(This summer, while there have been a few road trips for our family, I also took a virtual trip down memory lane back to when my writing adventure began. Today’s flashback takes us to 2015.)
After the lavish blessings and huge green light on my writing in 2014, the year 2015 was devoted to turning that publishing dream and contract for Catch of a Lifetime into the reality of launching the finished product into the world.
And as hard as I’d worked leading up to that moment, I still found myself woefully unprepared for the realities of the editorial process, street teams, and marketing plans. Thankfully, I had a fabulous editor who was more than willing to walk beside me every step of the way!
The year started with my first ever editorial letter that listed general story things to fix. This included trying to tone down the football lingo while still keeping it true to a coach’s point of view, smoothing out several story threads, and weeding cliches out of the dialogue. Some of these were things that concerned the publication board while other items on the list were simply ways to make the story stronger.
Once I turned in my changes, the manuscript was sent to a general editor who then looked at the story line by line to adjust wording, check for repetition and clarity, and fix any grammar or style issues. Of course, once she was done marking it all up using Word’s Track Changes feature, it looked like a bleeding mess!
In fact, my two editors were afraid I would panic when I opened the file. So, the same fabulous woman who contacted me about the book in the first place, made sure to reach out again before forwarding the file just to remind me how much she adored my story and characters and how excited she was to have the book in the upcoming line-up. With the mantra “we’re making it better” ringing through my brain, I opened the file, gasped at all the red marks, and then worked my way through them one at a time.
Unlike my first ever experience with “editing” where only a few words were changed, there was something marked in practically every paragraph of the manuscript. And yet every single rewording or suggestion made sense. There were a few places where I needed to reword something for clarity so a non-football-fan could understand the action and a few spots where I argued to keep something a certain way, but generally I happily deferred to the experts who could quote the Chicago Manual of Style by subsection.
It only took a couple of days to work through the entire manuscript and I returned it with a grateful heart. Without their quality editing and insight, I shudder to imagine the story that would have reached the world.
Once we crossed that hurdle, the manuscript then went on to proofreading, layout, beta readers to check for errors, endorsers, and eventually to reviewers. Along the way, I also filled out a marketing form with my author bio and the back cover marketing copy. I also was allowed detailed input into the cover design.
Meanwhile, as the book itself worked its way through the production process toward a December release date, it was also time to work on my marketing plans.
My publisher, while traditional in the sense of footing the bill for all pre-publication expenses and paying royalties on all sales, was also a small press who relied on print-on-demand technology to fill orders. They didn’t have a large sales force, marketing department, or lavish budget to invest in the promotion of upcoming titles. Instead, they invested their limited resources in a marketing representative who helped authors develop their own marketing platforms.
Using that familiar example of giving a man a fish or teaching him how to fish, my time with my assigned marketing representative equipped me with the skills I needed for not just one book launch, but for the ones to come.
We “met” online via Skype or a Google Hangout every few weeks for her to teach me something new about social media marketing and she assigned homework that included everything from Twitter lists and creating memes to creating a launch page on my website and recruiting a street team of influencers to help spread the word. As the weeks rolled by, my launch plan took shape including a blog tour, a virtual “tailgate” party to “kick-off” the launch, and a pile of football-themed prizes.
By the time summer rolled around, both my launch plans and the book’s production were ahead of schedule…which was a good thing when my release date was moved up a month to November instead!
As the clock ticked down to launch, my mind inevitably turned toward “what’s next?” and I cautiously approached my editor about the possibility of a second contract. Thankfully, even though the imprint was still in the single-book phase of acquisitions, she was open to seeing more of my ideas…and quickly jumped on Dance Over Me. By the time Catch of a Lifetime released, I already had a signed contract and had started the first round of requested revisions. I was not a one-book-wonder! And I didn’t need to worry about writing that “sophomore” novel since it was already written. 😉
However, as I flipped the calendar to December and tried to catch my breath from book launch mania, I realized that I’d spent the entire year working on my writing career…but not actually doing any new writing other than blog posts. In retrospect, I needed the focus on building a solid foundation for future book launches, but I vowed that I’d once again make time for a new story in the new year.
What about you? Have you ever gotten your dream only to discover how much work was involved In that next stage? If you had known how hard it would be, would you have still wanted to reach that goal? What advice would you offer others following in your shoes?