Tag Archives: Publishing

What To Expect When You’re Expecting A Book: Post 1 – After The Contract

What To Expect When You’re Expecting A Book – After the contract is signed

I’m starting a new blog series, taking you on the inside journey of a first time author. Stealing the popular title read by expectant mothers the world over and giving it a new twist.

As aspiring writers, we dream of that day when someone finally says “YES” they want to publish your book. My journey toward that elusive “YES” took 16 years. Now my debut novel, MARRY ME, will finally be read by someone other than me. I finally get to introduce myself as Kristin Wallace…Author. There is A LOT of information about how to get published. There are workshops and classes and books on plotting, character developing, GMC, synopsis writing, query letters, pitching to editors/agents, self-editing, book marketing. It’s endless.

Knowing what to expect when you finally to sell? Seems harder to find. So here’s my crack at explaining this next step in my journey.

Pre-Edits…Or I used “really” how many times?

Pre-Edits. Part of my “Welcome” packet from Astraea Press was a document on pre-edits…meaning things I needed to fix before it went to my actual editor. This meant changes. Some were technical changes to the formatting. When you’re talking about ebooks the text has to be formatted so it looks uniform and normal in an ereader. One thing I learned is that the standard two spaces between sentences many of us learned is not the thing for ebook formatting. It’s one space. So now I have to retrain myself not to hit the space button twice. Not supposed to have a space after the end of a paragraph of line, either. I didn’t realize how often I put a space at the end of a line…until I turned on the tool that lets you see non-printing characters such as paragraph indents, returns and such. I guess it’s a habit to hit the space bar at the end of a line. Another habit I need to curb.

My pre-edit sheet contained a list of words to look for…and remove. One word on the list? “Really”. I learned I use the word “really” a lot. Really a lot. The “search and find” tool in Word is great…but scary because it also tells you how many times it finds a word. When I did a search for “really”, shock and shame ensued as I saw the number. I’d used really a whopping 128 times. Really.

Writers have many crutch words. Words like “very “that” “was” “just” “it”. We all use them and they become such a habit that we don’t even realize it (you see, I just used “it”). Most writers have one or two they absolutely love. One of my favorite crutch words has always been “just”. A critique partner pointed out my overuse of “just” years ago so I’ve worked hard to curb its use (except in the earlier sentence when I just used “just”). Now, I must add “really” to my list of banned words. “That” became another troublesome word, too. Took me days to find every “that” and eradicate them. They lurk in the shadows of your sentences like tiny “that” bombs waiting to make your writing lazy and uninspired.

So for all you writers struggling with your “it” and “was” and “very” and “really” and “just”…my sympathies…and get rid of them now before you’re forced to.

Stay tuned for my next installment…Author Branding!

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There is a PLAN for your life…and He’s writing it

The Story of MARRY ME

Remember how I said the book I sold (MARRY ME) is a clear picture of God’s Plan? Here’s what I mean. (If you missed that previous post, here’s the link to it…)

https://authorkristinwallace.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/there-is-a-plan-for-your-lifeand-he-is-in-control-of-it/

First, I have a confession…I never thought I’d write an Inspirational romance. I had (a perhaps unfair) impression of Christian romance as overly sappy or preachy, with awkward conversations about women’s Bible studies. The covers always featured some Amish girl or a girl who looked like she’d just climbed out of a wagon bound for Little House on the Prairie. Now there is nothing wrong with books like that, and judging by how many I see in bookstores, they must have a substantial audience of readers. But that wasn’t the kind of book I wrote or read. My books had snark and humor and sassy heroines.

Then came this idea for a book. At first all I knew about the story was that my heroine would be a woman who never wanted to get married – and who in fact hated weddings – who wound up having to run a wedding planning business. Don’t ask me where the idea came from. It wasn’t some hang up from my past. I don’t have an unnatural loathing of weddings and while I am single, I don’t hate the institution of marriage. I simply thought the idea was funny.

Armed with this funny idea, I then spent a long time trying to figure out “…the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. I had to ask myself a lot of questions…

Who is this woman?

Why is she so cynical about marriage and why does she hate weddings?

Why is she running this wedding planning business?

What would compel her to do it?

And the big question…who could be the love interest?

I went through many possibilities. It would have to be someone she’d run into a lot while she was planning these weddings. Then one day I stumbled upon the answer…a minister!

Then an amazing thing happened. The story practically came together in an instant like Athena jumping out of Zeus’ head dressed in full on armor. Suddenly, I knew exactly who my heroine was, I knew her past, why she would take on the business, I knew his past, too. Along with the plot came an entire fictional Southern town called Covington Falls. (that name is actually my grandmother’s maiden name my mom’s side.)

And with the idea to have the hero be a minister, came another bolt of lighting. I could have a faith element in the story. I could take a heroine who was cynical about everything (love, God, religion) and have her not only go a romantic journey, but a spiritual one as well. I could write a Christian romance that was funny and sweet and snarky, but still had an ultimate message about God’s love. I could write an inspirational story I would want to read and that hopefully others would, too…even if they weren’t religious.

I wrote MARRY ME (formally called Here Comes The Wedding Planner). Rewrote it a couple of times, taking it from a first person point-of-view book to third person (that’s a whole other story, too). It finaled in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest in 2010. My agent sent it out to publishers…and it didn’t sell.

MARRY ME sat in my computer until this year when I decided to dust it off and try again. You, see in the last couple years the entire publishing industry had undergone a seismic shift. The rise of ebook publishers, Amazon & self-publishing changed everything. Then in April I pitched the book to two editors on a website called Savvy Authors. I got two requests for full manuscripts…and two offers!!! Yes, that’s right…TWO!!! Within a week! I accepted the offer from Astraea Press.

You see how His Plan worked? Just needed the right time, place, editor for everything to come together. I have a special place in my heart for this book because it helped me figure out the kind of writer I wanted to be. And I am so completely smitten by my hero and heroine, Julia and Seth (especially Seth because frankly I believe he wrote the book so I blame it all on him). And I’m so glad everyone will be able to FINALLY read their story.

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There is a PLAN for your life…and He is in control of it

I hope you’ll excuse a long post. I especially hope you read through it, and that you will take encouragement from it.

Prologue

If you read a certain author a lot, you might pick up on the fact that he or she has themes that run through their books.  They’re big, expansive themes like “love conquers all”. It took me a couple books before I realized I had a theme in my books. It wasn’t something I consciously chose to portray…it just happened. (Writing is funny that way). My theme was “there is a “PLAN for your life (God’s Plan)”. I do believe this. But when you’re in the midst of a struggle, it’s hard to see the PLAN. Sometimes it takes YEARS to see it.

I got to see a glimpse of THE PLAN for me recently.

The Story

I was about 25 when I had the great epiphany that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Specifically…novel writing. I don’t know why this notion didn’t occur to me earlier. I’d always been a voracious reader (which I blame entirely on my mother). Laura Ingalls Wilder, C.S. Lewis, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Sweet Valley High…I devoured them. I was also highly imaginative. I didn’t just play Barbie’s…those dolls endured soap opera-like sagas. I’d actually started writing stories as far back as high school. But I never connected that with an actual career. I didn’t major in something useful like English or Journalism in college. No, I was a theatre major (which is an immensely useful career for actually finding a job after school).

After college I drifted for a long time, unsure what I wanted to do. Then this bolt of lightening struck and told me to be a writer. For the next few years I wrote and submitted….and I got absolutely nowhere. At the same time, I was still no closer to finding a career that would let me do important things…like buy food and pay rent. I needed something where I could write and be creative, but actually get paid.

So, I stumbled on another career that I’d never considered…advertising. I knew about TV commercials and ads in magazine, but it had never occurred to me that this was something people did for a living. That “someone” had to write that stuff. So, I put the writing dream aside and went to the Miami Ad School to study copywriting for the next 2 years. Then I worked – first in an ad agency and then doing freelance writing, and the back to an agency. I can’t claim that working in advertising is my dream career. There have been days when I was sure it was the absolutely wrong choice. I still wanted to sit in my room and write stories. And at some point that’s what I started to do again. That’s when I had another “great epiphany”. One afternoon I was sitting at my computer working on an outline for a new book and I stopped – literally stopped with my hands on the keyboard –and said to myself. “You’ve been doing this writing thing for 10 years and it hasn’t gone away…that has to mean something.”

I knew I had to try again. Only this time – being a little older and hopefully wiser – I did things differently. I joined a national writers’ organization called Romance Writers of America. And don’t think because it has “romance” in the title that it’s some fluffy organization. These people are serious about helping writers develop careers. I also joined the local chapter, Florida Romance Writers, and started going to regular meetings in Ft. Lauderdale.

I quickly discovered that I knew absolutely nothing about actual writing. They spoke a language I didn’t even understand.  I started to learn, though. One thing I learned is that the selling a book to an agent or editor starts with a pitch. You have to be able to describe your 300+ page book in one paragraph or less. Sometimes it’s just one line. Imagine my surprise when I realized that wrestling large, complicated subjects into a line and a paragraph of copy was exactly what I did every day for my day job. When it came to writing query letters, I was a master. I also got into the game at a time when publishing was undergoing a radical change. Traditional publishers weren’t doing as much to promote unknown writers, so authors were doing more and more marketing for themselves. Then the advent of epublishers and self-publishing exploded. Both of those avenues are all about directing readers to your book because they’re not going to find it browsing on a shelf. So, it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence that my career is centered around branding & advertising. That I’d spent the last decade+ of my life learning how to sell things. Someone (God?) had set it up so that someday I’d be able to use those skills to sell…me and my books.

Of course, the awaited book contract still didn’t come right away. It took 6 more years (you can add up the math; I’m not declaring my age) and more “no’s” than I can count. But FINALLY…on May 10, 2013…I got a yes and sold my first book to Astraea Press.  My book, MARRY ME, will hopefully be out late this year. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever sell more than 10 copies of this book, but it’s a start.  And I guess it’s where God meant for me to be even when I was devouring all those Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a kid.

NOTE:  The history of MARRY ME, and its sale, is a whole other story about THE PLAN coming together. I’ll tell you that story in the next post.

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