Social Media=Noise

March 22, 2013

Sometimes it feels like we’re all shouting the same things at each other. Do you ever notice that? I mean, on social media we tend to follow like minded people. When something terrible happens, we’re all yelling our outrage. Agreeing and yelling and outraged.

And then, if we’re an author, we want to talk about our books and our accomplishments. If we’re agents or editors we want to offer helpful advice or tell people what not to do. If we’re a company we want to sell a product.

And then, if we’re a person of any kind, we want to vent our frustrations, laud our accomplishment, show off pictures of our kids/pets/lunch etc.

We’re all talking, but we aren’t always listening. Sometimes I spend so much time on social media it starts to feel like noise. This agent says do this while this editor yells to NEVER do that. One author you admire sells a billion books, and so does one author who’s writing you just can’t get into and you wonder…why?

You try to engage with someone who doesn’t want to engage with you. Someone who you don’t want to engage with approaches you.

You speak, and no one responds.

It’s all…noise. And mainly we’re not so much listening to each other as we are yelling louder and louder to make our voice heard.

And then, sometimes you are heard. And you feel like someone out there shares an experience with you and it soothes the savage beast or the crows of doubt or something for a little while.

Sometimes social media has the power to make us feel better, ease our hurts, share our joys, point us in the right direction.

Sometimes it is just a cacophony of discordant sound that pushes us further into our shell, further away from our dreams.

As a person, I’m struggling to navigate it all without it affecting my self worth. As an author with a recent release, I’m trying to do all the right things to make my book seem like something you’d like to read.

But as the characters in my WIP are currently figuring out about their own lives, maybe there is no right way. There is only doing the best you can do at any given moment, right or wrong. And, just like social media, sometimes that is a relief, and sometimes it is a terrible burden.

Nicole

I realized as I sat down to write last week’s post that my journey to published has been filled with a lot of Debbie Downer stuff. Lots of waits! Adjusting to new editors! Expect more rejection! Wee!

And I realized I haven’t talked much about the good stuff. Like someone liking your book enough to acquire it and then read it many, many times in order to edit it. A reviewer saying it put a smile on their face. Knowing people are plopping over a few dollars to read what your imagination came up with.

This journey to being published and beyond is a hard one, and it is filled with sucky stuff. I tend to focus on the sucky stuff. I mean, my second book came out this month and what did I do to celebrate?

Start a new book. Obsess over submissions I have out. Torture myself with the “meh” reviews and watching my Amazon ranking fluctuate. I squeed on Twitter a bit.

This is not celebration. This is… recipe for being a whiny butt.

I’m not sure where this came from. I had a book published. By a reputable publisher who has bought ad space for my book, set up a blog tour. I’ve had good reviews along with the meh. I should be dancing through the house, but instead…somehow the bad stuff sometimes reaches out and grabs you by the throat.

I’m not patient. I’m goal oriented, but the fact is these goals take time. They don’t happen overnight, and not forcing myself to enjoy each little step to the major overall goal is kind of a waste.

There should be more celebration. There should be more happy and less I’m not there yet.

So, if you get a rejection with editorial feedback: celebrate. If you get an editor wanting to revise a manuscript with you: celebrate. Finish a book: celebrate. Sell a book: celebrate BIG TIME.

There are a million steps in a writing career. Wishing for the next doesn’t get it here any faster, but it takes some of the joy away from the here and now, and that’s something I really need to work on.

Nicole

You’ve signed a contract. You’ve done edits. You have a release date. You feel invincible!

And then the next rejection comes.

I honestly never thought about it one way or another, but it was a weird feeling realizing that rejection would still be part of the game after publication. I mean, sure, it’s not surprising, but I think we focus so hard on getting published, we don’t always think about what happens after publication (I mean beyond becoming rich and famous, of course).

Of course, the reality of the situation is, if you plan to keep getting published, you have to keep putting your work out there. You have to keep submitting, and whether that’s to your publisher, agents, or another publisher, rejection can still be the name of the game.

I signed the contract for my first book in October of 2011. I signed the contract (with a different publisher) for my second book in July of 2012. I signed the contract for my third book in December of 2012 and I got offered a fourth contract in January of 2013…and yet, there were rejections in between all those contracts. Rejections from editors and agents. Rejections on queries, partials, and fulls. Luckily none of the rejections came from publishers whom had offered me a contract in the past, and most came from agents on projects I later sold, but that doesn’t mean rejection wasn’t a possibility (or it might not be a possibility in the future).

Rejection is always a possibility. The nice thing about rejection after publication, is you have a contract to pull out and remind yourself, gosh darn it, you’re good enough. It should also remind you that this is your career and the only way to keep building that career is to keep writing, keep improving, and keep submitting. Rejection be darned.

Nicole

When I was doing revisions for Seven-Night Stand with my first editor, she asked if the hero’s brother had a story. (Answer: duh). But it wasn’t finished, so she asked I finish and submit it to her.

Cue: DOUBT.

I had never written anything for a specific editor before. Before, everything I wrote was mainly for me. Sure, I wrote to get published, but mainly I wrote characters I liked in places I liked with conflict I liked and didn’t think much of fitting a mold.

Writing a second book meant fitting a mold. It meant trying to avoid any of the mistakes I’d made in that first manuscript. It meant trying to impress this editor with my dazzling writing skills. I so badly wanted her to like it, to want to acquire it, that I kind of lost sight of something very important.

No manuscript is ever perfect. There will still be revisions and mistakes. That’s kind of what editors are for.

That’s not to say I could phone it in, but agonizing over every plot choice, every comma, every thing wasn’t very productive to getting the job done. At some point you have to trust yourself to write a good story, and trust your editor to see that good story beyond whatever mistakes you might want.

Because whether you agonize or don’t. Whether you stress or are completely zen about it, nothing can really control that outcome. Chances are, the second book will get accepted. And if it doesn’t? You’ve always got more books in you. Rejection isn’t the end of the world (or your career) no matter where in the publishing journey you are.

But that’s another post for another time.

Nicole

Here’s something that those of you in pre-published land probably don’t want to hear. Even after you’ve signed a contract and worked on your edits (sometimes even before you’ve worked on your edits) you’re still going to have to do a lot of that one thing we all hate.

Waiting.

Here are a few breakdowns of how my edits went. Now, keep in mind every publisher is different. Every editor is different. Heck, every BOOK is different. But, one thing that’s not different? WAITING.

All’s Fair:

From contract to first edits: 2 weeks

First edits to galley proof: 1.5 months

From galley to cover/final pdf: 1 month.

From cover/final pdf to release: 4 months.

Seven-Night Stand:

From contract to first edits: 3 months*

From edits to galley proof: 3.5 months*

From galley proof to cover/final pdf: One week

From galley proof to cover/final pdf: None.**

*With editors leaving, this was an anomaly for this book. I do not expect my next book to have this large of a wait.

**Because of my publisher signing a deal with another publisher, some release dates got shifted. Thus, I didn’t actually see my cover or final book until release day.

And my next book is already different. Flight Risk was contracted 12/31 and I will likely get my edits in the next few weeks so roughly a two month wait between contract and edits. But, all edits/proofs etc. must be done by the end of April, so roughly 2.5 months for the next step. Then it will release late summer.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t prepared for this. I don’t know why, but it definitely knocked me sideways. So, the lesson I’ve learned is to try to go into the process without expectations. Every book will take its own time, and that’s okay, because the contract is signed and your book WILL come out.

Best thing to do during the wait? Keep writing. Most publishers/editors don’t just want one book out of you. They want to help build your career. Keep working toward that.

Nicole

I wanted to combine my usual Friday post on my publishing journey with my release day post, because this is a blog for writers and this book went through A LOT to get here. And, yes, this was supposed to go up Monday, but that’s just another lesson in things not going *exactly* the way you imagined, and that being totally okay.

So, anyway, here we are. Here being RELEASE DAY! Seven-Night Stand is out and about in the world. Last year at this time, I’m not sure I thought that was possible. In fact, in February of last year I got my second rejection from this book. Of the handful of agents I’d queried, none were interested in reading even a partial.

I thought this story had merit. It had been an honorable mention in the contest it was written for, and I just…liked it. I liked my hero and his dysfunctional family and I liked my heroine who wasn’t quite sure what to do with feelings. I liked my little private airfield in the middle of nowhere Kansas.

But, I didn’t know where to go from where I was, so I set it aside for a few months and focused on other things.

In May, I’d heard enough about Entangled and their success that I figured submitting my sexy category was worth a shot. An editor was interested, gave me some revisions, and I was excited. I worked with this editor on a full set of revisions and then I waited to hear back.

And then, months later, I got an email telling me my editor had left. I was definitely bummed, but these things happen and, hey, I had a contract. I waited for a while, was finally assigned a second editor and then before I even worked with her, she left (twice).

The hardest thing about changing editors is not working with someone new (editors are a pretty awesome, friendly bunch in my experience). It’s not even changing something you’d already changed once or twice. The hardest part (for me) was managing my own insecurity.

I knew my third editor had not chosen me, so to speak. She didn’t read my story in the piles of slush and think, yes! I want to work on this. And no matter how often she told me she loved it, no matter how many times her edits helped streamline the story into something strong, it was hard to let that voice go. She didn’t choose you. You’re screwing this up.

Somewhere around the billionth revision I just let that go. I stopped worrying over it. Because, here my book was. Good. A good book that some people will like and some people won’t. And it didn’t matter that my editor didn’t choose me, because she’d worked really hard on making the book the best it could be.

Publishing is a business just like any other. People leave and move jobs for a wide variety of reasons. Chances are, if you become a multi-published author you’re going to have, at some point, two different editors on the same project. It will be a challenge, but it will work out, because the grand majority of people in this business want your book to be as good as you want it to be.

In my experience, patience, asking questions when you’re confused, and having someone you can whine to (thanks, Elley!) are imperative if a situation like this happens.

Seven-Night Stand

Because what else is there to do if you want your book published? Not a whole lot. And more often than not, the challenges are worth it, and you get to look at something as pretty as this and know it’s yours.

So, nine months, three editors, and a whole heck of a lot of revisions later, here is my book. A book I am proud of and so excited to see out in the world (or at least the internet world).

Amazon

Kobo

Goodreads

So, you wait, you revise, and finally you get the offer and a shiny contract wings its way to you via email! It’s real now, this selling a book thing.

Also real? The terminology in your contract isn’t always the clearest of English, and if you don’t have an agent, figuring out what your contract allows you and doesn’t is tricky business.

For all three of my contracts, I wasn’t too picky. Basically, reading through the contract was just double checking and making sure I would not be getting screwed over at any point.

I don’t want to go into detail about the contracts, because I am not an expert. So, I’ll just share how I dealt with them.

First, I read through a contract much like I tackled reading a difficult text in school. I read through it once, reread, looked up terms when needed, and then summarized each section in my own words, and then read the summarization. Luckily, access to internet is a beautiful thing, and anything I wasn’t clear about I could look up. (If there would be serious questions or concerns, the publisher is going to be able to answer those questions for you too, but most of my confusion was general or generic enough a simple google search helped me out).

I did not have a lawyer look over them. If I could afford it, or knew a trustworthy lawyer who knew about publishing contracts, I’d have them take a look, but those weren’t viable options for me. I trusted my own understanding enough to forgo that step.

I didn’t negotiate any terms in my contracts. At this point in my career, I have yet to see something in a contract that doesn’t work for me. I feel confident enough in my understanding of the contract I haven’t been taken advantage of, and that’s really the main thing for me: getting a fair shake.

The trick is the understanding part. The researching and asking questions part. I’m sure it’s common sense, but never sign a contract without reading it first. You want to make sure you agree with and understand what you’re putting your name to. If you’re confused, ask questions, and I’d be wary of any publisher who wouldn’t answer your questions or concerns.

The nice thing about contracts is that, while some of the details are different from publisher to publisher, the subject matter you’re dealing with is essentially the same. So once you understand royalties and the like, each contract gets a little easier to navigate without having to look things up or ask questions. It’s the numbers that are going to change–not so much the different pieces of the contract.

I would venture to say, even if you do have an agent, it’s good to understand your contract and what you’re signing. No matter how implicitly you trust your agent, you’d never want to sign something without reading it through.

Nicole

We probably all know that being asked for revisions without a contract offer can happen. It’s actually happened to me twice, though once was pretty easy/straightforward.

There is a challenge to tackling revisions without the safety net of a contract offer. First, your editor is not really your editor yet. You probably don’t know them that well or have a good handle on what they want to see.

Second, you don’t have a contract. You can make as many changes as you want and they can still say thanks, but no thanks. Then, depending on the situation, you can be left with a half changed MS or an MS you’re unsure about.

The first time I was asked to make revisions before a contract, it was all pretty easy. They required all books in their line to have at least one fully described love scene–so I had to get rid of my fade-to-black style (and I never looked back!). I added it. They contracted the book. Voila.

The second one was not so easy. I needed to clarify conflict and motivation. Basically, I think the editor liked my voice, but my GMC was a bit of a jumbled mess. There, but needed to be more organized.

In this situation, I was asked to revise the partial and send it back to the editor. This was both exciting and terrifying. It was exciting because it was giving me a chance, but also because I thought her revision notes really did make the story better, and they helped me understand the structure of category romance better.

When I resubbed the partial, she then asked for the full. I submitted that and, though I had done what she wanted in those first pre-contracted revisions, it still wasn’t perfect. She had more notes for the full, but this process was more of a–can you solve this one problem, then if you agree to the rest of these revisions, we’ll contract.

I think there are a lot of reasons for a pre-contract revision. Obviously, the first is to make your story better. But, I think there is also the idea that sometimes editors want to get a feel for if you can revise. Just because you can write a decent story doesn’t mean you can (or will willingly) revise well.

Regardless of why or how, there is something important to remember during revisions, and it can be hard with the stress of trying to impress an editor and making your story better and not screwing up your chance!

The editor liked something in your story enough to want to work with you–contract or no. It is truly baffling the amount of submissions editors get, and they’re not going to waste their time on something they think is crap. A request for revision is a compliment.

Also, even if it does end up a rejection in the end, you’ve had the opportunity to work with an editor and most of the time you will learn something from that, and you may even walk away with a better manuscript to submit elsewhere.

Nicole

I’ve decided to try to go in a kind of chronological order in terms of this series of blog posts about my publication journey. I’m grouping my ideas and the questions I got/may get into three categories: pre-contract, contract, post-contract.

So, we’ll start these first few weeks with topics that fall into that pre-contract offer space.

First up, I want to talk a little about the submission process. Now, if you’ve ever submitted anywhere before you know that every publisher works differently. For example, I have signed a contract for three books to three different publisher and none of them have worked the same. Let me break down what the submission process looked like with each.

The Wild Rose Press

Subbed query and synopsis (5/20/11)

Partial Request (Chapters 1-3) (6/6/11)

Full Request (6/20/11)

Revision request (8/25/11)

Contract Offered (9/29/11)

Entangled Indulgence

Subbed query and first three chapters (5/4/12)

Synopsis Request (5/31/12)

Asked for revisions on first three chapters (5/31/12) (Sent 6/2)

Full Request (6/2)

Contract Offered after agreeing that specific revisions would still need to be done (6/21)

Samhain Publishing

Subbed query/synopsis/full (6/13/12)

Contract Offered (12/5/12)

Right off the bat you can see that each publisher wanted different things in the first submission. Also, different publishers did more revisions before offering a contract. Some had a multi-tiered process, some just wanted the full. This is why it’s so important to follow submission guidelines. No two publishers are exactly the same and no two publishers are looking for exactly the same thing in a submission. (Also, apparently I should always submit in May and June, huh?)

If you look at the time frame, you’ll notice that each also had a difference. For both my TWRP and Samhain submission, I was at some point beyond the “normal” response time. Now, while it’s not frowned upon to send a status email to any of these publishers in my experience, I found that my nudge emails were unnecessary.

Editors are going to get to your manuscript eventually. Sometimes it may be quickly (I was very lucky to hit Entangled when I did, because of their growth it takes longer to hear back from them now). Sometimes, it may be longer. It is very rare for a manuscript to go astray especially when you get an automated response, as I did from all of these publishers. Sure, my paranoid brain told me maybe my email had been lost, but the truth of the matter was I received the automatic response, and publishers are typically very organized in this matter. After all, think of how many submissions they see in a day.

Sometimes, a nudge helped ease my fear of being lost, but it didn’t actually amount to anything. The editor got to it when it fit their schedule, and if you think about all that these editors do (sometimes also with a full or part-time job on the side), they have very full schedules. Sometimes everything will fall within a given time window, sometimes it wont.

I’ve heard this of agents, but it applies to editors as well. The greatest portion of their job is dedicated to the authors they’ve already acquired. If they acquire you, you’d want this to be the case. Waiting sucks. SUCKS. Especially when it’s longer than you think it’s going to be, but it’s a fact of life and a HUGE fact of publishing life.

I think, in nudging, it’s important to remember that this is a business. Yes, your MS might feel personal to you, but treat your writing and the people in publishing as you would treat anyone you work with. You probably wouldn’t go whining to your boss every day if he didn’t do something when you wanted him to. Yes, occasionally you may need to say something, but be careful about how and when.

If you’ve been in the submitting roundabout before, you’ve heard the age old adage that the best thing to do when waiting is write the next book. I get irritated when people tell me that, because duh I’m going to keep writing. Still, it’s true. If you let yourself get truly lost in the next manuscript the wait is easier, and you’ll find yourself obsessing less and whether you get an acceptance or pass, you have another book ready.

At the very least, arm yourself with a CP who will listen to you whine. God knows the amount of whiney emails I’ve sent mine. Also, back away from Twitter. When you’re waiting it can make you crazy.

Next week I’ll talk about pre-contracted revisions. You’ll notice I’ve done that twice.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments about this or anything else you might want to hear about.

Nicole

New Year, New Beginning

January 4, 2013

I love the new year. I love setting goals and resolutions and feeling like this might just be the year I can accomplish them. I’m a big believer in goal setting, and mixed with my moved-around-a-lot childhood where new beginnings were the norm, I also love beginnings.

I was a pretty bad blogger by the end of last year, and one of the things I wanted to accomplish this year is to have more consistency, both at my own blog and with my blogging here, so I came up with the idea of doing a series of blog posts on my experiences since I’ve become published.

To date, I’ve signed three contracts with three different publisher culminating in three very different experiences. One of these books has already come out and two should come out this year, and hopefully I’ll sell some more this year, too.

I’m no best-seller or expert, but I thought sharing my experiences in the early days of my published writing career might be of interest or help to somebody.

So, for the next handful of Fridays you can expect to see my posts on different aspects of publishing. From waiting and nudging to changing editors mid-revision to revising before signing a contract.

But, before I get started, I thought I’d see if anyone out there has any questions about the publishing process. If any questions are posted in the comments, I’ll cull them together and make sure to do a blog post on them in the coming weeks.

If not, I still have plenty to blab about on my own. 🙂 And I’ll start next Friday. Hope to “see” you then!

Nicole