Kristi Ann Hunter here, honored to be sharing with my fellow Seekers for the first time. As you stand on the beach of Unpubbed Island, looking through your binoculars at the shores of success, it’s easy to forget the waves crashing between the two places. Most of us want it so badly we would happily wade into the waters with little more than our completed manuscripts and a couple of arm floaties, ready to build a raft as we go.
When I signed my contract with Bethany House, I plunged in with a giddiness normally reserved for three year olds and puppies. Or maybe a three year old with a puppy. I knew my book was ready. I knew I was ready.
I was so wrong. The book was ready, but I certainly wasn’t. I discovered so many things I suddenly had to do differently. In some ways I felt like I was starting anew learning how to write all over again. Some of it was fun, but it was also difficult.
|My Seekerville Unpubbed Island sand with the very first|
copy of A Noble Masquerade. Dreams do come true!
1. Set Deadlines and Schedules
Before you link up with a publisher, your writing time is your own. If it takes you a year to do edits, no one is going to call you on it.
Once you sell your book it’s a different story. Change requests will come and you’ll have a matter of weeks to complete them. If they contract you for more than one book, you’ll have to write under deadline, while editing the first book and determining your marketing plan.
Life doesn’t get simpler with a contract. Do yourself a favor and regiment yourself now, so that scheduling doesn’t add to your stress later. Use contests, critique groups, agents, and beta readers as deadlines if you aren’t disciplined enough to hold yourself to a set goal.
2. Determine your manuscript's Must-Haves and let go of the rest.
This is perhaps the hardest thing to do, but if you are going down the path of traditional publishing there are going to be other people who have a say in your book.
During the edits of A Noble Masquerade, there was one particular scene that my editor kept coming back to. I was in love with this scene. I had worked it and blocked it and to me it was fabulous. Not so much to them. After three rounds of edits, we scrapped the scene and I wrote one from scratch that we were all pleased with.
Look at your story now and decide what elements you’re willing to fight for. Then consider the rest of it fair game. Your editor has a vested interest in your book doing well. They’re going to give it deeper attention than your average freelance editor. The sooner you recognize that semblance of joint ownership, the sooner you’ll work out a product both you and your editor are happy about.
3. Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
If you’re a fan of Pinterest you might do this already, but everyone needs to take the time to gather relevant pictures as you write your book. Even if you aren’t a visual person, there’s a very, very important member of your team that is.
Your cover designer.
Graphics teams don’t have the time to read every book the publishing house puts out, particularly if you sign with a larger press. They rely on information given to them by you and the editors when they make your cover.
The more information you can give them, the better. Don’t just send them covers of books you like and expect them to copy that concept. Show them outfits, furniture, eye color, settings, cars, buildings, etc. I send 5-6 page documents filled with pictures that include facial expressions, significant story symbols, and sometimes even still shots from movies that are similar to particular scenes in my book.
By and large your art team is made up of pictorial thinkers – hence the career in graphics. Communicate with them in the best way you can and you’re more likely to get a cover you love.
4. Pay Attention to Other Launches.
The day you sign your contract will be a day of celebration and untold excitement. Possibly even the most exciting one you can remember.
Until the day your book comes out, that is.
After months of work, countless exposures of your innermost emotions, and endless nervous anticipation, your book will be released into the world. The amount of fanfare accompanying that release is frequently up to you.
Take the time now to notice how other people are handling (or not handling) the launch of their book. What do you like or not like about what they’re doing? What elements could you use? Which ones could you replace? Do you want a Facebook party, a bookstore gathering, or are you going to just quietly slip it in with a twitter mention and a change of your Facebook cover image? Who has the best give-a-ways?
Having an idea of what you want to do makes conversations with your publicist and publishing house much smoother and saves you the panic of wondering what to do as the time draws closer.
5. Know what you want to write next.
This summer, I was eagerly awaiting the release of my free prequel novella, A Lady of Esteem. While preparing for the novella’s launch, I received the manuscript galleys for A Noble Masquerade. In the meantime, my deadline for the next book was looming.
Most traditional publishers build a decent sized lead time into their schedule. I turn in a book roughly a year before it comes out. This provides time to fix any snafus as well as get the book to the appropriate early readers and set up promotion.
If you wait for the entire cycle to complete on one book before writing the next, you’ll have an excruciatingly long distance between books. Some fans won’t care, but you’ll lose a lot of others. Know what you want to write next. If you can sell it to the house early enough, your book releases can be put on a bit of a pattern, helping you maintain momentum with readers.
Remember that you aren’t simply writing a story, you’re creating a book that will be the foundation for a career. The more good habits you can start now, the better off you’ll be when you leave the shores of Unpubbed Island.
Win an early copy of A Noble Masquerade
A Noble Masquerade doesn't officially release until September, but one lucky commenter will win it before then, receiving one of my author copies hot off the press.
If you don't win, take heart! Everyone can download the prequel novella, A Lady of Esteem for free from most eBook retailers, including Amazon.
About A Noble Masquerade:
Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.
When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
About Kristi Ann Hunter:
Kristi graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science, but always knew she wanted to write. She is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner , an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. Currently she lives in Georgia with her husband, children, and three lively pet rocks. She believes in the power of stories and the way they allow people to communicate. Find out more about Kristi and her books at her website, www.KristiAnnHunter.com.