After the initial interest from the publishers, I was asked to go into the offices to chat about my book. With a beating heart, I replied to their emails, always unsure of how businesslike to sign off my mails; “Kind Regards” too official? “Sincerely” too stuffy? “Love” out of the question. I chose one and stuck to it. We arranged a date and after much deliberation on what to wear for a first meeting with a publisher, I set off.
I arrived at a very traditional industrial mill. It seemed every time I joined any writing group or indeed visited a publisher, it was always in a building with great architectural heritage. I loved it. Walking down a long dark corridor into the depths of the mill, it was evident daylight didn’t feature here. There wouldn’t be any window seats like the modern office buildings of today.
A workman passed by in overalls and looked at me quizzically, possibly due to the heels clomping on the York stone slabs. I asked him directions and he waved his hand at a small white door to the left. As I approached, I could see James and Anthony inside, and they beckoned me in. The stark fluorescent lights were harsh on the eyes in contrast to the dark corridor outside. I was motioned to a sofa and the meeting began.
James, the Managing Director, told me how he had read the manuscript and his first reaction was “Wow”. I sat there dumbfounded and almost deaf to anything else he said for the next minute. “Wow”? Really? My work deserves a “Wow”? I couldn’t believe my ears. More positive feedback was given as Anthony, the Marketing Manager backed James’ views. I was delighted.
James then moved onto what was to happen next. He explained that the story I had written spanned two reading categories; 3-5 year olds and 5-8 year olds. Apparently, it is important to distinguish which bracket your book is aimed at, to help the bookshops to know where to position it on shelf and of course how online booksellers should list it. I was given the task of re-writing the story to fit either category. I had to either remove the more difficult words, and simplify the terms for the 3-5 year olds, or lengthen the story to suit the 5-8 year old category.
Happily, they said they would print my book whichever group I decide to target, so I left feeling on top of the world. I still had the word “wow” ringing in my ears.
As soon as I got home I took out the manuscript and started work. I started by simplifying the piece and aiming at the 3-5 year olds. My thought process being quite simply, I had set out to write bedtime stories which my 4-year-old would enjoy, so it seemed appropriate to start there.
My twelve-year-old daughter came home from school as I was in the midst of the re-write and asked what I was doing. When I explained, she very quickly responded with the fact that I couldn’t possibly write it for 5-8 year olds. When I asked why she was so adamant, she informed me my story wasn’t cool enough for an 8-year-old. She wrinkled her nose as she said it, for added effect!
“Which 8 year old is going to pick up a book with a pear on the front?” She had a point.
With added determination, I finished the re-write and submitted it back to the Publisher.