Writing and Selling a Book is not for the Faint of Heart

First things first – sit your butt down and write the book. 

Now, once that’s finished, most people think the business of writing is complete, that once you’ve written it you’re all set.  

Most people would claim the hard part is over once you’ve developed and written the story about your characters no matter who those characters are (be it people you’ve created for fiction, or yourself if memoir, etc.).

Most people wouldn’t understand that the old cliché ‘it’s only the tip of the iceberg’ is about as true a statement as anyone has ever uttered. 

Because everything else that must be done to actually produce a book, lives, in massive quantity, underwater.

Once a book has been written there will be round after round of edits.  Many writers do a bit of this themselves. I’m one of those writers. When my first manuscript Ripple the Twine was complete I printed it, put a binder clip on it and shoved it in a drawer. After spending 30 straight days with those people I was, quite frankly, sick of hearing about them. 

So I started researching agents, publishing houses, anything to see where I could sell this pile of crap I had sitting in the darkest corner of my office closet. Then months seemed to pass, I missed my cast and wanted to see them again.

Out came the manuscript and two red Bic ballpoint pens. By the end of the spring the thing was hacked to death, hemorrhaging all over the place and re-written at least twice.

Characters, setting and plot stayed mostly the same.  The words that got us there however, well, you’d cringe to read that first draft!  And a few people almost did, my mom, BFF (who might as well be an editor in her spare time, seriously) and my husband, all read through with their own red pens and gave me commentary and feedback. I used their suggestions and advice and re-wrote for a “final” time. (note the air quotes)

So then it’s done right? Wrong. Away it went for a while longer. About a year in fact. I polished my query writing skills, tracked down agents by the handful and pitched my book to all of them.

The only trouble was that I had no clue how to pitch my book, no clue how to say what needed saying or how to bring the tone of the book to life in a query.  I mean, that’s only one page and my book was hovering around 300 pages.

For thirteen months I blogged about the book, the characters, the story. Meanwhile working my day job and going to school. I tried and tried and gathered rejection after rejection. I wore the rejections like a badge of honor…hey, at least I was finally getting out there.

But you’re not an author until you’re published. And a rejection letter doesn’t get you published.

We moved to Arizona last July and almost as soon as we got here I made the decision to pursue the business of writing as my only job. No more painting, no more screwing around.

So then I went right out and did nothing on my book for the next six months! It was time to party! Lake trips and flights back to Boston and holidays with company and suddenly it was early 2012.

I was holding onto a book I’d started in the fall of 2009. What?

Foot to the floor, pedal down, I knew this would never do. I scrapped all decision to query, all decision to locate an agent and decided to self-publish. I was tired of waiting. Finding an agent to find a publisher to get my book out would mean another eighteen months of waiting.

Oh hell no.

I yanked it back out, opened to page one and started editing.  Again. Then I started doing all the research that comes with self-publishing.

Setting up a House of my own, getting the trade name certificate, talking to everyone about it, networking and socializing, attending writer meetings, joining a critique group, finding the right printing solution for me, finding the right solution for me period (print or eBook)…

And all the while I was out there in the world collecting more information, researching and developing new characters. As I’ve said before, a book must be birthed and raised.

So I settled on a print on demand paperback. Then it was hiring and consulting with a photographer for the front cover, my mom!  hen I had to research and handle copyright registration. Figure out ISBN and barcode. And then the whopper of all motha’s – formatting the pages for upload.

That alone took me half a month.

Meanwhile, I offered a pre-order reduced price and free shipping to anyone who ordered before the release date (which I was pushing to have happen in April). Ah, yes…marketing. Hello odd bedfellow, it’s time for us to become reacquainted.

Selling happens before the book does!

Finally I completed all formatting, my mom rocked the heck out of the cover, everything was in order.  I received and approved my proof copy and got the online site set and ready for buyers. I placed the order for the preorder copies and released Ripple the Twine to the world!

I could finally change my title from writer to author.

And now I market like mad, sell as often as I can, talk about it incessantly. Because, if I’ve learned nothing else in this whole process, authors are notoriously narcissistic out of sheer necessity. If we stop talking about our work for even a millisecond – poof! – next...

Welcome to the business of entertaining. Guess I should get over that fear of public speaking now huh?

But first, I have to finish writing and editing my second manuscript…

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