I was excited to get the cover art mock-up from my publisher via email and simultaneously terrified to open the attachment to actually view the artwork. There was so much anticipation on my part. I’ve looked at hundreds of romance covers over the past few months and kept wondering how mine would be represented to the reading world.
My main concern was the bare chest thing. Not that I don’t enjoy a cover with beautifully bronzed washboard abs and shiny pecs that need their own zip code… but, I didn’t think my book quite fit that feel. It’s a historical romance about King Louis XIV, a man better known for wearing wigs and stockings – and not because he’s a cross dresser, that’s just what males of royal birth and nobility wore in 17th century France. (I am so happy my editor decided to not stick to historical accuracy with the stockings thing when we were making edits. We went with the term breeches. Honestly, how sexy is a guy wearing stockings? Well, I take that back… that could be hot in certain circumstances, just not for this book.)
In the end, there was no attempt at period costuming or a pair of lovers in a passionate embrace in the image. It’s a very understated cover, in my opinion, with an image representative of the Sun King – the same emblem that graces the palace gates of Versailles to this day.
So, with cover art in hand... a promo-ing I go!
Not Advanced Reader's Copy.
I have to say I was extremely thrilled to see my ARC waiting for me in my inbox last week. It was an awesome day after Christmas present. I may have mentioned in a previous post that I had an ebook published years ago, but it involved none of the same levels of detailed information/communication with the publisher I have received with my latest venture. There was disappointment with that first book. Not that I expected a lot of hand-holding. It would have been great for a first time author to have some explanation of how you should promote and market your work. The experience left me disenchanted with the whole writing business. Now, over a decade later, I'm trying again. And, I hope something more comes of it.
So, I get the ARC sent to me, with the request to review one final time. No content edits on this one, what's done is done and any itch to make it better have to be squashed. Just read it (again?!?) and if I spot a typo, an extra punctuation, etc. send it along. I literally went through the book in two days.
Still no cover art, but I hope to have something to share on my web site soon. I do have a blurb that I will probably post. Once the book is actually listed on Amazon for pre-order, I plan to attack/create my author page.
Excited and nervous as hell! God, I hope people like the story. And, if they don't, I hope they aren't too savage in their comments. We shall see. But, I think I can roll with the punches. Life has thrown me harder jabs than this.
Three rounds of back and forth with my content editor over the past two months.
What I’ve learned:
Don’t ever think that you will be able to edit your own work. There’s just no way to look at your writing from an outside perspective. You love your characters, you can picture them perfectly in your head… the setting, the clothing they are wearing, what the room smells like. But, an editor… an editor will let you know when all of that stuff is still in your head and truly hasn’t made its way to the page to be shared with a reader.
Don’t look at your writing for a while after a major edit. Let me rephrase: you may want to look at your writing after a major edit, but you won’t make heads or tails of it. Nothing good will come from it. You need to step back, let it go (no, I haven’t seen “Frozen” yet—my husband and I may be the only two left on the planet who haven’t). You won’t help yourself any by trying to make more revisions after you’ve hit send and it’s gone into the ether for your editor to “Track Changes” all over it. I’ve taken the opportunity to work on writing another story while I wait. That seems to be the best way to keep my mind off of my editor’s reaction when she reads my comments and retries (and hopefully isn’t cringing).
Understand that constructive criticism is a wonderful thing. My editor has let me know that I use certain words… a lot. She’s offered suggestions or reminded me that the word has popped up numerous times. Here’s the thing: it’s OK to use the same word over and over when you are writing that first draft, or maybe even second or third. It’s when you get down to the meat and potatoes of editing that you need to put on your big girl pants and find the right word for that sentence or scene, so that it truly helps to convey the emotion or set the tone. And, I have to say that my editor is very professional… but, I just can’t help and laugh when I read comments on sex scenes (my favorite was something like “I don’t think tongues can do that”).
Overall, I’m really pleased with the evolution that my story has taken over a few months. It has been altered quite a bit. But, the soul of it is very much the same and it’s now something I am truly proud of. Remember, unless you are Shakespeare, you need a little help to make your work shine. (Did he have an editor???)
My story is due back on 11/20 to the publisher and then (fingers crossed) final edits begin! Will keep you posted.
I made the decision a few days ago to use a Pen Name.
Originally, I thought I would just use my married name. My reasoning was it was different and would stand out. However, the more I researched, I realized it might actually be a detraction. It's always difficult for people to pronounce, let alone spell.
After a few pages of ideas I finally picked Sandra Kyle. It's short and sweet, easy to remember, and not very long.
This is a great article that helped: http://www.smallbluedog.com/how-to-choose-a-pen-name.html
9-9-15 - I got the email I’ve been waiting for from the Editorial Director. I now have a Content Editor for my novel. I typed up and sent off my introductory pleasantries. Now, just waiting for the dissection to begin. I’m readying for the story to get picked apart. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst is my very pessimistic mantra.
Reading over my words again and again, I realize how much I rely on passive voice. (More info about what that is here: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/passive-voice/)
By using passive voice so much, I am actually distancing the reader from the characters I am trying so hard for them to connect with and hopefully love. I know that will be a big thing to work on in the story.
In the email I received, I also got a list of items to work on for PR. Lots of self-promotion to begin to work on and think about. Fun!
When you have a goal in mind, you don’t always think about what might occur after you reach it. That’s what I’m dealing with at the moment.
I wrote a story ages ago and decided, fifteen years later, to try and get it published. After a couple months of submissions to digital publishing houses - and a lot of rejections, some very constructive and other typical boilerplate responses - I actually got an offer to contract my novel. Once the reality of the situation hit me and the elation(!!!) wore off, I did my research, trusted my gut, and signed the contract.
So, now what?
I figured this might be the best place to document how the process is going. It’s only been a week and a half since the offer.
8/26/15 - Offered contract for publication.
8/28/15 - After some very thorough responses from the Owner/Editor of Publishing House, I felt confident enough to sign the contract.
Days of waiting for information… this is where my doubt starts to kick into overdrive. (Oh, no… they made a mistake, they really didn’t mean to offer me a contract, they are having second thoughts) The internal rotation of negative self-thinking begins. I start to review the emails in search of hidden messages and make sure I didn’t sign my life away with the contract. After all, they’ve hooked me in now. They have the upper hand! I’m at their mercy!
I calm myself down. This is in fact a business these people are running and I am not their only author on contract (so cool to be able to call myself an author).
9/2/15 - I get a ton of information about my responsibilities from the owner’s assistant. The editing process is one I’m really eager to tackle. I hope to have information to share about it in this blog. (Disclaimer: I published an eBook back in 2003 with a digital publisher and the relationship/assistance/editing process was virtually non-existent and I made no money. That was the main reason I never bothered to pursue publishing another book. This publishing house has a clear defined timeline, House Style - i.e., way they expect authors to format/edit their books -, and a reputation that makes me believe this will be a very different experience.)
9/3/15 - Sent out my cover art request form and bio. Now, more waiting. Apparently, I should be hearing from the editor I will be working with next.
So, that’s it for now. I sit, I wait, I think positive thoughts. I want to start editing my story right now. Since it makes sense to get the input from the editor (what they thinks need to be changed could vary greatly form mine), I’m trying very hard just to wait.