Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 348

Day 348

Okay where were we? Oh yeah, the hard part…

I can look back on this now and laugh, but at the time I did not find it even slightly amusing. Like many who know nothing about the publishing world, I assumed that editing was combing a manuscript for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. (Like that’s not hard enough to do. Especially when you aren’t the grammar police. Just for clarification…I‘m not.) The day after I finished The Bright Side of Darkness, I began my quest to edit and rid my story of mistakes.

Now I took this task quite seriously. I did a quick search online about editing and one of the noble advice givers claimed that you needed 6 people to help you edit. After those 6 had returned said manuscript, and mistakes repaired, you needed 6 more. (Yep. That’s what I thought too! Where in the heck am I going to find 12 people to read this?) Regardless of my trepidation, I set out to find 6 people I knew would be honest with me, no matter what. Lucky for me, I had 6 willing and able people to help me on my journey.

I promptly sent them copies and they picked the manuscript apart. (You can’t imagine how many spelling and punctuation errors there were. And I have and USE spell check!) For two weeks straight, I read, fixed, re-read, fixed, and so on. At the end of that two week period, I knew my book so well that my ‘editors’ could send me the page number and sentence and I knew exactly where to find it.

(Side note: At this point, I seriously started disliking my book. We began to have a strained relationship. You see, I wanted it to be good and behave. And it…well it wanted to be stubborn.)

I have actually dreamed of sitting at the computer combing line upon line of my story. Sometimes, I even woke up exhausted from working in my sleep all night. But that’s not even the hard part. We still aren’t even close to the really really hard part.

In the process of all this editing, I decided it was time for me to research this publishing thing and figure out how I was going to get this book from my home to Barns & Noble. Let me tell you, if I had done that before writing the novel--it would never have been written. I’m not even catholic and I crossed my chest after finding out what I needed to do to become a published author.

If you watch much TV or movies, you’d think that selling a book is fairly simple as long as it’s a good book. WRONG! The ‘simple’ part is sitting in a chair for hours working up a good case of carpal tunnel and restless leg syndrome. Everything after that is insanity!

It was at this time that I discovered a thing called ‘show don’t tell,’ and that revising and editing are no where close to the same monster.

Editing: Searching for mistakes in sentence structure, spelling, grammar, and extra words.

Revising: Ripping your manuscript to the bones and making it salable.

And guess what? There’s more. (I know, that’s what I said too! More? Are you freaking kidding me?) If you really want to get a good book deal, you need to have an agent. If you want to get an agent, you need to know how to write a killer query.

Query: A one-page letter written to an agent in which you personalize a greeting to each agent. Tell them the genre, word count, and title of your book. And then the biggie…In one small paragraph, give them an interesting, compelling synopsis of your story. Oh yeah, and you have to have a ton of double spaced lines between items so it can easily be read.

“Just awesome. No really, it‘s great. Someone just shoot me,” I mumbled as I beat my head against wall.

I almost quit right there. In fact, I made several tearful phone calls to Vanessa justifying why I just couldn’t do this.

“I don’t think I can do this, it’s too hard.”

“Of course you can, hun. Don’t be ridiculous. This is a great story. You’ll get it figured out,” she said.

A few of those turned into this: “Get a grip, girl. You can do this.”

I’d have been lost without my friends. They nudged me at the right times in the right places to keep going. She‘s never steered me wrong, so I listened.

By the middle of February, I was sending out queries. My first rejection didn’t shock me at all. I’m a new writer; I didn’t expect everyone to want my story. When the tenth rejection came--well--that one kind of hurt my feelings. I mean really! This is a great story. Vampires, and ghosts, and witches and a druid sorcerer? Sword fights, demon battles, magic…Who the heck wouldn’t love that?

I’m digressing because in the middle of all this mess, I was revising my book. Holy crap! Talk about work. You know all those freaky English rules you had to learn in high school? Remember senior comp or American Lit? Or better, the School House Rock songs? Conjunction junction and Lolly get your adverb? Does not even remotely prepare you for writing/editing/revising a novel.

Believe it or not, after all this yammering, I’ve finally gotten to the hard part. But unfortunately, that will have to wait till next time again. Because as usual, I’ve been long winded and I don’t want to get blamed for bottoms going numb and headaches.

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