What to Expect When You’re Expecting–a BOOK part4–First Trimester

Guess what?

This Thursday blog is late because THE BABY ARRIVED!!!!

It's a BOOK!

It’s a BOOK!

Woo-hooo!!!! My apologies for those of you waiting for the next installment of the continuing saga of book-parents, but I’ve been doing a lot of cooing and oohing instead of blogging. Thank you to the amazing A-team (Amy Lennex & Audrey Mitnick) at Sleeping Bear Press. I am so excited!!!! Ahem–but where was I?

What if you’re POSITIVE?

That’s today’s–er, yesterday’s topic, my friends. What you may be wondering about…..after you sign the contract. If you’re new to publishing, read on about What I Didn’t Know. If you’re new to this blog, feel free to scroll back to the first three installments featuring more wonderful book-Moms –aka authors– and also my agent, Deborah Warren from East/West Literary. YES, yes–book-Dads are authors too. They’ll be here next week, OK?

Today, I have two guests. Joanne Levy will be popping back in (For more book-Mom wisdom from the author of SMALL, MEDIUM, AT LARGE, see part2 of the series.).

Joanne Levy

Joanne Levy

And we have a new visiting author, Gae Polisner.

Gae Polisner

Gae jumps in with both feet–in writing and in life!

(That’s also Gae, prancing around the shoreline below–in her first Trimester). I met both Joanne and Gae through KIDLITCARES and via Kate Messner’s TEACHERSWRITE! over the past two summers. Gae’s next YA novel, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, will hit shelves Spring 2014 from Algonquin Young Readers. If you know me, you know I LOVE cool titles and I LOVE books that weave great literature into the stories–and her first YA–

THE PULL OF GRAVITY (FSG/Macmillan) does just that. Now available in paperback, it weaves in life lessons from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

"Pulls the heart in all the right places." - Kirkus Reviews *

“Pulls the heart in all the right places.” – Kirkus Reviews *

A not-very-pregnant Gae Polisner doing the Happy Dance.

A not-very-pregnant Gae Polisner doing the Happy Dance.

So why did Gae choose this preggers photo when, as she puts it, “there are tons of photos of me HUGE somewhere”?

Gae says: “I decided it was perfectly representative of how you can be both so much the same and so much changed when you’re finally pregnant and have a (baby) book coming out into the world.”

Because being POSITIVE brings on more angst, and more questions and expectations, and more WAITING–just as much as waiting for that YES.

Joanne Levy agrees: “Getting the deal is just the beginning and there are a lot of sleepless nights, dirty diapers and spit-ups along the way.”

And lots of things you may not know.

I was one of those people you read about who get “pregnant” fairly easily–with my first book that is.

books_goldie

(The real kid took a whole lot longer!) But backing up a bit–way before Goldie, I was writing skits and plays for my students to perform, including “The Christmas Wrap Rap” and “Deck the Walls.” Newbie me submitted the “Wrap” rap to Plays Magazine on a whim, expecting to hear from an editor, and envisioning the fabulous PROCESS the editor and I would go through–much like the Writing Process I was teaching my high school students. Right?

Wrong.

About a month after submitting the rap, I got a big whopping check in the mail–for $50. No letter. No editorial process. Nada. They bought it and it appeared in their December issue the following year.

What I didn’t know:

The magazine bought all rights. In their defense, “All rights” is specified in their mention in Writers’ Market, but what did I know? (I am not an attorney like Gae Polisner —or anonymous legal-eagles in my own family who roll their eyes about this…) For 50 bucks, I’d let go of any chance of “The Christmas Wrap Rap” being a book. The good news–Plays Magazine reprinted it last year, so schools can still rap around the holidays. Yo. (And you thought The Writer’s Rap was my first rap…)

Fast forward a few years to when I found a publisher–or shall we say when the fabulous Caitlyn Dlouhy picked my picture book manuscript, GOLDIE LOCKS HAS CHICKEN POX, out of the slush pile. (THANK YOU CAITLYN!!!!!!)

What I expected: Once again, the English teacher in me was excited to venture into an editorial process similar to The Writing Process I dutifully taught my high school students. Wrong again. There were a few tiny tweaks but the manuscript was deemed ready for illustrations fairly soon after I’d signed the contract, so off it went, meaning my editor sent it to a few illustrators she thought would be a good match.

What I didn’t know:

Newbie me didn’t realize the author has no say in the next steps–unless you’re already a high profile author or possibly a major celebrity chef who’s launched a middle grade adventure series with only a teensy mention of the ghost writer. (Just so you know–the aforementioned ghost writer is not me. I have no idea who they selected. It just bugs me that very little credit is given to said writer and the celeb is now acting like the muse took over… Anyhoo–back to topic…)

What I didn’t know:

When it comes to selecting the illustrator, the editor basically plays matchmaker, and I truly lucked out because my wonderful editor had some great illustrators in mind. However, with Goldie, it took almost a year and a half to find someone who wasn’t already busy with other projects. (An illustrator gets a year to complete the art in a picture book.) = MORE WAITING!!!!!!

As for DECK THE WALLS, after a few rejections because of the “bad manners” mindset (See installment 1), I tucked it away. I was so very tempted to send it to Plays magazine but I didn’t want to give up the rights. Lesson learned–and boy am I glad now!!!!!!

I know I said that already. but the fact that DECK THE WALLS is officially in the warehouse and being shipped to distributors is doubly awesome because I’ve had an event planned at Barnes & Noble/ Citrus Heights TOMORROW and maybe–just maybe–they’ll have books too. (Please, please,please…)

Do I have pre-event angst? Heck, yeah.

I love this baby!

As Gae says: “Most of us have been dreaming of this moment for a LONG time before it ever happens. And, doubting it ever will. And, when it’s upon us, much like with that baby, we fret: “is it really as good as I want it to be? Will people love it and think it’s as special as I do?” And, the answer to that second question for most of us – really all of us – is the same as for with our kids: some people will love it, and connect with it, think it’s the cutest, most special baby in the world. And some? Some will not. Some will think its face is squashed, it’s a boring baby, it poops too much, or its face isn’t quite as pretty as we think it is, or they’ll just lack a connection to it, but won’t be sure exactly why. And the best thing I can offer is to remind you this:

THAT’S OKAY.

“Think of all the books over your lifetime, ones you have loved and your best friend has not, or your mother has raved about and you can’t get past the first thirty pages. Check out reviews for The Great Gatsby one day when you’re bored. Even Harry Potter has its detractors.”

So I’m doing some deep breathing here in anticipation of tomorrow. (Hee-hee-hooo got me through some rough spots during the kid’s labor, believe me…)

So thank you Gae, for your reminder. To it, I’ll add: If the baby’s late–so be it.Hopefully it will have a long and happy life!

I love what Joanne has to say about it too: “Think about what you get at the end; something you are proud of and love with all your heart. It is made up of bits of you and people who know you recognize it as yours and smile knowingly when the read it and say, “Oh, she totally wrote that. I can even hear her voice in this.” And although it’s terrifying, you send that baby out in the world and strangers will meet and love your baby and might even write you an e-mail to tell you how much. What could be better? Not a whole lot.”

With kids and books, it definitely takes a village, and I’m truly thankful for mine. Follow these wonderful authors on Twitter at @Gaepol and @JoanneLevy and be sure to

READ their books.

As promised–next week, we’ll hear from the book-Dads…

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