Monday, January 9, 2012

January Theme: A Roller Coaster of Firsts (Platte Clark)

As a new author I have the thrill and anxiety of everything being a first. The process is very much like a roller coaster ride, starting with that long climb of getting your book completed, to that very first drop called the query letter process. I still have my first response:
    “I’m sorry to say that in this instance I am going to pass on your work. The children’s and YA market is very competitive, as you may well know, and I have to feel a very high degree of confidence in a particular story to take it on. While yours certainly has its merits, I’m just not quite convinced it’s one for me.”
Ouch. Then on the heels of that came my first request:
    “Thanks for your query. I’d be pleased to consider The Codex…Can you kindly send the full manuscript as a word doc. attachment via e-mail?”
Others followed. And then came the fear, anxiety, excitement, and joy from the high speed twists and turns of getting an agent, a deal, and working through the publishing process. I suppose I have the advantage (and maybe disadvantage) of everything being a first at this stage. Like many, I just took a seat in the coaster car and pulled the arm down, not really knowing what I was in for. Maybe there's some advantage to being a little naive about it all.

At the moment I’m working with my first editor at S&S Aladdin, and I can say I've already learned a few things:
  1. Adding an unprompted 20,000 words to your rewrite is not necessarily a good thing. Apparently it messes up all kinds of profit and loss spreadsheets and it's harder to carry the pages around the office.
  2. The passive voice is not much loved.
  3. Don’t get too attached to titles.
  4. If your editor is from Texas, he or she will be delighted with any and all Jackalope references you can throw in.
So here’s to a new year with many great firsts, a few wiser seconds, and perhaps even a handful of well-informed thirds! But what I hope is that although the line may be long, the scaffolding a bit aged, and the seat not always ideal, the old publishing coaster will still be full of all the thrills and promise as the first time around. I suppose the only way to find out is to turn around and ride it again.

4 comments:

  1. "“I’m sorry to say that in this instance I am going to pass on your work. The children’s and YA market is very competitive, as you may well know, and I have to feel a very high degree of confidence in a particular story to take it on. While yours certainly has its merits, I’m just not quite convinced it’s one for me.” "

    Fwiw, I recognize this rejection and well remember the particular "ouch" it gave me, too.

    Congrats on being well past that stage of the game now!


    -- Tom

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  2. Thanks Tom, and good luck with your writing.

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  3. I second Tom's congrats, Platte. And here's to hoping that old publishing coaster NEVER gets tiresome and ALWAYS feels thrilling.

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