I’m excited (and terrified) to announce that I’m working toward publishing my debut novel.
It’s WW2 historical fiction, set mainly in Northern England and Italy, and it incorporates a bit of murder, mayhem, romance, and lots and lots of mud to trudge through.
Reading through all of the fascinating real historical accounts, I wonder sometimes why I should bother writing fiction. The truth is so interesting on its own! Still, I hope that through my story (which will hopefully turn into stories) I can share a little homage to the lives and experiences of the real people of the past.
First, though, I have to work out how to publish the thing.
I submitted one of the earliest drafts to the Athanatos Christian Writing Contest a couple of years ago- amazingly, it made the ‘first cut’ of judging, though it lost out in the semi-finals. This was a good thing. The book needed lots of work. I received great professional feedback, and the novel is much stronger for it.
After the first or second or twentieth round of editing, I explored traditional publishing. I worked up a list of literary agents to try- three rounds of seven each. Writing a query letter is awful, and that’s all I have to say about that.
Once I got going, however, I started talking with friends who self published, and my aim changed a little. The flexibility of self-publishing, especially for someone like me who is wearing many ‘hats’ just now, was enticing.
For anyone who might be interested, the following is a little journal of my experiences of trying to figure all of this out, to date. If you’re on the same road, I hope it’s helpful!
Thanks for visiting!
6/?/17 Latest beta read done, a few scenes switched around, and trying to let the thing sit in peace for a while. The query letter wall isn’t getting any softer.
7/29/17 Update: Last round of editing by someone other than myself done. I’ve got a month, and then (gulp!) we’re going to give this a try.
8/18/17 Well, my first book proposal went out with the mail today! E-mail queries are just about ready to go next week. No, I’m not nervous… it’s just that this chocolate peanut butter ice cream is tasty…
8/21/17 …and round one is away! 🙂
10/9/17 I’ll admit, round one was a bit disappointing. I hadn’t allowed myself to hope for an offer. I HAD hoped for someone to request the full manuscript. Not this time. Not many responses either- I had been (perhaps being a bit naive) hoping to get some feedback via rejection letters if no one wanted the full. The response I’ve gotten so far was kind, and included some encouragement and advice on non-traditional options, so I shouldn’t complain.
I think it’s time to re-visit the query letter and see if I can improve it- I have a couple of ideas. Then…maybe it’s time to let round one go, and try for round two.
10/14/17 I hope I’m not rushing things, but I have started sending out some more query letters. Life is going to get crazier as November approaches, and it’s now or wait until spring. (I don’t intend to send out any letters right after Nanowrimo or during the holiday crazies.)
We’ll see what happens. It’s hard to tell by just reading a website and bits of social media and interviews, but I’m hopeful that I’m querying some people who would be good to work with- maybe they’ll feel the same way about me. 🙂
11/1/17 Well, round two is moving faster than round one, so it has that going for it! Out of 13 queries total, I’m up to 6 very polite ‘no thank you’ s. Ah well. In the grand scheme of querying, 13 isn’t many. Between some family…things, music and teaching and other obligations, I’m going to have to sit on the last round until after Christmas. After that…we’ll see.
1/29/18 I can’t really use “Christmas time!” as an excuse anymore. I’m revisiting my query letter, synopsis, and the manuscript itself, an getting my list of potential agents together. I intend to get my next round of submissions in before February is out. Deep breaths…
2/24/18 My query letter revisions are done, and I’m very pleased with the results. (Hooray to amazing friends who will give feedback and another set of eyes!) Of course only ONE of the agents I’m pitching to asks for a query letter alone. NOTE: If you’re querying, make sure you check your agent’s website for their specific wishes.
On to revising the synopsis, and my bio, and marketing ideas, and about fifty other things!
Four more days, and these letters are going OUT!
(A few hours later) They…are…done… Coffee????
3/7/2018 Last night I dreamt that an agent contacted me with an offer, but his e-mail was so full of spelling errors that I could barely read it! I wasn’t left with a great deal of confidence in his abilities…but then I woke up and didn’t have to make any big decisions. I suppose that’s good 🙂 (In real life, only one very nice rejection letter so far…)
4/4/18 Another response today…but it was a ‘no.’ Ah well. I’m about 6,000 words into the next manuscript and I’ve thrown my hat in the ring for a couple of writing contests. Moving forward!
5/1/18 The results are in, and I took second in a short story contest!!! It was a great experience, and all of the positive feedback was a nice contrast to a new ‘no thank you!’ letter. Between thoughts in the new rejection letter and the helpful critiques on the story story, I have some new ideas to consider for the story.
ALSO, a friend has been talking to me about her self-publishing experiences, how nice it’s been for her to have the freedom to control her work…and she designs awfully nice book covers…
6/1/18 And there it is. The last e-mail. The last word I’ve been waiting on, from query and contest, and it was a “No, thank you.”
I won’t say there aren’t a few tears- have I mentioned that my husband is awesome?- but, that’s that.
I’m not giving up on publication, but I AM taking a few months off from chasing it. Joining a writer’s group with some friends. Working on edits. Working on the second book.
And as to the next steps… we’ll see!
9/1/18 I know, I know. This page has been silent for a while.
No, I haven’t given up on publication, and no, I don’t intend to.
The trouble is, the more I look at different publication options, and the obligations that come along with them, the more I think that traditional publication might not be the best option for me.
Now that I have a couple of hours to myself daily during the week, I’m diving back into editing my first book. Reopening some doors with people who’ve offered to help with beta reading and editing. Considering whether, with their help, I COULD really just make this computer screen of words into a BOOK that I could release next spring.
That is a exciterrifying thought!
In any case, my plan right now is to do some more research into the pros and cons of different publishing options and work up some blog posts that (I hope!) will be helpful to other people facing this choice.
There’s more to come on this crazy journey!!! Thanks for coming along 🙂
10/6/18 Weeeeellll, I think I’ve made a decision. (I sound convincing, don’t I?)
The draw of being able to set my own pace and schedule has won out over the allure of traditional publishing, at least for the moment.
I’m going to go for self-publishing. At least for this go-around.
Thank goodness for talented, experienced friends. I’ve got a few author buddies who are giving the MS a read-through for me (because they’re amazing, and frankly, I need to confidence of someone else telling me that it’s worth publishing!) and someone lined up for editing, formatting, and cover design.
Let’s see if I can get a book out into the world by June 4! (GULP!)
12/22/18 Of the four authors I had doing one last reading before the book went on to my editor, two had to bow out. Ah well. Life gets complicated.
The other two got their feedback to me and I’m working through it and Oh Dear. Even after all of my read throughs, they still found lots of great advice to give me- I just hope I can figure out how to incorporate it!
I also sifted through some online pictures for my cover artist, which was exciting…at first. I didn’t really expect typing in “World War 2” to bring up quite that many pictures of women undressing next to airplanes. Who knew?
As that’s not really my tone, I’ll have to keep looking…
4/12/19 Wow, has it been that long since I updated? And is it really April? YIKES…
Incorporating beta feedback went well, and I sent my MS to my editor. THEN I realized that I wanted to tighten up the timeline and adjust the ending, so I snatched it back.
It’s back with my editor, who’s said I should get it back within the week.
And then…then it’s the last (maybe?) big run through. Getting it to ARC readers. Finalizing cover design. Revamping the website a bit. Planning the launch giveaway. Finally deciding on a blurb and descriptions. And….and….and…
We’ll see how the next few weeks go!
5/15/19 Well, I’ve gotten my manuscript back from my editor with lots of helpful advice, and many errors caught. I’ve gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, or at least with the fabulous “read-aloud” tool on my computer- hearing the words is very helpful for catching last typos. How could there still be typos after all this time and all of these readers? I have no idea. If there are any left in this final draft, I’m going to suspect that gremlins have accessed my computer and changed the text…
My cover’s in the final stages- reveal of that coming soon! My cover designer is also a great formatter, and she’s getting it all put together.
Some kind people have offered to read early copies for reviews and blog features. Now it’s just getting the copies TO them and planning the little give-away games I want to do for the launch.
And updating my site. Oh, and finishing the acknowledgements page. And…
On we go!
5/23/19 My formatter/ cover designer’s computer broke.
5/28/19 June 4th isn’t going to happen.
With the computer breakage and other delays, I MIGHT be able to get at least the e-book out by then (though I don’t have the file in hand yet) but I have plans for a giveaway and some other promotional-type things that just can’t happen until I have a set date. And I can’t set a date until I get a chance to talk with my formatter, who has a LOT of things going on in her life too.
I’m a little disappointed, yes. However, at least I didn’t advertise the 4th anywhere other than here yet as a “just in case something goes wrong” precaution. The only images I’ve put up just said, “Coming in June.” As long as nothing dramatic goes wrong THAT should still be doable…
Flexibility, friends! And now I have no excuse not to go clean my kitchen.