I’m Marc’s surprise guest, Elizabeth (Betsy) Partridge. [NOTE: if you cannot click through on the sites, copy them into your browser and search that way]
Marc, thanks for your call to arms for authors and editors. I’d love to blog about how I’m putting together my current non-fiction book, a picture book biography on Pete Seeger. There are a huge number of issues that have to be sifted through to come up with a good book. Most of them don’t show up in the finished project: choosing length, emotional tone, techniques to make the prose compelling, illustration and design choices, etc.
My editor, Jill Davis, and I have done three biographies together: Dorothea Lange; Woody Guthrie; and John Lennon. (check out my website www.elizabethpartridge.com
for more info.) The first thing we have to do is come up with somebody we are both fascinated by, because we are going to get to know that person really, really well.
One of my ironclad rules is: the person must be dead. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll edit myself to make her/him pleased (or at least comfortable) with what I’ve written. Or, worse, she/he may try to interfere or at least shape what I’m doing.
Pete Seeger ‘s http://www.peteseeger.net/
not dead, he’s very much alive and kicking at 88. Another of my rules: break your own damn rules when they don’t fit. I decided that with a picture book biography I wouldn’t be going into the depth that would make either one of us uncomfortable.
Jill and I come up with a few parameters. Length: In this case, Jill wanted a picture book. That was fine with me. I like to do long biographies on complex, contradictory people who are, in my husband’s words, "creative jerks." Other people often pay a high price for the choices they make. Seeger’s not a jerk. He’s done fantastic stuff in his life, which I want to share with kids, but he doesn’t have the kind of dark side I like if I’m going to live with him for the three years it takes me to do a YA biography.
Once Jill and I decided on Seeger, I needed to write up something for her to take to an acquisitions meeting. This is where she has to convince the Powers That Be this is a good idea. I wrote up a three page blurb for her, called an acquisitions memo or acquisitions proposal. http://www.underdown.org/acquisition-process.htm
I’ve posted my proposal on my blog, http://elizabethpartridge.blogspot.com/
and Jill will come on Marc’s blog and explain what she does in that meeting. This is kind of like when all the Gifted and Talented kids file out of the room and you sit in your seat and wonder, what do they do while they are gone? Jill?