Angie Smibert 2k11

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Angie Smibert debuts with MEMENTO NORA

Introduced first in 2007, debut children’s authors have formed a cooperative effort to market their books. I featured Revision Stories from the Classes of 2k8 and 2k9 and this feature returns this year with the Class of 2k11.

Guest post by Angie Smibert


I’m staring at a teetering stack of paper atop my bookcase. These are my revisions of Memento Nora. I’m almost afraid to touch them, let alone go on an archeological dig through them in order to say something coherent about revisions. So let me start here. Revision got me the book contract in the first place.

After attending a SCBWI regional conference, I submitted Memento Nora to several editors on one of the panels. (If you haven’t attended a SCBWI conference, do. It was the best $150 I ever spent. The presenters usually invite participants to submit manuscripts directly to them. )

Terribly AntiClimactic Ending

Lo and behold, the editor from Marshall Cavendish requested the whole manuscript. And several months later, I got an email from her saying how much she loved the book—except for one thing. The ending. The words “terribly anticlimactic” were used. (Ouch.) She asked if I’d be willing to revise Nora and resubmit it. After regaining consciousness, I emailed her right back. Heck yeah, I’d revise. (Not an exact quote.) Evidently, I did an adequate job.

Of course, that wasn’t the last revision—which is a good thing. The process of working with my editor, Marilyn Brigham, taught me so much about writing a novel. In subsequent drafts, we worked on making the vision in my head evident (or more so) on the paper. That involved heightening the climax, layering in more world details, untangling the timeline, and lord knows what else. I think we ended up with something pretty good, if I do say so myself.

So, my best advice to anyone starting on the revision process with his or her editor and/or agent is to be open and listen. Set any insecurity aside. You need to know if something is not clear or doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean you have to do exactly what they say, though. If something doesn’t work, get to the root of the problem and think of your own way around or through it—unless they came up with a brilliant idea. (Don’t tell her this, but one my editor’s questions led me to the premise of the second book. )

Embrace the revision process. You may end up with a teetering stack of paper, but it’ll only make your book more amazing in the end.

4 Comments
  • Bettina Restrepo
    April 26, 2011

    I must agree with Angie about listening to editorial advice. Ask, listen, and then listen some more.

    It’s amazing what can happen after we dig down further into a manuscript.

  • Mike Allen
    April 27, 2011

    Thank you for sharing the experience, Angie. It’s good advice.

  • Robin Bridges
    April 27, 2011

    (Don’t tell her this, but one my editor’s questions led me to the premise of the second book. )

    I love this!

  • Sean "Mulder" McLaughlin
    April 27, 2011

    No question, when an experienced editor asks for a revision, it is worth thinking about.
    Maybe you want your manuscript to be treated like a piece of fine polished gold and not changed in any way, but if the museum says it would look better a little tarnished for good effect, what harm could it do? Good move, Angie!