GUEST POST BY SHERRIE HURD
So, are you ready to publish?
I feel your excitement for the publishing opportunity, I do! Yeah, that feeling where your insides seem to be on fire with a passion, I know all about that! I rushed right in and took hold of my dream, bringing it home! I also landed a publisher…
I wrote a book!
Well, this is the thing. I am not so fired up anymore, but that’s okay. There is a story behind this sudden loss of passion. There is also a lesson learned, and learning a lesson in writing sometimes means more than publishing.
I published and I shouldn’t have
When I contacted the publisher, I was cocky. I told him about my story and he agreed to take on the contract. This book was hashed-out for years in my journal blog online, a dumping of private emotions. This is where my story came from, so the bare bones were completed. I published my first book in September of 2014- The Cries No one Heard – Innocence Lost, which was a two book series Memoir. I did not self-publish, I was paid a small upfront to complete my book.
The writing was done, in order and my outline was already complete. All I had to do was rewrite the journal perfecting my life story. I spent my editing money, because after all, I could do basic edit! My book was good! My head was definitely in the clouds.
Boy was I deluded!
To some of you, this was an obvious set up for failure. To me, however, it was my first book and I thought the largest percentage of work was already done. There are many ways in which this series has fallen short, but first let’s look at what I did right.
My story was raw and real. I held nothing back and put forth feeling and emotion to convey the tone of the story. I am also pleased that I was able to get this information out of my head without having a complete nervous breakdown. The story was my life, after all, and my life wasn’t always pleasant.
It was a roller coaster ride through hell.
I felt accomplished when the book went up for sale. Sales were good and reviews were coming in at a regular pace. The truth is, the numbers were speaking for themselves and I was done with sleepless nights. Finally, the bad memories faded from my past nightmares. I ignored my friend’s warnings about my absent editor.
The truth, yeah, it hurts…
I knew the story lacked qualities that a successful book needs to hold a high ranking. I was still floating in the clouds of denial. This does happen to writers, by the way.
It was gradual, and all at once. I was sitting at my computer looking through the book reviews. There it was, the bad review! I read the review and realized, from the viewpoint of the reviewer:
– “You need to write in your native language!”
I was hurt and angry, it was all I could do to keep from responding to the review with negativity. I paused then scrolled down to read more. There, below a 5 star review was another single star review. This one went into detail about:
– “Atrocious grammar! She must really be disturbed or uneducated.”
I turned off the computer. Those words were unfair. I went through cycles of anger and sadness and even the thought of giving up. My book was horrible!
My advice to you
In a nutshell, I want to tell you this:
Don’t rush it! In my situation, the publisher did not offer an editor to clean up my work. It was up to me to pay for the work myself. I didn’t do this, I took on the job alone.
Warning! If you cannot save up and get an editor, at least have fellow writers proof your work. Editors see things that you will not. No matter how many times you read your work, you will miss something because, in effect, it is YOUR work! That is just the way it is.
Read anything and everything you can about grammar, and remember it all! Grammar is important in order to understand what a character is saying and the mood of the story. Study about sentence structure, and then forget half of it. I am serious. It is just as bad to be too boxed- as to be totally uninhibited. For instance, some sentences sound better when complicated. Strive for flow! If you read a sentence twice to understand, then maybe you should rewrite the sentence.
I don’t care who you work for, do not be rushed with your writing. If the publisher doesn’t want to wait until the agreed time, then find another publisher.
Finally, don’t let these reviews get you down, and don’t give up! You can rebuild your image from any scars left by a bad book. This will take some work!
Never ignore the fire burning within. You failures will be your stepping stones for moving to the next level. Remember that excitement that I was talking about?
So, now are you READY to publish?
Note from Kathleen: I have ready Sherrie’s first book (she has published more since “Innocence Lost”) I grieved with her over the multitude of errors that detract from her story. Amazingly, in spite of the lack of editing, it has still sold very well, allowing her the chance to produce better work in the books to follow.