“YOU PIERCE MY SOUL. I AM HALF AGONY, HALF HOPE. TELL ME I AM NOT TOO LATE, THAT SUCH PRECIOUS FEELINGS ARE GONE FOR EVER.”
By now I hope you all have heard that my 4th book, Inspired by Grace, has been published! As of May 16th, it is available on both kindle and paperback (sorry, no nook yet!). I thought I would describe what it is like to publish a novel since many of you have not done so. We will see how close my experience is to other authors.
For me, it takes me longer to publish a book than write one. On average, I write about 6 hrs or so a week and that means I finish writing a novel in about 3-4 months. Sometimes I whip out 4 chapters in a week and other times I go a whole week or two without writing. During the process I hand it over to beta readers and editors who give me feedback. Many times I have been stuck on a plot and have had to bounce ideas off my beta readers to get the book going in the right direction. I say it that way because any good author will admit that after about the third chapter, when the characters have been established, well, the book writes itself. My favorite excuse I use is “the characters made me do it!”
It is true! They say things and do things that I never intended in the book. As Robert Frost says, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Nevertheless, by the time I have written “The End” at the end of a book, I probably have read the book through its entirety over fifteen times. Of course I think it is a masterpiece! (Snicker snicker)
Well, the next step is to hand it over to my professional editor. Lets just say she loves the delete button. It takes her about a week to go through 1-2 chapters and when it comes back, it is usually 2/3 the original work I sent her and she buffs and polishes it until it shins. The first round of edits take about 3 months. Then I read through it another time and send it back to her with comments or answer any questions she has. About now is when we start working on the final cover. My other covers have been paintings and took a long time to see it evolve. Inspired by Grace is a photograph and it took much less time.
Round 2 edits take about 3 weeks because she looks at it as a whole and is looking for any mistakes. Then I read through it again and send it back for round 3 edits. This round is meant to look for perfection and it takes about 2 weeks as well. Then I read through it again and upload it to Createspace and order my proof. A few days later I am holding a physical proof of how hard everyone worked for the last 5-6 months. And, you guessed it, I read it again very carefully for any errors. All during the last month I contact bloggers and set up a blog tour where I can market my book. Then the day comes when I hit submit and a few hours later it is available to purchase on Amazon.
But . . .
That is only half the story. The other half is this constant effort to suppress the urge to hit delete on the whole thing! YES! I’m not joking! It is so easy to tell yourself, “It is not good enough, no one will buy it!” “They were just being kind in the forums when they called it lovely.” “Will this do better or worse than the last book?” “Will people see how much work I put into it, and will it be enough to be a good book?” “How can I ever be as good as _______” “I do not want to disappoint all those readers who expect great things from me.” “I hope they feel the spirit of the book.” “Did I make the reader fall in love with the hero enough?” . . . and so on. It literally brings Captain Wentworth’s words come to life when I think of how badly I hope it succeeds but how scared I am that it will fail. To put it into words, when I hit submit, I repeat his words in my head. “I am half agony, half hope.”
And do you think it ends there? Oh no . . .
From here you watch for the first review. That is when the true agony roars its ugly head. A good review, an honest review, is what I hope for with all my heart. But one never knows! I know I rarely buy a book unless there are reviews on it that tell me it is clean and well written unless I know the writer well from other publications. For the next month or two, as the sales spike and plateau you get to see the Amazon sales rank drop as more and more people see your book. The moment you hit the top 100 calls for nothing short of a jig. It is so easy to be pinned to the internet, always looking if you drop lower on the sales rank than the hour before (it is updated every hour – and yes, I have had days, and nights, when I look every hour at how it is doing). Don’t judge me too harshly. It is not the actual sales I am excited about. It is this strange fascination that so many people out there are, and possibly at this very moment, reading something that took almost a year to produce! (Add up the writing and editing it takes at least 9 months). I feel this connection with them. I am in awe as thoughts flow through my head. I wonder things like, “What is their favorite part? Did I make them laugh in that scene? Did it make them cry when she refused him? Are they cursing me right now for adding that plot twist? And finally, did they swoon and have a deep desire for chocolate when they read those final words?” Somewhere, all over the world, my words matter to someone! It blows my mind that so many of us can unite and read the same book at the same time and all have the same reaction! . . . which I hope is a favorable one!
So Inspire by Grace has been published for 3 days and I have yet to have a review of it. I truly am half agony and half hope. But yesterday was a rainy day and we all know what we love most about rainy days . . . it means we can read a book! So I finished Rebecca Jamison’s Persuasion, a Latter-Day Tale, and started Jenetta James’ Suddenly Mrs. Darcy to distract myself. They both did a wonderful job of distracting me from logging in every hour to see if I have a review or to see the updated sales rank. Bravo Rebecca and Jenatta. That is a difficult thing to accomplish.
So now you know what an author goes through to publish a book. If I had to guess, I would say I read through my book at least 20 times in its entirety (not to mention the individual chapters) before it was published. I know exactly what happens and each of my favorite parts. Yet, somehow, I still entertain myself each time I read it. I am half agony and half hope that it will entertain you too!
Hope you get a chance to buy it on Amazon! If you buy the paperback, the kindle is only $1.99. I wanted to also thank all the readers and fellow writers who have encouraged me along the way. Thank you so much for your support!
Now go read a book! I hope you will, well, at least half of me is hopeful. The other half I’m trying to suppress. The following quote I also repeat to myself when I publish . . .
Hey Lady Publications