After more than two years of research and writing, I send in a query and eight completed chapters to three educational publishers. I can’t muster the energy or devote the time to finish this book unless someone tells me it’s worth it, to most definitely carry on, that my work is guaranteed to be published.
I receive a letter and a follow-up phone call and learn that Scholastic wants to publish my work. We talk about the content, the direction I’m going. I specifically ask about the length of the manuscript; it is already over 200 pages and I still have five more chapters to write. “For now, just keep writing,” the voice on the other end says.
I’m happy, of course, but I’m leery. I now have to “just keep writing” and finish the book, but then what? What will they do with 350 pages?
I don’t celebrate. I buckle down.
After spending most of my summer days researching and writing and then evenings and weekends once school starts up and I go back to teaching (and after gaining ten pounds from so much sitting and writing and sitting and writing), I finish the manuscript and submit it. It is 386 pages long.
I don’t celebrate. I’m exhausted. And I need to lose ten pounds.
The editor calls me. She needs me to cut the manuscript back to 224 pages, max.
I don’t celebrate, of course. I don’t cry, either, though I feel like it.
I ask for help. “Any ideas on how I should go about this?”
“Cut the research. Your readers aren’t interested in all the research. What they want to know is exactly what it is you do, how you get the results you do with kids.”
It’s helpful. But I don’t want to cut the research. I included all the research so publishers and readers would take my work seriously.
But I get busy, deleting paragraphs here and there and sometimes entire pages.
I have cut (erased from history!) nearly half of what took me three years to research and write. I submit the new, slimmer product.
I don’t celebrate. I mourn those words, those ideas that no one will ever read.
I get a sneak preview of the cover of my book. Wow! This is really going to happen. There it is—the title, my name, and a picture of me teaching on the cover.
I don’t celebrate. This is my second book to be published by Scholastic. Having already gone through the revision process with an editor on the first book, I know what lies ahead.
A different editor calls. My book has been reassigned to her. The first thing she needs me to do is cut it back to about 175 pages. That way there will be room for all the inserts I want to include.
Once again, I ask for help. She says she has to read through the manuscript anyway and that she’ll be doing some reorganization of the material and that she should be able to shorten it up a bit in the process.
I could be worried about how she might reorganize my work, what she’ll cut out, how long it will take. But I’m not. I’m glad she’s taking over.
A book contract arrives in the mail. I will get an advance on royalties, half of which will be paid soon and the remainder of which will be paid upon completion of the manuscript.
I don’t celebrate. I know there is still much work to do.
I get the first check. I haven’t heard anything from my editor for more than six months, but the check must mean that something is happening on their end.
I’m happy to have something to show for three-plus years of work, but I don’t celebrate. I’m still in the middle of this project.
After nearly a year, I get an email from my editor with the revised manuscript attached. I know that it did not take her that long to do her initial work. I figure there were other projects ahead of mine or that the marketing department is trying to time the release of this book to best boost sales of my first book.
My task is to read through the new manuscript and make sure it flows, that, with the changes that were made, it will still make sense to teachers.
I don’t celebrate. I get busy.
I’m impressed with how the editor pulled out the crucial content and reorganized it by adding in more headings and bullets and charts. I don’t miss the information that was cut from the book, can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing. I return it to her, with a few concerns, but mostly with words of gratitude for doing what I couldn’t.
Though happy with the progress that’s been made, I don’t celebrate. I grieve for my original manuscript and worry that I can’t picture it in my mind, like the face of a loved one who’s not been seen for too long now.
A make-up of the book arrives in the mail. This is my first look at how it’s coming together, how each page looks. I have two weeks to read through it and submit any comments. It’s just proofing at this point. I can’t make any big changes.
I return the book after three intense days. Still, I don’t celebrate.
There are a few questions about what I’ve included in the references section. I chase down books I borrowed while researching, chase down books I’ve loaned out since then. Details, details, details.
And now the publisher wants to put some of the information we had to cut on their website. Teachers will be able to access these additional resources with a code that is printed in the book they buy. Good news, yes, but now this extra information needs to be revised, organized, and edited.
I don’t celebrate. Instead, I do the work, almost indifferent at this point, and email the editor and ask, “Are we almost done?” I think she knows I’m getting tired.
“Yes, I’m 99% sure we’re 100% done,” she responds. I can’t celebrate just yet.
I wait. The book is supposed to be out next month.
In the meantime, I get the other half of my advance. I guess that means we’re 100% done.
When I finally see the book, will I celebrate? I’m thinking not. I know the content is good and I like how it came together and how the editor helped me present the information in such a way that teachers can better access it; but, after more than five years’ work, I’m over it. I’m tired of it. And, I must say, it’s been cut back so much that I’m not even sure what’s in it anymore.
Plus, I’ve moved on to new things!
Written in response to the Daily Prompt: Celebrate Good Times