I had the privilege of guest posting on Anne Garboczi Evans’ blog as part of her How to Become a Successful Writer Series. You can check it out here: Anne Garboczi Evans. I’m part 4 (my favorite number). I look forward to reading what the other guests had to say.
August 9th. That’s the official release date for my first book: Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives. After months of preparing and waiting, I can mark a date on the calendar.
I’m excited: I want to giggle and shout and throw promotional bookmarks from the rooftops!
I’m also nervous: I’m not sure how an author can screw up once the book is in print, but I worry that I might find a way.
All of those great ideas for promoting my book that I came up with for the proposal? It’s time to implement them. My daydreams have become reality and it’s time to ACT. Create author pages, set up signings, contact libraries and radio stations, and so forth. Who me? Really?
It’s a little like how I felt on my first day teaching high school students. With nervous excitement, you prepare, you fret, you dream, and when those students stroll in you set aside all joy, fear, and butterflies and take action, accomplishing what needs to be done.
One week to go! Bring on the action.
If you want me to abandon your book mid-read, please have nothing happen.
Have you ever read a novel that would have made a good short story or novella, but instead was fluffed out to make it “book length”? I have. (Of course I have – I’m the one ranting about it.) It was a sweet 50 page love story that had been stretched to 150 pages. The author only gave us two or three conversations between the main characters, but she told us what they ate for EVERY meal. It was like a chocolate bar with twenty extra wrappers. The nugget of chocolate was good, but by the time you got to it, you didn’t care anymore.
Romance novels need just as much plot as other novels. They need to do more than like each other, do nothing, and end up together at the end. If you’re on page 100 of a 200 page novel, and there’s no reason for your couple not to be together, either add 100 more pages worth of plot to keep them apart (for real reasons, please, not dumb ones) or end it and make it a novella. If you must tell me about their food, include a recipe and a scratch and sniff sticker.
There is an extra blessing that comes from being a Christian author working with a Christian publishing house: praying together over your book. The first time my editor called me, I was tongue tied, trying to do an over the phone version of nodding and smiling because I still couldn’t get over the fact that we were talking about MY book being in print. I think it came out as “Duh…uh huh, uh huh”.
Over the phone my editor prayed for wisdom for all involved in the publishing process and that God would use the book to change people’s lives. Now, I believe that God is powerful and that He uses normal people to accomplish great things, but I hadn’t ever applied that to myself or my work. (One fourth of the book is cartoons, for crying out loud! I tend not to wax spiritual about it.)
It’s humbling but thrilling to think that God could use something I wrote to change another person’s life. I get so mired down in the details and deadlines that sometimes I forget to lift my head and see the big picture – can’t see the page for the letters, so to speak. I believe my overwhelmed but excited response to the prayer was “Duh…uh huh, amen.”
No matter who you’re working with or what stage of the game you’re in, I encourage you to pray over your work. Pray as you brainstorm. Pray before you write. Pray before you edit. Pray before you submit. Pray for your editor. Pray with your editor. Put it all in God’s capable hands. Then join me in this daily prayer: “I trust you to guide me, Lord. Help me not to screw this up. Thank you that you, the bestseller of all time, is in this with me. Duh…amen.”
My first reaction upon reading my agent’s “we got an offer!” email was joy – I squealed at my desk, did a little dance, called my husband, and we went to dinner to celebrate. What I wasn’t expecting was my second reaction: fear.
I had read blog posts by authors and agents talking about experiencing fear in their writing career and that never made sense to me. When your biggest writing fear is that no one beyond your immediate circle will ever read your work, it’s hard to imagine that post contract, your biggest writing fear will be that many people beyond your immediate circle will read your work!
Is it fear of rejection? In a wide world, there will be people who don’t like my book. Fear of criticism? Critique will be offered whether I solicit it or not. Fear of success? My life will change, but I don’t know how much. Fear of letting down my publisher? It’s a group effort now. Fear of the unknown?
This fear is not all bad. It’s kind of a good fear – a nervous fear – a fear that inspires an author to do her best. The fear just needs to be counterbalanced with joy: joy in sharing my work, joy in writing and holding my book in my hand (It’s still sinking in that I get to do that! Yippee!), joy in not knowing exactly where my writing career is headed, but knowing that God is with me and knows the outcome. And joy in my original audience, my family and friends, the people who will continue to love me no matter what happens with the book. Both the fear and the joy drive me to pray and persevere. Look out world; here I come!
“”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”” Jeremiah 29:11
What a great idea! Some of the coolest art hangs near bathrooms. Just as well: something to look at while you wait for your friends to come out. 🙂
The Realm Makers “Escape” Short Story Contest has chosen its finalists and I’m one of them! Voting is now open for the Readers Choice winner. If you’d like a taste of some great speculative short stories, head to their website Realmmakers.wordpress.com. You can read the first part of each story and vote for your favorite.
Finalists will have their stories published in an anthology. Can I just say this is the best return-on-investment contest I’ve seen to date? Yes, of course I wouldn’t mind winning one of the contests where the prize is hundreds of dollars and a book contract, but in those cases there is only one winner. In the Realm Makers contest, all finalists will be published. As an author just getting started, I’d say that’s one heck of consolation prize!
Happy reading and thank you for voting!