Write on, Wednesday! Writing (and editing) a Book

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By Leslie Lindsay

“Hey, I’m busy over here–I’m writing a book, ya know?!”  Here’s the thing with writing a book:  It’s a BIG job.  Most folks don’t realize how big it is till they really get into it.  And the bottom line is most people don’t get into it.

In fact, I read somewhere that out of 100 people who want to write, only 10 actually do.  Of that 10, 9 will get rejected or give up.  One person is left with a manuscript and a contract and a finally a book.  One out of 100 want-to-be-writers actually end up with a book in hand?  Yikes.  Why bother?  Well…it has to be something you are completely 100% passionate about.  One has to have drive, ambition, good skills (and I’m not just talking writing skills here…but also negotiating skills, creativity skills, professionalism, etc.), persistence (but politely so), the desire to continue learning, the innate ability to obeserve the world (and the people in it), and to have a thick skin.  There’s probably more, too but this is all I can think of off-the-cuff.

In any case, I have written a book.  It’s about childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), something I am passionate about since my oldest daughter was diagnosed with it when she was 2.5 years old.  So, when I couldn’t find that book when she was diagnosed, I started my own little research project which turned into a book.

But you don’t really care about all of that, do you?  You want to know what it is like to edit the sucker.

First, my publisher didn’t even offer a contract to me until I verbally agreed to to recruit an advisory panel.  I got 6 qualifed folks to review portions of my tex…SLPs, early education specialists, and a mother of a child with CAS.  I douled out copies of my work for them to review, make notes, and otherwise criticize   advise.  They did a fantastic job; but it was still stressful.  Afterall, I had already written the darn thing based on lots of research and experience, but well…they were the experts.

After I did all of that, the publisher was ready to offer a contract! 

I submitted  a complete manuscript–which I thought was pretty polished. 

It wasn’t.  Enter “the editor.”  She’s been great.  She knows her stuff.  She has worked with this company since 1986.  She double-checks things like web addresses to see if they are still current (some aren’t).  She tells me when something is “too wordy” or “redundant.”  She moves sections so they flow better.  Then she sends it all back to me for my review.

I review and usually like her changes.  If I don’t, I don’t change them (that rarely happens).  Sometimes she wants more clarification on something, “What exactly does a music therapist do for kid with CAS?”  I go back to the expert source by sending an email  and get an answer.  I pop into the manuscript.  Sometimes she says, “Exactly how do you play Zingo?”  Then I suggest to my kids, “Hey, let’s play Zingo!”  so I can write about it.  Other times, she wants a better citation…or sometimes I leave something out like the author’s name.  Duh!

Sometimes, I just say, “Huh?!  What was I thinking when I wrote that?”  I delete. 

And yet other times, I just run across something that will fit so nicely in chapter ___ and think, “Oh, I have got to summarize that article about brain mapping so I can pop that into the chapter on where-does-speech-come-from in-the-first-place!”  That’s when I create extra work for myself…but you know, I sort of kind of like in my own nerdy way.

The process will take us up to about Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, the art department will contact me and ask for my ideas on cover art and typeset.  They are only ideas, mind you…the publisher makes the final call.

Then the book goes into what is called galleys: actual how-the-book-and-pages-will-look.  I will get a chance to review that sometime in December, I am guessing.  By then, I think I will have a more definitive idea as to when it will hit the shelves (the pub date).  Much anticipated…I’ll start planning a launch party and invite all I know to attend.

The winter catalog will come out around that time, too with my book featured among many others.  People will rush to place their orders (I hope).

Yay–the book is out!  Let’s help some kids and parents struggling with CAS. 

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