Surely any aspiring writer must feel a sudden wave of euphoria, when they get the news that their manuscript, that they slaved over for years has finally been accepted by a publisher. Such euphoria can be compared to an unsigned group that has just heard a record company is going to release its first single, or a young painter learning a gallery is going to put on their first one man show. When friends ask for news, instead of giving the humdrum response “nothing new” or another typical prosaic answer, you can respond “my book’s going to be published” in a voice filled with pride and exhilaration.
But what happens next? The next process begins, the author being assigned an unknown editor. In my case this unknown editor was from a far off country. I am from the UK, but live France and the editor is based in Hawaii. Of course communication has developed a lot in recent times and e mails begin to flow to and fro. It takes me time to master the process, of accepting and rejecting edits.
Editing problems are compounded due to the fact that I am British, therefore we have spelling differences but also grammatical differences bare their heads, as well as other culture clashes. It is often frustrating waiting for updates. At times I am really flustered as I sense some of my original ideas are ebbing away and that my stories are becoming infused with another’s ideas. Editing takes forever and I reach the stage whereby I can’t imagine my precious book ever emerging out of this mushy soup of a process. Sometimes I feel like I have to negotiate to keep my book with all the hallmarks of my writing style, having to fight tooth and nail to preserve my stories as I see them . I am strong willed but a real novice in this book writing business. I think as a creative writer, not a person trying to sell a product.
Following the long drawn out editing process, (I fully admit I learned a lot from my editors and my writing grew a lot) there was the polishing process…which often seemed to blur into editing. It was a real relief when finally a line was drawn and my book reached the giddy heights of being published.
Not much time for the chinking of champagne glass and pats on the back…a new challenge arrived in the form of an e mail telling me I was now about to begin a long process of promoting my book…so from writer to promoter, with no time to rest on my laurels. I have been on facebook quite a while and have a rather dormant twitter account… I soon find myself a disciple of Goodreads and try to locate any similar sites to place my book, to grab reader’s attention.
An email arrives with a link to a book trailer which my publisher has made from me…visually it looks great…but the music is another matter… he seems to have chosen some funky track which is at total loggerheads with my book of dark surreal stories…I send a urgent prompt reply expressing my concern with his choice of music suggesting I provide my own music (I am a long standing electronic musician). Thankfully my concerns are addressed and eventually a new video is posted on Youtube.
As with the editing process…I also prove to be a total novice concerning the promotion process…I have been serviced with an extensive PDF with lots of information concerning what I MUST do…this writers manual is useful but…it is a slow process…I use Twitter but I had no idea of the use and value of a #hashtag. I steadily learn author’s tricks to win likes, followers, reviews, spotlights, guest spots, youtube views…etc…etc…It’s a bit of a jungle out there and writers are helping each other or competing with one another for readers and sales. Before the promotion process began I had no idea what a ISBN number was. I still have novice inscribed on my forehead, but I have managed to do quite a number of interviews, guest articles, I have managed a writer’s event, so I feel some sense of progress.
Francis H Powell is a writer and author of Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories. Follow him on Twitter @Dreamheadz