Last week’s blog, My Trail of Breadcrumbs, shared the birth of my literary journey. This second installment (of three) describes the busy bees working with me.
THE MENTORS—As an entrepreneurial type, I never thought I’d approach my AARP years with a mentor, but I have two. The first I found in a professional-level class via an association mentioned in the Breadcrumb blog. Her feedback provides much-needed perspective, but her insight about the business of publishing is invaluable. She knows the ins and outs, and has saved my ignorant self from countless mistakes already.
The second mentor is a break-out author whose recent journey into the deep end of publishing puts my task in perspective. He also self-published before landing a major publisher, so straddles both worlds.
THE PEERS—I received for edit the first chapters from aspiring authors also taking yhe professional class. It was exciting to see such good work, read the diverse stories and perspectives, and figure out where I stood among my peers. We endured each other’s attempts at sharing an editor’s pitch (mine was easily the very worst) the night we met, applauded progress as presentations improved, and check in now for news about manuscripts and agent signings. We are becoming a resource, and I hope one day to find an edit group as powerful as my classmates.
THE AGENT—Without her, I wouldn’t stand a chance. She’s tending publishers while I develop my platform and write another manuscript. Before I attend a conference, she networks with acquisitions editors to pave the way for meetings. She provides direction on my public platform; shares feedback from editors assessing my work; and generally acts on my behalf in an industry still unfamiliar to me. When that publishing contract comes in, she’ll be responsible for negotiating—for both of us.
THE EDITOR— You need a professional editor. I need an editor. Published writers use editors. A professional edit will set you back $500 to $2000. Publishers want to know you’re investing in yourself by paying for classes and edits. (I think the phrase is “skin in the game.”) Those associations mentioned in the Breadcrumb blog are good places to begin your search for an editor, but trust me: you’ll never know how much you need one until you start to receive edited files from him or her. (I would recommend band-aids and antibacterial cream before you open the files. It’ll be bloody.)
THE FAMILY—If you read Breadcrumbs, you know my grown children goaded me into doing something with the manuscript gathering pixeldust in my computer. They’ve been proofreaders extraordinaire. My daughter in particular has been a source of ideas, comments, and
sarcasm encouragement. She’s also a great window into another generation I hope my work attracts. And then there’s Mr. Wonderful—ever patient, ever understanding of something he doesn’t understand at all. He listens to ideas and plans, tells me to invest in myself, and tries not to mention I’m dreaming big.
One of next week’s blogs will address the
onerous public platform essential for every aspiring author. It’s the toughest, most expensive piece of the puzzle, but we can’t be Hemingway in a boat anymore, landing a marlin with one hand while writing The Old Man and the Sea with the other. Writing is business now.