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Agents, Editors, and my First Thank You!

August 4, 2009

Well, not my FIRST.

I am a serial thanker, after all.

But it’s the first in my Week Of Thank Yous. I was going to post it yesterday, but the time just kind of got away from me. I figure we can play a little fast and loose with the whole “week” thing. ‘Cause that’s how I roll. 😀

Anyway, this is a very important thank you, because behind every great book is usually a talented agent and editor. This has never been more true than in my case.

My agent Steven Malk of Writers House has been my truest advocate since the moment almost three years ago when he first read Prophecy and deemed it “a good first draft”. Granted, this is NOT what I wanted to hear.

But it WAS what I needed to hear.

Since then, Steve has worked tirelessly in my best interest – AND the best interest of the book. Intuitive, kind, and fair, I can always count on him to guide me through the political minefield of the publishing process. He knows how to use finesse when a situation requires it, but he also knows how to speak up on my behalf when it’s necessary.

I can’t tell you what it means to have someone so skilled so solidly on your side throughout this process.

Not only that, he’s a sincere advocate for children’s literature. Not because it’s big business, but because he knows that it MATTERS. He knows that children’s literature and the YA genre bring something important to the table. That it is a meaningful contribution to the world we live in.

Having a fantastic agent can take you far – all the way to a sale if you’re lucky. But you can’t get much further than that without a talented editor. How lucky am I that I have both?


Okay, it was a rhetorical question, but I *do* feel incredibly fortunate to have Nancy Conescu as my editor.

It meant the world to me back in 2007 that Nancy saw something special in my writing, but it means even more now that I know how rigorous are her standards – how high she sets the bar.

You know how sometimes you read a book, and it’s good but not great? You know how sometimes you read a book, and it’s good, but there are all these little questions and stuff that just don’t get answered or resolved?You know how sometimes you read a book and it feels really slow in one part but really rushed in another? You know how sometimes you read a book, and you don’t see the POINT until it’s almost over?

Well, in a perfect world, we would all write well enough to NOT have any of the above (I’m working on it!). But in reality, even the most talented of writers needs a fantastic editor to see beyond the big picture to all the little things that a reader will see. This is often because we’re so close to our work that we lose the ability to see it clearly after awhile. The skill of an editor is very different from that of a writer, and  I never cease to be amazed that Nancy spots so many things – some large and some small – that I don’t see but the reader WILL.

I won’t lie! Sometimes it’s frustrating to hear, “Why would they go there instead of here?” or “What about so-and-so? What are they thinking while all this is going on?” or “I really think this scene breaks your narrative.” I used to want to shout, “IT DOESN’T MATTER!”

Except now I know that it DOES. It really does.

I won’t pretend my work is perfect. But I can say without a doubt that it’s infinitely better because of Nancy’s input. That I am a better writer for her influence. Best of all, she somehow manages to critique my work so subtley that I can somehow walk away from a 15-page editorial letter feeling like she loves my work.

Somehow, I still feel WHOLE even after my entire book has been taken apart.

Now THAT is a gift.

So thank you, Steve and Nancy. Thank you for believing in me and my work. These words seem to small to tell you both what that belief means to me, but they are from the heart. I thank the universe daily for whatever mystical forces placed you in my path.

You guys are THE BEST. ❤

I have many, many more thank yous to share. I’m going to try and do them all this week (some in the form of vlogs), but if life intervenes – as it often does – it may take me a bit longer. It’s all part of my go-with-the-flow strategy for sanity.

Just bear with me, okay? 😉

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Olivia permalink
    August 5, 2009 9:07 am

    It was really cool reading about all the hard work both you and your editor did to get the book out! I have to admit. . . I got so enthralled that I stayed up all night to read it, and only now have I realized that Prophecy of the Sisters is a new release. . . (there always seem to be books in the YA section that I’ve never heard of, so I don’t always assume they’re recent) And now I’m sort of in a “Wait a second, there isn’t a sequel out yet?” state of mind. But now I have something to look forward to! Thanks so much for the great story. I’m absolutely hooked!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      August 5, 2009 11:07 am

      Thank you so much for your comment, Olivia, and for the kind words about Prophecy. I have to admit that even *I* get hooked when I’m writing in that world! It immediately takes me away to that darker place that is the Prophecy series. Please stay in touch!

  2. August 5, 2009 12:24 am

    That was so touching and knowing how hard you have worked on your books it’s no wonder you value them so much! YAY Nancy and Steve!! thanks for helping Michelle write a killer book!

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