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.