It’s so lovely to be back with you again. The last time I had the pleasure of visiting it was the week before the launch of my debut novel, Close To You, and I was in the middle of ALL THE FEELINGS that come with learning how to let your first book baby go into the big wide world.
|Click to Buy|
Six months later and my sophomore novel, Can’t Help Falling, has just released and, I have to tell you, there are just as many big feelings. Especially when you add in that I’m on the final stretch to the last big Isaac release of 2016 – another baby. A real one!
It has been a crazy fun and terrifying adventure to, after almost ten years pursuing publication, have two books release in the same year. And, while I was in them, I wasn’t exactly thankful for all those years of rejections and almost-but-not-quite near misses, I’ve realized over the last six months how grateful I am that my path to publication was neither short nor painless.
And so today I thought I’d give you the upsides of being what I call being a middle distance writer.
You’ve learnt how to apply criticism
I know amazing talented writers who hit the jackpot with their first manuscript signing both an agent and a book deal. It’s the dream scenario, right? NYT Bestseller they must be destined to be!
The downside? Their fast track meant that they had to learn how to receive and apply criticism across an entire full-length novel under contract and it came from their editor. Usually on their sophomore novel because, let’s face it, their debut was pretty awesome to start with to get them the book deal. Can’t Help Falling, I had to do some major rewrites during developmental edits. The kind that meant all the photos came off the dining room wall and the starting point was replotting the entire thing using post-its. While they were daunting and tough, I was so grateful for the years of training my wonderful, but brutal, critique partners had put me through. While I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it, I knew that once I sucked it up and put on my big girl pants I could do it. They’d made me do it before!
|Busy life....joyful life...about to get busier!|
You’ve toughened up
I’m not going to pretend that one-star and negative reviews don’t hurt. They do. The first early review I saw for Can’t Help Falling sent me sideways for a couple of days. The sentence that had me “The plot relies too heavily on coincidence and then staggers along to an anticlimactic conclusion, lacking any of the magic, adventure, or tension of the classic novels it pays homage to.”
|I can't share these....I CAN'T!!!!|
But what does being a middle-distance writer mean I had in my favor? Years of horrible contest scores and brutal comments sharp-penned judges.
Of all the reviews I’ve seen for Close To You and Can’t Help Falling none of them have gotten to me like the judge I had in one of the first ever contests I entered who said that my entry had caused her to “lose the will to live” (and it may well have been a literal statement since it appeared halfway through the entry and after that point there wasn’t so much as a punctuation correction!)
Seven years later, I still remember sitting at my computer reading and re-reading that little comment bubble and ugly crying. Every time I opened my manuscript for the next six months I heard that comment in the back of my mind. It almost caused me to give up on the dream. It was another year before I gathered up the courage to enter another contest. That was tough. A staggering plot and anticlimactic conclusion? That wasn’t anything that a few days, a pep talk, and a line of Oreos couldn’t deal with.
You have a “backlist”
|I can see my toes!|
Now, I’m no Mary Connealy who entered life as a contracted author with a hard drive filled with completed manuscripts. But I have three. Admittedly one will never be allowed to see the light of day, but the other two are both contest finalists and made it to editorial and publishing boards at multiple publishers before getting the big NO so there is hope for them!
The truth is that, at almost two years since I signed my publishing contract, my writing life has consisted of writing Can’t Help Falling, three rounds of edits on Close To You, four rounds of edits on Can’t Help Falling and then marketing and promoting both. And now, when I finally have some creative space to think about starting a new project? I’m four weeks away from entering the newborn haze of sleep deprivation land! Now, it may not work out, but at least my agent does have these two other projects up his sleeve to talk to publishers that I could polish up in short order if anyone was interested in seeing them again.
You have an amazing writing community behind you
For Close To You, I was incredibly honored to have a long list of some of my favorite CBA romance authors writing endorsements including Melissa Tagg, Becky Wade, Rachel Hauck, Susan May Warren, Katie Ganshert and Carla Laureano. It was about as much of an endorsement dream team as you could get.
The reason it was possible? I had known many of them for years. I had taken their classes, met them at ACFW conferences, promoted their books and shamelessly fangirled them. I was still absolutely terrified about asking them to consider reading an advance copy and putting their name to some kind words about it but at least I didn’t need to do the author version of a “cold call”.
On the flipside, I recently had the opportunity to assist an acquaintance who’d received a book contract for her debut novel. She hadn’t joined ACFW until after she received the contract, she hadn’t made many connections with writers in her genre and no significant connections with published authors. So when her publisher asked her for a list of potential endorsers she had none and was left stressed and scrambling.
|These I'm willing to share...sort of willing.|
And that’s just endorsers. I could write pages about all the other amazing writers that I have met in the last ten years who have become friends and, ultimately, the world’s biggest cheer squad when I received my book contract. Who have plastered their social media talking up my books, bought copies for friends and family, and been a sounding and sanity board when living the dream got tough in a way that non-writers never can be.
So yes, I never thought I’d say it, but I, Kara Isaac, am grateful that God’s timing is far more perfect than mine could ever be and he knew exactly what he was doing in the ten years it took me to see a book with my name on a shelf.
So let’s chat… I’m afraid I can’t share any of my Double Stuf Oreos because you can’t get them in New Zealand so I hoard my precious limited supplies but I do have some delicious New Zealand chocolate to share around J
For those of you who are writers – what are you grateful for in your writing journey so far, no matter how short or long it has been? And for readers, have you ever read a negative review that made you want to read a book more, not less?
There’s a paperback copy of Close To You or Can’t Help Falling (winner’s choice) as well as a block of some of my favorite New Zealand chocolate up for grabs. Leave a comment!
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. Her sophomore romantic comedy, Can’t Help Falling, is a crazy book about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious teacup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England and was named an RT Reviews Top Pick for October. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac