Monday, April 12, 2010

Overnight Success Takes a While

The same question crops up all the time: How long did it take you to write Past Imperfect? Answer: 2 weeks.

Yes, it's true. I wrote the whole book in two weeks, at least the first draft. The published book took a little longer -- 10 years. Why? That isn't a simple answer.

In between writing the novel and publication, I had a full time job, sometimes two jobs, wrote articles, stories, edited other books and stories, kept a paper journal and several online blogs, read and reviewed numerous books (300+) and, from time to time, went back to the novel to tweak it. I had to tweak it a lot after 9/11 because there were major changes in the way airports handled incoming traffic and that affected the story.

In the meantime, I also learned about electronic surveillance and earned a ham radio operator's license, actually three licenses (Technician, General and Extra -- all within a week -- and learned Morse code). I traveled and moved and kept writing stories and articles for publication while still tweaking the novel. That brings me up to three years ago when a publisher finally contracted the novel and I changed the original name, Out of the Past, to Past Imperfect, which, as it turned out, wasn't such a good idea. The name fit but what I didn't know what that someone else had chosen the same title. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As September 2007 rolled around, I was getting antsy because I still had not heard from the publisher or the editor and my emails weren't answered. I did some checking only to find out the publisher had gone bankrupt and forgot to tell me. There I was with the manuscript ready to be published and no publisher. Goodbye January 2008 debut.

Undaunted, I sent the manuscript to another publisher and got a quick response. YES! I signed the contracts and waited and I didn't have to wait long. During an email conversation about choosing an editor, the publisher decided she didn't want to publish the book. I had a contract, but decided it wasn't worth fighting it out in court to force her to publish the novel because she wouldn't give it her full attention or her support.

I sent the manuscript out again and got another quick response, another yes, but I didn't hold my breath. Good thing I didn't. The publisher loved the manuscript but they were over sold and requested I send it in again in a year. I didn't want to wait, so I sent it out again. That was October 2008 and I was anxious to get moving. Another yes. Another wait. This time the publisher kept in contact and finally in March 2009 the editor contacted me. Two quick edits and I was ready, but not in time for the Rocky Mountain Writers Showcase. I didn't have a cover and hadn't seen even a mock-up, and no one asked me for my input. I began to worry, seeing yet another contract fizzle.

July 2009 rolled around and two weeks before my novel debuted the publisher sent me a JPG file of the cover and the link for my page on their website. I was in business. I had a publishing date and Amazon listed the book for sale. The rest is history.

It has been a long road for that particular book, but I refused to give up. It wasn't my best work, but it was a good start and so far the reviewers feel the same way, giving Past Imperfect rave reviews all across the board. I'm now an overnight success -- sort of.

Overnight is a relative term. It may take years to get off the ground and see not only physical proof of all the hard work and struggles, but money from sales. It's not an easy road and writing isn't for the faint of heart or the easily scared and cowed. What it takes, beside hard work and a certain talent for words, is forbearance, fortitude and a whole lot of determination.

As it stands now, I'm waiting to hear from the editor for the next two novels waiting in the wings for their turn at bat. One took many years to write and the other I wrote in two weeks, spending the last year revising, editing and adding to the bones with blood, sinew, flesh and skin. I still get nervous waiting because I'm not a patient person, but it's coming. Until the next two books arrive overnight on the scene, there's plenty of time to work on new projects to keep from biting my nails and going crazy with my overnight success.

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