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A story of love and the American Dream

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Events

Events are going on. But they’re either private, like meeting with a book club this afternoon, or are related to my upcoming book, CHEROKEE AMERICA, also private, because that book is in the mysterious, swampy area between being bought and being published.

Many people have asked me about that area, and I’m swimming in it every day, so I’ll say something about it here. Major publishers still buy books on handshakes. After those agreements, finalizing contracts are drawn up and exchanged. This takes some back and forth among the agent, the writer, lawyers, the publisher, and the editor at the acquiring house.

Concurrent with this, the editor is reading and re-reading the book. Eventually, he or she (she in my case) sends suggestions for revisions. Our contracts are signed and my editor has done that.

For the past few weeks, I have been following her suggestions – which were excellent, and not particularly extensive. But any change at all requires looking again at every single sentence of the book to be sure it all lines up correctly. I’ve done that once. Now, I’m doing it again to be sure it's completely aligned after the changes and because that revision revealed minor glitches and little mistakes neither my editor nor I had noticed before. For instance, did a character go to the post office on a Saturday or on a Monday? Does a character say “yer” for “you’re” and “your?” If so, he or she has to say it throughout the entire book. The character can’t suddenly start speaking better English just because I do.

After I finish this revision, I’ll go through the book once again. Just to be sure I haven’t introduced mistakes – which is easy to do. Then I will send the manuscript back to my editor. She’ll then send it to a copy editor, who will read the book several times to double check us both.

Then the book will get sent back to me again! I’ll go through the revision process another time. And I’ll have email conversations with the copy editor about things like is “fullblood” or “full blood” the correct spelling? The dictionary says, “full blood,” but most Indian publications I’ve read use the other spelling.

All of this isn’t particularly eventful, but it is an important part of bringing a book to print. I’m sharing it here because I get a lot of questions about writing. Many people think writing is whatever comes out the first time they sit down; or maybe, what they have after a couple of revisions. But, really, writing a book of any quality is a whole lot more work than that. I’m lucky to have a publisher who cares about careful editing. And I believe that if you are going to do something, you should do it well.