Interview with Cheryl Klein: Process of Publishing Second Sight

Photo by Cal Werry

 

It’s a treat to have Cheryl Klein visit the Tollbooth today. She joins us to discuss what was involved in publishing her book, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults.

Cheryl Klein is an Executive Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, and is the author of Second Sight. Her website is filled with information and resources for writers.

 

[Sarah] How did you prepare your book, Second Sight, for publication? What extra steps did you need to take because you published it yourself?

[Cheryl] I write my talks in outline form to keep them and me loose as I speak, so first I had to revise them for print — which involved a lot of revising altogether; I think I more or less rewrote my speech on voice completely. After that, I sent it to a freelance book designer I’d hired, and she came up with a sample interior design, which I approved. She and I then went through two rounds of proofs (which sometimes involved me rewriting more than I should) before finalizing the interiors. It was all very much like the standard editorial process we use at Scholastic.

The designer and I also collaborated on the cover, with both of us generating ideas, settling on a concept, and then tweaking the details until we had something I liked — something I love, actually. My personal style — in everything from the clothes I wear to the art I love to how I edit my books — emphasizes very classical, clean structures and lines combined with bright colors and textures and patterns, and this book cover is a wonderful example of that.

Finally, I registered for an ISBN so the book could be included in various online systems, and a bar code so it could be scanned and sold in stores. And I researched book printers and distributors online, and reached out to a number of services for quotes.

[Sarah] Who else was involved in the publication process?

[Cheryl] My designer was named Whitney Lyle — she’s now a full-time book designer for Scholastic. The books themselves were printed by McNaughton & Gunn in Michigan. Several of my editorial friends consulted on the copyediting and flap copy.

[Sarah] What are the advantages of publishing your book in print form? What were the biggest challenges you faced?

[Cheryl] I never considered publishing it solely in e-form — in part because I grew up on real, physical books, and I love them madly, and I wanted to have one of my very own. So one great advantage was just to be able to hold a book I’d written in my hands. . . . It was really satisfying, if that doesn’t sound too egotistical. On a practical level, the biggest advantages are probably having something physical to sell at my speaking appearances, as I do a fair number of those, and that the book can reach an audience beyond people who own e-readers (as that’s still just a limited subset of readers, and will probably remain so for quite some time to come).

The biggest challenge was trying to figure out the proper distribution for the books — how many books should go where, and which were the right services to use that would answer the particular needs I had.

[Sarah] You used Kickstarter as a way to raise money to print your book. Why did you choose Kickstarter?

[Cheryl] At the time I did it (July of 2009), Kickstarter had just opened for business earlier that year, and it was the only crowdsourced-fundraising website for artistic activities that I knew of.

[Sarah] You started your own small press: Asterisk Books. Could you talk about how this was helpful in publishing Second Sight? Also, how have you distributed your book?

[Cheryl] Well, I have to confess that Asterisk came into existence basically because of Second Sight — I wanted to have a proper imprint name to put on the spine and title page! I chose “Asterisk” because I love stars and punctuation, and because I love the additions and amendments and digressions the mark represents.

Second Sight is available online through Amazon.com’s Advantage consignment program and through Mybookorders.com, an independent distributor out of Minneapolis. Working with Mybookorders was really important and useful to me early on because (a) I wanted a non-Amazon option for people who are concerned about the company and (b) I needed a distributor that could handle discounts at various levels, so the people who sponsored me on Kickstarter could receive the proper credit for their sponsorship (for instance, a $10 sponsorship = $10 off the book), and Amazon doesn’t offer such an option. The book has also been for sale at my local independent bookstore near work, the wonderful McNally Jackson Booksellers, and I’ve been selling it at my various appearances since it’s come out.

I owe my mother a HUGE thanks here, as she and my dad are not only storing over a thousand books (at present) in their garage, she’s also been shipping books to Amazon and to my appearances as necessary. (They know her really well at the local FedEx.) Thanks, Mom!

[Sarah] The Asterisk graphic and name “Asterisk Books” do add a nice touch to the spine and title page! One last question: Second Sight is a popular book and is now in it’s second printing. Do you plan to release it as an e-book?

[Cheryl] At present, I do not have plans to release it as an e-book.

[Sarah] Thank you, Cheryl, for joining me in the Tollbooth today.

Be sure to visit Cheryl at her useful website (that includes many of her craft talks) and her wonderful blog. Cheryl is also on twitter. (There is important info on her website about the various option of placing orders for her book, Second Sight. Her book is an excellent resource for writers, one I highly recommend.)

~Sarah Blake Johnson