Read more Let’s Write publishing tips in Andi’s Attic >>
Start with 1-The Journey Begins >>
No more past memories. No more hand-copied books! The publisher wants to see your story! Hurrah! Well, maybe not.
Enter the Maze
7. First of all, the editor does not want to see your entire story. Why not? This is why, at least back in the day when writers sent in hard copy printouts.
This is the slush pile. Editors used to get buried under this from wannabe authors. Now they just come into work on Monday and see 200 emails. Same thing.
So, If you get the go-ahead to send something in (that sweet editor from the expensive writers’ conference told you to!), you send in a synopsis (summary of the story) and the first chapter of your book. “But what if my Chapter 2 is more interesting?” Answer: Make Chapter 2 your Chapter 1. End of discussion. If you can’t hook the editor with your first few pages, let alone your first chapter, believe me, he is not going to skip ahead to the “good parts.”
8. Fortunately for me, the editor liked what he read in the summary and asked for the entire manuscript. But that didn’t mean they were going to publish it. No, not by a long shot. They had to read it and decide. This takes a long, long time. For me it took a full year. The editor contacted me a couple of times and asked if I was willing to change some things (hint: the answer to that question is always a YES). After a year, I pretty much figured the publisher had dropped off the planet, and I was ready to move on, when . . . I got a contract!
9. The excitement of getting your first contract cannot be overstated. It probably feels a lot like winning the lottery (or finding the lost ark). First, you can’t believe it. Then you scream. Then you email all your friends (and your mother) to share the good news. When you come down from Cloud Nine, you read the 7 or 8 pages and wonder what in the world they are talking about: Royalty rates, legalities (“You can have a contract lawyer look this over,” the publisher told me.) Nah, I just had my author/mentor friend look it over. She said it looked fine. So I signed it (before they changed their minds). And I sent the final story via email. I had sent the original manuscript in by hard copy the first time (2003). I never sent another manuscript by snail mail again.
10. Just when you think everything is going right, the editor starts marking up your manuscript. Wait. Didn’t that mentor/author friend mark it up already? Yes. Now it’s time for the official editing. Ouch. Usually two editors take turns. One looks for flaws in the overall story, characters, reality, etc. (of which there are usually many). Later, another editor looks for mistakes (of which there are many). Together, along with the author, the story gets another beating . . . oops . . . revision. But it is worth it.
I have often wished I could go back and rewrite a couple parts in some of my published books (I got that chance when Kregel updated the Circle C Adventures in 2015 as Anniversary Editions), but I have never wished the editors had left it alone. They get paid to make the book better. They want to sell the thing. They are very good at their jobs. And now they are my friends and I recently told the newest editor (for the Tales books coming out in February 2022), please edit! Make suggestions! I’m so over the hurt of a red mark on my precious story.
11. Finally, the manuscript goes to what is called “layout.” Here, they make the manuscript look like the inside pages of a real book. It’s a shivery feeling to see those pages. They come as hard copy, and this is the very last time anyone will ever touch the book. It is called the proofread. After this, the book heads for the printer.
12. In the meantime, other people at the publishing company have been working hard to create just the right cover. Most of you have probably seen the final Circle C Adventures covers (and all of the rest of the series). If not, head over to Cover Fun >> and look at them all. Especially fun are the “almost” covers. The publisher often sends a couple of variations for me to look at, but in the end they make the decision. Although, now that I’ve been with them for so long, they actually used my cover concepts for the Circle C Stepping Stones.