The OTHER Side of the Writing Life
Hello again, and welcome back to the writing life. And I want you to know that while no, I haven’t written a blog post here for awhile, and no, I also have to admit I haven’t done any further work on an upcoming novel, I HAVE BEEN WRITING EVERY DAY. Isn’t that what Billy Crystal said in THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN (anyone remember that movie?) “Writers write every day.”
I have been, Billy, I swear I have been.
What have I been writing?
Well, a variety of things, and they’re all related to the production or promotion of my two latest novels, STEALING FIRE and FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION. STEALING FIRE is now available on Amazon and Smashwords (http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Fire-Susan-Sloate/dp/1935970127/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375543928&sr=8-1) and will be published officially on August 31st. CAMELOT will be published on October 31st.
So in no particular order, here’s what I’ve been writing (steadily) for the last 2 months:
1) EDITS. When I finished with the final minute editing details of STEALING FIRE (and there were hundreds, which involved going through the entire manuscript at least 3 times, line by line), I went on to more edits on FORWARD TO CAMELOT, which Kevin Finn and I wrote and published 10 years ago. CAMELOT is about a third longer than STEALING FIRE, and going through it word by word was quite a chore. Ask Kevin. He went through it too, and now our publisher is going through it for formatting and typesetting. What made me happiest about editing CAMELOT, apart from cutting the word count down by 4,000 words, is that I also got to correct some historical errors I’d had to live with in the novel for 10 years, and which made me wince every time I saw them. Bonus: in the process, I found one error I hadn’t even realized was there, and fixed that one, too. (Fortunately, NO ONE has caught or seen these errors, but knowing they were there always bothered me.) Now I don’t have to live with them anymore. Yeah!
2) ESSAYS. Since CAMELOT is being re-published, I thought it would be fun to write a short Afterward to give readers an idea of our experience as authors with CAMELOT and its previous readers. This is entirely new, and included our chagrin at learning, after the book had been out for four or five years, the truth about the MacGuffin on which our plot turned–the Bible owned by JFK that was used to swear in Lyndon Johnson as president on November 22, 1963 and which disappeared immediately afterward, according to William Manchester, author of DEATH OF A PRESIDENT. Turns out it had NEVER BEEN MISSING. It wasn’t where we had expected it to be–and we did conscientiously go looking for it–but would never have guessed it to be where it is now. (Don’t worry; we tell you in the Afterward where it is.)
3) PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL. Since CAMELOT was originally published, the world of publishing–and publishing promotion–has turned upside down, and what was unheard of in 2003 has become commonplace in 2013. Facebook didn’t exist in 2003, nor did Twitter, or LinkedIn or Google +. Now, you can’t have a writing career without them. Having an online presence is more important, and varied, than ever, and it’s not just about having your own website: Amazon’s Author Central is a fabulous place to consolidate all the pieces of your promotional arsenal in one place, on a website that gets more daily hits than probably any other on the planet (you can find me there at http://amazon.com/author/susansloate, if you’re interested). In addition, the VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR has become the weapon of choice for a lot of authors, allowing us global reach via tour companies who link our books up with blogs which get lots of traffic and are aimed squarely at our target audience. You want to talk about saving shoe leather? Whew!
I’m booked for four virtual book tours, back to back, which will run from September and October (for STEALING FIRE) to November – January (for CAMELOT). What that means for me is, the tour operators send me requests for material from each blog that will host me for a day, and that material varies: some blogs want a short blog post, others send interview questions they want answered, which will be posted, along with my book cover, author photo, book blurb and bio, on their site the day I ‘visit’ them on the tour. Each interview or blog post must be original and tailored to the individual blog, and alas, brevity is not my long suit. I’ve found that my answers to 8 or 10 interview questions run typically around 2,000 words. I hope it’s entertaining for the blog site visitors, but it takes time.
I don’t mind it. Mostly, it’s fun, and I think I’m helping the books by trying to be engaging and entertaining (and in the case of writers’ blogs, helpful with writing advice). Fortunately, the writing I’m doing now will be done, for the most part, by late August or early September, and all I’ll have to do during the tour is stop by each site several times during the day to respond to comments from readers. I’m told it’s a fabulous way of starting buzz about the books, and I’m looking forward to the whole experience. I’ll post my tour schedule for STEALING FIRE once it’s finalized, and hope you’ll drop by and see me at least once!
4) UPDATES. Having an online presence means keeping it updated regularly, and in my case, that hasn’t happened for awhile (as I haven’t published a new book for awhile). SO…update Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon Author Central, and completely revamp my website. Some are finished; some are in process. All will be completed by the end of August. But writing and posting new material for all those sites, plus joining new sites and posting original content there, takes time that I think will eventually pay dividends: readers need to know who you are NOW. And I haven’t ‘gotten current’ with my online presence in some time. It’s a little like spring cleaning, and it’s just as good for you.
This is part of the writing life too, even if I’m not currently adding new pages to my next project. Maybe next year, when I’m smart enough to be publishing only one book at a time (!), I’ll be able to turn in a manuscript to my publisher and immediately turn to the next work in progress. This year it just hasn’t happened, but it doesn’t worry me. This has been a seminal year in my career, and it needed more preparation than any other year. My plan for the month of August is to complete production on CAMELOT and finish the promotional plans for both books, update my website (in the process now) and turn in the rest of the requested material for my tours. In September, while promoting STEALING FIRE, I’ll go back to work on the next book. (I spent part of this week looking over the manuscript and chapter notes, to begin preparing myself.) Not sure what month next year that book will be published, but I should have a finished draft by the end of the year and spend the early months of 2014 rewriting and polishing.
Meanwhile, though, give me some credit: I HAVE been writing every day. I’ve also been living other parts of the writer’s life: photo shoot with photographer Vicki Faith for my new author photo (which is posted here, on Twitter and on my Amazon Author Central page); hiring a PA to assist with promotion (I’ll keep you posted); reviewing book covers for THREE books (the third, REALIZING YOU with Ron Doades, will be out this fall); writing bio material and book blurbs. And you know what? On some level, it’s all fun. Either way, it’s part of the life; I might as well enjoy it.
Maybe the biggest thrill so far came last week, when I received the proof copy of STEALING FIRE in the mail on Monday, and a copy of REALIZING YOU on Friday. They’re beautiful, and they look just as I hoped they would. Holding those in your hands makes you realize that there IS a reason for all the crazy stuff you’re doing and the hours after midnight when you’re still on email, and the thousand times you re-read the same lines looking for errors and cutting for clarity.
And that’s the reason, I’m sure, that while eBooks continue to gain in popularity (I love ’em too), we’ll never entirely cut out physical book publishing. Being able to hold that achievement in your hands is a miracle, something you just can’t experience with an eBook, and speaking for this writer, anyway, I’m not willing to give that up.
Hope YOUR writing life is going well–
Talk again real soon.