I’m often asked what’s the best part of being a published author, as opposed to an unpublished author.
Well, there are the obvious things: I get to see my book in print; I actually get to make money doing something I love; I get to do school visits and talk about my work, etc etc. But there are other things too, that aren’t as obvious. One is that I get to work intensively with a very gifted editor, Liz Waniewski, who knows how to tease out the real story behind my story – sounds simple, but believe me, it isn’t.
Another thing I adore is having a professional copyeditor. As a graduate student I did a fair amount of copyediting for my professors, although mine was definitely of the “this word is spelled wrong” and “this sentence is missing a verb” variety. To be honest, my copyeditor at Penguin, Regina Castillo, is in an entirely different class.
For instance, my next book (now entitled THOU SHALT NOT ROAD TRIP) has just received the Regina treatment, and . . . whoa! She doesn’t just highlight typos (although she found plenty of those) or sentences that aren’t quite right (although she found plenty of those, too), but she’s like a continuity editor on a movie–making sure that actions aren’t duplicated or missing altogether, keeping people’s behavior consistent, and pointing out other inaccuracies. Here are a few examples of my sentences from the book with her comments in brackets:
All eyes are on me, and it’s clear that even drenched in sweat, everyone knows who I am. [Recast? Everyone is not drenched in sweat.]
I shake her hand again, and it’s not until she’s gone that I realize what she just said. [When did he shake her hand the first time?]
Still, I don’t think Matt wants to hear it, so I pretend it was a rhetorical question and nod sympathetically. [If it's rhetorical, Matt doesn't expect any response.]
Teresa pouts her lips. [Is lips redundant here? I'm not sure it's possible to pout anything else.]
See what I mean? Bear in mind that these are taken at random from the first few chapters. There are about 500 more comments where those came from! It’s such a luxury for me to have my novel go through this process – it makes me look much smarter when the finished version comes out.
Anyway, thanks to Regina, and to copyeditors everywhere for making us authors look good.
Finally, a quick shout to my wonderful hosts this morning: the students at Lindbergh High School in St. Louis and their librarian Mrs. Siefert. You’re all awesome.