It was about this time two years ago when I first ventured into publishing. Oh my God, I was going to be able to mix and mingle with professionals in the writing field. I should have paid closer attention when I got my edit back - that was my first interaction with a professional. I so wanted to learn from him. I was so excited. My edit, however, was far less than I hoped. Surely I wasn't that good a writer. Sure he did the editor thing, he caught when I switched the spelling of one of my minor characters. He found capitalization mistakes and verb goofs. All the things needed to make a error-free manuscript. But he never explained any of it. He never made any suggestions that might improve my skill or the story. There were also things he suggested I could see no sense in. Why should all my number-words be switched to number-figures? I even called him on that one. I asked what book he used to dictate his recommendations. Since he wasn't going to explain anything, I'd try to get the book and learn for myself. I just looked at that edited document for the first time since way back when. He commented only twenty-two times in the whole document and none of them was an explanation of anything. Bleh. Never, in all the books I've read, have I seen numbers rather than their words, other than in a math book that is. That really bothered me.
My next disappointment was when I started getting proofs. I spent a delightful hour or so on the phone talking to the two people who were supposed to be responsible for it all. They were the experts, and though I had a few preferences on fonts and such, I figured they knew what was best. What I had done was pick up the last book I'd read. I diligently counted five-character words across an average line and then the lines on that page, then I set my computer document margins and font size to get as close to those numbers as I could. That way, I would have a rough idea how many pages my book would have. It was all a visual thing for me. However, that all meant it would have to be resized to fit their requirements. Where I visualized a pocketbook sized book, they recommended the larger 6x9 size. Once again, they were the professionals. They knew what was best, surely. What did I know about book sizes? The first proof I got back was so incomplete. How could anyone release work with such glaring resizing misses???? Have they no pride in their work???
Then came the cover work. Completely out the window went my suggestion without even a mention. But once again they were the professionals, surely. They knew about cover art. I knew less than nothing. I do have a bit of an artistic eye and I tried my best to make sure the picture wasn't too busy behind the title. I tried to work with what they gave me but apparently there was only so much they could do. Then came the spine. Yes, this is book 1, and for this collection, an oval opal was the one connecting link for all three books. But do you think they could get that right??? I found them three images of an oval opal on line and sent them to use as an example. What did I get in return??? Something that looked like an oval piece of marble. I mean really, the opal with its sparkling center was important, but apparently they didn't have one they could use.
Yes, it was a disappointing, expensive learning experience, but it was a learning experience. I learned that I should have stood my ground and insisted on what I wanted, or at least a lot closer. They would have bowed to my desires, after all I was footing the bill. That book will have a second coming one day - maybe when I finish book 3, and I can publish them all together.
I was, however, able to pass on what I've learned to a close friend of my brother's who is also just publishing a book. His publisher recommended a different title. When I asked him about it, he told me the one he had wanted and why. It was important to the story. I told him to stick by his title and his publisher bowed to his desire. I'm all for suggestions. I really want what's best, but what's best isn't always what's easiest to do, to see, or to say.
Now - here I am again. After two years of making like a search light over dark and stormy seas, looking for someone to help me get another book out there. I scrutinize the websites of potential agents. I hover over various writing groups and blogs, watching for a mention. Occasionally, I send out a query, always trying to include everything they say they want. I don't send out mass queries; I want each one to be from me to the person I'm sending it to. There are thousands of places out there full of advice on how to write a query to hook the agent in the first sentence, but in my opinion, if my letter isn't good enough, neither is my query, and if my query isn't good enough, maybe I don't want to be working with that person in the first place - let it be their loss for not taking me on. Yes, I'm proud of my work, and I'm proud of who I am and who I have always been. I am me. This is my work. Take me or leave me and I will move on.
Just the other day I found the website for a new publishing company. So new they only have a few authors under their belt. According to the website, they wanted any submissions to have been read by someone else - a luxury I can understand and advise others to get if at all possible, however, it is something I have been unable to indulge in much myself. Living in the wilderness has its drawbacks in that I know few people and not many of them read, fewer still could give me the help I needed from such a reading. "Yes, I like it." or "That's not my kind of story." Really isn't all that much help.
At any rate, since it was an important stipulation, I sent them an email asking about it and explaining some of my situation. I think he must have taken a look at some of my links, at any rate, his reply was very understanding and he asked that I submit a sample. Going back to the website, I sent in what was asked, and also according to the site, I could expect a reply in two to three weeks.
I prepared to sit back and wait my two weeks or so. I posted a note on Facebook announcing my submission and got lots of good luck wishes. That is so nice, you know. To know so many people are watching my progress through this writing sea I'm trying to navigate, and to know that they took a moment of their time to wish me luck.
Lo and behold!!! Only four days after my submission, he asked me for the full manuscript. Oh my God!!!! Am I really on this journey???? And I KNOW I'll be among the real professionals this time. Will he take me on for real??? We'll have to see. I'll be sure to keep you informed.