Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Literary agent, Rachelle Gardner, is blogging about the publishing process on her blog, Rants & Ramblings. This morning she gives insight and advice into the editorial process, focusing on the emotional aspect. Her advice? 'Enter the editorial process with a humble and teachable spirit.' http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/

This is great advice --- wisdom that will keep us from plunging into discouragement, or even depression, when the our editor sends pages and pages of notes for revisions. I'll be getting the first round of edits from my publisher soon and, I admit, I've been nervous about it. So, I sat down and wrote out a list of points for me to keep in mind, printed it out and taped it to my computer.

1. My editor will carefully prune away the dead wood.

2. She will sweep errors away.

3. She will polish my book to a high sheen.

4. She will leave my tone intact.

5. She will bring focus and flow together.

6. She will edit my book and work alongside me to produce a great novel that readers will love.

If you are in the midst of the editorial process, I wish you well. I'd love it if you would post your comments about how it is going for you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Days We Live

A few thoughts today. I attended a 'wedding' last night. I don't know why people are getting married on weekdays except for maybe it is cheaper. But my husband had to take a day off of work without pay. So did other people. Fortunately it was in town.

I miss the old fashioned Saturday afternoon church weddings. I miss hearing Jesus mentioned, and that God joins these two people together, let no man put asunder. I miss hearing the exchange of vows. Call me old fashioned again, but I think white bridal gowns should be reserved for chaste young women, not women who have lived several years with a man. Gee, wear a color like pale pink or champagne. I guess this part of my blog will offend someone, but it is not meant to. It's nothing personal, just an opinion.

The other thing is not allowing children, even children that are family. I remember weddings growing up and everyone in the family were there --- babies, kids, teens, aunts, uncles, cousins... My kids were not invited, even though they are young adults, but for the bride's family, the kids were all there. It bothered my sons a bit, but then they were kind of relieved not to have to sit with a bunch of much older adults and listen to toasts.

When my niece got married a year ago, the reception room was filled with family and friends from babies, toddlers, kids, adults, to older people. The babies and toddlers bounced to the music out on the dance floor with moms and dads. Teens lined danced. It was a joyous time filled with love and laughter. My father used to say when we had get-togethers like that, as he looked around at the children he'd say, 'This is what it's all about'.

Speaking of kids, I have to throw this in.

My youngest son is a musician --- plays in a metal band. At age 20 he can still have a 'attitude' or be 'sweet as honey'. He's talented, ambitious. When he was a toddler, he'd walk around the house and yard with his plastic toy hammer tucked into the waistband of his pants, wore a G.I. Joe hat until it fell apart. He played football in the city league, then moved on to paintball and dreamed of playing in national tournaments. His team did win a lot of local ones. Now he is a musician and working. His picture here was taken last Wednesday night at a concert. He looks a bit like a rock star, don't you think? Or close to it? But maybe I'm being biased?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Balay!

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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Waiting & Preparing

In an email to me from my wonderful editor, Barbara Scott, she suggested that if I do not have the Chicago Manual of Style, it would be a good investment, since most book publishers use CMS. I bought it from Amazon and I highly recommend that ever writer have this book in their library. It has a fantastic information on writing, examples of edits, what macro and substantive editing is. Oh, by the way. In my last blog entry I called it 'micro' edit. My mistake.

The second editing phase is the substantive. Chicago Manual of Style describes it thus:

“This second editorial process may be called
substantive editing—rewriting, reorganizing, or suggesting other ways to present material. The editor will know by instinct and learn from experience how much of this kind of editing to do on a particular manuscript. An experienced editor will recognize, and not tamper with, unusual figures of speech and idiomatic usage and will know when to make an editorial change or simply to suggest it, when to delete a repetition or simply to point it out to the author, and many other matters. Since every manuscript is unique in the amount and kind of substantive editing desirable, no rules can be devised for the editor to follow.”

Barbara is currently at the ACFW conference in Minneapolis. I wasn't able to attend. I'm at home working on another novel, and preparing myself for the macro edit to arrive most likely on a day and time I will least expect it. It's very exciting. If you've never seen a macro edit, or a red-lined manuscript, do a image search on Google. I found an example on Don McNair's website. I don't know anything about him, so I can't recommend him as an editor. However, this is the best example of a red-lined manuscript I could find online. www.mcnairedits.com/EditingSample.html

Until next time....

Friday, September 12, 2008

One Step at a Time

Well, the contract is signed and the ball is rolling. Surrender the Wind is entering the production phase at last. A few of my writing friends have asked me to blog about the process. As I move through this journey, I will share the steps I must take along the way in order to bring this novel to fruition.

The first step, called 'a micro edit', will be arriving in my email box soon. My editor will send me suggested changes in characters, plots, pacing, and so forth. I was convinced she intends to lead me firmly but gently, when she told me this first phase will make my manuscript stronger, but that I might throw myself across the bed in tears. She urged me not to. So, I'm telling myself to have a thick skin and a teachable spirit. She is coming alongside me to help me polish Surrender the Wind to what she referred to as 'a high sheen'.

To visualize this more clearly in my mind, I thought about when my husband builds a guitar. The body is cut from a fine, quality piece of wood. He buffs it out over and over with an electric sander until it is as smooth as a swatch of silk. Then he applies stain, buffs it out several times and reapplies more stain. The final step is to apply several coats of high gloss finish until the body and the neck is like a mirror of color. It is not until the guitar looks and feels perfect to him before he adds the electronics and strings. When all is complete, he tests out the sound by playing it.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Road to Publication: what happens after the contract is signed.

A quick-match tale of unexpected love . . . A fuse that burned rapidly

Surrender the Wind

In bookstores ~ Autumn 2009

I posted the following in Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers to garnish the September issue.

When you set your feet upon a path and begin walking, you might encounter a few trip hazards along the way. You might encounter a road block or two, or a fork in the road. The road to publication is not easy. But if you want it, you'll have to get up when you trip and dust yourself off. You will have to figure out a way around the road blocks, and choose the right direction you should turn. In oth
er words, the key to publication is persistence. Don't sit down on the side of the road for long and weep. Get up and keep moving; sprint toward the tape.

For some writers the journey may
be brief, for others long. It doesn't matter the time it takes. What matters is reaching your goal, and you have to be committed to reaching it, no matter how old you might get, or how arthritic your fingers become after years of pounding away on a keyboard. One of my goals with Stepping Stones Magazine is to encourage and equip writers, especially those starting out and the not yet published.

You find plenty of information in books and online about writing, about the submission process, etc. But there is little about what happens after you sign on the dotted line. I recently asked a group of published authors to share their experience of what happened after they signed their contracts...what stages they went through up to the release date and beyond. Here are their answers.


Rita, I'd be happy to go through the publication process after the contract is signed.

1. contract is signed. You agree on a deadline for the manuscript to be turned in. You will receive part (usually half) of the advance. (this is an agreed upon amount of money your publisher is paying for your book)
2. Now, you must write and write well! And make your deadline.
3. Publisher designs the cover or hires someone to design the cover and they will send it to you for your opinion. In my case, I don't have much say over it except to make minor changes. If I really hate it, I'll tell them, but unless they agree, they pretty much use whatever cover they want.
4. On or before your deadline, you turn in the manuscript. (For me, it's already been through my critique group and a freelance editor I hire to look it over. The deadline is usually 6-9 months before the book release. (You get the other half of the advance)
5. Your publisher will submit your manuscript to either an in-house editor or they will hire someone to do a line by line detailed edit of your book. This is not only grammar and punctuation, but plot, characters, tension, historical detail, .... anything that stops them. They are not your enemy. (You have to keep saying this to yourself) Their job is to make your novel the best it can be. They will work with you to "fix" your manuscript. This process could take days or weeks.
6. After the editorial changes are done, I'm told my manuscript gets read by several more people at the publisher. Any further changes are made at that time. A couple months before release I get the galleys, which is a printed form of my book just as it will appear when it is packaged as a novel. This is my last chance to read the whole thing offer and make an "minor" changes.
7. One month before release, I give my publisher a list of influencers who are willing to read my book and if they like it, tell others about it. My publisher will send advanced reader copies out to these people. At this time, ARCs also go to online reviewers, magazines, and other book reviewers. Publisher weekly, etc....
8. Two weeks before release, I will get my "free" author copies in the mail. How many copies that is, depends on your publisher. At this time, I begin my personal marketing. I have contests on my blog, I do blog tours, interviews..etc... give free copies to my local bookstores, church library... book clubs..etc.
9. Some publishers will do their own marketing for your book. They will put ads in magazines, send news releases out to bookstores, etc.. Some have their own in-house publicists and some hire an outside one. Depending on how much they do, you may have radio interviews set up, or book signing tours... etc..
10. The book release date arrives. You wake up, expecting fireworks and parades in your honor, but then your kid asks where breakfast is and your cat throws up on the carpet, and you realize that was only a dream. But really, nothing new happens.
11. At this point, I'm usually onto the next book, but I may get an occasional interview (online or radio) or someone wanting to help promote me on their blog... but it is usually pretty quiet. I may get some reader mail from people who are reading my book, and there may be some reviews that show up on Amazon or Christianbook.com, but my work is really done, unless I have a book signing or something my publicist has set up.

Okay, that's all I can think of.. I've written it fast... so it may not be thorough, and I'm sure other authors have had different experiences, but feel free to ask me anything else...
MaryLu Tyndall: www.mltyndall.com


From author Terri Kraus:
One other step that may or may not be included: Endorsements. The
publisher asks you to send endorsement requests to people in the industry. Once you have a list of possible endorsers, the publisher sends a galley out to them, with a deadline on when they must have the book read and their endorsement submitted.