I consider myself an old/new writer. Old because I have been working the pen and the muse for nearly twenty years, and new because that’s the very first thing my editor taught me when he accepted my manuscript for publication.
In fact, his exact words were, “okay, now the real work begins!” What? Real work? is he kidding? My story is 100% finished, fin-ee-to…I should know! I wrote it! So when I told him, he emailed me back…”hun…it’s a good story, but we need to work on it…so here’s what I need you to do…..
His email came with a list of corrections that to me seemed a mile long. All I could do is picture my editor sitting behind his desk, wicked grin on his face wringing his hands together…muaaahahaahahahaha!
Swallowing mt pride, I obeyed my Editorial Sensei and did all the corrections he suggested, revised, rewrote…added some new scenes and fixed my prose. Hmmm, it actually sounded pretty darn good, better than the original….
I just learned Lesson Number One…Just because you can write a good story doesn’t mean you know how. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. I can weave a tale. In fact I did just that. However, I didn’t know poop about the rules, technicalities or the minute nuances that can make the difference between being a published Author or just an amateur story-teller…
I had several issues with POV in the first six chapters of my Novel. My editor pointed that out and redirected me to read several blogs and literature about POV and deep POV, which I humbly read, I even took a class on POV tutored by my Editor and learned a ton of valuable information, which helped me pinpoint all my POV issues and fix them before I returned the manuscript. The result was, a much smoother, faster paced novel.
Okay so I fixed the manuscript, patted myself on the back and returned it to my editor. A few days later I got an email back from him. Oh yeah this is it, my release date. Hear this world, “I AM AUTHOR hear me ROAR!”
My roar quickly fizzled to a barely audible whimper.” Great Job on the POV grasshopper… but now we need to work on the edits.”
WTF? Edits! With a shaking hand I opened the attachment. OMG! My Manuscript had been turned into a collage of red, black and yellow highlighted blocks of passages that had been marked with editorial notes or simply striked through….
Lesson Number Two–Back to basics. I can summarize lesson two in three words, grammar, grammar and oh did I mention grammar? Okay just so I’m not coming across as a completely illiterate idiot, my syntax was not all that bad…really it wasn’t. I had issues with word use, for example, their- vs- there, where- vs- were and capitalization. Simple stuff, but stuff that will stand out and make you look like a moron to the person reading your story.
Simply put, it is a very good idea to refresh your third and fourth grade english lessons. Yes we are never too old to go back and pick apart the english language, so we can re-educate ourselves about proper grammar usage. So I pulled out my ten-year olds english and creative writing text books and gave myself a refresher course on punctuation and the definition of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives and pronouns. Then I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a pocket grammar dictionary, which is now my bible…
Okay fixed all the “edits”. I happily resent my manuscript with all the corrections. I didn’t pat myself on the back this time, but I did cross my fingers….
A week went by and I got another email from Sensei. Oh Boy! This was it, yep this was…NOT it…yet!
Lesson Number Three—This time I got an email from the publisher herself. She congratulated me and told me that my book was with the cover artist, yet there was an issue with my character descriptions! I gasped, what could possible be wrong with my characters, my babies…I gave them personality, social history, emotions…they’re perfect…I made sure to make them believable, giving them real character flaws. Some I even modeled after a few close friends and family…
However, what I didn’t take into account was reader perception. Yep. Although my characters were thoroughly developed, believable and had awesome interaction with each other, within the context of my story, I did not consider that the way my characters are described, could be offensive. One of my characters had braided long hair. When I had initial described him, he seemed out-of-place from not only the era came from, but his ethnicity was much too stereotypical. This could have come across as not only offensive, but turn off a major potential readership. A very important detail in any story. I learned that if I am writing about an ethnic group it is important to get the facts straight about the culture and historical accuracy of that group. Although in my book, the character in question was not of the particular ethnicity I had mistakenly alluded to, he simply appeared that way to the heroine.
So I corrected that and sent it back. Then I waited. Finally I received the email I had been waiting for. Cautiously, I opened the email. Yeah my cover and release date. I was so happy. Oh wait….there’s an email from Sensei…gulp….
Lesson Number Four—Promotion! I don’t care who you are….unless you have sold millions of copies, like Kenyon, Meyers, Patterson…etc…You have to Promote, Promote and did I mention Promote! Yes, it doesn’t end with the release of your book. As my Sensei said, “Now for the hard part…”
Promoting my book has been such an eye opener for me. I took my editor’s advice and started a Twitter account, a Facebook account, a Linkedin account and I have sent out requests for interviews to several popular blog sites, as well as an on-line magazine publisher, where I have several short stories posted. And it hasn’t slowed down. In fact, I’m up every night, half the night, working on blogs, promos and my next projects. I feel like I have two and a half fulltime jobs. I have been working roughly fourteen to sixteen hours a day, between my eight-hour day job, mommy duties and then at least six hours at night for writing. I am Loving every minute of it…
So now I am a published author. I have been blogging my little tush off on three different sites, including my own. Will be guest blogging on many others in the near future. Have been promoting like a mad woman on all my social networks. I have interviews and author spot lights lined up in the near future….ahhh life is good…
Lesson Number Five—One book is not going to make you a household name or fill you pockets. Yep, Sensei again. If you want to be a serious author, then you need to start sending in those submissions and keep writing new books. Only this time Sensei said, “Make sure you’ve learned from the first experience.” And the most important piece of advice he gave me, “Be ready, cuz the higher you go the harder you’re gonna work, that’s why you have to love what you do.”
I do love what I do….