Yet Another area of ignorance

Shocking? When I wrote my first novel I had no idea… ! It reminds me of the day when I was a typesetter and layout artist (yes, that long ago). Then, they brought in the Macs. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. History repeats. I wrote my novel and then had to figure out what I had in my hands. I wrote two more novels, getting better all the time (I hoped). My fourth novel was picked up and is currently being published. What inspired the content of this blog was the free webinar on Marketing A Novel I sat in on. After learning the method of better writing and then the seemingly insurmountable task of getting a publisher to look at it. I now find I am responsible for marketing it as well. The publisher is in a position to do a great amount of the marketing, but as an author I also have the responsibility to pursue yet another aspect of getting my novel into the hands of readers.

One of the things I came away from the webinar was that there are so many experts out there offering a formula for a successful run at getting a book published. Including myself to an extent. I remind the reader that I am only blogging about my experience, whatever luck I possess, and effort I put in. One hundred authors/experts will give you one hundred different views of their path to getting their book published.

Marketing is my husband’s area of expertise, lucky for me. I rely on him for this third prong of my journey. There are many hands out there willing to take your hard-earned money. They may be perfectly justified to do so considering the supply and demand element of capitalism. In my experience the most helpful donations I made to the cause was in professional editing. I listened to every word they said; I bought the tools they recommended, took to heart their constructive criticism, and focused on the job at hand. The fee for the book launch extravaganza was double what the full-weekend one-on-one with a highly successful professional editor was. (I didn’t opt for that one either). I started with a short story and paid a reasonable amount for the edit. I then had a partial MS edited. I was so far off the mark that the editor was able to put me on track it was after that I decided to settle on The Summer Palace as my do or die novel and make it the best work of art I could. The common denominator between the two experiences was that they both felt I had what it took to write a good novel.

We finalized the cover for The Summer Palace. I decided to do the original artwork to eliminate copyright fees and legalities. I was very happy with the results and so was my production manager. I’m waiting (again) for the second round of proofs. As soon as I approve and sign off– it’ll take about one month to print. So, hence, the marketing issues looming up at me. As a result of the marketing webinar I now realize I probably should have started months ago. Three months is the recommended time to do a launch justice. I have less than two. I think. I have to rely on e-mails I have collected, facebook friends and family, and I need to find others who can influence buyers of books and get them to steer toward mine. Then I’ll need to set goals and commit to marketing efforts at least two times a week for a solid year–promotional emails, book signings, interviews, etc.

I am now glad I set some goals for myself to finish the two books and start a third while I waited all fall and winter for the first set of proofs from the publisher, for now my mind is preoccupied searching for local book clubs, networking with local authors, and establishing myself as an author as well as a writer.

Older and Wiser

Shortly after my last post I received the first round of proofs from my publisher. Now, I am a little wiser as far as this process goes and can share some things. The files came to me in Word with all the capable tools for marking up proofs. It was a pleasant experience, after the learning curve. I happened to have had an edit done earlier to a short story I wrote, so I was somewhat familiar with the process. It took about five hours to go through the 71,000 some odd words. Then I settled in to re-read the MS which I haven’t looked at in six months. After I sent in the MS originally I found a few typo’s that I made and winced. Well, there were plenty errors: glaring ones, simple ones spell check didn’t pick up on, and punctuation. The book was styled: indents, title pages, and em dashes. So, now, I have a keener sense of how my publisher formats their books. This is good to know as I write the sequel and other novels for publishing. I hope they like what else I have to offer them.

Getting back to my point. I took me four days to go through the MS. Remember, before I ever sent in my MS I spent four months; reading, re-reading, and editing my novel. (Does it ever end?). It takes a lot of discipline to leave well enough alone. However, I did find some edits that needed to be made even at this point. So many questions are now answered. I wasn’t sure if the proofs would come in as hard copy or in an e-file that was not familiar to me. I work on a Mac and was able to convert the Word file over to Pages and get through it. I feel so much the wiser.

The waiting issue? More waiting about one more month to see a second set of proofs; from writing incessantly to reviewing the MS first set of proofs my mind has had to shift. I haven’t written in about six days. There is also a cover design but it hasn’t been finalized yet. Marketing is a big part of the story yet to be told. These days it’s up to the author to be savvy about getting the word out about their awesome novel in my case, it’s The Summer Palace. I will also learn about that part of the process as we proceed.

Please keep the comments coming. I appreciate all you have to say.

The Life of a Writer

I am a writer. Soon to be an Author. Pe,rhaps, I’m already one. Not sure what the qualification is. Doesn’t matter, for I feel like one. I have become insular, writing constantly, and quite boring at social events. I set goals for myself. Last year, at this time, my goal was to get published before my next (monumental) birthday). I fell short by four months. Those four months were spent doing what I am still doing today– dedicating myself to my craft, constantly at it, and not doing much else. Oh, I step away for coffee, bringing my daughter back and forth to school, and making dinner. After the goal I had set for myself was reached I decided I needed to complete a WIP that requieed much editing and re-writing, and I threw in the project of writing a sequel to the book currently being published. I reached that goal and then some. I decided the series would be a trilogy and that is 50% completed.

I realize when the proofs do arrive I will be going through my story again with a fine-toothed comb with time available for little else, hence the writing frenzy I have been engaged in. I do love this earlier stage of writing. I am writing scenes but being careful to keep within a time sequence. I have learned to avoid mistakes that catch up in the editing stage causing major re-work, but then again there are plenty more mistakes to go around.

That reminds me. I went back and read some of my earlier blogs. So many mistakes, but I decided not to edit them at this point. It’s a reminder of how raw I really was starting out. And still, after all this time the editors at the publishing company have their own style that is inherent and no amount of my re-working and sweating over commas and participles will gel. That is the point I was at when I submitted Summer Palace after four grueling months of re-work. I was adding commas during one pass and removing them on another. I closed the cover (so to speak) and sent it off with all the necessary attachments. Of the ten queries I sent at that time only two were responded to. One was a hit. Within two weeks of sending three sample chapters a request for a full MS came through.

Summer Palace was originally a short story. I wanted to enter a contest and asked my sister for a prompt. From one line, a mere suggestion of a story, a stand alone novel turned into a trilogy.

Now, if they react to the sequel as they did to the original, and so on, it’ll be the best news I’ve heard in about seven months. The protagonists Katia and Wiley are fifteen and seventeen years old respectively. In the third book they are mid-thirties. The setting goes from Russia in the first, to Poland in the second, and Hungary in the third installment. Each book spanning about eight years average from the end of the Seventeenth Century to the beginning of the Eighteenth Century. It’s a love story wrapped up in Historical Fiction. So much uncertainty from wars, slavery, and childbirth to contemplate.

I am intrigued by Eastern Europe in this time period. In my research I run across people, places, and things that inspire me. It is the passion for these things that come through in my stories, keep me writing, and creating characters that might have lived then working their way through each crisis. The odds are against Katia and Wiley every step of the way. Read about their lives and the interesting people they meet along the way, places they make their own, and lives they influence.

Thanks again for comments and keep reading the blog for updates and the final announcement that the book is in print and where you can pick it up.