Tuesday, January 20, 2015

49 Seven Things You Learn When Your Book Is Published -- Plus a Signed COMPULSION Giveaway

It's been almost three months since COMPULSION hit the shelves. Those of you who know me know that being "published" is something I've dreamed of all my life. I didn't really set out with a plan until 2010, but what can I say, I'm a late bloomer. And I still remember how HARD it was to figure out where to start. How all the information swirling at me about how to write, and what to write, and how to get an agent, and how to get published just made me more confused. That's why this blog exists; it's a place where I and a few friends started trying to figure out how to become less mystified by the whole publishing thing.

Now that I'm on this side of the publication process, am I any less confused? Not really, but I've learned a few things that surprised me.

Photo via Anne Davis on Flickr

1. Not much changes . . . I may have fought for publication for years, but my day-to-day life is the same sleep-deprived, yoga-pants-wearing, living-on-coffee-and-Nutella existence that it was before my novel was published. I still get to scrub toilets, struggle with income taxes, and study brilliant books by my favorite authors that make me achingly aware of how far I still have to go with this whole writing thing.

2. Everything changes . . .The book exists in bookstores. My friends and family stop by the book section at Target when they’re shopping for groceries, and they email me photos of my book beside books by real authors authors I love authors my friends and family have actually heard of. Some people buy the book. Some even read it. And they tell me, “I’m reading your book,” or “I love your book,” or they send me these amazing reviews, and my brain grinds to a stop Every. Single. Time, because I don't have the grace or the words for the surprise and gratitude and overwhelmingness that goes along with what I feel.

3. Readers bring their own lives into every story . . . Of course, I knew that, because I’m a reader, too, and I know how much books have always meant to me. But I didn’t anticipate how it would feel to get a message from someone who bares themselves and thanks me for mirroring something they have felt, or for taking them out of a hard place in their lives. Meeting readers as an author, online or in person, is a constant, joyful surprise. Every note or comment from a reader is like unwrapping a gift. Except when it's not.

4. Reviews are fascinating . . . Even the worst reviews show just how much the filter of a reader’s life brings into their own, individual reading experience. And no matter how much the reviewer loved the story, or enjoyed it, or hated it—no matter how much they hoped it would be more like something else, or how late they stayed up reading it past their intended bedtime, the simple truth is that they still read my book. The book that I made up inside my head. Which is awe-inspiring and gratifying and deeply humbling.

5. It’s not a hobby anymore . . . The friends and family who used to secretly exchange she’s-a-bit-delusional-but-we-love-her-anyway smiles (the sort of smile familiar to every writer or artist), those same doubters suddenly see my writing as a “serious endeavor.” They expect me to know unknowable things, like how my book is doing or who’s reading it. They also ask helpful questions like, “Is there going to be a movie deal?” or “Now that you’ve written this, are you going to try a real (aka “adult”) novel?” I'm also constantly aware that I have an agent, editor, publisher, and readers who are expecting me to write another book. Fast. And all the time, I'm trying to manage my expectations, because I know how lucky I have been so far, and it mystifies me. But I keep looking over my shoulder for luck to run out.

6. There’s no “easy button” for writing a book . . . There are a few things I've learned about writing in the course of getting the first book through the publication process. I’ve learned to focus more structure and on painting specific images and emotions in a reader’s mind than on the sound of pretty words strung together. I know that editors and copyeditors are my safety net and that everyone . . . everyone! . . . at a publishing company works long, hard hours trying to get a book into the hands of the specific readers most likely to enjoy it. But I still know nothing about how to write a book in less than eight drafts. I am struggling with the third book as much as I did with the first two, and all I can do is put my head down, keep writing, and hope that readers will love my weird, quirky characters as much as I do.

7. You’re a writer because you write . . . On this side of publication, I realize I'm no different than I was before my book was published. I write to connect with readers--to share my thoughts with other people--which is the same search for connection that is at the heart of human existence. But whether that connection happens with one person, a hundred people, or a hundred thousand people doesn’t make me any less or more of a writer. I'm a writer for having written, not for having published. As are all writers.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you writing? Wherever you are on your journey, I hope you're enjoying the path, because that's what counts. Take the time to enjoy every step of the way, and don't focus so much on the end of the path.

If you're a reader? Thank you. Overwhelmingly, from the bottom of my soul, thank you! The more I interact with readers, the more I get the opportunity to think about what a difference being a reader makes to the type of human being a person becomes.

What about you? Are you writing? Thinking about writing? What makes you want to be a writer?



* * * *

THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAY


WIN Signed Hardcover PLUS
Charm Bookmark & Compulsion Necklace
Simon Pulse
Released 10/28/2014

Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in this spellbinding new trilogy.

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson had been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

Purchase Compulsion at Amazon
Purchase Compulsion at IndieBound
View Compulsion on Goodreads

(And don't forget that COMPULSION is on sale for the Kindle, Nook, and iBooks for $1.99 until the end of January!) : )

a Rafflecopter giveaway

49 comments:

  1. I find these seven things very interesting. I'm an avid reader and a writer so this is really new to me. Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Natalie! I always love reading about this type of insight from other writers--it's still helpful to me when I have a down day and I feel like I'm failing/flailing at everything : ) So I hope this will help someone else! Good luck with your writing!

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  2. Awesome advice, especially about being a writer because you write :)

    thank you so very much :)

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    1. XO, Christina! Truly, that is what it comes down to. We all put labels on ourselves and set ourselves these enormous expectations that we can't possibly meet because we aren't in control of so much of this process. All we can do is keep writing and concentrate on having the writing get stronger and having the reader see more and feel more of what we are trying to show them.

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  3. I really liked the publication advice; it allowed me to understand a little more about what's going on in the whole process even though I'm just a reader and it doesn't affect me as much. Thanks! :D

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    1. Hi Isabella -- there's no such thing as "just a reader" -- readers are why we do this. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! XO

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  4. I loved this list. But Yikes--it still takes 8 drafts? You really mean there is no "easy" button?? JK. Good to know that this is a job to take seriously!

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    1. OMG -- Carol, it would be ten or twelve or more drafts, because I'm thickheaded and lame. But there's only a year between books, and my editor is lovely and patient and understanding, but also tremendously overworked, so at some point I have to stop. :/

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  5. Oh, Martina, I love this post. Your success is so well deserved, and I love how we're all on this craze journey together. Your book was so lovely, and I look forward to reading all your work in the future. Thanks for all you do for the writing community.

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    1. See? THIS is just one of the many reasons why I love you, Julie! You're the one who is unfailingly lovely and positive and does so much for writers, and then you take the time to stop by and write a note that makes me smile from ear to ear. You're such a sweetie! XO

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  6. Awww. I was so hoping there was an easy button somewhere. Thanks for sharing this with those of us still early in the journey and thanks for a chance to win your book.

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    1. Yeah, I'm still hoping I'll eventually find the easy button. Or at least become less neurotic! No such luck. :D

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  7. A beautiful post. Thank you for this!

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    1. Thank you, Sam! I am glad it made sense to someone other than me. Half the time, I wonder if I'm just totally babbling! XO

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  8. Martina, you captured the experience beautifully. I am really looking forward to meeting you in person one of these days. You wear your heart on your sleeve, you're kind and generous, your words resonate on a deep level, and you're sincerity and goodness and grace shine through. YOU are a gift. It shines through in your writing and in COMPULSION. Thanks for not only this article, but what you do every day.

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    1. You're so lovely, Liza! To be honest, it's really, really hard for me to open up about some of these things online, but I know how hungry I was -- and am -- for information about this process. And I always feel like I'm oversharing. LOL ; ) Hope we'll be in the same place soon!

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  9. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! Thank you so much for writing it :) I'm in agent-hunting stage of things (I'm stuck there and it's killing me) so it's wonderful to get insights like this. I laughed so hard at the 'helpful questions' portion because it echoes members of my family who often say 'But look, you'll eventually get an agent, and then it'll be all downhill from there, right? That's the hardest part, you know.' and I have to smile and say, 'Thank you.' while thinking 'Yeah, not hardly... an agent is like my Sherpa, and the act of publishing is like climbing Everest...

    Also, I LOVED Compulsion! Being born and raised in Virginia, raised around hollow legends and being part Cherokee, SO MUCH of it struck cords with me :) Also, I worked for 13 years for a woman who spent many years living on Wadmalaw Island, and Watson Island reminded me so much of the stories she used to tell us about life 'on the island' Thoroughly enjoyed your book, and gorged on it in one night!

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    1. Hi Artemis! Thank you so much for this comment! And I LOVE you're simile of an agent being like a Sherpa. That's EXACTLY right. And yes, publishing can be like climbing Everest, if Everest had consecutive peaks that were all hidden until you'd nearly reached the top of the previous peak. You keep feeling/thinking/hoping you're almost there. :/

      And thank you for your kind note about Compulsion. It was so important to me to highlight the nexus of Native American and African American cultures that occurred in the area, and in many other areas--and there will be more commonalities as we go through the series--but no matter how much I research, I'm still always nervous about being respectful and authentic enough, especially where I have to depart from truth to weave the fiction. : ) Your comment is a gift!

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  10. Thank you for this post! Especially the part about how family and friends look at you like your a little delusional. It helps me feel less delusional and more hopeful that maybe someday my family and friends will be snapping photos of something I've had published. ;)

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    1. The odds are definitely not good in this business, and I know that our friends and families don't want us to be hurt by constant rejection. That's why we just have to believe. But it takes more than believing. It takes writing, and reading, and writing--failing and trying again and again. And then it happens, and there's no better feeling in the world than hearing that your characters and ideas have resonated with someone else. So BELIEVE. Keep working. Your family will be so happy for you! : ) Hugs!

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  11. My family knows that I am a writer and it's not my hobby--they support me in every way. I am very blessed. They know to stay out of my way when I'm on a tight deadline as the stress level bubbles to the surface. Thanks for the post and giveaway--I can't wait to read Compulsion.

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    1. You're very lucky, truly! And that deadline thing is key. I love my family tons, and as supportive as they are, they don't get the deadline thing. : ) Good luck!

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  12. Posts like these help me stay realistic about what being an author will really involve. I find it funny and sad that ones would ask you, "When are you going to write a real book?" Being in the middle of revising my first novel, I'm always looking now at how many drafts a novel takes a published author. None of my writing guides ever warned me just how many it could take and so it's always reassuring to find it takes several drafts. Thanks for the informative post!

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    1. I know there are authors who nail it in one or two drafts. I just don't have that kind of talent or confidence, so I have to power through it by tweaking here and there. Maybe it will happen eventually. But I also tend to write many different layers and subplots into my books, and getting all those to work together is what really has me pulling my hair. The bottom line is that everyone's process is their own, though. Be comfortable with whatever YOUR process is, even if it isn't as easy as you'd like it to be. You'll drive yourself nuts otherwise! Hugs!

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  13. Thank you for such a wonderful post! I'm currently in the querying trenches while drafting a new book, and it's so refreshing and reassuring to find out that in many ways, nothing changes even once you have a book published--there's still regular stuff to do, and books don't get any easier to write =)

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    1. Oh, good luck with the queries! And good on you for writing right away instead of constantly checking the inbox. That's the mark of a pro! XO!

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  14. Really excited to read Compulsion!!!

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  15. Thanks for the giveaway!! Very excited about the book:D

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    1. Thank you, Hannah. I hope you'll get to read it soon, and hope that you'll enjoy it when you do.

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  16. Great post - really must read this book soon!

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  17. I love your down-to-earth manner and the whole openness about what it was like before and after publishing. You are a true inspiration!!

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    1. Traci, I swear there is NOTHING more humbling than this whole process. There's truly nothing that gets you through it more than the people around you, and I love being able to share this journey. If I can save anyone some of the mistakes I've made, man I'm ALL about that! :D

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  18. Enjoyed reading this "life-on-the-other-side" glimpse. Very interesting! And CONGRATS for getting to this point, and having your book out there for the world to read!!! :)

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    1. SO many hugs, Carol! I can't wait to have your book out in the world!

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  19. I've been seeing this book cover everywhere, it seems! I really want to read it!
    Dede

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    1. How you will and that you enjoy it, Dede!

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  20. I enjoyed your post. Although I have not written much of anything yet, I am reading everything I can to learn for when I do sit down and start to write.

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    1. A lot of writing goes on in your head, so don't feel intimated. I just posted a story idea worksheet today too. Maybe that will give you a jump start? Good luck!

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  21. I enjoyed your post. Although I have not written much of anything yet, I am reading everything I can to learn for when I do sit down and start to write.

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  22. I appreciate your generosity in sharing these insights and giving us hopeful souls a glimpse at a possible future. (Cue the BACK TO THE FUTURE Delorien.) I soooooo adore COMPULSION. It had been a long time since I disappeared into a story so completely. #6 reminds me of my favorite Nathaniel Hawthorne quote: "Easy reading is damn hard writing." XO

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    1. Again, SO many hugs for this, sweetie! And I love, love, love that Hawthorne quote. It is so darn true!! XO

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