Though I can all but guarantee I will both eat and live to regret these words, I have to say that thus far, book publishing has been fairly dreamy. Keep in mind, however, that I’m saying this after over a decade in the magazine world, where I’ve constantly competed with hundreds, if not thousands, of writers for an assignment, where I’m asked to rewrite pieces up to four times and only see the final version (which often resembles the original piece I turned in more than any other draft) when I traipse down to the newsstand to buy the magazine, the editor having forgotten to send me a copy (or, usually, paid me by then — the dirty secret of magazine writing is that you spend far more time hounding editors for money you’re owed than writing).
There have been times when an editor changed my words so much (transforming a piece on an altogether lovely guy into a hatchet job) that I actually contacted the publicist for the person I interviewed and showed her my first draft (thereby black balling myself from the magazine — intentionally after said incident) and other articles I wrote where so many words were altered that it didn’t sound anything like me in the end. Then again, I’ve had magazines go under owing me over $10,000 (while still managing to pay to keep their site going, I might add), so who am I to complain about such petty trifles?
I also struggled as a screenwriter, eventually landing an assignment — and the “development” experience was so abysmal that I lost almost all my interest in the form of writing. I say almost because I then signed with a big-talking manager who developed a script idea with me, which I then wrote. After reading it, he informed me that he didn’t think he was going to send it out because “some scripts just don’t see the light of day.” That was actually the experience that extracted the very last bit of interest I had in screenwriting out of me.
But book publishing? My first insight into the fact that this was going to be an altogether better experience was when my agent gave me her thoughts after reading my book. “Now, I have some rather major notes,” she said, and I braced myself for a page-one rewrite, the kind the movie development people liked to demand when they couldn’t think of anything to say besides the fact that they felt there was “a problem somewhere in the second act.” But she basically gave me three, very do-able fixes — and they happened to be excellent ideas (again, a first). Once my book sold, my editor informed me that she had some notes. Again — they were simple and straightforward. Again, they were excellent.
The other day my editor emailed me a picture of my cover and asked what I thought of it. Asked me what I thought of it! This was an altogether foreign concept to someone who’s felt extremely lucky if she’s been able to see her words before they’re printed.
I’m sure this book publishing thing will get less fun. Most things do. And I’ll maybe even find things to complain about (knowing me, I’m sure I will). But — right now, anyway — I feel like as long as they pay me the rest of the money and actually let me see a copy before it’s released to the masses, I’ve been treated like a princess.