Publishing Rites of Passage: Seeing Pages

Guess what? I think my book is really going to be a book. After all the hard work, harder than I’ve ever worked on a piece of writing in my entire life, so much of me poured into those pages (and I have to tell you I’m feeling happier about the novel than ever), I almost didn’t believe we’d reach the next step. When I wouldn’t be writing anymore. When it would be time to… you know, have people outside my publisher read it.

A shiver ran through me as I typed that.

But yesterday was a big day. I got a phone call that 1st pass pages were ready for me to review. Calmly, as calmly as I could manage with my heart beating up in my throat as it was, I gave out my address and then waited for the messenger. I live about a seven-minute walk* from my publishing house, so the wait wouldn’t be all that long.

Soon enough, the buzzer rang. I picked up the intercom and a voice said, “Delivery from Penguin.” I pressed the buzzer and held it in so long I could have let a parade of Penguin employees into the building all up to my floor with balloons.

The messenger came bounding up my four flights of narrow, twisty, downward-sloping Village steps and held out the package to me. He’s delivered to me before, but this time he didn’t have to ring the bell on my door. I was waiting with the door open, hopping from foot to foot, so excited to sign for the package. I wanted to embrace the guy, shriek, “Do you have any idea what’s in here! It’s my novel!” But I kept my hands to myself.

Then I closed the door and instant-messaged E to tell him the package had arrived and that I was afraid to open it. “Open it!” he told me.

One slice of the scissors and there they were, the pages:

Imaginary Girls pages

Like I said, I think they really are going to publish my book!

What’s funny is I’m used to seeing 1st pass pages—they get messengered to me from other publishers, but for an entirely different purpose. I freelance as a proofreader and a copy editor. So I’m that person with the red pencil peeling my eyes for your typos and writing cryptic little symbols in your margins. It’s so important to me to do the best job I can on this—to be that invisible net to keep any mistakes from getting through, without the author even having to worry—because I can easily put myself in that author’s shoes.

I’m there right now.

I really think it’s happening:

Imaginary Girls chapter opener

That there’s the first sentence you may remember from the plot summary. It took me forever to get that sentence. Months of going back to it, sculpting and resculpting it, and now, finally, there it is. Wow!

I’ve made an album for Imaginary Girls photos on my Facebook author page—look for the “IMAGINARY GIRLS photos” album; you don’t have to be my friend on Facebook to see it.

Next step after this is… ARCs! I’ll definitely be taking pictures of those.


* Random aside: Know how I know it’s a seven-minute walk from my publishing house to my apartment building, if you take certain streets and walk at a good speed? I used to work at Penguin, some years ago. I bet some of you know that, but if you don’t: I got my start in copyediting as a staff Copy Editor for the mass merchandise division there! So there were many mornings I took that seven-minute walk—longer, if I stopped for a mocha—to reach my desk, piled up with pages to read. And, yes, if you were wondering, I did spend many days in that Penguin building dreaming that one day I might be one of their lucky authors with their more prestigious hardcover imprints. I’d pass those imprints in the hall, peek at their book covers on display… sigh a little. I worked there for four years. The truth is that Penguin had been my top-choice publisher since I first started paying attention to the logos on the spines of books. My having worked there had nothing to do with me getting this book deal—that is all thanks to the magic of my agent, who if he’s not magic must at least have superpowers—and at times I worried if my past with Penguin would hurt me, since maybe the powers-that-be would think of me first as a copy editor and not an author. But, somehow, they saw me as a writer first, which is what I want to be. The beauty, and utter weirdness!, of this moment isn’t lost on me.

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