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The Editorial Phone Call

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 07 June 2012 · 282 views

by Mindy McGinnis

It's one of the days I've been living my life for, when the phone rings and it's an editor at Harper Collins, calling to talk over the edit letter I received earlier in the week. I am thrilled. In fact, I still get a little roll in my tummy when I get emails from my agent, I'm that new to the game. So why can't I drum up a ton of enthusiasm and let my editor know how happy I am?

Because I have laryngitis, a double ear infection, and it's possible I may doze off in the middle of the conversation.

My life has always been this way, the huge moments are overshadowed by the mundane. So when I realized I was incapable of pitching my voice normally, I went ahead and dropped it an octave. I was operating right around Marlboro Man levels when my editor called and said, "Uh, Mindy?"

Yes, it's me. Although I sound like a generation-older male version of me. My editor is a humane person, and she offered to reschedule, which nearly sent me into paroxysms. The idea that an editor at Harper Collins was willing to rework her afternoon schedule because I had a sore throat was ... kind of unreal.

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I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise. I've learned over the course of the past year that my agent is a real human being, so why shouldn't my editor be as well? Maybe it's because the only real image of an editor that I have in my head is of Jack Warden as Mr. Tarkanian from The Great Muppet Caper. I picture doors slamming and employees hanging from the ceiling lights, trembling in fear.

It's easy to forget when you're in the trenches of querying, or the self-questioning hell of whether you're cut out for this gig or not, that agents and editors are real people. Yes, they are. Even the ones at the Big Six houses, my friends. I talked out my edit letter with my editor and never once felt like I had put my foot in it, screwed the pooch, or bought the farm.

After running a few ideas past her to air for an opinion her final word was, "You know your world, and I trust you to write it."

And that was music to my infected eardrums.


Mindy McGinnis is a school librarian and author whose debut Not a Drop to Drink is coming Fall 2013 from Katherine Tegen Books. She also wields a mean editing hatchet. When she's not avoiding writing her own bio, you can find her at her blog and on Twitter.


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