Friday, May 29, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XVI

Catch up on the rest of this series HERE.

So I waited nervously for my big, scary revisions call from my new editor, Kirk.

The phone rang. I answered, my heart picking up its pace. He asked how I was doing, shooting the proverbial breeze for a few minutes. I wasn't so good at shooting the breeze. My leg was bobbing up and down with nerves. I grabbed a pen in a death grip then found some paper to take notes with.

And then things got interesting. 

See, with my publisher, each manuscript gets three readers evaluating it, and each reader fills out a gigantic form (something like 12 pages long) about the manuscript. I still have the evals from my first five books.

Kirk didn't send me the evals for this one. I still don't have them. I've never laid eyes on them. 

Instead, we discussed them over the phone. I wasn't sure what I thought of that at first. On one hand, it's nice to see directly what someone said about the manuscript, to get criticism or praise from the horse's mouth, as it were.

On the other, getting criticism is harder from a nameless entity than it is from my critique group (friends I'd trust my life with) or my editor (someone I know is out for the best book we can make together). And sure, every so often, an eval will have a random comment that feels personal and sticks with you like a burr.

So in hindsight, I'm glad I've never seen the evals for Tower of Strength. Kirk and I discussed what needed discussing, and I heard both the good and the bad from him.

The conversation went something like this: 

"Two of the readers thought such-and-such. What do you think?" 

He actually had me weigh in on every topic. Often I agreed that the readers had a point.

He'd follow-up with, "Do you have any ideas for how to change it?"

Hmm. Let me think. We brainstormed together, and quite often I'd come up with a solution that we both agreed would work.

Each topic went about the same way. Very much, "Here's an issue. What you do think about it?"

In one or two cases, I outright disagreed with an eval and didn't want to change anything about the issue. Kirk was good with that. In those cases, he could totally see my point. So we moved on to the next thing.

Once he mentioned a reader comment that he disagreed with it and that I should ignore. Rock on. (By this point, I was really liking Kirk . . .)

At the end of the conversation, I had one-page list of notes (which I really didn't need to take; Kirk e-mailed me the same list later that day). Only one note would even remotely take time or much thinking. (And that one did make me do a lot of thinking and reworking, but it was so worth it.)

I loved how Kirk really cared about my opinion. A couple of times when I expressed a reason for why I'd written something a certain way that went against the evals, we worked together to find a way to make the book better while still keeping my original vision in the process.

I could tell he was in my corner the whole way. I hung up the phone in a fantastic mood. Kirk got me and was willing to work with me not only to make a better book but to make me happy as well. Yes! 

The entire conversation lasted about 25 minutes and was probably the most painless call it could have been.

I got the rewrites done in all of two (easy-going) weeks. Then came the waiting and the waiting for the edit to arrive.

I was about to take a trip, and the edit would be ready about the same time. Kirk asked if I'd like to have it with me to read on the plane. I declined, preferring not to work during a vacation and promising to get right on it when I got home.

When I returned and opened the package, I was prepared for the usual editing process: take out my red pen and those sticky flags to mark anything I disagreed with and/or wanted changed (or changed back, as the case may be . . . remember my STET-craziness with Spires?). I assumed I'd spend several days, maybe even a week, going over the entire manuscript to read every red mark and note with a fine-toothed comb.

Once again, Kirk surprised me.


Julie Wright said...

Kirk is ten shades of awesome! He is by far the BEST editor I have ever had and I would fight tooth and nail to keep him as mine. I am so glad your experience was great. You deserve great things.

Barbaloot said...

How does one get to be a reader of pre-published books? I would LOVE that job!

Jordan McCollum said...

I have to say, after your last cliffhanger ending, I was on pins and needles. I met Kirk at LDStorymakers, and he didn't look like he was an editor-zombie who lived on writer-ego-spirit-flesh, but you never can tell . . . ;)

I'm hoping the next step is also a pleasant surprise.

Kristina P. said...

Wow, he sounds amazing! Glad you got stuck with him!

Rebecca Irvine said...

Sounds like a fantastic experience! Yay for people who do their job well.

Mikki said...

once again, you leave me dangling on the edge of a cliff. Love it.
He sounds pretty awesome.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I have a feeling that the surprise was a pleasant one. Still loving this series - so fascinating!

Anonymous said...

I don't know Kirk as an editor but I know him a tiny bit as a person and I like him an awful lot. He was very kind and genuine and I appreciate that in a person. =]

Great story thus far. Can't wait to hear what comes next!

Heffalump said...

Another cliffhanger!
As always, I am enjoying reading your journey of writing!

Summer said...

Can't wait to know what happens next!

wenderful said...

It's fun to find out what is involved in being a published author. I will live vicariously through you.

Heidi said...

Teetering on the edge of my seat, here . . .

Cluttered Brain said...

What's your first book in the Tower of Strength series called? I want to start reading it. Are those books romantical at all? I LOVE romance! Just curious.

Jan said...

You are such a tease. A smart one of course.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I am just glad that the phone call went so well with Kirk. Hooray!

Carolyn V. said...

At first I was reading eval as evil with an accent. Then it hit me, "Oh, eval. Got it." Hee hee, silly me.

I'm so glad Kirk is great! I met him at the conference. He does seem very nice. =)

Melissa Cunningham said...

Congrats. It's nice to know there are people out there who care about YOU.

Still haven't gotten any popcorn, and let me tell you, popcorn is my thing! lol

Anyway, sure love you!

Heatherlyn said...

Kirk sounds great to work with! Personally, I think it's great that he asked your opinion. The auhtor's opinion should be important.

Brillig said...

Okay, I think I need a Kirk. Well, first I need to write a book. Then I need a Kirk. Haha. Your blogposts always inspire me. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

Melissa Cunningham said...

Hi there! My address is 5635 No. Hwy 38, Brigham City, Utah 84302

Thanks a lot babes! Melissa

Jo said...

Kirk sounds so awesome. He is the editor every hardworking author deseves. It is always neat to see someone working exactly where they should be for their talents. Go Kirk!

cleon dann said...

your blog is nice... i love it after reading... kirk is something different you have tried...

cleon dann


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