The Process We Call Publishing
In honor of the fabulous announcement about Shattered Illusions (finally) going to print (!!!!!!!!!), I felt it would be most appropriate to share the ‘behind the scenes’ of getting a novel published. Today marks one of the most important days of my life. It has taken a lot of hard work, revisions, tears and sometimes, a couple cases of ice cream to get through it all, but I am incredibly proud of where all of the agony has brought me. With less than six weeks until the book hits shelves, I have found myself thinking back on how it all began and how exactly I reached the final destination of having my name on the front cover of a novel. It’s pretty surreal.
Whether you’re a writer looking to be published, one who writes for their own amusement, or are just simply interested in how all of this works, it’s important to understand one thing first: This is not an over night process. Having a novel published is not a ‘snap of the finger’ matter. It takes a lot of hard, laborious work, and the results are not always in the favor of the artist. Though my journey did not include as many ‘rough patches’ as I had originally anticipated, there were enough bumps in the road throughout to make me queasy. Like anything worth achieving, writing and preparing a novel for publication takes a lot of time. My personal experience was four years from the time I began writing to the end of the process, which is still six weeks away. And, truth be told, the process doesn’t end once the book is in stores. Though the ‘work’ itself will be out of my hands, I will still have to work around the clock promoting the book as much as possible. Which brings me to my first point:
Publishing a book is about more than just writing a winner. Though I feel that my book was expertly handled by an incredible team of editors, bringing a book into the world is about so much more than the material itself. One has to be willing to promote the book, either through the help of a publicist (get that check book out) or by themselves (which is cheaper, but takes a lot of energy). Going into the world of publication is like a business merger. You have to be willing to work with the market, not the other way around. I did not use the traditional form of publicity throughout my time promoting Shattered Illusions simply because my budget did not allow for it. Being the young, slightly naive girl that I was when this process began a year ago, I didn’t exactly calculate exactly how much all of this would cost. It costs a lot of money to bring a book to life. To a certain degree, it’s like nurturing a child in a womb. It takes effort, it changes your body, you go through ups and downs, there are days where you can hardly sleep or eat, and only at the ‘end’ of the process do you realize how much work you have a head of you. For ideas about promoting online, click here.
Writing a novel also takes a lot of patience. I cannot tell you how many bouts of writers block I dealt with (and continue to deal with) on a regular basis. A lot of my writing time was sucked up by the amount of time I spent trying to get my brain to participate. There were days that my characters were alive and full of life, and then there were days where they felt limp and plastic. Sometimes, I felt alive with the words, as though the story had taken over my body and was in control, and then there were days were the story felt lagging and weak. BE PATIENT. Whether you are writing, sculpting, dancing, whatever it is that requires creativity and strength. Be patient. Fighting with yourself will not help the process.
Getting rejected is a good thing. I may have mentioned this story before, but for the sake of this blog post, I feel it needs to be mentioned again. My AP Lit teacher used to pound constructive criticism into our skulls until we were weak and dizzy. The criticism used to string, and would often send me running out of class with tears stinging my cheeks. But, eventually, I toughed up and fought back. My writing improved, as did my out look on life. You need tough skin to survive in this world, and the publishing world is the perfect microcosm of that reality. Getting rejected is painful and can often be a low blow for hopefuls. Been there, done that. My AP Lit teacher used to tell us that he framed his first rejection because it meant that he was a real writer. While the rejection sucks, if you can gain insight from the nay sayers, it could end up benefiting your career.
Thick skin is a must. I’m not kidding. I really had to toughen up over the last year. I used to spend hours panicking after every email to my editor. Let me tell ya something: It didn’t exactly work in my favor to sit on the floor, rocking back and forth crying. There will come a time in every writer’s life when they receive their first negative review. Don’t fight it, negative reviews are all part of the process. Take a lesson from every person that comes your way throughout this journey. But, learn to hold yourself tall and strong and be ready to let the stings roll off your back, or you’ll be screwed for life. And I’m not just talking about the writing life.
Don’t give up on yourself. It’s incredibly cliche, but it’s true. The worst is yet to come if you give up on yourself. Hold yourself in high regard, and know that, though the ride may be bumpy and uncomfortable, there is a silver lining. You have to be able to see the good things in all that happens to you.
Never stop writing. Whether you’re writing a novel, screen play or just keeping a journal, it’s integral that you make writing a daily process. The proof of the commitment to your craft is just how much time you spend doing it, whether it’s for business or pleasure. Integrate your craft into your every day life, and you’ll be as good as gold.