Last Monday, I finished submitted my rewrites for the Ancient Maya book I wrote for Abdo, through Red Line Editorial. For those of you who are interested in writing for an educational packager, here are the steps.
- Apply. If you want to write for an educational series, you need to apply to write for a publisher or a packager. I applied with Red Line because I know three authors who write for them. I prepared my resume and samples and a cover letter. I emphasized my nonfiction writing and my background in academia. I did the last because I wanted to make sure they understood that I know what academic primary sources are and I’m not afraid to use them.
- Wait. After you apply, they have to match you up with an assignment. I had to wait about 4 months.
- Invitation. Some packagers may call writers, but I got an email from an editorial assistant. Would I be interested in writing a book on an ancient culture. If so, pick one of these.
- Research, Part 1. Before I responsed, I wanted to make sure that I could get the research done FAST. I did a Google Scholar search on several of the cultures. I searched the books at my local library. I also did a library database search. Fortunately, one of my top two choices had tons of sources. Because of this, it became my first choice although I sent them my top 4. Why 4? I wanted to make it easy for them in case I asked for the same culture as an author they already worked with regularly.
- Research. Part 2. Next I had to prep chapter 1 and an outline. Obviously, I couldn’t do this without any research so I gave myself five days to gather as much as possible and read enough of the secondary sources and the abstracts to do an outline.
- Write! The whole thing needed to be done in 6 weeks. I wrote chapter 1 and the outline and submitted them. But I didn’t stop. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get comments back so I roughed out another two chapters. The changes they wanted were minimal so I ignored them for the chapters I had already written and encorporated the in chapters 4-9.
- Rewrite Twice. After drafting the whole manuscript, I made the changes they asked for, based on chapter 1 and the outline, in the first three chapters. Then I worked through the end, started back and the beginning and worked through it all again.
- Critique. I didn’t have time to run this by my critique group, but I did get my husband to read it. He’s a business geek but that was good. He hadn’t read everything I had on the Maya. He pointed out several places my text might be misunderstood and places he had questions.
- Rewrite Again. Yep. I went through it again based on his comments and reading it outloud. Yep. The whole 14,500 words. Out loud.
- Submit. Then I sent it off and waited. And waited. It was only about a month but it felt like forever.
- Rewrite Yet Again. They one wanted me to expand 6 sidebars so I know I got off really easy. I got these done in about a week and sent just this text back in.
Through the course of this process, I worked with one editorial assistant and 2 editors. For their part, they ran my manuscript past one or more experts and then sent a rewrite request. Honestly, I couldn’t tell expert suggestions for editor suggestions so I’m not sure how much was one and how much the other. To find out what questions you should ask yourself before applying to do this kind of work, see my blog post today on the Muffin.
Would I do it again? You bet. But hopefully not until my son goes back to school in August!