Monday, June 27, 2011

Timeline to Publication or How to Watch Paint Dry!

I was browsing Baen Book publisher today, trying to see how much success they are having with their policy of offering the first book in a series as a free download. They believe readers will become fans after reading the opening book in a series. Then, they will trust the author’s writing and buy the rest of the series. Theory sounds good. I sent them an email asking for statistics on sales since they started the freebie-deal to see if sales back up their expectations.

While visiting Baen, I noticed a table showing what happens from the time an author signs a contract to the actual first day of sales for a new book. This timeline offers a sobering reality.

Here are their words below, or you can go look at their nifty timeline video at:

From Manuscript to Bookshelves

(By the way, their video runs too fast on my computer so I clicked on stop button and advance it one slide at a time.)

If you don't feel like using the link, here are their month to month points:

Month 1:  Sign Contract, Submit Manuscript, Art Gets Assigned
Month 2:  Editorial Input, Author Revisions
Month 3:  Tip Sheet Process Begins, Need Info/Bio From Author
Month 4:  Entry of Data for Title, FINAL MANUSCRIPT IS DUE
Month 5:  Marketing Strategy Meeting with Sales People
Month 6: Artwork is due for catalogue, Jennie Prepares Seasonal Catalogue and Brochures
Month 7: Proof Reading from Month 7 through 9
Month 8: Sales Conference held to present titles to sales force
Month 9: Advance Reading Copies of Manuscript sent to reviewers
Months 10-11-12: Off to the printer

Then, a month before distribution and publication, there’s more for the author to do:

- Visit local bookstore and libraries. Let them know your book is coming soon.
- Offer to do a book signing event in their store (line up friends and family to come)
- Tell publisher office about your plans and schedule so they can offer support.
- Arrange radio/TV/internet interviews and blog about the release on your own.

Let’s get this straight. As an author, I already spent the better part of a year writing, revising and editing my manuscript. Then, I waited anywhere from a few months to a couple years querying literary agents to represent me. An agent begins pitching my book after reviewing it and offering any little adjustments that might make it more saleable. That puts the process somewhere between one and two YEARS before signing a publishing deal. Yipee! I finally signed my contract. Uhhh...not so fast buccko, the publisher says, it will be at least another year before the book hits the shelves.

This publishing business is sounding more and more like watching paint dry. Guess that’s why they say the best thing a writer can do after completing a manuscript is to get started on another one. Ya know, despite the nerve-testing delays and frustrations of waiting for publication, I still get excited every time I watch a new story unfold. It’s the writing that makes this whole process worth the trouble. Now, where’d I put my laptop?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Writer’s Cave - Where Do You Write?

Where do you write? I need to avoid disruptions when I write. Even anticipated disruptions, like expecting the phone to ring, or knowing the dogs need to eat . . . any break in my writing routine changes my “mood” and alters my train of thought. More importantly, they piss me off. I don’t write well when angry . . . some character always seems to die . . . lol.

I envy writers who can write anywhere without being sidetracked by life’s interruptions. I know some people write in public places. How do they do that? I certainly could not. Other writers have the ability to write any time they can snatch a few free minutes. Fifteen minutes here, forty-two minutes there. It boggles my mind how they can stay on track with plot development and character growth in such short snatches of writing. But, it seems to work for them.

I’m curious. What’s YOUR favorite writing venue and why?

Here are a few pictures of my writing cave . . .

This is the writing corner next to my antique oak desk:


These are my writing buddies. They usually nap at my feet while I write. Notice the puppy toys under the table; they squeak when I step on them and Dink (little blonde Dachshund) goes nuts thinking I want to play fetch:

This wall is next to me with dad’s picture on it:

Opposite wall with my competing interest . . . blues:

When I close the door to my writing cave/music studio, I enter another world, one where fantasy comes to life and life becomes the surreal. I ask you again, how do you write? Any special rituals? Is your writing empowered, or adversely affected, by your environment?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Note to Dad

Hi Dad. Wherever you are, I hope you’re happy. I’m not sure if there is a heaven, but if there is, I know you’re helping somebody in need, like you did throughout your life.

Every Fathers Day, I get to wondering about the afterlife. What if the Buddhists are right about reincarnation? I could see you coming back as a single daffodil, picked by a small child who runs to her mommy with her, bringing a moment of happiness to both child and parent. If Einstein is right, then you belong to the universe. I like to choose one star out of the night sky and say hello to you. Sure, I know it’s really just a ball of burning hydrogen, but it makes me feel good to think that your essence, your love and all those memories, still exist in that bright spot in the sky.

I didn’t always think of you with such admiration. Your leather belt scared the hell out of me as a child. Discipline was swift and simple. You taught me right from wrong. And, I hated it when you and mom argued. It made me feel insecure. Even when I left for Vietnam in my late teens, you tried to hug me, but I pushed you away in my youthful anger. Guess I was still too young to appreciate you for the lessons that molded a man from a boy.

Before my twentieth birthday, something extraordinary happened. You changed. Wisdom filled your voice when I called you from the USO in Vietnam to share my fears. You said I'd be okay. Do you remember that three AM phone call? You told me you had great confidence in me, as a man, and that you would stand by me no matter what happened in Nam. Your strength, and your confidence in me, carried me through some tough times. I found strength knowing that you respected and trusted me. Then, I realized, you didn’t change a bit. I did, thanks to you.

I tried to apologize when I got home, for my stupid behavior before I left for Nam. You rebuffed my effort, saying no regrets were called for. Turns out, you had similar angst when you were young and it took you many years to grow up, too. You always knew the man I would become, because I am just like you. You saw my potential, instead of my failings, and you made me the man I am today.

Thanks, Dad.