Letter to Literary Agent

Dear Ms. Apokedak,

     I cannot believe what a stroke of luck it was for me to sit next to you on the plane last week. I so enjoyed hearing about the community engagement project your authors are tackling. Thank you for taking the time to hear about my participation editing the Green Card Voices STEM book. My experiences appear to fit into the guidelines you expounded for your project.  I am still excited about the invitation to expand on my participation to determine if my experience would fit in with the position you are seeking to fill.

     Minnesota is a favorite landing spot for millions of immigrants. The program was founded in 2013 and began by telling the stories of immigrant teenagers. These books used narratives from the immigrants themselves to tell their stories of culture shock, language barriers, and trying to fit in. While most of the narrators live in Minnesota, there were also books from Fargo, North Dakota and Atlanta, Georgia. This project’s desire was to tell the important stories of these unheard individuals.

     As I mentioned to you on the plane, I am a first semester Graduate Student at Kennesaw State University. I have had the opportunity to work on a pet adoption initiative here in Atlanta where I did an interview with a sponsor and wrote an article for the Facebook page. A few months later, there was an event held at a major park in Atlanta where I took pictures for a digital story. Also, I have recently gotten involved with the Human Trafficking Initiative. Two colleagues and I are working to implement a business plan to entice the University Retailers to sell approved merchandise from “slave-free” zones. Currently I am working with the editing team on the next Green Card Voices book that deals with STEM graduates working in the medical and research fields. I worked on two aspects of the project; editing the front and back matter and creating the biographies of the narrators.

     To edit the front and back matter, all that was really necessary was to check for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors since the text had already been written by others. This was, however, a very important job because of the magnitude of the work. This book needed to be show-cased as professionally as possible.

     What I am most proud of though, is my job as team leader on the biographies of these narrators. My team and I had to take each narrative and pull out what we felt was the relevant information to describe these complex people and their dreams in two hundred words. It was a daunting task to encapsulate an entire life into such a small container. My hope is that my team made the narrators proud of who we saw them to be.

     Because the book contains the full narratives of each individual, the biographies are not written in the book itself. They will instead be placed on large banners for the traveling exhibit. Each banner will have a picture of the narrator, a quote that the speaker feels best describes their philosophy, and then our written biographies. There is also a QR code which is used to view the video of the narrator’s stories. While these exhibits were originally shown in schools, libraries, and museums in Minnesota, they are now expanding their reach. The travelling exhibit enables even more exposure for the narrators.

     Working on this project gave me a greater understanding of how the world of editing works. It is not just one person reading an author’s work and then taking it from concept to sales. There are many people involved in the process which does begin at the concept stage. The work goes through many stages from writing, to revising, to line editing, to copy editing. All sentences must make sense, all paragraphs must flow, and the grammar and punctuation must be correct. While this editing is happening, other things must be taken into consideration; how will the work be marketed? What colors will be used and how will the cover be illustrated? Will there be any endorsements sought? If so, who will they be? Will the work be eligible for awards? All of these questions must be answered before the final printing takes place.

     This project has shown me that I have the skills necessary to be a copy editor. I enjoy fixing errors because the misspelling of words can give them entirely different meanings than what is intended. An example of this are the words “there” (a place) and “their” (people.) It wouldn’t make any sense to ask someone to “place the sweater their.”

     I so enjoyed working on the biographies. Not only did I learn about these highly intelligent, courageous immigrants, I attempted to do them and their stories justice by giving these narrators an introduction, a brief glimpse into the complex individuals they are. It was not easy to put someone’s life full of hopes, dreams, accomplishments, and sacrifices into such a small space.

     However, the most difficult part of this experience was not correcting the narrations themselves. As a professional writer and an editor, the desire to correct to Standard English comes naturally. However, this would take away the original voice and make it my own. While a person’s voice should never be taken away from them, it is so much more important in these books that their voice is kept intact. It adds the drama and authenticity that these stories demand. If the narratives were re-written in American Standard English, the impact would be lost.

     It is because of my experience with community engagement projects, along with my skills of editing and professional writing that qualifies me for this position. I also know the importance of keeping the original story-tellers voice, and not making it my own. I would make a valuable contribution to your team while giving a fresh perspective on the project. Thank you in advance for considering me for this position.