Monday, March 5, 2012

My First Time: Erin Cashman

My First Time is a regular feature in which writers talk about virgin experiences in their writing and publishing careers, ranging from their first rejection to the moment of holding their first published book in their hands. Today's guest is Erin Cashman, author of The Exceptionals, a young adult novel about a teenage girl who must use her long-ignored ability to communicate with animals to unravel the mystery behind the disappearances of the most talented students at Cambial Academy, a school for teens with special abilities.  Cashman grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Bates College and from Boston College Law School.  She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children.  Visit her website here.

My First Editor

After three years of submitting my first manuscript to countless editors and agents, I sent out my YA novel, The Exceptionals, to about ten editors and agents.  A month later, I got a call from Erica Silverman of Trident Media.  She was so enthusiastic about the book and when she offered to represent me, I was absolutely thrilled!

The very next day, Pam Glauber, an editor from Holiday House called, and said she read The Exceptionals and loved it, and Holiday House wanted to publish it.  As Erica and I discussed whether to take Holiday House’s offer, or to submit it to other publishers, I kept thinking how much I liked Pam when we spoke and communicated through email, which was one of the major reasons we went with Holiday House.

I really had no idea how important an editor is to an author, or to a novel.  I thought they crossed some things out, and wrote in the margins--like a graded paper in college.  Although an editor does do that, a good one does so much more.  Pam really helped shape the book.  She pointed out parts where the plot dragged and where I had secondary characters who were not memorable enough.  During one conversation Pam told me one of my characters, Billy, needed to be more than just a good big brother, and suggested he play a sport.  I thought about what she said, and from that I came up with the idea of the Telekinesis Tournament, or the TT, which many readers have told me is one of their favorite parts.

I would often call and run an idea by her, or send her two versions of a scene and ask her advice.  When the line edit came (which is the novel with the editor’s notes written on it), she not only corrected or crossed things out, but she also jotted things in the margin, like: I loved this part, or this was so suspenseful, or I couldn’t stop laughing. . . She was always very kind and encouraging.

I learned so much from Pam, and I know my writing improved through the editing and re-write process.  I was very fortunate to have such a great editor for my first novel.


  1. Editors make all the difference! So glad you've had a great one right out of the gate :)

  2. What a supportive, affirming editor! I love hearing these positive firsts - thanks for sharing your story.