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Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2008 09:31:32 +0000
Subject: The Whole World 5

Hi all–You haven’t heard from me about my book for a while, because
I’ve been EDITING. Ugh! This is tricky, intense work. The original stuff
as it flowed out naturally had a seamlessness, even if it lacked some
elements or emphases. Now adding in those missing elements/emphases
requires stitching everything back together as if it were always there.
Much concentration required.

I’ve gotten a *new editor*. This was a bit of drama that has all worked
out for the best. Kate Miciak, my “acquiring editor” (she is the one who
bought the manuscript) wanted to personally edit it. Unfortunately, her
position and reputation make her the go-to for a lot of Bantam’s big
books, and a lot of her labors of love got crowded out. She held onto
“The Whole World” until the last possible moment, but at last
relinquished it to a young editor she’s mentoring, Randall Klein.

Randall is an up-and-comer with lots of energy and insight. She believes
him to be at the start of a very hot career. From his interactions with
me, I would say she’s right! His editorial comments have been fantastic.

So he’s a terrific editor, artistically–but what about in-house clout?
Books within each publisher compete for marketing and publicity efforts.
I was lucky to be one of Kate’s authors, because she has such a
legendary reputation. Kate insists, however, that transferring to
Randall is actually an advantage there too. She has many, many books to
push each season. With Randall, I’ll be one of a select few that he’s
pushing. And, she’ll continue to have my back as well. So now “The Whole
World” is Randall-AND-Kate’s baby. This is good all around.

This is all a bit like my agent relationship. Cameron, my agent, is
newish within a venerable agency, mentored by Donald Maass, a legend.
Randall is new to editing, an apprentice to legend Kate Miciak. It
really is a dream situation. I’m a big priority to Cameron and Randall,
but we have the background support of industry biggies.

Some people have asked me if the *editing process* feels invasive.
Everyone has heard horror stories of artistic writers being forced by
crass editors to add gratuitous sex or violence or stereotypes to their
masterpieces. But editing is like a big kitchen knife–sure you could
use it to stab someone in the heart, but most of the time it is
correctly used to prepare delicious meals 🙂 (Okay, that metaphor was
kind of weird. I’m saving the brilliant metaphors for the book! ;-D

A writer is not capable of having a reader’s perspective. We know too
much. An editor gives that perspective, and has the experience/insight
to comment constructively about it. Editors are wonderful!!!

For a “content” or “substantive” edit like I’m working on now, the
editor writes an “editorial letter.” It’s basically of description of
problems (couched within lots of encouragement and flattery so that the
writer doesn’t lose heart 😉 It may contain some potential answers as
well, but they are only suggestions. The writer’s job is to interpret
the problems and solve them in their own creative way.

Randall is really pushing me to a higher level. I’m impressed and
excited and *exhausted*.

Because of Kate holding out so long to keep my book to herself, my
editorial letter (from Randall) didn’t come until quite late in the
process. The *timing* is all skewed now. My edits were originally due
October 1. Randall assures me that deadline is not an issue at this
point–the quality of the book is most important. So I have the freedom
to carry on in this back-and-forth with him at whatever pace is
necessary. This could possibly result in the launch, which was
originally planned for next summer, being pushed. We’ll see. I have no
doubt that whenever the launch is eventually set for, Randall will be
championing the book with gusto.

Hey, what does an *agent* do while all this is going on? My wonderful
agent does LOTS. First, Cameron fielded all the hard questions about the
Kate-to-Randall transition before I even found out about it. She made
sure that I wasn’t being brushed off. Second, she reviews my revisions
before I give them to Randall. It’s really helpful, when I’m trying new
things, to have her perspective. I did pull back from some big changes
at her excellent advice, and I feel very lucky that I had her to save me
from myself in that situation. Third, she is my sounding board for any
rants or concerns. Much better to rant to her than to anyone at Bantam
Dell! In response to my concerns, she can either simply absorb and
commiserate, or, if warranted, intervene. (It has not been warranted.
Bantam has been *wonderful*. But she’s there for that if I need her.)

So that’s what up with “The Whole World.” I’m also working on my
*outline* for book 2. (Didn’t I want book 2 finished by Christmas? Ha
ha!) I’ve gotten some comments on my outline from Kate and Cameron that
match EXACTLY so I know I need to listen. They caught two elements that
are very similar to aspects of book 1, things that were just
subconscious to me. Now that they’ve pointed them out, I see that they
obviously need to be adjusted. (Kate says that it’s fine to have a
recurring authorial motif, but not in the first two books!) Much better
to fix this at the outline stage than in revisions of a finished book.

PS–*Fun fact*! Did you Americans know that the British don’t say
“gotten”? They only ever say “got.” So, where we would say, “I haven’t
gotten to that yet” they say “I haven’t got to that yet.” It’s very
strange to my ear. When I wrote the original version of The Whole World,
I paid close attention to the spelling differences my US and UK
narrators would use, and their word choices. I was REALLY intense about
it. Now, with revisions, it’s much harder to pay attention to US/UK
stylistic differences. I jump around from narrator to narrator,
attacking small sections. Things like “got” vs. “gotten” are easy to
lose, and I’m working very hard to not slip up…

Hope you enjoyed this news! You should only be receiving this if you’ve
asked to, so please let me know if I’ve sent this to you in error.

From “Envoy” by Billy Collins, a message to his just-published book:

"stay out as late as you like,
don't bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can."