To be or not to be — Published

My focus has changed since my book was published almost one month ago in the UK. Recently, my book has become available in the US on Amazon.com the e-book and now paperback (listed as out of stock), but still available to order. I placed an order myself and am anxious to see how long it actually takes to get to me. BarnesandNoble.com has the nook (e-book) version only.

I am now focused on the readers and potential buyers of my book. My book is currently being read by two local book clubs and two more in the next months. I find this is a good way to get some real feedback. These people are serious about the books they read. I’m honored to have them choose my book and let me sit in on the critique. “You must have thick skin.” “You are so brave to put yourself out there.” Are some of the comments I hear. I want to write a good book. One that will warrant the time and energy spent on reading it. Hence, the title of this post. There are a lot of people that love to write. Only some of whom want to see their words in print. That’s how I started. Simply telling a story. Then, I got the bug to be published. If you’ve been reading my blog you know how headstrong I can be. How I barrel into things and worry about the details later. Not sure if that tack is right for everyone. Where am I going with this? I guess I’m trying to say that if you think your writing is of value, then you should endeavor to share it. I want to hear what people think of my stories, and I don’t want to write something no one wants to read. I’ve mentioned before that I have a hard time getting people to read my first drafts and manuscripts. I suppose no response from agents may be a hint that my writing needs improvement, a change in genre, or a trendy theme. I have been there many times. A novice writer is encouraged to keep trying. I have sent out many queries on several of my stories and except for The Summer Palace they have all been rejected from query letter, to first few chapters, and partial MS request.

Another component is time. How much time do you have to devote to your writing. If you write for your own enjoyment, then it cannot be a full time venture. My success with The Summer Palace came from eight months of total devotion to the story. Four months to write the raw story and four months of review and edit—strict eight hours a day only taking time out to make sure the family was still there. With my first three books I had been distracted by social media, contests, and lack of knowledge of the business. By the time my fourth book was written I had figured it out and did none of those things for months. That’s what I attribute my success to. To be our not to be — published. Before I received word that my MS was accepted and I received a contract, I wasn’t sure if I had what it takes. I had inklings from partial MS requests and professional editorial advice that encouraged me to keep writing. I had to find out what made my ‘good writing’ good and how to bring up the rest to match it. My big professional edit wasn’t about periods and commas and grammar it was about content and characters and prose. When I was finished (is a book ever really finished?) I wasn’t sure if my editor would own up to the fact that it was edited, for after all was said and done the periods and commas do matter.

I ended up doing the artwork for the cover of The Summer Palace and being personally responsible for the final edit. Adding to the eight initial months it took to foment the book I took ten days to go over the final edit. Forward and backward (how I found some glaring errors). I suppose you do have to have some courage to take on such a task. How many times does someone have to tell you… you suck before it sinks in? After all, look at all the great writers. The smile that broaches your face when you close the cover after a good read. I have been there. About chapter 30 of 35 when you realize the story is coming to an end and you want more. You almost want to dwell in the story that you hope won’t end. The remedy? Read more books by the author. That doesn’t always work either. There was something special about that particular book; those particular characters in their particular place. What makes us great at what we do? Passion and the fact we never give up? Experiences of a lifetime that bubble up in a media that you unexpectedly have a handle on?

To be our not to be — published. That is a good question.

End Of the Year

What a year it has been. Plenty of ups and plenty of downs. All in all though, I have accomplished what I had set out to do and you can read all about it in this blog that has documented it all.

What have I learned this past year?

Strive to be your best. Produce your best work and leave nothing to chance or anyone else. As much as possible, be informed and never stop trying. Heading into 2018 I can now say I am a published author. It’s something I never thought I’d be saying until three years ago. I told a story and thought to get it published. I’ve learned to be self-sufficient and proactive. I have to learn… and you will too, to be a spokesperson for the work. Getting readers to pick up your book is what it’s all about. Why is this book so special? Catchy title? Colorful cover? Great description? What’s the buzz word? What’s the log line?

One Word That Describes Your Book.

A word that will become synonymous with your book. A word that can appear—should appear in all your advertising headlines. I write to entertain myself… is that my word? entertaining. I hope readers will be entertained by my novel. I’m asking them to spend many hours reading it. I’m hoping they’ll get lost in the adventure… is that my word? Get Lost? For one thing… that’s two words and another telling people to get lost is not always taken in the way it was meant.

Read my book because it will (fill in the blank) you. (fulfill, engage, challenge, release). Release your inner Katia. How about Escape? rather than Get Lost? sounds better it’s one word… I may have just worked it out.

Read my book and ESCAPE to another time and place. Follow Katia as she finds, loses, endures, and pursues her love through every obstacle imaginable. The people and places along the way that shape her decisions and give her hope. I chose a random paragraph from The Summer Palace to help inspire a decision to read my book.

“I have a plan to take care of the Rostov boy who’s betrothed to Katia, I know his father, General Vasily Rostov, very well, I can get him to have the boy bring her here to the Inn. Pavel can give her the message and we will see where that leads us. The Baron can’t argue if Dimitry Rostov should insist on an outing with his daughter, for she’s betrothed to him, as long as they don’t find out what our actual plans are. Fiona, your son may have been a stable boy, but now he is a soldier. Furthermore, if he is anything like his mother he will persevere.”

One thing I’m lacking is hearing opinions from readers. I have trouble getting family members to take a few quiet moments to read my book.

family member

“I’ll read it when it gets printed.”

me

“It’s printed.”

family member

“When it’s available online.”

me

“I give up.”

Granted, not everyone is a Literary Historical Fiction reader. What I said before about being proactive… find people that do read the genre. Book Clubs have people that read for the joy of it and enjoy the critique. I have my book in the hands of one local book club and I will attend the critique at their meeting next month. This could be painful. Maybe I should rethink this. Too brutally honest? not honest enough? that’s the risk. Who wants to write a book that’s not worth the read? Maybe if I ran the wagon load of characters off the proverbial cliff I could fix it in the sequel. Maybe I should wait until the newspaper or e-magazine skewers me in print. So far, in my endeavor to market my book, I have joined two writers’ groups one online and the other at the local library and one book club; I can honestly say that I would listen to them. They are all passionate about reading and writing and I certainly don’t feel I’m wasting my time. I find it quite entertaining. There’s that word again. I have read two books for the book club I now belong to. Charlotte by David Foenkinos and News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Both good books which I would not have read. I look forward to the critique of the latter at the end of the month.

I just finished reading Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley the first in a series that I’m looking forward to reading. I really liked this book about six sisters named after the system that contained seven stars which they were all named after—minus one. A story within a story after Mya goes in search of her family (No spoilers here).

My writing groups are keeping my writing skills homed after editing and proofreading The Summer Palace Series books two and three for the past few weeks. I was able to order The Summer Palace online in the UK and received the four books in ten days which was good considering the time of year the only setback was the cost of shipping. The paperback is still not available on Amazon.com but the kindle version can be downloaded for a mere $4.95 and if you’re so inclined to do so and really enjoyed the book, leave a review and watch for events in W. MA in the coming months.

The Low Down

I’m not sure how to tell you to avoid these things, but I walked right into it. Sometimes I think it’s better to be reactive—you may get discouraged otherwise if you think about it too much. My book was released, but only in the UK. The domestic distributor has not done their part. It seems I will have to have a separate launch date for my US readers. My book, The Summer Palace is available in paperback and e-book at the AustinMacauley.com UK website under New Releases or under authors under Nomakeo. The price is $13.95 US dollars and $4.95 respectively. It costs almost as much as the book to ship to the US. I am asked to check Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for the availability of my book. To date only the Kindle version is available on Amazon.com. I have ordered books through my publisher and the website and hope I receive copies of my book to honor the commitments I have made and keep my sales going in a forward direction. I will have to guard them with my life until it becomes easier to get them. Currently, I’m in possession of five books which is no way to start marketing a new release. Not sure how to avoid such a thing in the future. I was told the launch of my book on November 30, 2017 would include all outlets but that didn’t happen. My fault for being too trusting? However, it’s times like this that test your mettle. My publisher is trying their best to get the domestic distributor going and I have ordered books through the UK for limited local distribution.

I usually barge my way through life and figure it out later. That has been my method. When I was a typesetter and they brought in desktop publishing I didn’t have enough sense to balk. Some did. I dove into it and figured it out as I went along. Same with writing. I tell stories and then I figure out how to make it readable. Same with desktop, if I only knew what I was getting myself into I might not have started, some never do.

I was a listener long before I was a writer perhaps that is where all my stories come from. I have passion for history and passion is key to writing… I’m convinced of that. I didn’t target an audience or plan a strategy, but I can certainly see a point for that. You must respect your audience and mustn’t trip them up with more information than they need or sentences they can’t read. Certain genres require shorter books… fantasy books are usually 80,000+ words. You need to know where your book will fit in a book store. I hadn’t figured that out either. Today, I know my book is a Literary Historical Fiction but I kind of squeezed it in there because it made sense—hindsight.

As I mentioned before The Summer Palace is my fourth book. Book One Woven sits in a box collecting dust all 180,000 words. Book Two The Tea Room has recently had another rejection and it too sits at 77,000 words until I can find a Critique Partner or beta readers. Book Three Places a Science Fiction historical fantasy at 67,000 words has been out on query for about one month and one half with only the sound of crickets in my inbox. Needless to say, it was a thrill when The Summer Palace was picked up two weeks after submission along with nine others (After four months of intensive reconstruction). Never heard from the other nine.

For the Spring of 2018 I have a US Launch planned and an Author Fair at a local library. There are many tools for new authors in your local communities and I was happy to realize this. Book Club readers have been so receptive and they read for the joy of it. It’s great to see how a book impacts the lives of others and I hope my book will be well received.