By Pandora Poikilos
Now there's a phrase I've been hearing and I'm bound to keep hearing more from my publisher in the near future as I work on my second novel, Frequent Traveler. Even if you have just joined Peace from Pieces, you already know that a lot has been happening. My first novel Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out has been on sale for more than 10 days and still there doesn't seem to be enough places to network and blab about it. There have been a lot of questions about how I got to this point and of course, the fervent debate of why I did not choose the route of self-publishing.
Honestly, I experimented with self-publishing when I first started Dora's Essentials back in November 2010. But the response was lukewarm, nothing like what other self-published authors were boasting about. Obviously enough I was doing something wrong or there was a missing ingredient in how I was doing things. Hence, I stayed adamant on the search for a publisher to spot me and who could guide me along the way. Thankfully enough, I have been blessed with someone who is ever patiently guiding me round the publishing world. I speak for myself but there is just one too many things to do when it comes to selling your writing. For instance ...
It's not how you see it
If you are very clear that you do not wish to self-publish and tirelessly keep writing to make sure a publisher spots you, be prepared. First with a manuscript and two for the response it will create and in some cases for the response it will not create. Along the way, you'll face at least two rejection slips or more and some of these will be very harsh, it'll even have you considering an alternative career. So, if you need to tape a stick under your chin as you work then so be it because there will be more than one time when you will have to chin up and move on to the next rejection slip. There are some publishers who will be kind enough to indicate how you can improve, others will send you a standard rejection slip while even others won't say anything at all. What does such rejection teach you? If someone has offered you pointers on how to improve your story or writing, digest it. Take a step back and dive in to see what others are seeing. Yes, your manuscript is complete. Yes, you've put in loads of time and effort. That's what you say. Someone who is going to pay you money for it might not share this opinion with you. You see the world your way and it's great, just don't expect everyone to be on the same page all the time.
Edit, Edit, Edit
I cannot say this enough (and neither can my publisher). You write. People read. People like. People pay. It's very simple. No grand theory attached to it. Just because you've written a book, it doesn't make you an English expert. Always check your language and it really wouldn't hurt to keep it simple. If you are not sure about whether what you are writing is getting through, get help. A friend, an online review buddy ... there's more than one way to do this. Myself, I have a very big problem with tenses and in my excitement of delivering my story, my characters tend to drift between past and present tense which can be very confusing to the reader. When putting the final touches to Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out I sat with five close friends whom I trusted enough to tear the story apart without tearing me to pieces. And even after that, it got churned and stirred by editor Sonia Rumzi and again by my publisher. Each was a different age, came from a different background resulting in some severe edits. Unless it is absolutely detrimental to the story or your identity as a writer that a section cannot be changed, listen. You write. They read. It must make sense to the reader.
You've written a book. You want a publishing house to pick it up. There is more than one way to do this. Hence, don't stop learning. You've finished writing a book, it doesn't make you the next big thing to hit the publishing world BUT maybe it will. Explore as much as you can. The Internet has made this possible. Use it. Instead of moaning in 10 different emails about a how a publisher is yet to pick up your magnificent book, go to 10 different sites that will tell you how to get your work out in the open. Whichever route you pick, self-publishing or having a publisher, bear in mind that you will still have work to do. Just like the cast of Glee are at their filming set at 6am to practice dance routines so you too will have to work very hard beyond just writing. We live in changing times. People have more choices than they had before. Something new pops up everyday if not every hour. There's a lot of din you're going to have to get through to get to the people you want to get to. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it impossible? Not at all. Good luck!