Hi ABM fans! Can you believe it’s August already? I’m trading days with Patricia for those who may have been expecting her Wednesday, or go looking for me on/Friday. Hubby and I are going out of town Friday to Sunday to see our oldest daughter and her family since their move to Aurora, CO a month ago. While we’re there a young woman my girls grew up with is getting married (that’s actually the catapult for us going this particular weekend) and she really wants us there. We are her second parents.
I’ve been trying to figure out what the Sam Hill to blog about and have been coming up blank. But then I remembered something huge that happened this month two years ago that actually has something to do with now, and my upcoming release with Lyrical Press, Inc.
So, I thought I’d just share a little story about my contemporary book-in-edits.
It was July 30, 2010, when my critique group “leader,” and fellow new author- her debut book comes out later this year or next with Entangled Publishing- challenged our little group. Mills and Boon had decided to do what they called a Fast Track Initiative. Send in however much you have of a manuscript by August 24th, 2010, and they guaranteed a response by the end of that month. I accepted, as did several other members of our group.
I had other projects going, but none fit the Medical line taking submissions. I wailed, whined and pulled my hair after accepting Melinda’s challenge. Why? Heck, I don’t write medical! It literally took me a hours just to think up a theme for a story. Seriously. What could someone who knows nothing about medicine possibly write that would be convincing to M&B Medical that I knew what the heck I was writing about?
I asked myself- and hubby- what do I know that could fall into the medical field? Then it hit me. I know enough about animals to pass the test. A veterinarian. Ok, and let’s make hero an EMT, but not just any EMT- nooo, I decided he flies in a helicopter, a Mediflight paramedic. Yeah, I know exactly…nothing about that! It took me to Aug. 16th to scrape out one chapter I titled “Perfect Dr. Viv,” but I polished and sent the chapter to M&B on August 17th. One week before their deadline. The craziness began when an editor loved my chapter! I really hadn’t planned to need to write the whole book, so I didn’t write any more…at first…
Over the next three and a half months I ended up writing and submitting first one, then three chapters, and then the full.
I edited and then rushed my critique group through it and emailed the whole thing to the editor on Dec. 18th. Yes I forgot about it a third time. What editor gets back to us on a full in less than six months?
On Jan. 24, 2011 I got another email from her…
Editor-lady hoped I’d be open to revisions and to resubmit. Otherwise known as an R&R.
I did not jump right in this time like all the others and say yes. If you have received one of these, or do in the future, you shouldn’t either. Let that request sit a solid day or more and then really read it, every detail of it, and then give serious consideration before you agree.
My revision request came with five- count them, 5- pages of well-thought out revision suggestions. I gave it a week in which I read her revisions over and over, talked to the group and other writers, looked areas up in the ms she specifically pointed to, read the email in full again. Then I finally decided I would try.
Jump forward through the next seven+ months, throughout which time I sent revised chapters back and forth with editor-lady.
I chose this long-winded post today for one main reason. Here it is:
When edits change the basic fabric of YOUR story, YOUR characters, to the point you, THE AUTHOR don’t know who they are- there’s something wrong. It’s wrong because it’s not your story anymore. It’s not the creation, the birth child of months of sweat and tears and determination from you. It’s become something else.
That’s what happened to me. The closer editor-lady thought I was getting to what M&B Medical wanted- and closer to a possible contract- the less I began to understand my characters. The less I knew where the story was going and the less I wanted to look at the story. At all. It wasn’t just that I was sick of these two, as any author can relate. I didn’t know them or their story and that made it impossible for me to write their new story as it unfolded- because I didn’t have a clue where it was going. I got to a point I couldn’t force myself to open the document.
It wasn’t my story any longer.
On Sept. 4, 2011 I emailed editor-lady and informed her that, though I loved working with her, I no longer felt M&B was the best placement for my book. I withdrew my manuscript from HQN/M&B. That was a difficult decision. To tell a HQN editor thanks, but no…
Good news- Always deal in a professional manner with editors, no matter how you might feel. Separate yourself from the issue and be upfront and sincere. Why? Here’s part of her final email conversations to me that week a year ago:
I’ll also be sad to see the back of Viv and Conner – there was such a lovely bond between them! – but best of luck with your future writing.
As I do think you have a wonderfully fresh, sparky voice, if you decide you are interested in submitting to M&B again, then don’t hesitate to email me directly.
With best wishes
Be professional and good things come. When I pulled that book from her, I was certain I’d signed my fate with M&B. I mean- who does that?! I was as happy to get this last email as I was that very first chapter request. She also suggested which lines I might sub to when I informed her it wouldn’t be Medical again. J
Great news: In May, 2012 I sold that same book to Lyrical Press, Inc. My lovely editor and I are moving forward in the edits for a tentative March 2013 release. MY story. The one I wrote two years ago- as I wrote it. My editor and I had fun coming up with the new title, Risk Factors, and it suits, and I’m happy with everything about the process this time.
I gave it a shot with M&B, after careful consideration, and I allowed the story to take a path I wasn’t happy with in the end. My bad. But I also knew when to call it a day. It’s MY book. My baby. Mine. If I, or you, don’t stay strong in this business it can make for not so pleasant experiences. I learned my lesson and I’m happy it turned out the way it did. Will you be able to say the same for the sake of a coveted publishing experience? I hope so. But keep in mind that not every publisher and book may be suited for each other.
Thank you for letting me make your eyes bleed today with a longer than normal (for me) post. I hope my path helps someone else. Have a happy August, and thank you for visiting Authors By Moonlight! I hope you have time through the month to see what the other girls have planned to entertain you with.