Saturday, December 5, 2009

It begins again

"It" meaning the process of publishing a new book, an enterprise that can be rewarding, frustrating and humiliating all at once.

What's That Pig Outdoors: A Memoir of Deafness, my first book, first published away back in 1990, is being re-issued in a new and updated edition next August 1 by the University of Illinois Press.

Most of the manuscript was of course edited and set more or less in stone two decades ago, but the new, 38-page Epilogue I wrote for the second edition has yet to go under the editorial knife. That will happen during the next week or two.

Will the U. of I. editor accept my carefully crafted sentences, praising them for their shapeliness, or savagely rip apart the unholy mess I've dumped in his lap?

A lot of tender ego rides on the result.

I should not be so nervous, having spent 40 years working both sides of the editorial street as the fellow with the typewriter and the fellow with the blue pencil. If the experience taught me anything, it was that no matter how good a writer one thinks one is, a competent editor can always make him look better.

I had a brilliant editor for my first three books, all nonfiction. First at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, then at Random House and finally HarperCollins, Paul Golob actually taught me how to shape a book, how to craft a narrative, how to draw the reader into my tale.

For the three later mysteries, I was on my own, doing my own "line editing" and trusting a freelance copy editor (hired by the publisher) to tidy up the verbal dust kitties. (A smart production editor caught several stupid mistakes before they made print.)

And now I'm back in the hands of a New Guy. I'm a New Guy to him, too. We shall see.


  1. Good luck, Henry. I'm happy a smart academic press editor saw an opportunity. It's a wonderful book and deserves to be back in print. Looking forward to reading your new epilogue.

    Now you get to do more book events. And cash some more checks.

    Barry Orton

  2. Wow, has it been 20 years already? I read this book when it first came out in paperback. I'll have to look out for your new edition so that I can read the epilogue!