I got my marked up manuscript back from “Toughest Critiquer” (and actually, it wasn’t anywhere near as marked up as I expected it to be!), so I’m making one more pass through. Actually, I started going through it yesterday. I keep telling myself I’m going to get it back again (with comments from the people at Albert Whitman)…this isn’t my final revision…but I still want it to be my best work…the best I can do right now, anyway.
Somebody recently said to me, “isn’t it easier to send your manuscript in when you know it’s basically sold?” No, not really (not for me, anyway). In some ways, I think it’s harder. It’s one thing to send a manuscript to a faceless stranger in New York. Who cares what that person thinks? But I’ve actually met a lot of the people at Albert Whitman (though I haven’t met the particular editor who will be receiving this manuscript)…they’re real people with families and hobbies and dogs and gardens. It matters what they think…so the manuscript really has to be good!
In fact, whether the manuscript is sold or not, it gets harder for me to send something to any editor once I “have a relationship” with them. I got SO close to selling an easy reader to an editor at Grosset & Dunlap a few years ago…so close that eventually I got paralyzed and couldn’t send her another one. The editor would write me these long letters telling me what I could do to improve the manuscript (I used to tell people this editor and I were “penpals” because that was what our relationship felt like to me), so I’d revise and send it back, but I never quite got it right. Then the editor moved to a house that did novels and I thought, “ah ha! NOW I’ll sell something to her.” But it was the same thing with the novels…I got SO close, but just never hit. When I was an SCBWI Regional Advisor, I invited her to speak at one of our conferences. She came out a day early and a friend and I took her to the Amana Colonies and we had a great day. But after that it was even harder to submit to her because she became a “real person” to me over that weekend. I never did sell anything to her…I haven’t even tried in years. I think she’s a great editor (she’s done some wonderful books!), but I don’t think I can quite give her what she wants…and I don’t think she can quite communicate to me what she wants in a way that I can understand.
I know my editor at AW and I communicate well…I know she’ll help me improve the book…but I still want to do the best I can on my own first.