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Cheryl Klein Interview & Book Giveaway

Today I’m so excited to interview Cheryl Klein, the senior editor at the Arthur A. Levine imprint of Scholastic. I was lucky enough to meet Cheryl at a SCBWI conference where she gave a fabulous talk on plot. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a conference where she’ll be speaking, you should definitely go.

Her book Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children or Young Adults is being released today. It’s a wonderful collection of talks, workshops, and blog posts about the craft of writing and revising manuscripts. What makes this book special is Cheryl’s amazing grasp of plot, voice, and character development in revising a manuscript and the fact that the book focuses on children’s literature.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your book?

I've loved books and reading since I was a very little girl -- in part thanks to my grandfather, Philip Sadler, who taught children's literature at the university level for many years, and who founded one of the nation's first children's literature festivals. I knew I wanted to be a book editor while I was still in high school, and after majoring in English degree at college, I went to the Denver Publishing Institute, where Susan Hirschman (founder of Greenwillow Books) inspired me to pursue children's publishing specifically. She also introduced me to Arthur Levine of Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, who hired me as his editorial assistant. I'm now the senior editor in the AALB imprint, where I work on a wide range of books for children and young adults.

My book, Second Sight, is a collection of talks and essays directed at writers for children and young adults -- material I've been writing and compiling since 2003. It has a special connection to my grandfather, too: Before he died in December 2009, he offered to pay for my design costs, which was immensely useful in freeing me to concentrate on the writing and editorial side of the book. The book is dedicated to him and to my grandmother, Carol Sadler.

2. What made you decide to write Second Sight?

After I had a pretty good number of talks online, writers started asking me, "So when are you going to put out a book?" That planted the idea in my head, and when I heard about Kickstarter.com (which helped me raise the funding for my first printing), it seemed feasible for the first time to put it together and publish it myself.

3. Yes, I was one of those people asking you to write a book. I’m so glad you did. How long did it take you write? When did you find time with your demanding job as an editor?

I had already written nearly all of the material when I announced the project in July 2009, so at first I was really optimistic about how fast the process would go. But I write my talks in outline form, with bullet points for each phrase to remind me when to breathe or change the register of my voice, and converting that form to readable prose took a lot longer than I anticipated. I also revised a number of the talks in the process, especially my voice talk, which had never 100% satisfied me.

All of this had to be done around the edges of my day job -- that is, on nights and weekends; but then I also do a lot of my actual editing on nights and weekends, so I found it difficult to work on my own writing without feeling guilty about neglecting my authors, who were waiting for my response to their manuscripts! And I wrote a couple more speeches in the meantime for various occasions . . . and that's why it's taken me until now to get the book out.

4. You’re self publishing this book. What made you decide to go this route rather than finding a traditional publisher to publish it for you?

To self-publish successfully, you need to have two things: the ability to create a quality book, in both appearance and content, and the ability to reach your intended audience effectively. I felt my experience in publishing gave me the first, and my blog, website, and conference appearances gave me the second. And finally, it was just fun to be able to put together my own book, just the way I wanted it.

5. If a publisher contacts you in the future to publish this book, would you be open to it?

Certainly -- I'm not ruling anything out!

6. Did you have anyone critique your manuscript as you revised it? How did it feel being the author instead of the editor?

When I write my talks, I go through all the same creative headaches and heartaches that real writers do -- losing faith that the speech will ever come together; cycling through "I'm a failure! I'm a genius! I'm a failure! I'm a genius!" pretty much every ten minutes; envisioning all the public acclaim or derision that would go with either genius or failure. Whenever I feel stuck, that's usually a good sign that it's time for me to get a second reader, and friends, my boyfriend, and even a couple of my authors have critiqued talks in draft form for me, which I always appreciate.

7. How do you plan to market your book?

It will be available through my website and blog, which get a pretty decent number of hits each week, and at all of my conference appearances this year -- I've got five scheduled thus far. It's also gone out for review to a number of children's writers' blogs, and I'm doing some blog interviews like this one (thank you!).

8. Do you have any plans to write other books?

Not at present! Though I'd love to write a novel someday.

9. Tell us how we can buy your book.

Click on the following link!

https://secure.mybookorders.com/order/MultiProduct.aspx?SiteID=382

Thanks for joining us Cheryl and good luck with your book. Cheryl will be stopping by so be sure to comment. You can find Cheryl at her website http://cherylklein.com/ and her blog http://chavelaque.blogspot.com/. I follow it and recommend you do too.

I’m giving away one copy of Cheryl’s book. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on March 19th. I’ll announce the winner on March 21st. International entries are welcome.

ETA: Cheryl has generously given a copy of SECOND SIGHT for the giveaway so there will be TWO winners. I'm so excited.

-Posted by Natalie

58 comments:

  1. I want this book so bad! Natalie, you know of course that I was also one of Brooklyn Arden's readers who was asking when Cheryl would write a book on writing. Yay for getting to interview Cheryl! How exciting.

    Cheryl, congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment. I'm really excited to read your book. I too, met you briefly in Michigan and your talk was both lovely and useful.

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  2. Thanks for commenting Jody. I can't wait to read the book too.

    Cheryl, thanks so much for stopping by. Good luck with your debut book. I can't wait to read it. And I'm so glad you decided to write it.

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  3. Wonderful interview, thanks! I find it fascinating that an editor self published, and did so for the very reasons you always hear. The book sounds intriguing.

    Best of luck with it, Cheryl! And good luck on the new blogging venture, Natalie :)

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  4. I heard Cheryl speak in Michigan also and was impressed by her presentation but also how savvy and accomplished she was so early in her life! Go Cheryl!

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  5. Natalie, thanks for doing this interview. Cheryl, the more I hear about your book, the more interesting it sounds!

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  6. Thanks for the great interview! The book sounds like an excellent resource, and I was glad to learn about the Kickstarter website.

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  7. I want the book too! It's been years since Cheryl spoke at our SCBWI-MI conference, but I still have the lecture notes and the feedback she gave me on my novel-in-progress. Congrats to Natalie and Cheryl!

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  8. Thanks for the great questions, Natalie, and for your enthusiasm, everyone! Today is the official release day of SECOND SIGHT, so I'm honored to be here and celebrate it with you. I'll check back in occasionally throughout the day if you have any questions for me.

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  9. I was lucky enough to hear Cheryl speak at a Vermont College retreat a few years ago and let me just say--AMAZING!! I am so excited she's put all her insights into one book and I cannot wait to experience all the AHA moments of understanding her book promises.

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  10. Janice & Andrea, thanks for stopping by.
    Erin, Kristen, & Paula,& Carrie--I couldn't agree with you more. Cheryl's talks at the SCBWI conference are so helpful. And if you are lucky enough to get a critque, that is so helpful. She really helped me make my villian much more interesting.

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  11. Wonderful interview, and I can't wait to read this book! Thank you for sharing your wonderful advice with all of us Cheryl!

    Katie

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  12. I would love to read this! It sounds really helpful.
    k_anon[at]hotmail[dot]co[dot]uk

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  13. Sounds like a great book! I've heard Cheryl speak and she's awesome.

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  14. Happy Release Day, Cheryl!! I was terribly excited when Natalie said she was interviewing you. I'll definitely be purchasing a copy of SECOND SIGHT. I can't wait to read it! I've read your Harry Potter talk several times and the others at least once. They're amazing!

    Natalie, thank you again for the fabulous interview. What an awesome first post!

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  15. Great interview! The book sounds very helpful. I plan on reading it.

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  16. I just read about Cheryl and this amazing writer's guide on another blog. I actually put it on my 2buy list. Ooh, winning it would be so cool, instead. Sounds wonderful. Thanks, Cheryl, for writing it. Fab interview, Natalie!

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  17. I'm really excited about this - Cheryl's brilliant, and the idea of having access to all of her talks in book form makes me feel a bit... well, greedy. Also, for a senior editor at such an amazing imprint to choose to self-publish and fund it via kickstarter is SO fascinating! Thanks for posting this, and for making it a contest, too!
    Namaste,
    Lee

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  18. I can't wait to get my hands on this book! Thanks for putting it together, Cheryl!

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  19. Hi Paula,Kulsuman, Carmella, Jenna, Sheri, Lee, & Jennifer for stopping by and commenting. Good luck in the contest. I can't wait to get my copy too!

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  20. I would love a copy of this book. It sounds great!

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  21. Perfect example of when to self publish! Great interview. Thanks to both of you!

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  22. Great interview, the book sounds brilliant.

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  23. Hi! It's a very interesting interview and I'd love to read her book. I work translating books from English into Spanish and I'd love to see the whole process and to be able to write a children's book, but I don't know where to start!
    Best regards from Barcelona,

    Marta

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  24. Thanks for this interview, Natalie. The book (and Cheryl) sound great!

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  25. I can hardly wait to read this book! I was sold the minute I heard about it - I've been a follower of Cheryl's blog for a while and her insight is amazing. Thanks for posting this interview, Natalie, and good luck with the book launch, Cheryl.

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  26. Thanks for the interview. I've heard Cheryl at a conference and can't wait to read her book.

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  27. Ditto on Casey's comments. I'm looking forward to my copy soon (Natalie, if my name is drawn for the giveaway... draw another name, I'll already have mine).

    Also, Cheryl, what is this about "I go through all the same creative headaches and heartaches that real writers do"? It's time for you to join the rest of us who know the truth. You are a REAL writer, trust us.

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  28. I've weeded out many of the blogs I follow because I should be WRITING not reading, but this blog is one I've kept. Today's piece makes me especially glad - wouldn't have wanted to miss it!

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  29. I've enjoyed reading the writing tips on Cheryl's website. She's got some great advice. Interesting that she's taking the indie route with this, but then I see more people associated with traditional publishing doing that every day.

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  30. Great interview, Natalie. Cheryl is a sweetie, and very, very helpful to writers. Interesting to hear her perspective on things (as always). Looking forward to reading Second Sight

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  31. Welcome to the blog, Natalie! And thanks for this great interview. I'm a big fan of Cheryl's, especially love the speeches she's posted before, and have been looking forward to this book. Congrats, Cheryl, on its release!

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  32. Looking forward to reading Cheryl's book! Thanks for the great information in the talk.

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  33. Great interview Cheryl and Natalie! I donated to the production of this book early on so I have my copy on order! Yay! I can hardly wait to read it. I met Cheryl at a Writer's Retreat in Washington State a few years ago and she was as delightful and approachable as she is knowledgeable about writing!

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  34. I was lucky enough to attend a Missouri retreat with Cheryl. I'm sure the book will provide lots of great insights into process.

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  35. Yes, I'd love to read this book! And Natalie, I'm so happy you finally have a blog. I've been following your comments all over the internet and could never follow you! You read a lot of the same blogs I read.

    Cheryl, at so many conferences I've attended, the faculty discourage self-publishing. But you have a built-in audience from your blog, and you can obviously market the book successfully. Even with that, was there anything frustrating thing about self-publishing? Anything you wish could have been done differently?

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  36. Thanks very much for the support, everyone!

    Munk, I guess I never think of myself as a "real writer" because my self-image is so firmly on the side of "editor" in the author/editor divide. But you're right, and I appreciate the kind words!

    Joanne, I think self-publishing fiction is VERY different from self-publishing nonfiction, because with nonfiction, you have a defined subject and likely audience, and you're likely coming from a position of some expertise/connection if you're writing a book on the subject -- all of which make buyers likely to pick up the book. With fiction (the primary thing writers are trying to sell at conferences), it's just your imagination and vision vs. those of every other writer out there, so it's a lot tougher to build an audience. If I ever write the novel I'd like to some day, I'd almost certainly go with traditional publishing.

    And things I wish could have been done differently. . . . I did a lot of editing in the first typeset pass of my book, and I should have done that work before it went to my designer. It was hard to estimate the correct quantity to print, and I won't know if I got it right until I see how many books sell through, and how fast. And my fulfillment house (the place that is taking my credit-card orders and shipping out the books) and I experienced some hiccups in setting up the mail prices and order system for the book, which was REALLY frustrating; but that all seems to be sorted now. So far, so good -- fingers crossed!

    Thanks again for having me, and for the great interview, Natalie.

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  37. Ooooh, thanks for the great interview, Natalie! I'd heard this book was coming out soon and can't wait to read it.

    Kip

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  38. Great interview Natalie and Cheryl! Cheryl has a wealth of knowledge, I know her book will be a hit. Plus she's a lovely person.

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  39. I'd love to win a copy. I'm a follower. :)

    marcia at marciahoehne dot com

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  40. Well, first I was going to say I’m impressed without even having heard you speak. And of course I’m all in for the chance to win your book.

    But I got a surprise when I went to your website – I remembered the see-saw photo and the title of the blog from a couple months ago, when I did a search on the web for Dylan’s “Advice for Geraldine” to send to a friend. I even bookmarked your blog to go back to it again.

    Nice to be introduced!

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  41. This looks like another great reference book to have!

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  42. I would love to win a copy of SECOND SIGHT! I've been following LR and BA for a while now and love them. I have been a kid's bookseller for 15 years and have a blog where I review kid's books and am interested in transitioning into a job at a literary agency. I think this book sounds like a great starter's manual!

    PS-Welcome, Natalie!

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  43. Casey, I never thought it possible but, with the addition of Natalie, Literary Rambles goes from AWESOMELY AWESOME SQUARED to AWESOMELY AWESOME CUBED. There is just so much amazing stuff here.

    Natalie, welcome. I've seen your comments on blogs many times and always enjoyed your kind and upbeat remarks. Thanks for this interview with Cheryl Klein. I look forward to many more great blog posts.

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  44. Thanks for the great interview! I'm so much looking forward to reading this book.

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  45. Great interview! I remember reading on Cheryl's blog when she first talked about putting out this book. I'm so glad to see she did it. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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  46. I love Cheryl's blog--it is refreshing and informative. So glad to hear more about her book!!

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  47. Really enjoying your blog and looking forward to reading Cheryl's book.

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  49. Love your new page design... and I'd love to Cheryl's book too!

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  50. This book sounds great. It's so useful to get the editor's angle - and reassuring to hear the writing process was STILL the same despite all that experience.

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  51. Hi Natalie!

    I'm looking forward to this book, so I'm crossing my fingers....

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  52. I'm a big fan of Cheryl's since I heard her presentation at a conference, and look forward to her book's release. Good luck to all of us!

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  53. Cheryl's book looks like it'll be really interesting and useful. I look forward to reading it!

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  54. Great interview. I already use Cheryl's article on revision when thinking about my work. She thinks deeply and offers meaningful insights. Thanks!

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  55. This book sounds exciting....to get an editor's view and all the nitty-gritty! I'd love to have a copy.
    ~Tina Cho

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  56. I've just heard I've won the book, thank you SO much! How exciting. I've no excuses for rubbish writing now. Really stoked, thank you Cheryl, Casey and Natalie x

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