penmage: (editing like an editor)
I can finally reveal the truth of the Good Thing that happened a couple weeks ago.

And that this is, I now bear the lofty title of Assistant Editor.

Which is to say, I have been promoted!

My boss told me about this two weeks ago, but it wasn't official until the email went out today. I was holding my breath that it would happen for the last six months or more, and then holding my breath that I wouldn't jinx it from really truly happening for the last two weeks.

But it has happened! It is real!

My responsibilities don't really change at all. I still support all my bosses, and do all the same work, but now I'm hopefully going to be signing up more of my own projects and doing more of my own books. So, same job, just more of it!

Anyway, I have accomplished what I was starting to think was impossible in this industry, which is a promotion, and I am kind of really happy about that.
penmage: (editing like an editor)
Editor D and I were working on a book with Harry Mazer. Harry was unwell, and pretty much all communication for the project was run through Norma. Norma and I were in touch a lot in those days.

The book was My Brother Abe: Sally Lincoln's Story, and as the name suggests, it was about Abraham Lincoln's sister, Sally.

At one point, I emailed Norma and asked her to ask Harry for the dedication. She responded:

Harry says he’s mulling a dedication and [I kid you not] it’s between me and Sally Lincoln. By tomorrow morning, one of us should win.

The next morning, after I emailed her for an update, she responded:

Yay, I won!

The final dedication reads: For Norma, always.
penmage: (scc - come with me if you want to live)
A couple of PSAs for you:

I don't know how much of a different it will make, but I am willing to try anything to say Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (including compulsively watching and rewatching episodes on

The EOnline Save One Show campaign has moved into the Game Changer round--five shows are left. So go and vote for Sarah Connor! Even if you don't care about the show. I am begging you. Do it for me. I really really really want a third season. I want more of this story more than I have ever wanted more of any TV show ever.


There is a free panel with Neil Gaiman this Thursday night. The topic is Leaps and Bounds, Fits and Starts: The Evolution of a Children’s Book Writer. It stars Neil Gaiman, Mariken Jongman, and Shaun Tan, and is moderated by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

The description reads:

Picture books! Novels! Graphic Novels! And more! Authors and their works develop in distinctive ways. Some ideas and books are nurtured for years while others have a eureka moment. Join children’s book authors Neil Gaiman, Mariken Jongman, and Shaun Tan for a discussion about the ever-evolving landscape of children’s and young adult literature with Scholastic Vice President, Executive Editor Andrea Davis Pinkney.

More details here.
penmage: (Default)
As usual, John Scalzi says it best:

Observers of the science fiction field will note the Nebula Award for Best Novel was won this year by a YA book, that the Tiptree Award is co-shared by a YA novel, and that in the Hugo Best Novel category, two and a half of the books nominated are also YA (the “half” in this case being Zoe’s Tale, written to be YA-friendly but shelved with the adult SF). This surge of recognition for YA has caused some consternation and grumbling in certain quarters. Here’s what I have to say about that:

Yes, how horrible it is that some of what’s being hailed as the best science fiction and fantasy written today is in a literary category designed to encourage millions of young people to read for the rest of their natural lives. Because God knows the last thing science fiction and fantasy publishing needs right now is whole generation of new and enthusiastic readers who might actually get hooked into the genre until they die. It’s a goddamn tragedy, it is.

YES. Yes, that.

It just so happens that we are living right now in the heyday of YA fiction. We are in the glorious golden age of the teen novel. There are some amazing talents writing YA--writers I adore turning out books that make me excited. This is a glorious time to be a children's book editor, or to be reading teen fiction, or just to care about the kidlit industry.

I spend so much time in the kidlitosphere these days that I forget sometimes that there are people out there who gripe about the attention that YA gets, or conversly, think that YA is not every bit as strong and smart and complex and fascinating and exciting and well-written as adult books (and sometimes even better.)

And then this happens. YA gets a swarm of recognition from the FSF world. As a children's book editor and a kidlit lover, I am thrilled beyond words. First of all, for the books that were chosen. The Knife of Never Letting Go was one of my standout books of the year, and I am so happy to see it get this kind of recognition. It's groundbreaking and brave and compulsively readable. And second, of course, because it's time our corner of the industry was acknowledged as sharing the playing field with the grownups.

If you are still grumbling about the fact that YA swept the FSF awards this year, do yourself a favor. Read some YA books. I'll be happy to give you a short list of recommended titles, but if you don't want to ask, the shortlists and award lists for the awards is definitely a good place to start. Read The Knife of Never Letting Go, and then come back and we can have a conversation.

YA is here and it's proud and it's good. And it's not going away.
penmage: (editing like an editor)
Today I got a cold call from someone who wasn't trying to hawk her manuscript and wasn't trying to convince me that she was an agent. She was actually a person with a legitimate request following the right channels. In fact, I was able to help her with what she needed and direct her to the proper party.

It's ridiculous how happy that makes me feel. And also how rare that is.
penmage: (the world is crumbling said bruno)
There’s this manuscript. It came in on Friday of last week, and I’ve been working on it obsessively since then. Because it is SO GOOD.

Seriously. I mean, Editor D and I both knew it was good when he acquired it, but we never expected it to be this degree of staggering awesome. I think we’re both a little shellshocked at the quality of the book.

That, and how gory it is.

It’s a gorefest. It’s worse than Darren Shan. Seriously. In my quest to get through this nearly-500 page manuscript as fast as possible so I could find out what happens, I was reading while eating. Bad idea. I got to the first really gory scene and I stopped with a forkful of pasta halfway to my mouth. Lunch was over.

It’s funny. Editor D and I kept walking around yesterday in a sort of happy editorial daze. I overheard him say the same thing to different people a whole bunch of times—and I was saying it myself, to anyone who would listen.

“This book is really incredible. It’s so good. And so incredibly gory.”

It’s so scary and gory that last night, for the first time since we moved into our house, I closed the closet door before I went to bed, just to make sure the monsters wouldn’t come out and eat me.

Then, this morning, I started reading the fifth trade of Robert Kirkman’s excellent and very gory Walking Dead series. I got about halfway through, and then the combined violence and gore of the manuscript and Walking Dead just shut me down, and I just couldn’t any more.

Wow. I just totally got broken by that manuscript.
penmage: (omgdaleks)
Why is the publishing industry imploding today? WTF?

Editor J called us all in for a mandatory closed-door meeting in his office on ten minutes notice, and told us that Rick Richter, the president of S&S Children's Books, is resigning, effective Friday. He wanted to tell us before we heard in the 11am press release.

But that's not all. Our publisher was also fired. So were 34 other people, all in adult. The PW alert calls it "what has to be one of the grimmest days in publishing in recent years."

We're supposed to have a new president by year end--which is to say, within three weeks. And who knows what will happen when that person starts?

Another PW alert today announced a major restructuring at Random House. Yesterday, Becky Saletin, a publisher at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, stepped down. And last week, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced a new policy in which they are no longer acquiring manuscripts, which is the most fucked-up thing I can imagine a publishing house doing.

I can't be the only publishing person freaking out here, right guys? WTF? Seriously?
penmage: (editing like an editor)
Oh my god, you guys, I am so tired.

My life is a little bit insane right now, and it is only going to get more insane. I just finished editing a 370 page manuscript. This manuscript was very, very late, and came in right before Rosh Hashana and needed to get edited, like, yesterday.

On Wednesday, another super-late 385-page manuscript came in. On Thursday, the second draft of a third super late, 435-page manuscript came in. Also, MS#2 is the third in a trilogy, and I have been procrastinating reading #2, because I had a billion other things to do, so I am also now frantically reading the second book in the trilogy so I can edit the third.

Not to mention a less long, less urgent manuscript that came in a couple of months ago that I was just about to start working on and then these three whoppers came in. Also not to mention catalog copy for Fall 09 which is due on Tuesday and I haven’t even started. Also not to mention that I’m out on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday for Yom Kippur, and Friday for Community Outreach Day.

I just finished editing MS#1. I stayed up late last night and worked on it on the train. I had promised Editor D I would get it to him before the weekend. AND I DID. I fall over now.

On the bright side, my friend Ariel bought me a cheer-up cupcake from Crumbs. It is huge, and it has lots of icing and rainbow sprinkles. It is delicious. I <3 Ariel.

That is my editorial workload. There is another major workload that is about to collapse on my head, and I seriously am not sleeping again until January. But that is for another post, and another time. I am stressed out enough for right now.
penmage: (editing like an editor)
Man, the last two days have been jam-packed. A short summary:

Yesterday morning, Megan McCain came to the office to sign copies of her picture book, My Dad, John McCain. We all dutifully traipsed up to the 17th floor conference room and feasted on the goodies. She was very sweet, and absurdly fidgety.

The food was good, though. (An aside: later, Editor D came back from a meeting where apparently there was leftover food from the Megan McCain event. "There was food at the marketing meeting!" he announced as he came back, munching on a cookie. "Republican food." Hee!)

Later that day, we had a department-wide party. Apparently, S&S Childrens has hit 35 books so far this year on the NYTimes bestseller list. That surpasses last year, when we had 24--and we've barely started the Fall season, which has our biggest books. Yay!

Me and some other assistants went early to pour champagne and cider and set things up, and then we celebrated again.

This morning, we had a librarian preview--we had about 50 librarians in the New York area come, and we presented our Fall 08 list to them. Commence more food.

But the best thing that happened today was that one of my favorite authors who we publish stopped by the office today. We got finished copies of her first book, and I sent her one, but it hadn't arrived yet, and she was in the neighborhood, so she wanted to stop by.

I love her. Like crazy. She's a real sweetheart, and her books are fantastic. She's probably the author I am closest to on our list. Her book is also one of the first books I worked on all the way through--we just got the manuscript right when I started working for Editor D, so in a way, this is my first published book just like it's hers.

Anyway. She told me that I had a keen editorial eye, and that she thought I was instrumental in making her books good. I was wondering how she could tell what was me in the editorial letter and what was Editor D, and then she reminded me of her first manuscript with us.

She wrote a Book A, and it's great. But then she wrote Book B, and we knew that Book B would be a huge breakout novel, so we pushed the pub date of Book A back a few seasons. Which means that Book A was final by the time I started working for Editor D. He had me read it and write editorial notes anyway.

My author said that when Editor D told her that he had a new assistant who had read her book and had more notes, she was dismayed--the manuscript had already been accepted, and approved, and did she really need to put more into it?

But then she read my notes. And she found that they pushed the book the extra mile.


Also, the author of this book emailed Editor D and me to say that as he revised, he was hugely impressed with the quality of the editorial work and attention to detail.


So, it's been a good week to be a children's book editor.

Anyway. On to Friday.

Reading: I'm currently reading Mitali Perkins' First Daughter: White House Rules, which is decent but sometimes feels more like a lecture than a novel.

I just finished Elizabeth C. Bunce's A Curse Dark As Gold, which, you guys--it's amazing. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous retelling of Rumplestiltskin. It's fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough, especially if you like fairy tale retellings. This one will take your breath away.

My new friend at work just started reading Sandman, so I'm rereading them with her--we're up to Doll's House right now. And I have Nancy Werlin's Impossible waiting to be read, but I am almost afraid to read it lest I no longer have it to read anymore. Of course, that was my logic with The King of Attolia, which I STILL have not read, so you'd think I'd have learned by now.

Planning: Dinner tonight is just me and N! Which is great, because I have no interest in walking to services myself in the rain. Lunch tomorrow is with a family who I love.

Sunday is complicated. Here's a rundown of things I have going on on Sunday:

Ren faire with my best friend from high school
Apple picking with the community
The engagement party of my friend who lives in Israel and is in town for the week
The Brooklyn Book Fair, starring Susan Cooper (!) and Patty McLachlan
A goodbye party for our friends who are moving to Israel
A family learned program at our synagogue

AGGGGGH. I don't know what I am going to do. It's terrible.

Watching: I might be a terrible fan for saying this, but right now? I am enjoying Torchwood more than Doctor Who. Shocking! I am in the middle of Daleks in Manhattan/The Evolution of the Daleks (finished part one) and I am more interested in watching the next episode of Torchwood (Countrycide) than finished the Doctor Who episode. Ten! Why don't you appeal to me?

Also watching ANTM. This season is kind of hilarious so far.
penmage: (editing like an editor)
I have spent the past four days working feverishly on a 500 page manuscript. It’s excellent, don’t get me wrong, but it also came in late, and Editor D is going on vacation starting today at noon and not coming back for a week, so he wanted to get our editorial letter out today.

So I had to get my notes to him this morning.

I have been working on it like crazy. I have spent hours on it. I have worked on it on my commute, both ways, three days in a row, and last night I went to sleep at 2am because I was working on it, and I even took my laptop to work with me today so I could work on the train.

I worked and worked and worked, and then I worked for another 45 minutes when I got in this morning, and then my notes were done. All twelve pages of them.

I worked REALLY hard on this manuscript. And it's really good, so it was a joy, but it was also a lot. It was an intense editorial process.

Today, Editor D sent out the editorial letter to the author. And he said,

I am cutting and pasting N’s overall notes here as her questions are good ones for you to think about as you revise.

All of the overall points (and a lot of the line edits) are taken from my notes. On a big book by one of our important authors.

And Editor D attributed them to me.

Now I feel awesome.
penmage: (so totally busted [singin in the rain])
I am answering the phones for Bossman P this week, while his assistant is on vacation. Most of his phone calls are official business, but, sweet baby Jesus! You would not believe how many of the calls are people cold calling with submissions.

Now, let me just flesh out the picture here: Bossman P is the president of children’s publishing. The president. As in, not even an editor. Not even a publisher. He's the guy on top.

What are these people thinking? I really do not understand. I just had a conversation with a woman who wanted to speak to Bossman P about her submission.

Me: What is this concerning?
Her: It’s about my book. I want to speak to him about publishing it.
Me: Do you have a previous relationship with Bossman R?
Her: No, but I need to discuss my book with him.
Me: If you have a submission, you need to submit it to submissions editor.
Her: No, I can’t just send it in. I need to protect my rights.
Me: (huge eyeroll) No one is going to steal your rights.
Her: I need to talk with him.
Me: It doesn’t work that way.
Her: (huffily) Then I will take my book somewhere else.

These people must do some research to get to the point where they have Bossman P’s name and try to call him. So why do they not realize that the president of children’s publishing is not going to want to field their calls? Do they also try to call the White House to discuss their political aspirations?

Someone explain this to me, because I got nothing.
penmage: (editing like an editor)
Today, we learned that we are putting one of our paperbacks on the Summer 09 list. That means that I had to write cover copy, front matter, teaser matter, and catalog copy for the book today.

The reason this is extra-fun is because all of those things are basically blurbs about the book. Which means they all share the basic same idea—which would be, the plot of the book. And yet each one of them needs to be different.

This, on top of the three different ways I blurbed the plot for the hardcover edition.

Usually, these tasks are spread out over time. You do them over a few months.

Doing them all in one day?

I am BURNT OUT. I never want to look at this book again. Augh.


In further news, I discovered an amazing new resource earlier this week—the CT library system. Those of you who know me know that I have a slavering devotion and love for NYPL, the wonderful New York Public Library system. But we moved to CT, and I got a library card at the CT library, and suddenly I realized—now I have a whole new library system to abuse! And then, in a fit of brilliance, I placed hold on all the titles I have been waiting and waiting and waiting—months, I tell you! for NYPL to get in stock.

And like, twelve of them have already come in for me!

I love this new shiny library system.
penmage: (editing like an editor)
Today we had an Editorial Rally.

You may be wondering what the heck an editorial rally is. You wouldn't be the only one. RP, our Publisher, sent out an outlook invite to said Rally last week, without a word of explanation. We all started freaking out. We had no idea what to expect. Forced cheers? Pompoms? Book burnings? Firings?

None of that. Basically, RP and RR (the president of children's publishing) wanted to reassure us that we were doing a good job despite the flagging economy, that we would be okay, that print was not dead, and that we were a great team. They said lots of cheerful things about the books we're publishing. They talked about how awesome we are, and said that this is an impossible industry to break into, and the fact that we're all in it shows how much we care. All sorts of nice things like that.

No snacks, though. There should have been snacks.

This is all necessary because we just entered a very sudden hiring freeze. It's not S&S--it's CBS, our parent company. There's a hiring freeze through (the earliest) January 1, and the way we found out about it was when our sister imprint was trying to hire a new assistant and HR stopped sending her resumes, and she asked why it was taking so long, and they told her there was a hiring freeze.

So of course everyone started going crazy.

But it's not us, no one is getting fired, it's just a reaction to the recession. At least that's what they're saying now.

And then, when I was on the train, N called me. He took out the garbage and locked himself out of the house. So I had to take the bus home, because his car keys were locked inside with the house keys.

I may stop making fun of him for it one day soon, but I wouldn't count on it.

So that was my day.
penmage: (bsg laura try me (ethelinesherman))
So here is the update:

I can't fax it to him, because the marine sat fax he uses is out of special paper (and when you live far, far away, it takes time to get a refill.)

I can email it to him, but he only has email on his cellphone, and he can't open attachments unless he drives several hours away to a town with different cellphone technology (I have no idea what that means) so can I post the queries in the body of the email? (Answer: no.)

He does have friends coming to visit him on May 15, so I could resend them the CEM and they could hand deliver it.

And then after that it could take another two weeks to get back to us, not counting the time it will take him to work on it.

I am going to spend my time constructively converting the file into a tracked PDF.

And then I am going to calmly try not to kill him over the phone lines.
penmage: (edmund is cranky and so am i)
We have an author who lives far, far away.

Most of the time, the magic of email means that this doesn’t matter. I don’t care where he is, as long as he can respond to my email. He’s a good writer who gives us good books.

The only time it becomes an issue is when we have to send each other actual physical things. Hard copies. Contracts and copyedited manuscripts (hereby referred to as CEMs) and first pass pages. Because he lives far, far away, it takes a long, long time for packages to get from us to him, and then from him to us. It slows things down, and makes it all the more necessary for things to happen on schedule.

Case in point, this time. I sent him his copyedited manuscript. If you’ve never seen one of these babies before, then I will tell you that they have copyedits on the page, and then queries on post-its stuck to the page. The page edits are usually simple grammar and word usage notes—the post-it queries are usually more complicated questions that the author really needs to respond to.

Now, when we send packages to our author, who lives far, far away, because he lives in such a remote location, his packages go to the general post office, who send them on to his remote location. This time, he asked the PO to make a photocopy of the copyedited manuscript and hold on to it, in case something happened to the original en route. (FYI: before I send out any CEM I photocopy it, just in case it gets lost. The one time I didn’t, it got lost.) All of this is well and good.

Except the PO accidentally sent him the photocopy and not the original. Okay, still not a big deal. We do need the original back, but we agreed that he could do his copyedits on the photocopy and then send them both back.

They arrived on my desk today, and I was all set to transfer the copyedits from the photocopy to the original, when I discovered

that the photocopy didn’t include any of the query post-its. Somehow they were just not copied.

So he didn’t respond to any of them.

Not his fault, obviously, but I just want to headdesk headdesk headdesk, and call him up and yell “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!” a lot of times into the phone. This is his fourth book. He’s been through the process before. Did he really think his manuscript was so perfect that there were no queries at all, only copyedits? I mean, it’s good, but not that good. Not at this stage. Was he not at all confused as to the lack of queries?

We don’t have time to send this back to him and have him send it back to us. We need the answers to those queries.

I don’t know how we’re going to proceed, but it is going to stir up a lot of unnecessary work for me. Either reading them all to him over the phone, or faxing a 300 page manuscript, or typing up all the queries or something.

I want to hit something.


penmage: (Default)

January 2016



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