Poets & Writers

Ode to a Copy Editor

COURTNEY MAUM is the author of the novels Costalegre (Tin House Books, 2019), Touch (Putnam, 2017), and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You (Touchstone, 2014); the chapbook Notes From Mexico (Cupboard Pamphlet, 2012); and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book, forthcoming from Catapult. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed; the New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine; and Modern Loss. She is the founder of the Cabins, a learning collaborative in Norfolk, Connecticut. She also offers consultations to writers querying agents and names products for cosmetics and other companies from her home in Connecticut. Her website is courtneymaum.com.

MY THIRD novel, , was unlike anything I’d ever worked on with a publisher. The story of a privileged girl who is shipped to Mexico with a bunch of exiled surrealists by an art-collecting mother at the brink of World War II, this novel had reasons to give an acquiring editor pause. An unreliable narrator writing from an epistolary point of view, swaths of text in foreign languages, a word count perilously close to that of a novella, multiple illustrations, and fictionalized facts—it’s a testament to the mettle of Tin House Books that I was able to work with a publisher

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