#Self-Publishing to Traditional: One #Writer’s Journey (2)

Letting Go Of Editing Fear

Writers tell me they are interested in hearing about the editing process with a traditional publisher after having self-published. What happens if you don’t agree with your new editor? What if you hate the newly designed cover? How do you negotiate? Or is that even an option?

I can only talk about my own experience so far, and I’ll share as much as possible here as things progress to publication. Right now my manuscript is being copy edited. That’s not to say it hasn’t been copy edited before. It has. At least four times by different eyes other than mine. But I welcome this last pass because, as we all know, there is always something to fix. Whether a grammatical error or a missed comma, I want the book to be as free of errors as humanly possible. I probably lost the ability to proof it myself at version three, which is a very long time ago. I have 13 versions of the manuscript taking up an entire cabinet in my office. They also live in a file on my computer and someday I will have the courage to throw out the hard copy version.

Reasonable Discussions Win Out

So far, I have had an extremely smooth relationship with my publisher. They are very sensitive to the author’s need to have input into editing, and in fact have not yet suggested any substantial edits.  As I mentioned in my last post, we had some various iterations before arriving at a cover. When it is appropriate I may be able share those here. The first round of covers were far from my vision of a cover that reflected the content of my memoir. After consulting with my agent, we both agreed on that and approached the publisher with those concerns. They listened and came back with more options that included one that I felt hit just the right note and that I am truly excited about. I’m not saying there was no angst, but this was a moment when I knew I had the right publisher for my book.

Another discussion was about photos. If you have seen the self-published version of Replacement Child, there were photos introducing many of the chapters. I felt the photos were in context and added to the story that way. Most memoirs with photos, however, have a separate photo section on brighter paper within the book, which my editor was in favor of for mine. We talked about our different reasoning and I went back to look at other memoirs again. In the end I agreed that it adds interest for the reader to occasionally flip to the photo section while reading the story to take a look at the real life characters. That, along with the fact that it looks more professional convinced me. Now I am quite excited to see how this plays out in the finished book.

Self-Editing Never Stops

The other editing change was my idea. I had previously cut some chapters and sections that I wanted to take another look at including in the new release. Some were very minor, a paragraph or a line, but also two additional chapters to consider. I sent them over for my editor’s thoughts and she agreed that they enhanced the story. We will make the final decision after we hear back from the copy editor.

For writers who worry about relinquishing control to a traditional publisher, my experience is that this concern may be minimal if you are with the right publisher, you remain open to recommendations and also have a solid belief in your own vision for the final book.

Self-Publishing to Traditional: One Writer’s Journey

For my writer friends asking how it’s going switching my memoir from being self-published to traditional publishing, I thought I might give some ongoing reports. It’s quite a journey for me, and a lesson in loosing up control. In many ways that part is difficult for me, but in more ways it is a freeing experience.

First, I have to say that the excitement of having my first book published by Seal Press (April 2013) is sometimes overwhelming.  It is the dream I had when I labored over the manuscript for four years. But, that’s not a new story for any writer. Certainly not for an unknown writer like myself. Not to mention that I am 58 years old entering an entirely new phase of my working life.  For 20 years I worked in the insurance industry as a marketing director and copywriter. Wallace Stevens might have argued that it is a working world ripe with possibility, but mostly it was numbing. I am still a marketing professional with my own firm, but now I can carve out time for the writing I love. Writers all know that we do it for love, whatever else we may claim.

So, back to the publishing journey.

It helps immensely to have people to work with that understand your angst. My agent and editor are great at allaying my fears when they see an anxious email message from me, typed furiously at 1 am. If the worry wakes me, I write it down. And, my iPhone next to my pillow becomes a dangerous weapon. I am betting, though, that I am not the only author that has a knot in their innards when their “baby” is having a new cover designed, yet another editor looking it over and photos being chosen.

So, we went back and forth a little on the cover and it is evolving into a beautiful one. There is still some tinkering going on with font style, but mostly it is finalized and I love it! I was grateful that my publisher took my comments into account and worked with me and my agent on the look of the book.  It makes a very big difference in how you feel about your book to be proud of the cover. That’s my advice to you writers—to make your voice heard in that phase if at all possible. Of course, remembering, they bought the book. The last word is the publisher’s. For me, it was gratifying to know that there was a team of professionals who sell books for a living weighing in on how to best position my book for the first impression it makes on sales reps and booksellers.  In the end, I trust their instincts.

To be continued . . .

End of #Summer Reminiscence

August takes me back to remembering the last dog-days of summer in the past when I would be scurrying from store to store to find that perfect backpack for my son, the cool sneakers he would wear, a new pair of jeans.

By the time he hit Junior High I was wistful for his elementary school years when I could suit him up in anything I liked and he would be pleased and happy for the new duds and supplies. Excited even to pack his mini backpack with all the pencils and erasers and rulers it could carry. Ready to get on with it and learn! My industrious little guy.

I was sure he sat in the front of the room and was riveted by his teacher’s every word. A parental fantasy. A delightful delusion while it lasted. Until I was called in to school one day and told that my angel jabbers on with his pal all day to the distraction of the entire class—and would I have a word with him? Hmmm, that put a different spin on things didn’t it? Well, I mused, heredity must be respected. He was after all MY son.

Every end of summer at every age was its own special journey into his psyche. I would find out where he thought he stood, and where he wanted to be, in his world. Who did he want to emulate? Why did he NEED those Sketcher sneakers this year? Or the year he insisted on the brand of jeans I could never find? And then came the backlash year when nothing could have a logo on it.  Not a shirt or a backpack or a cap.

By high school I would buy clothes without him at my own peril.  Most often we would be returning the item for something more suitable to his image of himself.  I could miss the mark by a month or even a week.

“But didn’t you like these shirts last week when we bought you one?”

“That was last week, mom. Really.”

Ok, I may exaggerate.

By college, his serious commitment to the environment also played out in his wardrobe. Any shopping we did together was at second- hand stores.  I learned that you could buy a perfectly good shirt for $2.00. To his credit, the clothing budget was slashed to a fraction of what it was even when he was seven.

Now, my boy is on his own. Living in Brooklyn and getting by on a social worker’s salary. I keep tabs on his style choices, which are still evolving, and are still a window into his image of himself. Picking out the right shirt, the way he wants to spend his days, the ways he wants to help people, it all seems part of the intricate weave he is creating for his life.