Processus: Janet Skeslien Charles, Parisian-based American author, offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at publishing a book.
le processus (pro sess ooce) noun, masculine
Le processus est toujours le même. The process is always the same.
"Processus" by Janet Skeslien Charles
Today, Janet Skeslien Charles, Parisian-based American author, offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at publishing a book.
Do you ever wonder why it takes 18 to 24 months for a manuscrit, a manuscript, to become a book? Today, we’ll look the processus, the process, of publication from start to finish.
In May 2008, my agent sold my novel to an editor at Bloomsbury, the independent UK maison d’édition, publisher, that first published Harry Potter. Helen, my éditrice, gave me six pages de commentaires, comments. (Single-spaced!) She looked at the big picture and gave global comments concerning the story line. I edited the novel from June to December.
In January 2009, the réviseur, or copy editor, contacted me about her suggestions for the novel. She looked at the text sentence by sentence, word by word, looking at the meaning of each word and phrase. Here is an example of one of her comments. “The line reads: ‘Jane accused me of having a crush on her boyfriend.’ The word ‘accused’ here seems a bit strong.” The réviseur was right. Jane wasn’t angry. I changed the line to “Jane teased me about having a crush on her boyfriend.”
In February 2009, I received the American couverture, or cover.
Although we loved the cover, Bloomsbury USA went with a couverture with a bolder look. Which one do you prefer?
In May of 2009, I received the proofs, the typeset text, and locked myself away because it was la dernière chance, the last chance, to change anything. Then the correcteur, the proofreader, looked at every letter and all the punctuation.
It was a pleasure to work with the editorial team. It felt like a luxury to have people pay such close attention to my words and characters. I loved the images that the artists created. Until this point, the processus was private. Everyone who had read the book had loved it.
The next part was public. The book came out on September 9, 2009 (or 9-9-09), nearly a year and a half after it had been sold. Les critiques wrote les critiques, reviewers wrote reviews that ranged from “Good for ambitious readers” (Josh Cohen of Library Journal) to “Chick lit with edge” (Kirkus). Readers on Amazon.com, GoodReads, and LibraryThing weighed in. The first reader reviewer didn’t like the book and posted her comments on seven different sites. It was hard to see those harsh words posted so many places. Luckily, several other reader reviewers had kind things to say. At readings, I met people who had very different but equally valid points of view concerning the characters’ actions. Talking to them made me rethink my own book.
People commented not only on the text but also on the social issues of the novel. On one site, a man registered as “Galactic Love” called me “flat out biased” and “jealous”. He also used the phrase “arrogant bit**es”, referring to American woman. On another, a woman registered as “SS” listed everything wrong she found with the book. Luckily, I have received many kind emails and reviews from readers and the negative posts have been minimal, though I do think it is surprising what people say when they are anonymous. I feel lucky to have the support of great independent bookstores such as the Village Voice, the Red Wheelbarrow, and Shakespeare & Company here in Paris as well as Rainy Day Books in Kansas City and Fact & Fiction in Montana. It has been wonderful to meet so many people who are passionate about books.
From manuscript to roman, from private writings to published work, it has been a rich experience. I hope that you have enjoyed my posts this week. It has been a pleasure to share a little of my journey with you. Bonne continuation!
Le Coin Commentaires
Mille mercis to Janet for sharing her stories with us this week and for breathing hope into our own creative endeavors. To leave Janet a message, please click here.
I leave you with a mot de remerciement from Janet:
Un grand merci to all the thoughtful, generous people who read my posts and took the time to respond. I was overwhelmed by your kindness, appreciated your support, and enjoyed learning about your experiences in France. Again, many thanks to Kristin who kindly let me visit her wonderful blog as guest this week.
Janet Skeslien Charles’ debut novel Moonlight in Odessa was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their top ten debut novels of Fall 2009.
It was Book of the Month in the September issue of National Geographic Traveler. BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime featured Moonlight in Odessa for two weeks in February 2010.
See Ann Mah's interview with Janet, here.
un manuscrit = manuscript
le processus = process
un agent = agent
une maison d’édition = publishing house
un éditeur, une éditrice = editor*; publisher
commentaire = comments
un reviseur = copy editor
une couverture = cover
la dernière chance = last chance
un correcteur = proofreader
le mot de remerciement = a thank you note
*rédacteur/trice = editor
From the publisher: Emilie Carles was born in 1900 into the rigidly conservative patriarchal world of a poor and isolated peasant community in the High Alps of France. Her autobiography is the tale of a world that has largely disappeared and of the one that has emerged to take its place.
Emilie Carles started out her life the same as many of her neighbors in her predominantly peasant town in France. Unlike her neighbors, she went on to receive an education and break out of generations of grinding poverty and ingnorance. The very fact that she is able to chronicle her most unusual life is a testament to the power of the human spirit.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety