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Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults Paperback – March 9, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cheryl B. Klein has worked as an editor of children's and young adult books for more than a decade. She served as the continuity editor for the American editions of the last two Harry Potter novels, and books that she edited have won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, the Batchelder Award for translation, and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book citation, among other honors. Please visit her editorial website at www-dot-cherylklein-dot-com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Asterisk Books (March 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615420826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615420820
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rachel S. Griffiths on March 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a very smart book.

I'm an editor at a major children's house, and I see manuscript after manuscript cross my desk all with similar flaws. Unpublished authors are often working on their own, and don't always know what they need to take their book to the next level. This book tells them, with clear, incisive and deeply practical advice from a veteran in the field.

The author tackles thorny problems such a plot, character and theme, as well as questions on how to get published (Her annotated query letter from hell is hilarious, and spot on.) She brings an impressive depth of thought to the topic, as well as crystal-clear writing and fun.

I wish all prospective authors would read this book before sending out their manuscripts. Books written with SECOND SIGHT as their guide are sure to have a leg up on their competition.
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I found this book to be a little bit of a mixed bag.

On the good side:

It's absolutely chock full of stellar advice. Klein brings an obvious wealth of experience to the table and she shares in gems of solid detail, instead of the often useless generalities found in similar books. Almost everything she has to say is of worth to writers of all stripes, not just YA writers.

On the bad side:

I found myself continually frustrated by the lack of organization in the presentation of the material. The chapters are presented basically verbatim from blog posts and conference talks with little attempt to eliminate redundancies or coordinate subjects.

In the end, however, I'll both be keeping the book for my private library and recommending to others, since its insights finally outweighed the aggravation of their presentation.
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Format: Paperback
When seeking advice on writing, editing, and the world of trade book publishing, the first thing you should do is consider the source.

In this case, the source is impeccable. Cheryl B. Klein, who started out as an editorial reader at Scholastic Books for Arthur A. Levine Books, is now a Senior Editor for that imprint. In other words, she's a seasoned pro with over a decade in the publishing trenches, and in this 313-page book, she's generously shared her considerable knowledge about writing, editing and publishing book-length children's fiction and YA (Young Adult) fiction. (Scholastic, if you don't know, is the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. And Klein, if you didn't know, was the continuity editor for Harry Potter novels 5, 6 and 7.)

Collecting selected talks Klein's given at writer's conferences, conventions, and other venues over the years, this book shares a wealth of knowledge enormously useful for any fiction writer, not just those who write for children or YA readers: The plot checklist on page 94 should be carved in stone and mounted on every fiction writer's desk--it's time-tested, accurate information, and an excellent roadmap for insuring your novel is headed in the right direction and gets to where it needs to go.

Right upfront, in "An Explanation of This Book," Klein writes that she is "a narrative nerd. I love reading stories, taking them apart and seeing how they work, then putting them back together with each piece polished and gleaning." In this book, she shows how YOU, the beginning writer, can do just that for your own fiction; in other words, she shows how to avoid the sandpits, traps, and blind alleys in which beginning writers often find themselves in.
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Format: Paperback
For awhile now there has been an ugly rumor going around that editors no longer edit. Cheryl B. Klein, a young editor on her way to becoming legendary, lays this rumor to rest in this collection of talks on writing, revising and publishing. She offers concrete strategies for improving existing manuscripts, provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the editing process using examples from some of the acclaimed books she has worked on, and shares her idea of a good story - all in engaging prose. This book is a valuable resource for both beginning and more advanced writers.
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All you need to do is look at the Table of Contents of SECOND SIGHT: AN EDITOR'S TALKS ON WRITING, REVISING, AND PUBLISHING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS to know it's a worthy purchase. This book offers upper-level writing advice ---- like a Master's class instead of a Writing 101. If you've already learned the basics (and then some) of writing philosophy and craft and want that next step up, this is the book for you.

Scholastic super-editor Cheryl Klein* has compiled seven years' worth of her conference talks, blog posts, and web features into one book. As the title implies, the goal of this book is to give you an editor's perspective for analyzing and revising your book.

The verdict: It does!

The background: I read SECOND SIGHT initially because I was lucky enough to interview Klein for the 2012 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market), and the interview centered on concepts in SS, as well as other topics. I had to frequently remind myself of my impending deadline and the interview questions that had yet to be written, because SS made me want to open up my work-in-progress and get tinkering. Now that's an effective book on craft.

The explanation: SECOND SIGHT works for me for a number of reasons, namely...

1. It's an excellent blend of philosophy and technique. Klein first explains why and how something works (such as voice or plot/character development), then offers concrete advice or worksheets on how to make it shine in your WIP. Nothing makes me snooze more than a lofty book of 500 pages of theory. This is not that book!

2.
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