I never knew there was so much to publishing a novel. Here’s what I knew:
- You write the sucker.
- You get feedback, and you rewrite it.
- You get rejected, and the comments you get are conflicting, and you rewrite it again.
- You get friends to read it, sometimes out loud (which is a blessing), and you get more rejections when you submit it to contests and publishers, and you take off your leg or arm.
- Once in a blue moon, lightning strikes, and you mix metaphors when your book is accepted because you’re literally ecstatic, out-of-your-body happy.
- And your editor/publisher (Laura, who is a saint) gives you feedback, and if you’re lucky as I am to have an editor who really, really gets your characters and your intention, you dig in and take out and rewrite and tweak the sentences and dialogue.
- And we haven’t even gotten to the copy-editing, yet…
What I didn’t know was:
- putting the manuscript into a style other than MLA style that I have breathed for 25 years of teaching it is like diving under water
- how to punctuate a continuing sentence in dialogue after the attribution…
- Facebook would be key (and really fun and incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring)
- I’d have to buck up and ask people I revere for blurbs and other things (stay tuned)
- people I revere would be so gracious and say yes
- there are a thousand pieces to the cover, like blurbs and fonts and colors and shapes, and the team at Forest Avenue would send 25 emails back and forth in one day about “the” in the title
- other pages I had never thought about like the title page, whether or not to include a table of contents, acknowledgements, epigraph, the bio for the cover, bio for the last page, and more.
- creating a publicity slip
- sending out a publicity slip to a list of people I don’t know and some I do
- ARC (Advanced Reader Copy)
And here’s what’s amazing: holding that ARC in your hand. Which I can do right now. Uhhhhhhh. Suddenly all these words, started when I woke up in a stinky bedroom that had been a closet in a place affectionately named “The Rat House” in Cannon Beach and scribbled in the dark on a yellow lined pad, have weight. They have a deep purple cover. They have a title that’s different from the one I’ve used for years, and I like this one. It opens up my chest and makes me stand taller. And there’s my name on it, like maybe I have something to do with all these words. And I wonder if I am that person.
While the process seems glacial, I can barely keep up with all there is to process because it’s moving so fast. The ARC came on Monday. It’s Wednesday, and my eyes are full of tears. I am so grateful.
Not to push the metaphor too far, but this process does feel like riding rollers on my bike. I pedal like mad on the downhill in order to get as much momentum as possible for the uphill. And in this picture, sometimes I glide. And at those times, I say, “Weeeee,” a little like e.e.cummings in “in just-“. “Weeeee” like we’re all in this together….