Guest Post: Kristen Kittscher

I’m super excited to be a part of Krsiten Kittscher’s blog tour, and to turn over the blog to her today.

Happy reading!

Publishing’s True Undercover Operatives

I’m so thrilled to be here on SharpRead continuing my blog tour for THE WIG IN THE WINDOW!

Before I wrote a book, I thought of it as a solitary activity: genius authors furiously typing away at their desks, fueled by inspiration. The truth is, it takes the collaboration and hard work of many people to help make a story the best that it can be.

It occurred to me I might not be the only one who had that mistaken impression, so on each tour stop  for THE WIG IN THE WINDOW, I’ve been pulling back the curtain on the publishing process to reveal just how much effort—and how many people—are involved in turning an vague idea into a real, live book.

Today you’re in for a treat. Harper Children’s has given me permission to declassify some highly confidential information about WIG’s publication journey. Perhaps you think I’m exaggerating a tad? It’s possible. I have been known to exaggerate all the time on occasion. But I’m willing to bet a gazillion dollars (well, five, maybe?) that you’re going to be as surprised as I was when you discover the secret identity of the very talented well-known author who worked behind-the-scenes turn my manuscript into a real, live book…

Before I unmask her identity, though, I’d like to shine a spotlight on this least highlighted yet absolutely crucial stage of revising a manuscript for publication: copyediting!

Even that exclamation point doesn’t help make it sound any more exciting, does it? And yet, copyediting is exciting – and high stakes, too. All it takes is one factual error, typo, or inconsistency to jolt a reader out of a story—and make them start to question other elements of the fictional world. A copyeditor comes in to save the day after an author and editor have tried to make a manuscript as polished as they can on their own. They pore over every last comma, grammatical error, usage problem, or leap in logic.

I thought it might be interesting for you to see the level of detail and thought that goes into even into what seem like minor details. My Mystery Copyeditor and Harper’s wonderful head of production, Renée Cafiero made some fantastic (and funny) catches:

I wrote:
“Spying on her had to be more interesting that examining the Hodges’ bedtime hygiene routines.”

My eagle-eyed copyeditor noticed a critical flaw:

This plural possessive would have to be Hodgeses.

Hmmm. Indeed. Just like that, the Hodges applied for a name change and became the very plural possessive friendly “Wagners.”

On another occasion, my main character describes a group of girls who always seem to be involved in rather vague, questionable charity efforts. One day they’re selling baked goods to ‘Save the New Zealand Bush Wren.’

Harper didn’t miss a beat:
OK that NZ Bush Wren has been extinct since 1955? Perhaps change to a different bird?

I decided that it was actually fitting that the New Zealand Bush Wren has been extinct since 1955; my main character frequently exaggerates for comic effect and we can’t rely on her view entirely, but it was so wonderful to at least know I was making a mistake!

At one point I referred to “self-made” plastic yellow aprons characters are wearing.

Mystery Copyeditor:
Self-made seems to indicate that the aprons made themselves.

Oh dear. They were not supposed to be magical aprons. Home made is much better.

At one point Sophie Young describes the funny pictures her crush draws for her:
“His first was a bug-eyed caricature of our French teacher, Madame Tarrateau, her generous armpit hair penciled in like seaweed. Underneath it he’d written…”

The copyeditor asks for some clarification here:

Underneath the armpit hair, or underneath the whole picture?

Ah, pronouns are so vague! In fact, it was not under just the armpit hair. That would have been strangely specific of Sophie’s crush.

Sometimes my word choice and Harper’s house style didn’t match, but they were kind enough to defer to me:

“I dashed along the side yard–leaping to avoid the hose—and dove for cover by the hedge, where Grace had huddled in the shadows only a moment ago.”

The copyeditor asks:
House style prefers first listed term in Webster’s, which in this case is “dived.” Change to “dived” in all instances of “dove”?

In this case, I was worried about the ramifications of the change. I wrote back:

“Stet. I prefer the shortness in these action-y sentence. Also, I am reminded of Daniel Pinkwater’s story of all instances of “troll” in one of his books being changed to “elf,” resulting in his being complimented on his unusual phrase: “Selfing in the park,” and “being out for a self.” While I don’t think I have any mentions of, say, turtledoves in WIG, I think I want to play it safe. I’m global-change shy.”

I learned a great deal else. That “Thighmaster” really should be spelled “ThighMaster” per That the Massif Central region in France is made up of both mountains and plateaus. That yin and yang is commonly used enough that the terms don’t need to be italicized, like terms from other languages usually do. It might seem silly to pay so much attention to detail in an over-the-top, slightly surreal book like The Wig in the Window—but when there’s plenty else that requires willing suspension of disbelief, I think it’s all the more important to get the little things right!

Hope you enjoyed this little peek! I couldn’t be more grateful to them.

Now who was that Mystery Copyeditor?

None other than Nova Ren Suma, author of SEVENTEEN & GONE, IMAGINARY GIRLS, and DANI NOIR!

I knew there was a reason I loved all her re-wording suggestions.

Credit: Konrad Tho Fiedler

Credit: Konrad Tho Fiedler



Mon | May 20 – I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Wed | May 22 – Hobbitsies

Thu | May 23 – The Book Smugglers

Mon | May 27 – (Review by The Book Smugglers)

Tue | May 28 – Read Now Sleep Later

Wed | May 29 – Teaching in Cute Shoes

Mon | June 3 – Great Kid Books

Wed | June 5 – Mod Podge Bookshelf

Mon | June 10 – Cracking the Cover

Wed | June 12 – Kid Lit Frenzy

Mon | June 17 – HeiseReads


Wed | June 19 – The Brain Lair

Thu | June 20 – Teach Mentor Texts

Fri | June 21 – The Windy Pages

Mon | June 24 – Sharpread

Thu | June 27 – There’s a Book

Fri | June 28 –


2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Kristen Kittscher

  1. Thanks for posting this, Colby! I admit my jaw dropped when I learned this bit of information! I love Nova’s work! 😀


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