Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Finishing A Novel Is Like Birthing A Baby

Let's face it. Finishing and editing a novel is like birthing a baby. We nurture the process and can't wait to get to the end. It usually takes at least a year and we know the stats like we did when we gave birth to our first, precious child. Date, time, weight, and height. Except in the case of a novel, the stats are slightly different.

A few days ago, I finished editing (for real this time after the fourth or eighth pass) my women's fiction, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. Here are my stats:

350 pages
67 chapters
87,236 words

Yep. It's long but women's fiction ranges between 80-100,000 words. Once an editor gets hold of it, I'm sure the word count will go up or down again. It has been edited several times and I sought professional advice from a former women's fiction editor from St. Martin's Press.

During her overall evaulation, she gave me great feedback like make the cop more likeable, take out some of the "S" names (I had four--Suzy, Sylvia, Sara and Sean that I hadn't even noticed because two of these come into play late in the novel) and get rid of some red herrings. She suggested a couple of other things that I didn't do--like delete a tragic scene and start on chapter 4 where she thought my writing got stronger. If I don't get picked up this go around, I think I'll listen to those suggestions.

Finally, though, this editor said three things that thrilled me. She said I was an excellent storyteller, a strong writer and she hoped my manuscript didn't get lost in a slush pile. Let's hope it doesn't.

What are your stats?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Editing Is Fun. What?!

I bet you never thought those words would escape my lips.

After years of saying I hated editing, I'm actually enjoying the process. Previously, I've always preferred the creation process--the actual writing--by a long shot and would find any reason to avoid editing. Cleaning toilets. Check. Laundry. Check. Exercise. Check. Painting my toenails. Check. You get the picture.

My newfound enjoyment of editing has me scratching my head. I dug into my 300+ page novel a few weeks ago with dread but discovered I looked forward to going into my writing cave daily. Who am I? I've been pondering this significant change.

It could be due to the fact that I now have several requests for my women's fiction, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. Yay! It's also possibly because I set my novel aside for three years due to a family tragedy and am rereading it with surprise and delight, almost like a new reader. Maybe it's because I had already edited it several times (more than I remembered) and my novel is in much better shape than I recalled. Maybe just maybe I'm finally embracing this crucial part of the writing process.

I've always had a few friends who loved the editing process. Some even liked it better than writing the first draft. That's crazy talk. Those people are a bit off kilter if you ask me, but I digress. Whatever the reason, I'm down to my final pages. I keep hitting "control end" to count how many pages remain. My heart pounds, my face flushes and my hands get sweaty as I near the end.

This go around, I actually had fun finding and removing repetitive words and phrases, beefing up dialogue, describing the settings and layering in back stories. I enjoyed making the characters suffer. You know you like reading that stuff.

My three female protagonists (women's fiction, remember?) laugh, gigle and groan. They get tense, cry and grieve. They dance, drink, have interesting careers and crazy personal lives. The antagonists give them grief. A lot of grief. Just when each one overcomes an obstacle, I throw another one in their path. The possibilities are endless. Are they going to end up with the guy or not? And, if so, is he a good guy? Hmm. When my characters whisper in my ear that they'd like a better life--even a fairytale life--I'll consider their plight and desires. But I'm in charge of their destination. We'll see. I may change my mind tomorrow and they know it.

See why editing is fun? Embrace it. I finally did.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Marketing For Authors

Recently, I spoke about marketing to 35 Ozarks Romance Authors. Let me tell you something you probably already know: Writers and marketers are surly bedfellows. I'm not sure why that is but it's a fact. I've worked in many professions (banking, healthcare, hotels, education, and green heat) and I've never encountered this mindset in any other industry. It truly baffles me.

I'm happy to say my talk, "The Marketing Mindset & 60 FREE Ways To Market Your Book" was very well received. I heard phrases like "excellent presentation," "it built a fire under me," and "standing-ovation worthy." (That might be a stretch but was nice to hear!)

I know authors hunger for this information and I would too if I hadn't worked in marketing for 20 years. My professional experience has been very helpful to me as an author, and I want to help other writers/authors become informed marketers. During my talk, I discussed several topics including:
  • How to Find Your Target Audience
  • Using A Marketing Mix
  • 60 FREE Ways to Market Your Book
  • Building An Online Platform
  • Developing A Business/Marketing Plan
I won't go into specifics here because I can see a great need for a marketing ebook for authors. I'm writing one now, and since this will be my first foray into a non-fiction book and into ebooks, I have some research to do. I plan to add several more chapters, some crazy stories from my marketing days and many examples. Trust me, marketing is fun.