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The Story of a Book by Jane Kelley

February 2, 2016


Note From Rochelle


Dear Writers,


If writing a book was your New Year’s resolution–has it survived January? Research suggests that only 8 percent of us will succeed at reaching our New Year’s goal. Would you like to be one of them? I’ve helped hundreds of people finish books and projects, and I can help you, too. I’m committed to helping my clients share their story with the world. If you’d like to talk about how I can help you finish your project, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

Today’s tip is an inspiring story from Jane Kelley, author of The Book of Dares for Lost Friends  and more!


Happy Writing!

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach










Books have always been a part of my life. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by them. My grandmother was a novelist. (Her first novel was serialized in the Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet.) I was always making up stories. It was only natural that I would write. And write and write and write.


I have a filing cabinet full of manuscripts that no one will ever read. The first ones I actually typed on a typewriter. I mention that shocking fact to reveal just how long ago I started writing.


By 2004, I had been trekking through the wilderness for a long time. But I had hope. I had a husband who believed in me. I had desire. Then I happened to meet an agent, Linda Pratt. She said she was always looking for humorous adventure stories for kids. I thought I could do that. After all, I was living with the target audience. My ten year old daughter. I benefited from my daughter’s enthusiasm and her criticism (oh how she relished telling her mom what to do). By 2007, I had written something that my agent thought she could sell. She sent Nature Girl to editors. Then, in the spring of 2008, oh frabjous day, caloo callay, we got an offer. We agreed to the terms. And I went to Random House to meet my new editor.

Meeting my Random House Editor

I entered the lobby of the building. Three stories high, covered with books published by Random House. Somehow, I made it past my heroes. Upstairs, I met Shana Corey. She told me she was so happy to be editing my book, which, she said, would be published in 2010.


Wait. What? 2010? I thought I had misheard her.


What could possibly take two years? Did we have to make paper by pounding papyrus leaves? Did monks have to copy the manuscript by hand? Did typesetters have to put letters in slots one at a time? Did the books have to be carted across the country on horse-drawn wagons?


Of course not. But clearly I had a lot to learn about the publishing business.


In the first place, even though as far as I was concerned, Random House was only publishing one book, that wasn’t true. In fact, my own editor was guiding many other books from page to print. I had to wait my turn.


So I did. A few months went by. And then one day, I got a thick package in the mail. My manuscript. Comments on every page. My editor had written almost as many words about my manuscript as I had.


Wait. What? I had already rewritten it ten times. I thought my editor liked it! Isn’t that why she bought it????


After I calmed down, I discovered that there was praise liberally sprinkled in among the critical comments. And that even those had question marks. Consider changing this. Okay?


I could have said “no.” I could have insisted on the integrity of my artistic vision. I may have been naïve, but I wasn’t foolish. I knew that my editor only wanted the best for the book.


And so did everyone else at Random House.


Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with other editors and other publishers. But no matter who the publisher, I have always been impressed by the hard work and the dedication of the copy editors, the art director, the cover artist, the design department, the sales department, the publicity department. Everyone has only one goal – to help each book succeed.


Want to Learn More about The Story of a Book?

BofD coverOn Feb. 11 at 6 p.m., at the Weyenberg Library in Mequon, I will go into more detail about THE STORY OF A BOOK.


If you love books like I do, you’ll want to get a glimpse of what happens behind the curtain. I also want to acknowledge how hard all these people work. Yes, they get paid. But not nearly as much as they deserve. They do it because they believe in the power of books. Without their contributions, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to be transported, inspired, entertained, educated.


Here’s a link to the event page at the Weyenberg Library.




JKelley photoAbout the author. Jane Kelley started her creative career performing street theater throughout the Midwest. Her imagination continues to roam, but she spends her days writing middle grade novels at her desk in Mequon, Wisconsin. Her most recent novel, THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS, received a starred review from Kirkus. Her forthcoming novel, MARY JEMISON, NATIVE AMERICAN CAPTIVE, is part of the series BASED ON A TRUE STORY. It will be published on Feb. 16, 2016, under the pseudonym E.F. Abbott. Visit Jane Kelley online at JaneKelleyBooks






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