Note: Originally posted on Sunday, May 27, 2012
With as much research material available online nowadays, there is still nothing which can fully prepare a new author for absolutely everything encompassed by the world of publishing. As I feel my way through the process, I thought I’d give a few small condensed accounts of my journey here, so other aspiring authors can maybe get a more realistic view of what being a published author really entails.
So… you’ve finally finished writing your story. Then you polished, edited, rewrote and deleted lines you were no longer happy with. After going through this process, maybe ten, twenty times, you submitted your manuscript to a publisher and it was accepted. Yay! Now you can just sit back and watch the money roll in while your editor and publisher do the rest, right?
Wrong! As the author, your job is nowhere near complete. Now the real grunt work begins, so don’t get out those holiday brochures just yet.
If you haven’t got one already, you need a website (or at the very least, a facebook page). You’re a new writer and your very own personal marketing and advertising team are not going to magically materialize before your eyes and take care of all this stuff for you. It’s up to YOU to get the word out there and entice potential readers to buy your book. Don’t believe, “if you build it, they will come”, for it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your publisher assigns you an editor, and it is their job to guide you, not do all the hard yards for you. Your editor will go over your story with a fine-tooth comb and make corrections where necessary for grammar, punctuation, etc, and will also suggest ways you can make improvements without losing your unique writing voice. Maybe there are some scenes which slow the story down instead of enhancing it. It doesn’t matter if those might be what you consider as your favorite scenes or the best passages you’ve ever written, if it takes the reader out of the flow and reminds them they are in fact reading a story instead of living it through your characters, it won’t benefit either of you in the long run.
Your manuscript will go through several rounds of editing between you and your editor, each round enhancing your vision and bringing your story a little closer to publication. Depending on the length of your book (and the extent of the edits required), this can take up to six months or more. Aren’t you glad you held off on putting down the deposit on a new in-ground pool now?
While you’re thinking of clever ways to promote yourself, be it a small piece in the local paper or a larger internet-based campaign, you have other important decisions to make. Do you want to use a pen name (pseudonym)? What do you envisage the book cover to look like? What do you want the title to be? If it is part of a series of works, what is the series name? From my own experience, at least five out of ten titles you come up with have already been taken, or are too close to others which your publisher already has in their catalogue. Starstruck was originally titled Songbird, but as my publisher already had a book titled Songbirds I had to choose an alternative to avoid confusion. This one small detail was the start of what put my brain into a different gear and made me step outside my own creativity.
When you create something, whatever it may be, you have certain ideals and visions of what you think should be the final product. But, more often than not, an author is too close to their own story and a new set of eyes (experienced ones at that) will see things you miss.
I thought I’d have a hard time receiving critique, but I was pleasantly surprised that I felt the opposite. When I initially opened my manuscript document to begin the first round of edits, the pages were filled with comments from my editor. At first glance, it scared the crap out of me, barely a paragraph in sight without a correction or suggestion. Was my writing that bad? Was my editor now regretting taking on my story when she realised how much work I was going to be? A glass of red later, I studiously examined every word my editor wrote, and with each sentence felt the weight slowly lift from my shoulders. I wasn’t annoyed, I was elated! I fell in love with my editor that night, bowing to her insight and guidance. It was easier than I expected to detach my emotional self, and my ego (however small it may be), and see my story in a new light. I was truly on the outside looking in, and it amazed me how much my perception changed. I also had to put my mind into those of potential international readers. For example, a reader in Germany or France won’t necessarily get your localisms and that’s something you need to keep in mind if your audience is far-reaching. For me, as an Australian who hasn’t really travelled far from my homeland, I need to be aware of how other cultures will portray my speech, seeing as my publisher is in the US and markets worldwide.
Overall, you shouldn’t look at your written masterpiece as you would a painting, for instance – a piece of art which is complete once you put the brush down. When it comes to writing, the brush is glued to your hand and you never put it down. I’ve gone over my manuscript more than twenty times, and with each read-through I still find new things I want to change and improve. And I’m fairly certain I will still get the same urge a decade from now. I imagine myself sitting down in ten years time to read my first published book and cringing at some of my chosen words, still wishing I could change things. I used to draw and paint a lot when I was younger, but when I look back on my earlier works of art I don’t wish I could change them in the same way as I do with my written expression. I’m not sure why that is, but if I come across the answer I’ll let you know.
What will I discuss in “A Day in the Life of a New Author – Part Two”? Who knows! I’m learning something new with every stage, so your guess is as good as mine. But, for now, I’d like to part with some wise words from Stephen King… “To write is human, to edit is devine.”
P.S. You ROCK, Violet!!!
Comments transposed from original blog…
Mia Ryan: Hi Paige!
Found your blog through Twitter and had to stop and say hello. Read all your entries and can’t wait to read your books. I really like your writing voice from what I’ve seen so far. Any idea when Starstruck will come out? Price?
Paige Thomas: Hi Mia 🙂
Starstruck is going through the final stages of editing as we speak. I’m hoping it’ll be released by early 2013.
As for the ebook pricing, I haven’t been privy to that info as yet, but I suspect, due to it’s length, it will be within the $5 – $8 range when purchased directly fromwww.ellorascave.com.
Thanks again. Feel free to stop by anytime!