The Continued Accumulation of Post-Book-Deal Stuff

My line edits, courtesy of my editor Arthur Levine.

Okay, you gotta admit - this is a pretty cool artifact of the editorial process.

When I say “stuff” I don’t mean just any smelly old heap of random debris, of course, I mean WRITING-related stuff. Perhaps you’re a published author who doesn’t lovingly (and perhaps a tad obsessively) save every spicule of physical evidence of your journey toward publication? Dude, don’t even talk to me, I can’t relate. I’ve been saving everything.

The latest item to join my haphazard archive of memorabilia is the scribbled-up set of pages upon which my line edits were delivered by my editor Arthur Levine. They’re more wrinkled up than when I first got them, but the Post-Its are all still in place, and come on, how cool is it to have something like this for a keepsake?

Saving stuff isn’t a new phenomenon, certainly – I’ve got massive heaps of pages, index cards, unreadable notes scrawled on receipts and napkins, books that I ordered and read in a research-driven frenzy, and printouts with comments from critique partners in every nook and cranny of my home. It’s having these souvenirs of the publication process that still feels like a new thing, even though I’m actually not so far away from the first anniversary of my book deal.

I’ve got a lovely “welcome to the family” card from Arthur, and equally lovely “congratulations on your fabulous book deal” cards from my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and the EMLA grand Emu herself, Erin Murphy. I even save the envelopes correspondence was sent in, except for the one my line edits were delivered in – a terrible, tragic coffee spill took that one from me before I was ready. *sniff* Hey, don’t laugh! Have you no sentiment, you robot?

Brooding navel-gazer that I am, I have to contemplate the potential reasons for this pack-rat behavior and suss out the possibility that I’m being a jackass in some way. Are there any delusions of grandeur at work? Well, duh, there’s always at least one of those rattling around in my brainpan. Maybe someday the Arne Nixon Center will want to archive my papers! Heck, maybe the Smithsonian’s American History Museum will want to put my scribbled-up manuscript on display, right next to Fonzie’s jacket! Yeah, yeah, and maybe a suitcase full of thousand-dollar bills will fall out of the sky and land at my feet. I know, I need to get over myself.

My Arthur A. Levine Books mug. NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE IT

I think this is still my favorite keepsake. So far, anyway.

It’s also interesting to think about how the galactic dominance of digital technology has affected our desires/needs/compulsions to save this kind of stuff, because it doesn’t seem outrageous to hypothesize that we writers will deal with less and less printed matter as time marches on. Agent Joan and I do all our manuscript work via email, for example. And while I’m all in favor of adopting the paperless office model and living a green lifestyle, I must confess that I feel lucky to have an editor who’ll still scribble up an actual printed manuscript. Those annotated pages feel like precious artifacts, yanno?

So yeah, even the envelope that held my first editorial letter is stashed away in a file. My “welcome to the family” cards are hanging on the wall above my desk. My line edited pages are currently housed in an SCBWI shopping bag, and will be relocated to a more secure locale in the near future. But as cool as those things are, and you have to admit that they’re all pretty cool, I have an even better one in my future, don’t I? The one that’s actually the point of this whole endeavor – my book. My book! As picture book author Tammi Sauer likes to say in congratulatory messages on the Blueboards, wuhooh!

Salivating from anticipation,



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11 responses to “The Continued Accumulation of Post-Book-Deal Stuff

  1. I’m like you, Mike. I save all the physical stuff, and print out the Emails. I get it- holding on to ‘this is real-or is it?’
    Love those post-its on you manuscript. Makes her look like a nice ruffled lady.


    • Mike Jung

      I haven’t actually printed out the emails, Mirka, I seem to have some kind of psychological barrier to that process. I probably SHOULD do that to fully satisfy the OCD beast within, though. 😉


  2. You know what’s another great use for a line-edited manuscript? Take it to a school. I have gone in to talk to my kids’ classes about writing and revising, and you know elementary school kids: they think they’re done the first time they write a thought down. So I talk about four and five drafts, three or four years of work, and I plop my line edited manuscript down — in three binder-clipped sections — on their desks. The gasps! The horror! (It’s totally fun.)


    • Mike Jung

      And since I’ve saved EVERYTHING, including previous revisions done under exclusives with agents, I could really hammer a giant stack of paper in front of those horrified little tykes. I’LL DO IT. (and thanks!)


  3. One day, Mike, you should pile up the whole enchilada and take a picture to share for your school visits! It will really impress the kids. As for me, I am a non-keeper, which may come back to haunt me. But once my book moves on to another stage, I dump the old stuff. I only have kept the original, which I am sure is a horrific mess and that I may never be able to bring myself to look at again.


    • Mike Jung

      Hey Lisa, yeah, I probably will do that! As well as use images of it all online for blogging purposes and whatnot. The thing is, I see the appeal in dumping stuff – the piles are getting very, very large, and I’ve already stopped remembering everything that I’ve got. But I confess, I’ve always wanted to have a stash of artifacts related to my writing career, and now that I actually HAVE a writing career I can do it! Wuhooh!


  4. MIke, As someone who has spent at least 1/2 her career in museums, let me suggest that you send out an announcement now to all your editorial/agently staff that you expect all further communications to be printed on archival quality, acid free paper. A future archivist will thank you, while simultaneously weeping and saying, “if only his first drafts of his blockbuster debut had been printed so carefully. If only had hadn’t spilled coffee on that one CRITICAL ENVELOPE!

    (BTW, did you know that when you write something, and the last few lines of it turn into ALL CAPS AND AN EXCLAMATION POINT! that is now referred to as “going all Mike Jung in a post?” Just thought you should know that expression is loose on facebook. And I hope all followers of this blog will soon be SAYING IT AS WELL!)


    • Mike Jung

      Having everything printed on archival quality acid-free paper sounds great! And you know what, I think that kind of request will have more impact coming from an expert in the field, so go ahead and contact everybody for me. Jeannie. YOU CAN DO IT! (See what I did there? I went all Mike Jung in a post…)


  5. Well, duh. Of course you save all that stuff. Could you possibly consider otherwise? Great collection you’ve got going there!


    • Mike Jung

      I can actually imagine getting rid of some stuff, but in the end I find it all has at least some sentimental value. For example, I have a scribbled-up manuscript from a revision I did on exclusive with an agent who ultimately rejected me – disappointing, for sure, but still, it made the manuscript better, and I think well of this particular person, so I kept it…


  6. I hear you, Mike. When my editor asked if I wanted her first round of revision notes electronically or on paper, I said, “Both, please. :-)” I explained that while I preferred to work from the electronic document, I’d love to have the paper copy to show my students. When she sent the galleys last week with her notes, she said I could keep the tome as a handy prop for school visits. But like you said, beyond school visits, it’s fun to see the path that your manuscript has taken. Happy trails to you and yours, Mike!


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