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November 1, 2016

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Wahoo!

November 1, 2016

 

There are those who say they want to write a book, but never get around to it. They have plots, story lines, memories swirling in their heads, but never convert thought to action. Distractions, or simply life itself, gets in the way. I got around to it. I did it. I wrote a book. 

           

I journal. I write short stories and magazine pieces. I even tried my hand at poetry. But what I discovered about writing a book with intent to publish was that it was quite different from anything I’d done before. Writing was only a part of it—the first part. From my perspective, two years after I concluded what I thought was the the last paragraph, the final words, I’ve come to believe that writing was the easiest part.

           

Don’t get me wrong—converting thoughts and emotions to words and phrases was challenging. How do I convey an idea, develop a thought, paint a scene so that the reader ‘gets’ what I’m saying? What sounded good when I was really cooking, when I was highly caffeinated or somewhat inebriated and my fingers raced across the keyboard, may have seemed brilliant at first blush, but a few days later…well, not so brilliant.

           

My first draft was workable. It had decent bones, but it needed more work. I rearranged the words. I re-tuned the tone to appeal to a broader audience. I expanded certain areas and contracted others. Thank God for editors. Writers cannot accomplish their best without an editor. With her purple pen and no-nonsense approach, my editor, Kathie Giorgio, was the perfect task master. She understood me. She got what I was trying to say, where I was trying to go. She encouraged me, no, make that made me,  write better.

           

The next part…the “now what?” part was tough. Composing an inquiry letter to prospective publishers, distilling those 200-400 pages of words to a one, three, or five page synopsis, was painful. Developing a personal biography to wave in front of God knows who…challenging. Writers by nature are introverts. Asking an author to toot his own horn is like asking a pig to do the back-stroke. It’s unnatural.

           

Choosing which publishers to contact was time-consuming. Each publishing house had a different focus, different needs, different specialties. Books and websites provided these profiles as well as contact information. Just as the genres of publishing houses differ, so did the submission guidelines for those publishing houses. While one only accepted an inquiry letter, another wanted the initial three chapters, or first 50 pages. Some required a market analysis to determine what previously published books directly competed with the one submitted. Some publishers demanded contact made solely through an agent. Some accepted submissions at certain times of the year.  And others wanted a paper copy rather than an emailed document.

           

After the submission came the wait. And the worry. Will the manuscript be accepted? Was it good enough? Did it have the right hook? Heck, was it even read?

           

Rejections began to dribble in. “Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately…” And I began to ponder what I could have done better. What words, other than the words I used, would have worked…would have been the magic that open the door. My wife told me not to look back, not to second guess myself. Just keep sending out those inquiries. Continue with my submissions. Keep the pipeline full…good things will come.

           

And finally, that email did come: “We feel strongly that your project will make a successful addition to our publishing house. I am excited about adding an author with such high potential to the Black Rose Writing family. I have attached the contract for your review.”

           

“Wahoo!” is how my editor responded. “Wahoo!” is what I felt. 

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