Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Radical Changes in the Editing Process: Santa Barbara Breakfast With the Authors

Greg Trine, Joan Graham, Heidi Gill, Susan Casey, Valerie Hobbs, Alexis O'Neill, Sherry Shahan, Mel Gilden, Sara Kras, Marianne Richmond, Caroline Arnold, Robin Mellom, Amy Koss
Last Saturday I participated, along with thirteen other authors, in the 62nd annual Breakfast with the Authors sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Office of Education.  After time to mingle and chat and eat a delicious breakfast we each had the opportunity to address the question:  What is the most radical change you have made to your manuscript in the editing and rewriting processes?

For me, the answer was easy.  It was the conversion of my 24 page nonfiction picture book A Panda’s World (PictureWindow Books, 2006) to a 20 page board book.  First of all, the page sizes were shrunk from 11 by 11 inches, to 8 by 8 inches. (The illustrations remain the same, except smaller.) Then all the front matter (information about panda size, weight, etc.) was eliminated along with three pages of back matter (map, fun facts, glossary, etc.).  Then, the text on each page spread had to be shortened from two paragraphs to about two sentences! That's a radical change! And, the sidebars with fun facts were also eliminated. What was left were the essentials of the story.  Net result: a new book perfectly suited for a parent to read to a young child or for a beginning reader to read alone.  The board book edition of A Panda’s World will be published in February 2015, along with three other titles from the same series–A Penguin’s World, A Zebra’s World and A Polar Bear’s World.  I am delighted to have the new board book versions of these books, which make the stories available to a whole new audience.

The morning’s program also included a panel of teen readers who responded to anonymous first pages.  It was fascinating to hear their opinions and find out how they identified with the characters in the stories.
Thanks so much to Rose, Matt, Fred and Doris for all the hard work to organize the breakfast.  It is always a pleasure to participate!

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