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.
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.
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!
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