Long Road to Publication is more like a Dark Cave filled with Giant Boulders…and monsters don’t forget the monsters.

I’m walking down the path towards publishing my second novel, The Light Side of the Moon. I thought it was going to be easier this time–I was wrong.

Disclaimer: I am not trying to scare you. I did not publish this post during November, because I didn’t want to sound like I am attacking Nanowrimo, speed-writing, or anything that helps authors follow their dreams. However, after four self-published comics and a published novel and short story, I realized that the main attribute that makes or breaks an author is patience.

Here’s why:

Your first draft sucks. Now don’t feel bad, my first draft sucks. When he was alive, Ernest Hemingway’s first drafts sucked. firstdraft

For me, its the first few drafts that are shit. I’m not going to talk about my process today, but its a boulder that’s so big, it has false summits. Other Systems had seven distinct drafts, The Light Side of the Moon had five. My current project entitled The Grove has had two so far, but I know there is at least one more on its way. BTW This is all before professional editing.

Writing the novel is the easiest boulder. It’s big, rocky but with steady work eventually I get over it. So will you. Because whether you write the book or not, is completely within your control.

None of the next steps are within your control.

After I finish the book, I send it out into the world hoping it gets accepted somewhere. 48Fourteen has had manuscripts of mine from anywhere to two months to nine months. Other small publishers have been similar. Large publishers are even longer. I had a manuscript at Angry Robot for nine months before getting a rejection. I had sample chapters at Tor for seven also rejected. I get so many more rejections than acceptances. They don’t hurt anymore. I just list it on the manuscripts spreadsheet, if there is personalized feedback, I try to glean what I can from it–but that’s time.

DSCF5011

Skylight in Ape CavEven short story markets sometimes take months to hear back.

So if you want to be published, authors need to wait, learn patience.

After a traditionally published book is accepted, there is waiting–alot of time in the dark, not knowing what’s going on. I am happy people ask me about the book, but they really have no idea how long each part of publishing takes.

First of all, there is calendar issues. Every publisher has a calendar to get out their yearly catalog. So the publisher has to decide what makes sense for the title and put it in between other titles.

There’s also the cover art. This one isn’t as bad for me, since I do my artwork with 48Fourteen, however, I do need to wait for my cover lettering to be finalized.

IMG_1017

One of the abandoned tunnels at Iron Goat

Next boulder is editing. Right now, The Light Side of the Moon is getting edited. My publisher told me. This is a huge boulder that I have to climb over, cutting my hands in the rough crevices. Not because every word I write is gold, (that last sentence certainly wasn’t) but because I am curious what the editor will suggest. I want to get to work on making it a better book, I don’t know how long the editor will take. Every week I freak out a little more. I have to remind myself that the editor is a person with a life, she will finish it when she finishes it. And I need to stay chill, so she can do a great job.

Seeing your manuscript marked up the first time is pretty shocking. When I was going through Other Systems, I joked that it looked like a smurf died with all the comments. That being said, going through the process is the best thing for your writing.

People often ask, “Does it hurt when they touch your baby?”

Answer: “Not as much as you’d think.”

Truthfully, it doesn’t hurt at all. I don’t argue with my editor. I read their comments and unless I feel they are way off, or I don’t understand them, I get to work on the corrections or rewriting the passages. Only if the editor is way off, I argue. While editing does not hurt, WAITING does. The not knowing. I tend to start thinking weird thoughts. Computers exploding, stuff like that. The Boulder morphs into a monster. Maybe a stone golem or something.

Other Systems had two editorial passes, will The Light Side of the Moon? Who knows.

Then a book goes to formatting and actually become an ebook and a paperback.

Then the book gets released….and its still not over. We stumble around trying to sell it while we write our next book. We need to go slow and steady. We want to write with passion, while everyone tells us to get out our next book: now, now, now. Whether self-published or traditionally-published books sell is up to the whim of the readers. Will they like it? Will they find it compelling?

I can send out review copies, do interviews and go to conferences, but I can’t make people buy my book. I can’t make people read it. That is not in my control. What I can control is how I react to it. My goal is to respond with patience and persistence and to remember the long game. It boils down to the publishing of The Light Side of the Moon or any book is just another step in a career.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. I totally get this Elizabeth. My fourth novel is in the hands of my publisher and is scheduled for release sometime within the next ten months.It’s a hard road we have chosen, but on we go…because we love writing.

    Reply

  2. Great post. Publishing is all about patience, and you have to have it or you won’t make it at all as a writer. Good luck with everything.

    Reply

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