Well, Katie Freeman #5 is in the hands of my beta-readers! Yay! I spent the weekend taking a break and having a little fun. While they were doing the hard work, I was splashing in the pool with my nieces and nephews – they had the tough job of reading about Katie Freeman’s latest case and giving feedback.
Beta readers are an important part of my process. It’s through them that I know whether or not my book hits all the buttons that I intended. They tell me if something is off, or doesn’t flow, or just doesn’t fit. Sometimes, they say, “Are you sure you want to say that, it doesn’t make sense?”
Basically, they keep me in touch with reality. It’s thanks to them that I have a story without major holes. They have a very different job than an editor, but one that is just as important. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, my beta readers are my village – they raise my “children” to higher standards and help make them the books they become. So, here’s a huge THANK YOU to Michelle, Sarah, Nancy, Laura, and Dana – I couldn’t do this without you!
I’ve had a rough two weeks. I’m sure all of you all can relate – more to be done than there are hours in the day? My pay-the-bills job has been over-the-top for the past few weeks – I hired two new employees who report directly to me, so I have to train them. We had a board meeting and then I had to prepare for facilitating a two-day seminar. All of that while still staying on top of Katie Freeman #5.
Good news: the book is written!
Slightly less good news: It’s in the editing stages. Whoa can editing be a chore. I’m not one to edit as I go. Some authors do, but I get so bogged down and change the story line too many times. So I do a full version and then go back and attack. Sometimes that’s good – I have a whole manuscript to look at. Other times, that’s bad – I have a major mistake that will require rewriting major portions of the plot…but that’s how I do things.
What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that self-care is very important. I didn’t do a good job of it and as a result was completely exhausted this weekend. So, I decided to treat myself. I took a float out to the pool on Sunday and the most strenuous thing I did all day was roll over. I’m slightly burned…but much more relaxed. Now I can finish Katie Freeman and get her newest escapade out to you!
In all the research I did for self-publishing, one thing was repeated several times: look for an editor in time to get on their schedule. The recommended timeframe for this was two months. I started looking four months before I needed an editor. What I discovered is that most editors have a six-month waiting period. Oops! What is a new author to do? I knew that my book couldn’t be published without a professional editor getting their hands on it. The last thing I wanted was to put something out there that would cause the reader to cringe. I have read those book – the ones that have so many mistakes that it distracts from the story. I just finished a book where one of the two characters in the scene kept switching names. In that same book there was a scene where one minor character was given two different names. It happens! And it is easier than you might think for these things to get through the rereading and beta reader process.
So, I contacted the first editor. I was told that she had no availability until March…MARCH!! Well, since I want my book published in December, March is simply not going to work. I thanked her for her time and moved on.
Then I contacted three more with the same results.
The third of these had availability! Imagine my excitement! We emailed back and forth, clarified her process, talked pricing and payment options; it was great! Then the moment of truth: she asked for a sample from me so she could edit it and we could see if her process worked for me. I had editing samples ready that had been sent to all the other people. I thought this was the easy part. Oh, how wrong I was. I mistakenly thought that those who edit did so because it was their job. In my naivety, I attached that little sample to an email and sent it right off. To my surprise, I received an email a scant two hours later with an, “I’m sorry, but I cannot do this.” My heart sank. Was my book really that bad?
It turns out that the editor wouldn’t work with the subject matter contained in my book. Admittedly murder can be a touchy subject, but that wasn’t the issue here. We exchanged a few emails back and forth; I thanked her for her time; we wished each other luck…and I was back to square one with only three months left until my publishing goal…
Then my life was saved! I was referred to Mike Spring. Mike is a published author (both print and audio), a voice coach, and runs his own company. This man can do it all! And did I mention that he was available?!? Mike literally saved my dream. He was professional, courteous, quick, and responsive. He responded to all my concerns and questions. He never made me feel discouraged, and even better, he said he liked my book! I think that was the moment my nerves calmed down some about actually putting my work out there for the public.
I am still nervous about people reading what I have written. These are thoughts in my head, it’s almost like walking into a room naked. Everyone is going to see everything – yikes! But I am slowly coming terms with this. But working with an editor that has confidence in my work has done a lot to boost my courage.
The lesson in all this: surround yourself with the right people. That doesn’t mean these people should be like-minded. They need to be strong in their opinions and they need to be able to express them in a way that demonstrates how your work can be better, but without making you feel demoralized. I have a great team around me and I would not be where I am on this journey without them.