October 26, 2012

It Takes a Village

Filed under: Frontstory — jenny @ 4:46 pm

I don’t do this on the blog very often, but I think I have to talk a little about the mechanics behind my upcoming book release. Something happened the other day that really stood out in my mind.

I think I am a slow-on-the-uptake writer. I have my process, and insofar as it works, it works very well–at least, I am deeply immersed in the bliss of it all. But I had a *lot* to learn and it took me a long time to learn it. I wrote seven novels before one was acquired. I struggle with the question, even with all those books in various drawers around the house, of whether I know much of anything about this at all.

And for the novel that was finally bought, there were 18 drafts beforehand. Then 3 more rewrites for my brilliantly amazing/amazingly brilliant editor, plus another superb editor at the house who seemingly magically became part of this road, then a copy edit using track changes, before the hard copy manuscript was FedEx-ed so I could go over page proofs, and then a final minute review of remaining things, until I finally, FINALLY finished editing COVER OF SNOW.  I couldn’t have done it without any of the above-named people, not to mention the army in the production department who have a truly unbelievable eye for spelling, syntax, grammar, logic, and details.  To give but one example, I got an email from the production editor with the following:

P. 186
“A river moves sluggishly through the center of town”
Proofer asks if okay to change “through” to “past”
“A river moves sluggishly past the center of town”
As Troy is all on one side of the Hudson, and Watervliet is across from it.

And they are correct:

Troy, NY

We have a dish at my house called Mommy’s Famous Couscous. I think, in reality, this may not be famous. (I mean, have you heard of it?) It’s pretty simple: slivered onions in olive oil, toast the couscous, then finish it all in chicken stock. Anyway, if you try it you may find as I do that it’s a hit with the kids. Even when my son was too little to say couscous, he would ask for it. He called it: tiny things. As in, Can I have more tiny things?

The eye for accuracy, combined with the sense of language, the editorial passion someone has to have to read a sentence like that and know (or think to look up) that the Hudson river, strictly speaking, does not go through Troy, but past it, amazes me.

The investment in making one single book the best it can possibly be is humbling. And to that genius proofer, whose name I haven’t even yet learned, thank you so much.

For caring about the tiny things.


  1. Charming, and informative. I wish all editors, proofreader, etc. were as careful as yours. The dish sound delicious. Can’t wait for your book!

    Comment by Lil Gluckstern — October 27, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  2. Jenny: I’m so happy for you that you have such a fabulous team behind you. I’m super-excited for your book release and can’t wait to see you hit the top of the NY Times bestseller list. :) I know you will!

    I wish I had the patience for traditional publishing, or the money for the kind of team you have. For now, I’m happy with what I have. A great editor and artist taking care of my book, and a small but extremely helpful group of beta readers who really care about making my books better.

    Good luck, Jenny!

    Comment by Thomas A. Knight — October 27, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  3. Jenny:
    I’ve told you over and over how I feel about your upcoming book! I am so incredibly happy for you. And this post really spoke to me because I always find myself worrying about the tiny things. It’s just so important not to let the tiny things stop you from writing, and I know I’ve done that before.
    Thank God for good editors and people who care.

    Comment by D — October 28, 2012 @ 8:30 am

  4. Well-written. Yes the process is painstaking. You have to feel good that you’ve finished eight novels. That in and of itself is outstanding.

    Comment by Doug Carlyle — October 28, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

  5. Thanks, Lil, Thomas, D, and Doug, for being here. Each of your support, in different ways, has made all the difference on this long road. Doug, for the longest time I felt lame for writing 8 novels and still being unpublished. I kept it hidden and revealing it felt like a confession.

    Comment by jenny — October 28, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

  6. Jenny, thank you for sharing this part of your writing experience. No wonder you have so much to offer to an aspiring writer like me. And, I appreciate it.

    Comment by Crazy Travel Adventures By Debra — October 28, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

  7. All those tiny things are going to add up to something amazingly big! Whether its an appetite for couscous or the next Tana French (substitute New Jersey for Ireland) or maybe both. CAN’T WAIT to read Cover of Snow!

    Comment by Johanna — October 29, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  8. Mostly, I am interested in trying some of your couscous. :)

    Comment by Judy — October 29, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  9. Great post, Jenny!!!! It is amazing to watch a book’s development. Most interesting to hear about yours which I am greatly looking forward to reading.

    Comment by Brenda — October 29, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

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