The Road to Publication, Act III: Revision

So what do we remember from last week? We remember 199 rejections (pain! agony!), three rounds of revisions, and finally a contract with an agent. (Also, we probably remember that that was an exceptionally long post, for which I offer my sincere apology – I’ll try to be more concise in the future.)

Now let us begin the last (well, for now) part of this journey:

Act III: Revision

I’d like to say it was peaches and cream after that, but it wasn’t. Not that it was more difficult necessarily, just more intense. More complicated. But more enjoyable too, because now I had an agent who could help me navigate the publishing world, who could offer support and coaching, and who, on bad days, could give me the go-ahead to binge on chocolate cake. I still don’t know everything my agent does, but I can assure you it’s a lot. Everything from helping me revise, to reviewing website proposals, to reading through the legal lingo of contracts, to career development, to yes, selling my work. If you’ve written a book and you’re wondering if you need an agent, you do (in my humble opinion). I have no idea what I would do without her.

After a few more small revisions, Superagent Joanna sent A5 (and the proposal for the trilogy) out on submission to editors. A few said it wasn’t a good match, and I won’t say I wasn’t disappointed, but hope remained. This stage of the game had turned from speed-dating (finding an agent), to matchmaking (agent finding an editor). We needed someone who loved the story as much as we did.

We found Melissa, an editor for Tor Teen, and the first time I talked to her I knew Joanna had been a brilliant matchmaker. The right editor is someone who believes in the story, who treats the characters as real people and respects their feelings the same way she respects the author’s (sometimes she respects their feelings MORE than she respects mine actually…). When changes need to be made, she knows the players well enough that she can anticipate what they would or wouldn’t do, and suggests revisions accordingly. She can advocate for you within the publishing house and be your middleman (middlewoman?) between all the different departments. For me, it was also important that I felt comfortable talking to her – that I wasn’t so starstruck I compromised my integrity, that I could disagree with her if I thought something was off, and that I could SQUEEE! when she shared exciting news. Melissa is all of these things, so when she asked for even more revisions (say, cutting 50 more pages), I only threw up a little rather than stepping into traffic.

So of course there was more editing. Then there were line edits (more specific revisions). Then there were copy edits (really specific revisions – the kind where someone actually counts how many times you use words like “sigh” or “grasp” or points out that you really have no clue as to the proper placement of a comma). There were also revisions to my attitude – the practicing of patience, the embracing of fearlessness, and the abandonment of regret. And somewhere along the line I remembered why I write (because I love it) and that I can’t do this alone. I made writerly friends. I created a support network. I talked about my writing.

While I was working on the sequel, I was also learning about social media like Facebook and Twitter, developing an Internet presence, and tightening up my outline of the third book. And that was just my part! The Tor team and my agent were working on foreign rights, audio rights, and marketing and publicity – like, the BIG PICTURE things. I had no idea so much happened behind a book, that so many people were involved – that so much time was involved. I started writing A5 in October of 2007, and it didn’t actually debut until January of 2012.

So that’s my story. Thanks for reading, and being a part of my journey. Has it been hard? I think so. But I’ve heard lots of stories of writers who have struggled more, and I’m not foolish enough to think I won’t struggle again. This is a hard business to break into, but maintaining your spot and staying relevant is just as challenging.

On that note, I better get back to typing.

PS. Next week I’ll be making a few announcements…make sure you come on back!

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