The chase for fame for me is a double edged sword. The attention I want is not for personal notice as I would hate for anyone to recognise me in the street. I value the anonymity of life, however, I do want the world to know of my work and that it is out there.
This means having to promote and to me this is far more difficult than actually writing a book–even a series! While I am enjoying sales, they are not of the quantity to change my life and I am well aware they could dry up at any time. Resting on my laurels at this time would appear to be both foolish and a waste of time so I have taken to approaching book bloggers.
The dreaded review is something I have been trying to ignore since being published since I am well aware my fantasy is not mainstream and therefore will not please everyone. My hope is that it can please enough people to garner some decent reviews. It has been pointed out by others that reviews are very important in places like Amazon for sales.
I am not so worried about the romance as it is a general romantic adventure and as such will be reviewed more according to taste than failure of story. I have tried to keep the story believable and not to preposterous. Unfortunately, I find many romantic books to have contrived scenes and I can understand their lure because they forward the romance easily. Instead, I tried and hopefully succeeded in creating a logical and fun adventure.
So now I wait and see who responds, who ignores and more importantly what the reviews will say. I might as well start the next book in the series as there a few stories that need tending.
Editing is the gremlin that shows not only your mistakes but where content and polish are required. Editing is called polishing for good reason as you have to do it more than once to get a finished product. When I finish a work I will do a first edit right away as I usually have a list of things that was made during the creation process. These are ideas, comments, additions that I want to use to enhance the story. With one foot still in the creation phase I find this edit to be interesting and easy. It’s after this the work needs to be put aside.
In my earlier edits I made the mistake of continuing work without a rest phase and that’s when the editing gremlins came out to play. When life finally intervened and I had to put it aside I was horrified upon return to discover just as many mistakes as I had been fixing. That’s when I learned a valuable lesson, for while others may write in a different fashion, the rest period really is invaluable for all. I find my mind fills in the blanks and since I know the story then I don’t pick up on what might confuse the reader. Once the story is acceptable I look at the overall plot to ensure it is credible, entertaining and logical.
The final edit is the breakdown of the story into sentences. This one I admit makes me want to go to sleep as it is as far removed from the excitement of creation as a project can get. After each one is examined you would think the job is finished but no. That’s when I send it off to a professional to critique it and learn the most valuable lesson of all–when you think you are done you are really about five more edits from being done.
I’ve just finished a MG manuscript and today starts going through the list. While writing a children’s story was fun, keeping the voice true was far more difficult than in the fantasy series. It’s too easy to drift into adult dialogue and concepts and so once again each section is examined for credibility, only this time it needs the approval of a ten year old boy!
The problem with hope is that it is a balancing act between despair and joy. As I send partials out to agents I find myself maintaining only a cautious optimism as a partial is only a tiny step up the ladder. If that manages to pass muster then there is the full–agents often like a partial and reject a full as it may not fill the expectation the partial creates. And if you manage the joy of joys and get an agent then you are struggling with rejection of publishers. There are people who live charmed lives, that get agents easily and then published without too much drama and then there are the rest of us.
One of the hardest parts of submitting is the wait. You wait for a response (which often may never come) to your query. Then you wait for the response to your partial, and after that if you are lucky to your full. This can take months and months and so hope, while not immediately dashed, can eventually be crushed. I send my work off and try not to remain too attached to the moment as an unpublished writer the only power I have right now is the creation of more work and the dogged pursuit for representation. Many people fail–not because they are poor or unpublishable–but because this is a market driven business and if you are not seen as sexy enough or dollars in the bank then you will be cast aside. So I take hope and put it back on the mantle, only to polish it off each time I move forward in the game. Hopefully one day I can take it out and let it shine.
When I finished my first three books I allowed myself a pat on the back for the achievement. Then they had to rest. I find that if I start editing right away my mind starts filling in the blanks and I don’t notice the problems. Many seasoned authors offered the advice of leaving it to sit before attempting an edit. So I did just that and this became the first part of the wait. Of course I used the time constructively and outlined several other books that had been simmering away but I kept away from the fantasy genre. A few weeks later I did the first big rewrite of the Elf. I was surprised at how much needed to be tidied. The entire series had been written at once and it had been a difficult task writing across three viewpoints at the same time. This meant ensuring consistency in timing and character development and unfortunately my mind kept filling in the holes. It took moving away from the project and separating it into single books so I could see any issues. I also discovered that the first rewrite was not one of two or three but more like seven or eight. So the long dark wait began. Edit, then put down and work on something else, in this case a Mr. Smith. Another week, another edit. Finally I showed the result to Tom who promptly said–do it again. He was right, I didn’t want him to be but once I took his comments on board I realised that if the reader is not happy with a character then I need to fix the character, not the reader. Several edits later I finally had something to show to an agent.
Here is the second part of the wait, the response to the query, synopsis or even samples. Some responses are immediate refusal, the agent replies–generally polite and you move on. Some will never reply and some will take months. Until then I keep my fingers crossed that it resonates somewhere and go back to working on Mr. Smith. I now understand that adult fantasy is a bugger to query. Agents appear to prefer YA fantasy–there appears to be a lively market there. Once again I regret my lack of research into the business of selling a book. While mine can be read by a young adult–who are a lot smarter than the market appreciates–it would be difficult to be sell solely as that. So the final wait can go on for the next six months. I have sent it to everyone that I think could be interested and plan to use the time constructively to finish the romance. Of course I should be finalising the edits on the other two of the series but need a break from the created universe. Some think that submitting your work to the possible rejection of an agent is the time to be brave but I think it is being able to survive the wait.