Okay, you ask what does 'On Balay' mean. If you've never experienced rock climbing, you've no doubt never heard this phrase. Years ago, before kids, when I was thin and agile and full of pent-up energy, I went climbing with my husband. I'll not forget the lessons learned. He was fast, sure-footed, and would skid up those cliffs like a monkey swinging in the trees. He was a gymnast and that gave him an advantage.
Me? I was a scaredy cat and slow as molasses on a cold January morning. My balyer coached me up the tough places, told me where to put my hands, my feet. She'd shout at me to pull myself up, to keep going, not to cry, be tough. When I made it, and stood at the top looking down at the place I had begun, a sense of 'I can do anything I set my mind to do', washed over me.
'On Balay' is the communication between the climber and the balayer. The communication needs to be clear, as you shout it up to the person holding your rope and to a partner beside you that checks your rigging and harness, helmet and climber's knot. You do not want to make a mistake. It could cost you. Once the climber is set up correctly the climber can say, 'balay is on' and then a double check and then call, 'ready to climb'.
What does this have to do with a writer's world. My experience climbing a 75 foot cliff in an outdoor school way back in the eighties came to mind this morning. My balay is on and I'm ready to climb. Promotion for Surrender the Wind has already begun, both by me and by my editor. Marketing can be an uphill climb. You have to go strategically, thoughtfully, and use the techniques that experts say work. I will blog about this more later --- but let me say one thing. In today's world the writer's website has got to be the most important tool in the arsenal of marketing. I've seen some good ones, but recently I've seen some really bad ones and that hinders a writers promotion. Later.
Okay, so yesterday, I received word from Barbara that before she left for the ACFW conference, she had posted and announcement about my novel and one other on Publishers Lunch Deluxe, an email newsletter that goes out to thousands of industry leaders, publishers, editors, agents, movie producers and directors worldwide. I scrolled down the page, and there under the inspiration category were these words:
Rita Gerlach's SURRENDER THE WIND, in which an American Revolutionary patriot and his beloved inherit more than an ancestral home in England from his loyalist grandfather, they uncover a sinister plot of murder, abduction, and betrayal - an ominous threat to their new life and love, to Barbara Scott at Abingdon Press, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2009, (world).
Fixing my eyes on the paragraph, I stared for a full minute, reading it slowly, trying to absorb it all. I drew in a deep breath, and the palms of my hands started to sweat. I know sounds a bit strange that I would have such a reaction. Shouldn't I have been leaping up and down, dancing wildly about the room? Ah, yes that is a good idea and I should do that from hence forth. It might help me shed a few unwanted pounds and tone up. Ah instead, I settled back in my chair and whispered, "Wow." I have struck gold with Barbara. My contract was signed two weeks ago Friday, and already she is working to promote Surrender the Wind. I have begun as well, starting with a revamping of my website.
So why I am sharing all this? To toot my own horn? No. To brag? Certainly not. I made a promise to my blog readers that I'd share this publishing journey so that....
1. aspiring writers will see that this is what real editors do. That legitimate publishers do promote their authors and the books they publish.
2. that once you sign a contract with a publisher, your editor is your advocate.
3. that scam publishers will not take the time to do anything for you, but will leave you in the misty flats to climb that mountain on your own, without checking to see if you are ready to climb, without helping you make the climb and coaching you on.
Before signing a contract, check out the publisher on Preditors & Editors. Avoid print on demand publishers that have no true editing, no bookstore placement, no industry catalog, and no marketing. Do not let them lure you in when you grow impatient to be published. Wait.