This is part of the Bittersweet Book Launch case study, where Dan Blank and Miranda Beverly-Whittemore share the yearlong process of launching her novel. You can view all posts here.
by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
I realized last night, as I was lying in bed, that it was a year ago this past Friday that my agent and I got an email back from Christine, who would become my editor at Crown. She’d stayed up reading Bittersweet, and had dreamed of summer that night, and she wanted me to know she loved the book. (Squee!)
She didn’t love the ending, and was wondering: would I be open to changing it?
My agent called me immediately. It was Friday afternoon by this point, and I had the kiddo all day Saturday, but what I felt, as Anne explained some of Christine’s notes, was “yes.” Not just because Christine was the first editor in a string of editors (in, let’s be honest, a string of books) who might actually be saying “yes” to me, but because what she was saying was editorially sound and true. She was advocating for my characters in a way no one else had in years.
My agent, Anne, is flinty and honest and I love that about her. She said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if this new ending was waiting in Christine’s inbox on Monday morning?”
But I had the kid all day Saturday! And these changes were new and big and ambitious and would change the whole tone of the book (making it, yes, more bittersweet than it had ever been)! And yet I knew she was right: I had to try to get something done by work starting on Monday. Because my book had already stood apart in Christine’s head. But what if I, as a writer, could stand apart too?
So I called up my son’s former babysitter and she kindly welcomed him into her home all day Saturday. And I cancelled my Sunday brunch plans and holed up in my office, and using Christine’s notes as a blueprint, and a particularly brilliant suggestion from Anne, rewrote the last twenty pages of Bittersweet.
They were waiting in Christine’s inbox a year ago today, on Monday morning. And though it was nearly three weeks until the book was bought on Valentine’s Day, and those intervening days were nerve-wracking and hope-filled, I believed that I was at the beginning of something exciting. It’s been a great year since.