so brightly that the editors would be blinded when they opened that word document. (Okay, that may be a tad melodramatic. But it's more fun this way.) 

Anyway, one of my editor's comments was that he had noticed that the manuscript was in good condition. I still admit to being slightly apprehensive about that letter. I'd heard of authors getting ten, twelve, or even twenty-pages of suggestions and tweaks and changes. 

Yet, when I opened my e-mail one morning and found that letter waiting for me, there was nothing to be afraid of. Three pages. Three pages of kind, encouraging - and, most importantly - accurate notes. Editors aren't as pushy as the movies make them out to be, as bad as that sounds. 

I didn't realize going into this how much would be up to me. Maybe I'm really, really lucky. Maybe the next editorial letter will really be twenty pages. But it's not something to dread. Not only does it mean that we're just that much closer to seeing our stories out in the world, it's full of compliments and changes that will only help improve the writing.

So, the point of this post. Editorial letters are good. I can't wait for the next one. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, I've got my work cut out for me.

The Book Deal

Children's: Young Adult:

Kelsey Sutton's SOME QUIET PLACE, about a teen girl searching for a link between a shadowy stalker and the childhood tragedy that left her with the ability to see emotions as living beings but also rendered her unable to feel them, to Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux, by Beth Miller at Writers House (NA).

If you could see my face right now, you might be frightened. I've got a wild-eyed, crazy-hair thing going on. I'm so excited right now that I'm not capable of typing up a coherent blog post, so I'll just leave it at this for now! And the words of my friend Bailey when I told her about the deal: "Flux. I like the sound of that. It has an x in it. Neat."

It is neat, Bails. It is.

More later. Also, look for a celebratory giveaway soon!

Editor Responses

Over the past year I have learned a few things about editors. Today I'm going to let you in on a secret about these mysterious beings. Why? Well, I've been sitting at my desk and wondering what kind of blog post I could write that would be helpful and somewhat unique. This seemed like something you guys might be interested in. Writers generally stay away from talking about submission on public blogs (I talked about it a little here, though). For good reason, of course, but I know that I was intensely curious about the other side of the publishing world when I was wading through the query pool. I got my hands on as much information about agents as possible, but it seemed like editors were a little more difficult to research.

So, the big secret about editors: they're nice people. I know it's hard to believe. After all, just like it is with agents, some part of your mind pictures them as higher beings, all bright lights and untouchable. Well, at least, I did. But when they respond to your submission it's usually not a form rejection. They first list what they enjoyed about the manuscript before listing the reasons for passing. It's a very human, very warm response. That pass usually looks something like this:

Dear (agent's name),

Thank you for giving me a chance to read (manuscript title) by (author).

There were many things I liked about it (hook, world, characters, etc.). That said, I found (reasons the editor can't buy the book).

I’m sorry that this didn’t work for me. The author does (lists merits of writing).

Sincerely,

Kind Editor Who I Can't Help But Like Even Though She Passed on the Book

So, in ways, it's very similar to the responses we get from agents. It occurs to me that I'm making it sound like every e-mail is the same, but even if an editor is ultimately passing on the project, I really enjoy the feedback. Because each one is different. They're often helpful and enlightening. I find it just a little amazing that they give every manuscript that comes to them a chance. Can you imagine how much reading that is? (Pictures it and shivers with delight.) Random shout out to all agents and editors, because what they do is frankly amazing.

Maybe I shouldn't be so open about the fact that I have gotten passes on the book. Honestly, though, it happens to everyone. It's going to happen to you. I don't want to pretend that everything has been peachy and raining unicorns. There are exceptions, but success isn't something that just hits you overnight. Finding the right editor for your story is like finding the perfect man. Well, no man is perfect - fine, no woman is perfect, either - but finding the right editor is like finding your agent. Someone who's just as passionate about the story and is willing to go to bat for it. Put in hours and blood and tears. It seems impossible sometimes. The journey can be difficult. I believe in the story I've written, though, and I believe in my agent. Editors are people like you and me... looking for that next book that will entertain and astound.

Three Things You Need for the Submission/Query Process

1. A distraction.

Oh, this one should be all three. I could end the post here. Because a distraction is really the path to sanity. My first instinct after that all-important e-mail has been sent is to go back to the computer and check my inbox every four seconds. Which, okay, I pretty much do no matter what else I set about doing. But I try to focus on other tasks or projects. Piano, cleaning, exercising (I always seem to gain a few pounds duing the writing process), another project (though I really try to avoid the computer for a while). We should make a bumper out of this, guys. Distraction: the path to sanity.

2. Comfort food.

This may contradict the whole exercising distraction, but seriously. When that butterfly sensation explodes inside of you and you become consumed with what ifs, it's nice to reach for a bag of chips or a tiny piece of chocolate. Okay, a chunk. Fine, a bar. Okay, a freaking box of chocolate. There's a reason I have a gym membership. It's an investment.

3. An ear.

No, not just a random ear like in a horror movie or something. But don't you just love that imagery? Anyway, I mean a friend. Someone who will listen to you rant and fret without losing their patience. (Thank you, Bambi and Tiger!) It might be just me, but I'm an out-loud worrier. I need someone who'll turn that ear towards me and let me go on and on like an unstoppable freight train. Wait. Wait just a second. Someone in my office has been conveniently gone every time I stop by. You don't think... No. She's just busy. She loves listening to my problems.

These three things should keep us from becoming hunched-over monsters with foaming mouths. Well, it's too late for me when it comes to the hunchback... Good luck with your own waiting!

The Experience of Being on Submission

I read somewhere that it's generally frowned upon to publicly share how many rejections we've had, or how long our manuscripts have been out in the world. So I won't give you those specifics. But I do want to share my journey with you guys, and I remember wishing there had been more information about this process when I was researching.

So. Being on submission. I've gotten a good taste of the experience. This is how it works: you and your agent put together a wish list of editors. Like agents, editors have preferences of what kind of material they want to see. Your agent writes something very similar to a query and sends it off to each editor on the list. (Much finger crossing ensues.) Then, exactly like before, you wait. Only this time around you have someone on your side waiting with you.

The response time varies. It could be days, weeks, months. Every editor is different, and it could be a slow time for them or an insanely busy time. You just never know. Depending on who your agent is, whatever rejection you get may or may not be forwarded to you. Beth and I agreed that she would only send me rejections if they were more than a form response and if there was something constructive said. (Okay, I have to tell you this part. On the couple rejections I did get, Beth always has a funny little comment before the e-mail. It takes the edge off and I have to smile.)

And when an editor does love your work... I don't know exactly what happens. I'll let you know when I do, though. Obviously there are contracts and dreams coming true involved. All in all, it's very much like hunting for an agent. You need an editor who loves the work, who'll be willing to fight for it. There's even more waiting and nail-biting. Pretty simple, I think. Some say the hard part is editing the manuscript beforehand. But I think this is the hard part, knowing that your story is floating around out there, just waiting to be discovered.