So you have this little hobby. You like to write stories. You have characters in your head that have conversations, go on adventures, fall in love and sometimes have troubles. After dabbling a bit in poetry or short stories or fanfiction you decide to get serious and actually sit down and write a book. At this point who knows if it’s going to be any good, but you write what you like and make small considerations for marketability.
Research, hours of mumbling out loud looking like a mental patient as you work out believable dialogue, long nights and even longer mornings, four am bolt-from-the-blue waking-out-of-a-dead-sleep ‘aha!’ moments, and finally you have something resembling a manuscript. Then you find an editor (if you don’t you should!) and proudly send it off with a madly beating heart. Will they like it? Did I miss something?
What if it’s BAD?!
You get it back – broken and bleeding, oozing blood from every sentence. Your grammar was horrible, punctuation was embarrassing, and why were there spelling mistakes? Doesn’t Word catch these things?
You are far harder on yourself than your editor has been. While you are horrified at the literary disaster you seem to have emailed them, they say, “It wasn’t that bad.”
If it wasn’t that bad why is it dying of exsanguination? And the notes! You’re mentally facepalming over the obvious plot holes you’re surprised you didn’t trip over, the style of certain concepts is all over the place and they’re (your editor) is completely right, a whole new first chapter does sound like a good idea.
So you start the painstaking process of editing what you thought was a completed manuscript. More changes go back and forth until you are so sick of reading your own story you think, “Why did I decide this was a good idea?”
Once it’s actually done, your editor has no more notes, there are no more mistakes and the grammar and punctuation are as perfect as someone who is not a robot can make it – now what? If you’re as lucky as I am, you have an editor who kindly, but gently (like being shot from a cannon), get steered in the right direction. There is such a thing as professional formatters? Who knew.
Formatting, cover designs, posting, blog tours, promotions, reviews, release dates, sales figures…it starts to feel a little like it is all happening to someone else.
Until that day.
The day the UPS guy arrives on your doorstep and you are completely confused. Who could be sending you a package? You open the box and a dream comes true. Who knew dreams could come in boxes?
I opened that little cardboard package and inside was my book.
I did it. I had tons of help, but every word, every image, every character, came from my head. Somehow knowing people were reading and reviewing my e-version on their readers and tablets didn’t feel half as real as having three hundred pages of actual bound paper in my hand.
The beautiful formatting, the smooth texture and smell of the paper under my fingers, flipping to the back cover to read about the author and seeing my picture. My name.
Crying a little when my husband says, “Think of how proud your grandpa is right now.”
My grandpa who owned a bookstore for most of my life. The guy who loved to tell his friends at the Elks Club about his granddaughter the figure skater. The one who was at every competition, tears in his eyes as he hummed and swayed along with my routine and gave me a standing ovation every time (even when I didn’t always get to do my best). My self-professed biggest fan who loved to see my face as he gave me new books for my birthday or Christmas.
Yeah, he would be very, very proud of me right now. Even if no one ever buys it, even if I don’t ‘make Harry Potter money’ or have TV series based off my books, even if I only ever sell one copy to my mom – Grandpa is somewhere, tears in his eyes, still my biggest fan and he’s proud as punch right now.
This one’s for you Grampy. I love you.