The “things I wish I’d known” blog posts fascinate me. As writers, we’re always looking for an inside secret on succeeding in this crazy life we’ve taken on. We want to know what other writers have discovered so that we can side-step those blunders.
But there comes a point, especially if you’ve been part of writers groups for some time and followed the industry on social media, that the “things I wish I’d known” posts no longer hold any new revelations. We’ve heard it all before, right?
So I was all happy-smug after I sold and skipped down the flower patch toward becoming a published author. I knew what to expect. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was going to be smooth sailing from here, but I’d been listening and taking notes when writer friends talked about their experiences.
And yet, here I am scratching my head over the things I wish I’d known …
1) Querying gets harder.
You thought you were done with queries after securing an agent? I did. Sort of. My agent, after all, is the one who’s submitting to editors. What I didn’t anticipate was sending requests for author blurbs. Who did I think did this? The Blurb Fairy maybe.
Okay, not really. I don’t believe in fairies (I do, however believe in unicorns but that’s a different post). This was one of those knew-it-but-was-in-denial cases. Querying agents wasn’t a problem for me (if you didn’t think I was a wee off after that unicorn comment, this sealed the deal, didn’t it?!). And I wasn’t nervous when my agent submitted to editors. Why? Because they are looking at my submission from a business perspective. A rejection from an agent or editor isn’t personal, it’s a reflection of whether they believe they can sell that particular product.
But readers are evaluating your book from a different place, a personal place. And that makes it a wee bit scarier. So when the time came to send out requests for authors to blurb my upcoming release, I freaked out. I mean paper-bag-holy-crap freak out.
I know, I know … if I can’t handle this, how am I going to handle reader reviews. Easy – we’re talking two different audiences. My writing won’t appeal to everyone and I’m okay with that. Reading is subjective. There will be readers who post ugly reviews give me one or two stars for whatever reason. Hopefully more people who pick up my book will love it than hate it.
Authors, however, are my tribe. These are the people who know what it takes to write a book and get through the publishing process. These are the people who I admire and fan-girl over. But the idea that one of them will read my book and wonder how the hell they got roped into reading and blurbing, sent me into hives. I don’t want them to think I’m a total hack.
Here’s the thing, the writing community is the most generous group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. And once I got my head out of the paper bag and sent the emails, I realized how crazy that fear was. It’s still harder than sending queries to agents, but not as scary as I allowed myself to first believe.
2) My face out there. OUT THERE!
One of the first things I do when I pick up a book is look at the back page or the dust jacket to see the author photo. So when I first signed with my agent, I added “author photos” to my to-do list. Except that I HATE having my picture taken. I look awful in photos. Just … gahhhhhh!
I suggested using a photo of my cat staring at my laptop instead (he’s way more photogenic). That request was denied. So I pulled ideas of pictures I liked and ones I wasn’t as crazy about. I researched photographers. I thought through location ideas. We tried a few different locations – inside, outside. I did the adult thing and made others decide what worked best. Guess what? It was actually fun. Now I’m saying that before I’ve actually seen the final photos, but I survived and I’m not traumatized from the experience (yet – check back after I’ve looked at the pictures).
Still, the thought of someone picking up my book, looking at the back and seeing my face … oy! Seriously, can we use the cat? How about a unicorn?
3) Writing the novel was the easy part.
The second thing I do with any book, is read the acknowledgements page. Am I the only one who reads this before actually reading the book?
When an author friend posted a picture of my book as a bound manuscript, I squealed, “it’s real, it’s a book,” then rubbed my hands together because now I get to write the acknowledgments page. I’ve been fantasizing about this since the first draft!
I opened a new document in Word, and … Major, massive memory constipation.
This book took two years to write, revise, and submit. It went through countless drafts and several sessions with beta readers. I’ve whimpered to so many author friends during that time and there have been so many amazing people who supported and encouraged me. Of course I’d remember every. Single. Person. Except I’m not. There are names at the tippy tip top of my brain refusing to come forward.
Lesson learned folks … every person who makes a difference in your WIP, write them down on a page in your project notebook (or however you organize your manuscript ideas). Because writing a 300-page manuscript is so much easier on the nerves than pulling together the 1 page acknowledgements section.
Those are my Orly-meets-reality moments. 🙂
I’d love to hear yours.
Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and a member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.
Orly’s debut, The Memory of Hoofbeats, will be released by Forge in 2017.