Friday, October 20, 2006

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CALL?

For those of you wondering what The Call is. . .it is what aspiring writers refer to as The phone call where they are offered a contract by an editor. Usually their first contract. If the writer has an agent, then the agent may make The Call.

Over the next year or so until the release of my book, I will be blogging about the process from here for those of you wondering. Remember that each house might be different. I'm just going by what my house does. (Steeple Hill) www.SteepleHill.com

So you all know my call story because I blogged about it before. My call came from my agent. During that call, she went over the terms of the contract and asked me if I agreed to them. A lot of people at this point will say, "Give me 72 hours to think this over." But for me to do this would have been goofy I think because the editors knew how badly I'd been wanting to write for this house. Heck, the entire WORLD probably knew it. Plus I was aware from researching this house that they mostly use what is called a boiler plate contract, meaning it's pretty standard for first time/newbie authors. I also know the house is reputable so I wasn't concerned legally about agreeing to stuff over the phone.

Anyway, so I agreed verbally to the terms. At that point, my agent called the editor back who called her with The Call and informed her I agreed to the terms. The editor and I then exchanged emails and kudo sort of convo. We agreed on a time we could speak over the phone to talk about some details.

The next day she phoned me and we discussed some of the details. In that phone call, we discussed things like whether I wanted to write under my real name or use a pseudonym (also known as a pen name). She also asked me to be thinking about a revision deadline. That there were going to be some more revisions they'd requested on the manuscript. She emailed me those revisions. I looked them over and we talked about a do-able deadline. They gave me up to 90 days, which is a really wonderful deadline. No pressure as I had feared. I can coast leisurely and make sure I'm turning in my absolute best work. So after we discussed things like that, they were going to draw up the contract and mail it to me. In the meantime, I got cracking on the revisions she'd emailed to me.

I went over the revisions and we discussed any questions I had and any areas I needed clarification. Can I just say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE working with an editor? Some people may balk at another person suggesting changes in their work. I, on the other hand, really think these changes will make the book better. So I'm learning that a book is a team effort. A collaboration of my creativity, and my editors' experience as someone who knows what sells, and who knows the readership of the house she represents. This trust is crucial at this stage and I love that I feel the editors "get" my story and are open to my suggestions too.

My deadline is December 15th. For the next couple of days, I will be polishing and proofreading the revisions. Then I will mail them in early in case I didn't go deep enough on some of the revision points.

All in all there were less than twenty five points. These were broad strokes. Thankfully no major plot or character issues like the book had before. For example, my editor wanted to see more of the sick boy. She felt like he was recovering most of the time and not really sick. So this could probably be fixed easily by adding a sentence here and there, and then maybe a scene or two where he has a crisis.


The way I revised my ms was I lettered every revision point. Thankfully I only got to "V" otherwise I would have then lettered them "AA" "BB" etc. Then I printed out a paper copy of the ms just as I sent it to the editor. Then I went through the ms and coincided the letter with the part of the ms she mentioned. This was easy and took less than an hour because she put the page number or chapter there. I went through the paper copy and put a red x over everything that needed to be cut. Then I went to the computer document, copied and renamed it. That way I have a hard copy of the ms as originally subbed, and a paper copy to write on. I also proofread better by paper than I do by computer so I catch more mistakes on paper. The copied document is the one I went about applying the changes to. This way, I always have the original as a reference because when you go to cut scenes, the pages after that won't line up with the editor's revision notes.

After I cut everything that I could possibly cut, including areas where I tended to overdescribe (another revision point), I had cut about five or six thousand words. This is good because next came the building back up of scenes where she wanted more of this or that. For example, my hero disliked the town but I only hinted about it in chapter one. The reader didn't find out his internal conflict until about page 132 or so. My editor asked me to bring it in sooner, so I did and that took maybe a paragraph of word space to accomplish that. I didn't dump the info all at once though. I put a sentence here and there, or added a few words to an existing sentence to hint at/let the reader know why he dislikes this town so much.

For the last couple weeks I have set the ms aside and not looked at it AT ALL. This is so when I come back to it, I will hopefully see it with a fresh set of eyes. Sometimes you know your story so well, it gets confusing as to what happened when. An example of this is I typed in, "Since you'll be my best buddy today and all." It was a statement that the soldier made to the little boy in reference to a pact they'd made which happened in (what I thought was) an earlier conversation. In proofreading today though, I realized I'd put it in BEFORE that conversation happened which would have confused the reader most likely. See, I knew they'd had that conversation, but because the story is so much in my mind, I thought I'd read it when I apparentl had just recalled it from writing it before. So this is why a fresh set of eyes is crucial before you turn your work in.

After I proofread it and polish it and get it in as close to submittable form as possible, I will send it to my crit group or a woman I use to line edit to go over it for me. It would be best if it were a person who has never read the story so they can pick out mistakes. I remember one of my critters (Critique partners) finding an error that got past four people, including myself. I had my heroine driving around an impouded car for eight chapters. LOL! Eight! I guess I forgot it got impounded. I'm really glad they caught that one. I've read books where the hero starts out having brown eyes and ended up with blue by the end. This is the sort of mistake that outside readers can pick out. By outside readers I mean people you trust to be honest who are unfamiliar with the story.

Okay, enough for today. My hands hurt and I imagine your eyes do too.

Blessings,

Squirrel

3 comments:

Hope said...

Thank you so much for sharing the process with us! Congratulations again on getting the book sold! I'm glad they gave you such a wonderful amount of time for the revisions, and also that they didn't want too many! (This is where I'd stick a big smiley face if I had one!) I pray you can get everything done right, nobody driving around in cars they aren't supposed to have, and all the characters with consistent coloring! *g* I am still so happy for you!!! You've really earned this with all your hard work & dedication, and kept it up despite pain and problems! God bless you! Tenacity does pay! (((hug)))

Robin Caroll said...

Awesome, girl. Thanks for sharing this! I'm still SO PROUD for you!

Cathy West said...

Hey thanks for taking the time to write all that. It's fascinating to know what goes on after that call that turns your entire world upside down!!
May God guide you through those revisions and continue to heal your body. He IS doing a new thing!!
you are blessed.