Monday, August 29, 2011

School and library market books, part 2 of 2

Please come back tomorrow for the continuation of the massive "Super '70s and '80s" series, running most days between now and 10/12/11! And for today, a post of "regularly scheduled content":

In part 1 of School and library market books, I cliffhangered that my name is on nearly all of my books. Twice in my career, I have asked a publisher to take my name off a school/library book before production.

The first time was because the publisher and I disagreed about the validity of my primary source. However, I was bummed to rediscover that my contract prevented me from requesting a pseudonym. I did the best I could to deliver a final draft that felt true to my research but also worked for the publisher.

The second time, I did not feel the editing was competent. I’d started the book with one editor but for some reason, partway through, a second editor replaced the first. When the second editor asked me to rewrite material that the first editor had already approved, I said I would but only for additional payment. The second editor probably didn’t have that option so, to her credit, she said she would write that material herself rather than push me to do extra work for no compensation.

But she turned out not to be as versed in the subject as I feel she should’ve been to take on that task, and I found a lot of her changes alarmingly flawed. I told her, pointing out specifics, but for a reason I still don’t understand, she didn’t make most of my suggested fixes. However, she did agree to remove my name. I am glad for that, of course, but disappointed that I could not stop a book from going to print with mistakes, generalizations, and redundancies.

In truth, when I started my writing career, I didn’t yet know that some authors use pen names till they break into trade publishing. But if I had, I still would’ve used my real name on my school and library market books. I typically don’t spend time promoting them, but I gave each one my all. Without them as training, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to write my passions, such as Boys of Steel.

Speaking of which, in the author bio I proposed for Boys of Steel, I included that I’d published 70 books to date. My editor Janet Schulman suggested I take that out because it would make it seem like I’m “not serious.”

I was miffed. As you have just read, I admit that many of my books are not timeless literature, but I remain proud of all my work. I didn’t see how indicating that I have a history with publishing could be a bad thing.

But like various other points Janet had made that at first seemed harsh, this point soon made sense, so I cut the number. It wasn’t about discounting my previous books; it was about shining the full spotlight on my current book. Boys of Steel was special to me, and Janet knew that. It wasn’t just book #71. In some ways, it was actually book #1.

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