I am not a morning person. The fact that I was willing to get on a 7:00 am Air Canada flight to Toronto pretty much says it all about how much I wanted to meet my editor and her team in person. Here are the highlights:
Reception at the ROM: Thursday evening, met up with Editor Iris at a reception in the Royal Ontario Museum, just before a PEN Canada Ideas in Dialogue event featuring Commonwealth Writer’s Prize author Lawrence Hill. Wow.
“I have a surprise for you,” Iris said. "They arrived ahead of schedule," and she pulled out an ARC (advance reading copy) for Three Souls. Squeeee!
Then she proceeded to introduce me to various people in the room, mostly writers. With each introduction, Iris announced “And her debut novel is coming out in August. Janie, show them”, and I would happily pull the ARC out of my purse with a stupid grin on my face.
They were all so nice and congratulated me. Lawrence Hill congratulated me! “They all remember what it was like to have a first book ,” Iris said.
Now I can do some CanLit namedropping! Iris introduced me to David Kent, CEO of HarperCollins Canada, then to Miranda Hill, Sarah Elton, and ... then my brain went totally blank and my IQ dropped 50 points because I looked across the room and realized I was breathing the same air as former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. Who was chatting to Florence Richler, as in, widow of Mordecai Richler.
Friday morning at the HarperCollins office: The lobby features a couple of bookshelves and a flat-screen monitor that reads: “HarperCollins welcomes Janie Chang”. Again, squeeee!
Free books: No one told me that your publishing house contains offices full of bookshelves filled with the books they publish and if you show the slightest interest in any of the titles, they give them to you; then when you try to appear not so greedy and say things like ‘Oh, I can’t put one more thing in my suitcase’, they say ‘Well, we’re shipping you copies of your ARCs so we can just put them in the same box’.
I should’ve shown up with my own crate. I was so, so, so good. I only scrounged four books and one of those was for The Husband.
Meeting the team: Met my line editor, the incomparable Lorissa; a few of the sales reps, my book cover designer, the art director, the contracts manager, marketing director, my publicist, the digital marketing manager, the senior editor who handles about 20 contract editors and juggles everything to meet deadlines, their production manager. They all seemed genuinely excited about Three Souls and they weren’t just being nice because of my fragile author’s ego.
Then had a brief and pleasant marketing meeting with “my” marketing team. Iris laid out a few key messages she wanted us all to be consistent with for Three Souls and my author platform.They outlined a few of the marketing activities, such as:
I asked about book launch parties and was told to consider them a celebration with friends and family. They aren’t good ROI for selling books because virtual book tours work much better. This actually takes the pressure off because I’d been wondering how to orchestrate a launch party that was also a marketing event but now, it can just be a fun thing.
No more editing! Then I spent a couple of hours in an empty office for a final proofread of the galleys -- which I had hoped to finish on the plane -- reviewed a couple of tricky spots with senior editor Noelle, and it was done! No more editing! I've been editing since early February and it’s over! Time to get serious about Damn Novel Number Two.
Lunch with two wonderful authors: On the weekend, met up with authors Barbara Kyle and Katherine Govier for lunch at the restaurant of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Katherine actually biked there to meet me and showed up looking cool and beautifully groomed, not a single hair astray despite the helmet. Barbara drove in from Guelph, an hour away! So I bought the drinks, they signed my copies of their books, and shared some war stories about the publishing business. By now I am in total fan girl mode, can’t believe I’m sitting there with two authors I admire. I’m worrying about how to get down to my second novel and these ladies are such pros – they just get on with the writing.
In conclusion: I had been working with Iris and her editing team via phone and email since February; even though the process was very smooth and productive, it just seemed really important to get to know them all in person before the book came out. I’m so glad I made the trip.
It was wonderful. And surreal. I figured out why it's surreal: unlike the people I know personally and professionally in Vancouver, the folks at HarperCollins only know me as an author. It’s like having another life and identity!
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