Feature Article: MILESTONES
Recommended for Other Writers
Best Book(s) I’ve Read (for Entertainment) This Month
Bulletin: A good milestone to add to the list below. SING ME HOME is now on sale for pre-orders at places like Amazon.com and Powells.com, although it won’t be available until February 3. It really is a thrill to see it listed!
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FEATURE ARTICLE: MILESTONES
Before I sold a book, I pictured all those milestones I’d reach during its production, and would savor once I did. You know... the fun stuff. Like seeing my cover for the first time. Reading the back cover copy. Getting my first endorsement from another (preferably bestselling) author. Receiving the galleys. Getting my very first piece of email from a visitor to my website (who wasn’t related to me). Getting an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). Things like that.
I imagined I'd experience such huge delight in these seminal (at least to me) events, there would be no living with me for weeks as my ego would be puffed up bigger than the Goodyear Blimp.
But now that I’ve passed these first milestones, I can say I'm in no danger of developing a head so big my neck can't support it. Sometimes reality surpasses my imagination, and sometimes it’s... well, read on.
The Things I Did a Happy Dance Over:
-- The Cover of SING ME HOME. Picture this: I receive an email from my editor with the subject heading, “COVER.” There’s an attachment. I swallow hard, open it, and start the download. And as each line of pixels covers the screen, I hold my breath. I hold it because I know other authors that have seen their covers for the first time and barely made it to the loo before they whoopsied all over the place. Now it’s in front of me. Whew! And not only Whew, but I LOVE IT! Plus they actually spelled my name right!
The cover is a Huge Big Deal for a writer... if the writer loves it. But don’t you have a say, you ask? Nope, not unless you’re somebody like Nora Roberts—and I’m not. You may be asked what you'd like, and your editor may even think your ideas are wonderful. But she is not the only chef in the kitchen. Covers, unlike the writing, are created by committee. With a final stamp of approval from the publisher. When she sees the end result, a writer can feel she's ended up with something savory, or an indigestible glop. As far as I'm concerned, mine was definitely a lip-smacker.
-- My author endorsements. Two glowing endorsements from two bestselling authors! Wahoo! Typically, endorsements are requested through agents and/or editors (theirs and yours). And, yes, if an author reads your book and doesn't like it, she need not give any endorsement at all (and most won't). So this really meant something. A big something.
The Things I Clutched My Hair Over:
-- Getting my galleys. The galleys are the typeset pages of your work...the end result of submission, revision, and copy-editing. The last step in the go-to-print process (for you). They're what your book’s final pages will really look like. There’s a big shiver of excitement over seeing your prose displayed so professionally. But, unfortunately, that’s followed by a sinking sensation. Because now you have to proofread the book for the twenty bazillionth time... just when you’re knee-deep in your next book, have promotional tasks falling off the end of your to-do list, have been sleepless wondering if you’ll meet your next deadline, and besides, you’ve read the friggin’ thing so many times you’ll be lucky if you can keep your eyes open, let alone find some error the typesetter made or that you, your copyeditor, and your editor overlooked. Like “Last summer I wanted to go to the beach last summer.” (And, no, you won’t find every error, because at this point, reading your work is about as exciting as reading a legal contract.)
-- Getting the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). Sometimes publishers prepare bound ARCs to send to reviewers, to their sales force, and to your agent (who you hope will run right out and give it to someone who will offer you a multi-million film deal or at least a few dollars for the foreign rights in Liechtenstein). And it really is a thrill to see your book all put together just like a “real” one. But I learned that in order to maintain that thrill, I can’t open the book. Unh-uh. Not even a peek. Because now that the time is getting so near for reviewers and salespeople and that foreign rights sub-agent in Liechtenstein to get their pesky hands on the thing, I can’t read one word of my own writing without thinking... why in the hell did they buy this? Or worse, thinking those reviewers and salespeople and that fellow in Liechtenstein are going to wonder...why in the hell did they buy this? Sad, but true.
The One Thing I Pulled Out My Hair Over:
Oh, ARGH, I hate my back cover copy. It’s not bad copy, it’s really not. It's cute and clever, but it's just not...
Deep. At all. And I think my writing has depth. So, in my oh-so-humble (but admittedly novice) opinion, the copy doesn't fit the contents. But I'm told this is the way every author feels about the marketing spin put on her "baby." Maybe it is. I still find it disappointing, but my editor says that this copy will—without a doubt—sell thousands of copies of the book.
I hope she’s right, and I am dead wrong!
And, finally, the reason I'll never have a swelled head:
-- My very first piece of “fan” mail from someone not related to me. I was so thrilled when I saw a sender’s name in my ‘public’ mailbox that I didn’t recognize... Gosh, I thought before opening it, a visitor to my web site was so impressed with either the site or my excerpt, that he or she just had to write and let me know. It was with great excitement that I opened up that letter...
“Dear Jerri,” it said. “I thought you might want to know there’s a typo in your bio...”
Uh, gee thanks. Ego duly deflated.
RECOMMENDED FOR OTHER WRITERS:
Magazines! Magazines on the racks, magazines on the internet. Need a designer name for that taupe sheath your heroine is wearing? Need to know the latest in teen pop stars? Want to know what goes into a Decadent Double Chocolate Cream Cake? (Actually, I could care less what's in it... as long as it goes in my mouth.) Not only do magazines provide a wealth of current culture information, they provide wonderful pictures that feed the imagination (but not as well as that chocolate cake).
BEST BOOK(S) I’VE READ (FOR ENTERTAINMENT) THIS MONTH:
TEXAS COOKING by Lisa Wingate... If you’re in the mood for a sweet romance with some really fun moments that serves up more than a soupcon of Chicken Soup for the Soul (warning--I happened to like this aspect, but it might not be everyone’s—ahem—cup of soup), try this book. The hot pink cover and giggly cover copy belie a book that centers on one woman’s inspirational search for faith and a life worth living.
As I’ve been working toward a November 1 deadline, that was about the extent of my reading pleasure for October. Enjoy Halloween, everyone! It’s one of my favorite holidays... little fuss, lots of cute kids, pumpkins to carve, and the snap of fall in the air. Now, if I could just find a way to keep my hands out of the candy bowl...
Here’s hoping you have more treats than tricks!
Fiction for and about women rediscovering themselves