[This is part 4 of a summary of Spookygirl’s journey toward publication. Use the Progress tag to access all related entries.]
Here’s an odd thing: I have a book coming out in a few months, yet I’m still not entirely sure how traditional publishing typically works. The ABNA timeline forces things to progress at a faster pace. Had I gotten my contract the normal way, I'd probably be looking at a 2013 release date instead of August 2012.
Not that I’m complaining. I’d much rather see Spookygirl on shelves this year than next.
A few days after I got home from Seattle, I had my first official phone conversation with the VP and Publisher of Dutton Children’s Books, Julie Strauss-Gabel. My publisher. MY PUBLISHER. Yeah, still not tired of saying that. Julie would also be acting as my editor. MY EDITOR. Not tired of that one, either.
Julie and I talked about the upcoming editing process (including the slightly unorthodox timeline caused by the ABNA rules), and she gave me an overview of what she liked best about Spookygirl, and what she felt needed work.
I’d been waiting for that feedback with a mix of excitement and dread. No one loves criticism, no matter how constructive it might be. Negative feedback can sting, especially when it’s about a project you’ve coaxed and cradled and worked on for years. It’s like someone telling you your baby is ugly.
. . . Only you know what? It’s not like that at all. Constructive criticism is indispensable, and learning to handle it is essential for anyone who wants to publish. It’s about your work, not you. There’s no need to take it personally.
|Character sketch: Violet's pet poltergeist likes squeaky dog toys.|
Besides, what I heard from Julie was overwhelmingly positive. Sure, some elements needed major tinkering – the resolution of the locker room storyline would shift four or five times over the next few months. Both the first and last scenes changed. We focused a little more on the paranormal investigation angle, and a little less on the more typical fish-out-of-water high school elements. I gained a Henry and lost a Sandy. Timmy became Tim (a change he’d no doubt appreciate).
Most importantly, Violet grew as a character. She became stronger and gained a new focus. I love that. I feel like every single revision strengthened her story, and that makes me incredibly happy.
Up next: What’s in a title?