Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing, Publishing, and Bears, Oh My!

Just kidding. There aren't any bears in this post. Sorry to disappoint you.

So, how did this whole novel writing/publishing thing happen? Good question. I'm still trying to figure it out even now. But I suppose starting with the beginning would be best. I was fifteen years old when "Forget-Me-Not" was born. It was April 4, 2008 and yes I am a nerd because I can remember the exact day, moment, and time. Don't judge.

I was sitting in study hall doing my best to study for a test I had the next period. I was very studious like so.


Note the confused expression. I honestly don't remember how I did on that test.

When all of a sudden a voice started talking to me. I swear I'm not making this up. This is legit how it all happened. Of course, I don't normally hear voices in my head so I kind of freaked out like this.

Um, hi random voice in my head? 

I tried to ignore the persistant voice (who was later named Adeline Jasely, my protagonist) because my classmates were beginning to stare at me. My head was twitching like a mad woman.

Uh... too much coffee? 

But she wouldn't shut up (she tends to talk a lot). So, I stopped studying and wrote down what she was saying, thinking if I just wrote a little bit, she would leave me alone. Well, four months later I had a manuscript on my hands and a mild case of carpal tunnel.

So, what now? Edit, edit, edit, and did I mention to edit? This was so crucial to the entire process. I read through the entire manuscript and tweaked some things, completely rewrote other things, and basically did my best to make it absolutely perfect. Now it was time for me to let my baby go out into the harsh world of querying literary agents and publishing companies. I wonder if this is how my mom felt when I went off to college...

So here comes the hardest part on the road to publication. Query letters and the numerous rejection letters that will follow. What is a query letter you ask? Good question!

A query letter is a pivotal tool in trying to get published. It is basically a pitch that says, "This is what my book is about and this is why you should publish it!" Writer's Market.com is a great place to learn how to write a good query letter!

I received countless rejections in response ranging from "don't query us again" to very polite responses with suggestions on how to improve my manuscript. I had to learn from my mistakes and move on. Publishing did not happen over night. It took four years of hard work, perseverance, and trusting God before my dreams were finally realized.

Many people have the common misconception that publication will happen over night. Ha ha. No. The road to publication is a long, hard road to follow. It was definitely not easy, but completely worth it.

So here comes the happy ending to my long road to publication. I had sent a new batch of query letters in May 2011 after I had graduated high school. I got several rejections off the bat and several did not even respond. I decided to take a break and just focus on getting ready for college. Well fast forward almost one year. March 4, 2012 I checked my email, shocked and confused to find a response to my query letter. It was a very positive response asking for the full manuscript to review for possible publication. My reaction was something like this:

REALLY?! You want to read it?


I spent the next three days rereading my manuscript and giving it one last good edit before I sent it to Martin Sisters Publishing. I took a deep breath as I sent the email, feeling God's overwhelming peace. It was like He was saying, "This is in My timing."

And so I waited, assuming they would take the full six weeks to read it and make a decision. I religiously checked my email and tried not to think about it every single second of every single day.

On March 31, 2012, only 4 1/2 weeks later, I checked my email at about 12:00 am on my iPhone. I found a response from Denise Melton, the publisher from Martin Sisters Publishing. I sat sleepy eyed, staring at my inbox.

So sleepy...


Subject Line: "CONTRACT FORGET-ME-NOT"

Information is processing...


WHAT?!

FREAK OUT TIME!

And then I did my happy dance with my mom, ran around my house, had to sit down because I couldn't feel my legs, cried a little bit, and then after a few phone conversations with relatives at 12:30 in the morning, I tried to go to sleep. But there was just too much excitement and I don't think I slept for even a minute. I felt like it was Christmas Eve and I was five years old again.

Major Cheesing Here!

And that ladies and gentlemen is how my journey from writing to publication went down. The Lord has truly blessed me and I give Him all the glory. I am excited for the future and I honestly feel like there is so much more that will happen. I can't wait to see where "Forget-Me-Not" will take me!