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Monday, June 23, 2014

Q&A with Carin Siegfried part 2: About the Writing

My book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing, comes out next month. While I am eagerly waiting for it (I'm sure you are too!), here is the rest of Q and A I did recently.

These questions come from my intern, Hannah, a very recent college graduate who wants to get into the book publishing field, so she is the perfect questioner. Last week I answered questions about my career in publishing, and now for questions about the writing process:

o   Was there a particular event that prompted you to write this book?
I wrote the blog posts that made up the bulk of the book several years ago, but I thought of putting them together for a very practical reason: my business has ebbs and flows and the slow times are a bit unpredictable. I needed a project to work on in between clients' projects. I also wanted to go through the entire self-publishing process, like a lot of my clients do, to experience it for myself.
o   Have you done any other writing prior to this book?
When I was a preteen I wrote what are now called fan-fiction novels based on The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin (although I did not use the same characters, just the same format and the same setup of a club of babysitters). In high school I wrote a YA novel that I now realize was so long, it would have been the War and Peace of young adult had I pursued it. That was it for me! The majority of the writing I do is in emails and other work documents. 
o   Did this book come out of personal experiences or in-depth research?
Both. The sections on editorial and sales and buying and bookselling came from personal experience. However, when it came to departments I'd not only never worked in, but also only had marginal interaction with, such as marketing and production, I had to do a lot of research. I prefer not doing research, but I do hope those chapters are accurate as I tried hard to figure those jobs out! 
o   What did you edit out of this book?
Mostly snarky comments. The book reads like a conversation with me, it's not a stuffy and impersonal book, yet some of my more colorful comments were highlighted by my editor and proofreader as being perhaps alienating, so I toned them down. Apparently without tone of voice, something I think of as funny and sarcastic could easily come across as snotty or just insulting. And it's likely true that while Hemingway and Fitzgerald and friends are "drunk, misogynist asses" (a line directly deleted), so are plenty of authors getting published today so that's no barrier to entry (although perhaps it should be). (And yes, even though I self-published and I am an editor, I hired two editors, a copyeditor, and two proofreaders.)
o   How would you describe this book in three words?
Informative, fun, helpful.
 o   What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The above-mentioned research. It's not something I enjoy, but also some of these more obscure areas of publishing just aren't written about much so there wasn't a ton of information out there for me. And different publishing houses operate so differently, it was hard to know what information was universal and what was particular.

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