Today’s Brew: I bought Bailey’s Vanilla Brown Sugar creamer and it takes over everything.
Our friend Summer Weir announced her book deal this week. On it’s own, it’s amazing news. But Summer’s story of her road to publication really struck a chord with me.
When Julie and I started writing together, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to finish a book. Julie, on the other hand, was one driven mo-fo. She had already had begun researching how to get an agent when I was still in the “well I’ve got this really hot guy I want to write about” stage. She told me about self-publishing, and even though somewhere deep in my heart, I knew this might be a valid option for me, her pure enthusiasm about the prospect of getting an agent and a publisher seduced me. Once I thought I was ready for an agent, I started querying.
Here’s what Summer says:
My original intent was to self-publish right off the bat. It was a business decision. I know about marketing, promoting and social media, so to make better royalties on my own made sense. But I had a friend who suggested I try to get an agent. Because that’s what people who write books do, right? (As you can tell, at the time, I had no idea what people who write books actually do lol.)
Once I decide I want something, dude, get out of the way. I will run you over. I read everything I could find about how to get a book ready for publication. I entered contests. I got critiques. I queried. I had an agent. But ultimately, I decided the best place for me was self-publishing. Two factors: timing and control.
Had I gone straight to self-publishing and put out my book in the summer of 2012…oh my God. Oh. My. God. I found an early draft of Because the Night, which at the time was called Immortal Dilemma, when I cleaned my office a couple weeks ago. I couldn’t even read it. At the time, it was the best I could do, and damn, I was proud of that manuscipt. But it needed work. So much work. It needed those rejections, critiques, and revisions that made me want to put my head in the oven. Why? Those characters had become an extension of me, and I was way too close to them to see their flaws. When people pointed them out, wow, it hurt. But together, we worked on things. Now, the central theme of the book is still there, but otherwise, it’s not the same book at all.
Here’s what Summer says:
So as I revised, I participated in writing workshops, agent boot camps, contests and pitch sessions. I swore I wasn’t going to be a victim of first-manuscript-shelving-syndrome, and so I found CPs, betas, and hired a couple editors as professional insight of how I could better my ms…During this time, I read a lot of industry advice, blogs, expert opinions etc as I tried to make sense of the whole process. I realized it didn’t matter what worked for everyone else, I had to figure out what I wanted for my book and for myself (my career).
Even though Summer and I write different things and are taking paths, our journeys and thought processes are very similar.
Now I that I have my self-publishing team in place, my books go straight into that process. Even though it’s called SELF-publishing, like Summer says, it takes a village. Chuck Wendig is probably more correct in calling indie authors author-publishers because not only are you producing a book, you’re overseeing the entire publishing process. I can do this now because of the path I took with Because the Night. I am pretty sure I made all the mistakes with that book, even creating some new ones along the way. (Hey, I’m a trailblazer). They were hard lessons, accompanied by a lot of tears and beers, but I learned from them. I like to think I’m a better writer because of them. I want each book I write to get stronger and better.
It gets frustrating to be patient. I hate patient. It’s up there with going to the dentist for me. But the critique/beta/rejection process is so important, because this is what actually gets your book ready for the publication process. It makes you a better writer. You need to know how to take constructive criticism and revise before you work with an editor. You need your editor to have the best possible playing field to work with before she even touches your book, so she can work on making your story sing. No matter how we decide to publish our book, this is one part of the road we all share.