Happy book news!

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I’ve been sitting on a secret for a while…but the cat is out of the bag at Publishers Marketplace today.

July 28, 2008
Middle grade 
Kate Messner’s untitled book about a 12-year-old girl who has until the end of the week to finish her huge 7th grade leaf project, but she faces comic catastrophes (and real drama) at every turn to Walker Children’s, for publication in Fall 2009, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

I *heart* my new editor at Walker and am so excited to be working with her. 

Some of you have read about this book before, in various forms.  It used to be called SWINGER OF BIRCHES.  I’ve been working on it for a couple years, in between other projects, and this is the novel that caught my agent’s eye last November when I signed with her.  We changed the title to MAPLE GIRL before she started sending it out to editors.

By then, I’d been working on some other stuff, too — a picture book and a chapter book. Those ended up selling quickly– to Chronicle and Scholastic — making me the official write-while-your-agent-shops-your-book poster girl.  But I still had hopes for MAPLE.

One day this May, I was driving my kids to their various lessons/practices/friends’ houses, and my son asked a question about one of the other book deals.  Then he asked about MAPLE GIRL. 

“Well,” I said.  “It’s out on submission right now, but…”

“No one likes that one much, do they?” he said, with classic 11-year-old boy tact.

To my credit, I didn’t take away his dessert or cry.  I said. “Well, actually, lots of people like it.  But we haven’t found the editor who loves it yet.  That’s the person we need to find. And that may or may not happen.  We’ll see.”

Then he asked what was for dinner.  It was chicken (it’s always chicken).  I went home and made it and cleared the table and put the kids to bed and sat down at the computer.  In my email in-box was a note from Agent Jenn about an editor at Walker who LOVED my book. Loved it.  I went back and read that word over and over again.  There it was.

Happily, she was able to get the manuscript through the second and third reads and meetings that books have to go through before they become books, and in early June, they made an offer.  The editorial letter arrived just a few weeks later, and I’ve been busy with my latest revision ever since. We’re in the process now of brainstorming a new title (feel free to chime in with ideas) and hope to have something official soon.

For those interested in process…I blogged about revising this book a couple times in its earlier stages, here and here.

It makes me smile to read through those posts now. So much in this business we do on faith, hoping that our words will belong to real live kids some day instead of just to us.  But looking back, it’s a joy to remember how much I loved this story even when I wasn’t sure it would ever be a book.

114 Replies on “Happy book news!

  1. This is so awesome! Funny, I’d assumed it sold bc of your last post about the title and just thought I’d missed it! YAY!!!!!!!

  2. Congratulations, Kate!

    I love your story about your son’s comment. My son has much the same things to say–I don’t think they ever grow out of it.

    Maybe they keep us balanced. : )

  3. Wahoo! Congratulations on the sale!

    I just read through your revision posts and share your love of Post-Its! 🙂 I used the shrunken manuscript technique in my last revision, too. It helped me tons! CW at ABLA has it now. (back to pacing…)

  4. I followed you here from Verla’s. Congratulations! And I loved hearing your back story.

    Is the girl’s name Maple? If so, how about just MAPLE? If not, why isn’t it? Hee.

    Good luck with your revisions and finding a title!

  5. Hooray

    Kate, I’m thrilled for you. Thrilled! And I think SWINGER OF BIRCHES is actually a great title — intriguing and playful.

    One last hooray!
    Rebecca Stead

  6. YAY Kate! I know I’ve said this a dozen times, but it merits a gigantic CONGRATULATIONS all over again. Can’t wait to see the finished product!! 🙂

  7. I should own stock in the Post-It company – and I love what that shrunken manuscript strategy allows you to see. Good luck with your revision/submission!


    Thank you, Tracie! I was actually at Walker/Bloomsbury offices a few weeks ago when I met with my new editor and was excited to see so many friends’ books already on the shelves there.

  9. Oooh, my first ever book-published words! 😉 Can’t wait to buy my own copy next year. Congratulazioni, and have some celebratory cyber gelato on me. 🙂

  10. No – I think there’s plenty of luck and a talented agent involved, too. It’s not easy finding the right home for a book sometimes, and I’m thankful mine have landed in the right places. Thanks, April!

  11. Agggg! It ate my comment! I was just saying CONGRATULATIONS and this must’ve been the big news you were sitting on the other night! So exciting — go KATE!!

  12. Weeellll, I don’t really blog much — aside from my “bike trek” blog on WordPress, and I’m even proving bad at that — but I started this account a while ago for a group I was in, without actually doing a blog. In any case I enjoy keeping up with my friends’ blogs, and I’m sort-of graduating from being a silent reader to a sometimes-poster(baby steps!!) 🙂

  13. Wow! Congratulations! And there it is! The post I was looking for a little while back. It truly gives me hope that I will get there too! Congratulations again. Awesome news!

  14. Congratulations. You have a great team of agent and editor with you. And you are a Talent!

    *looking up*

    Oh, yes. I see you now. You are Flying. :))

    Enjoy every sweet second!

  15. You are truly amazing! WIW! Big congratulations from my team! 🙂 BTW… What is wrong with Swinger of Birches?? I love that title!

  16. LOL. My brother-in-law started my nickname, candycana. When I’m on a tear, (me? Never? heh, heh), he calls me hurricana.
    I’m anxious to get this new rewrite finished so I can try the shrunken ms. It looks so helpful.


  17. Learning about that strategy was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, writing-wise. It’s so helpful when it comes to big picture things (especially for those of us who have a tendency to invent characters and then ignore them for chapters on end in the first draft!)

  18. Yes! It’s us! Part of my goal to catch up on things this summer is to also catch up on your blog! Truly inspirational! Can’t wait to see you guys!

  19. HiKate!!! It’s me from L.A. — having so much fun. Meg (aka bluemalibu) just got me signed up on LJ 🙂 I’m so glad the cat’s out of the bag on the book! Still no title!
    Miss you — love you!!!