Progress Report: THE ACCIDENTAL TERRORIST is on track for this fall!


When I announced last October that I would be self-publishing my memoir this year, I optimistically thought I could have it out by the spring. Spring is now right around the corner, and I think I can say with some confidence that ... er, The Accidental Terrorist will be available no sooner than this fall.

But that's the only bad news I have to report! I've been very busy these past five months, and I'd like to tell you a little about it. As many drafts of this memoir as I've done, I've never quite been happy with it, so my first order of business was hiring an editor. Fortunately for me, I know one of the best in the business, Juliet Ulman, and she was willing to work with me on the book. She worked at Bantam Dell for eleven years, and since striking out on her own she has since continued to do amazing things, like for instance editing a little novel you may have heard of, The Windup Girl. She herself has two Hugo Award nominations for Best Professional Editor. I'm very lucky to have her input.

"No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith" by Fawn M. Brodie
Juliet delivered her first set of notes and edits to me at the end of December. All her observations were very helpful, but by far her biggest suggestion was that I widen out the scope of the book, to make it more than just my own story but an investigation into Mormonism itself.

Needless to say, that sounded like a lot of work. But at the same time, it jibed completely with my original vision for the book. In fact, if you listened to the podcast version of The Accidental Terrorist, then you know that I did interpolate a lot of material from Mormon history into the narrative. For some reason, it seemed like a good idea to me to take that material out in a later draft. (This is why I can't have nice things.)

"Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling" by Richard Lyman Bushman
I remember many of you writing to me to complain about that. I'm telling you now that you were right and I was wrong. The fact that Juliet spotted and identified that lack in the draft she read, without knowing the history stuff had ever been in there, should make it abundantly clear that I am in good editorial hands.

I'm not just working that older material back into the manuscript, though. I'm revising and expanding the Mormon history chapters, tracing the full career of Joseph Smith, from his traumatic childhood in rural New England to his lynching and martyrdom in Illinois. This has meant re-immersing myself in all the history I studied fifteen or sixteen years ago, and trying to catch up on the scholarship that's taken place since.

It's been a lot of work, but I'm happy to say I've reached a point where the revision is sailing along. As I write this, I'm three days ahead of where I need to be to finish this draft by March 31. A few speed bumps are sure to crop up, but right now I'm feeling optimistic about making that date. Then I'll hand the manuscript off to Juliet for her second pass, and I'll have a few weeks to work on the marketing plan before it's back to revision land to polish up the final draft. Then the manuscript will be off to the copy editor I've lined up, and we'll cruise on from there.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. I have no interest in half-assing this project, or putting out anything less than the best-written, most professionally produced book I can. And I hope to have it in your hands before the leaves are done falling this year.

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William Shunn

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on March 12, 2015 1:11 PM.

The women who want to drag you down was the previous entry in this blog.

The new draft of THE ACCIDENTAL TERRORIST is done, and I have a question for you is the next entry in this blog.

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