Sunday, May 11, 2008

SO YOU'VE ACTUALLY WRITTEN A BOOK...

My old blog was just called Monya Mary. I thought I'd better add my surname, since I'm a writer and I'm supposed to promote my work. I'm the author of a historical romance called The Pirate And The Puritan for which I used the pseudonym Mary Clayton. Sounds more 'historical' than my first name, which will grace (I hope) the cover of Blueprint For Love, a contemporary romance due to be released in a month or two by The Wild Rose Press.

This is the new cover The Wild Rose Press has sent for my short story Lily's Captain. Pretty. I like the look of sailing ships. Never been on one in my life, but they look busy, like they have a purpose to their voyages. Islands to explore, seas to sail, destinations to reach. Unlike motorboats, which just seem like cars on water.
The Pirate And The Puritan has ships on its cover too. Mind you, one can't have a pirate without a ship. I'll post its cover below. Meanwhile I'll tell you what it's like to be a writer trying to promote one's work.
First of all one must write the book. Sounds obvious, but a long hard road. At least there's a bit of fun involved in getting your story onto the computer the first time round. After that it becomes work. Checking for discrepancies or weaknesses in the storyline, for spelling and grammar mistakes, forcing chapters into reasonable lengths. Polishing the rough bits, cutting out the unnecessary parts, making sure your characters don't misbehave and do anything that opposes the personalities you've given them.
Then there's the wait while the book goes the round of publishers. The nail-biting, the agonising, the butterflies in the tum-tum. And the frabjous day arrives when your book is accepted. You only have an eight-page contract to check over, sign and send back. You've made it!
No, you haven't made it. Not the whole distance. The editor loves your work BUT... said editor will send you back the manuscript with a list of items she wants changed. You read through them and your creative soul shrinks inside you. How did you not see that? And that, and that? You comfort yourself that you aren't blind and stupid, it's just that you've been over the thing so often. You've picked at the things you think are wrong but the whole tale has become part of you and familiarity has bred, if not contempt, at least the lack of a fresh eye. Which is what the editor brings to it. You make the changes requested. The m.s. comes back with a little more tweaking to be done. And maybe again. And again. In the end the story, once so alive in your mind, almost loses its meaning because you've been over it and through it so often, dissected its details to death. At last the editor is satisfied. Hooray, you're finished.
No, you aren't finished. When the publisher has the book or story ready to format in the shape the public will see, it's sent to you once more. This lot is the galley proofs. It's your job to go through them and check for printer's errors. Line by line. Word by word. And the worst part is, you see sentences, phrases, words you should have improved during the editing. Now it's in its final form they leap out at you. Too many commas, not enough commas, a more descriptive noun, a stronger verb. And you can't change it. The publisher will be most displeased if you do. These galleys are just for correcting errors the formatter or proof-reader may have made in the preparation process. And that's all you're allowed to touch.
You send the galleys back. You've done your best. The wonderful moment arrives when you hold your print edition in your hand, or can see your electronic version on your monitor, gorgeous cover and all. They probably haven't followed your ideas for the cover, but by this stage you don't care. Well, there we are, NOW you can relax, now, in the words of Geoffrey Chaucer re The Canterbury Tales, you can only say "go out into the world, little book", and garner great reviews, and be sold by the thousands, and make me some money.
Um. No. Not yet. There's a little item called Marketing And Promotion.

1 comment:

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Monya,
I'm laughing in stiches. lol lol.. What a great article in the journey of contract to published. I just love it... shaking my head.. It is so, so right.

Oh, yes, I'm fumbling my way into the PR land right now. lol

All the best,

Suz :)