Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Road To Publication

After reading a Tweet from writer, Kaylie Newell, announcing that she sold her first book, I contacted her to discover what her journey to publication was like. In this interview, Newell discusses her writing and revision process to inevitable rejection, and finally, to publication.

LL: Hi Kaylie, thanks so much for taking the time to be interviewed!

KN: Thanks for having me, Lorna. It’s an honour.

LL: Congrats on selling your first book! What’s it about and when can readers grab a copy?

KN: My book is called A Death That Lingers. It’s a romantic suspense novel with a supernatural twist. My heroine, Josie is being haunted by her dead husband. And it’s not a Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore kind of haunting, either. He was a real jerk when he was alive. Being dead makes him even grumpier. And when Josie finds herself drawn to the sexy young police chief in her small Midwestern town, things get really interesting!

I don’t have a release date yet, but I’m guessing it’ll be late October or early November. Just in time to read during the spooky fall weather. It will be for sale in electronic format from the publisher’s website, as well as Amazon, etc.

LL: When did you first start writing this book? Did you have a writing routine?

KN: I started writing my book on Valentine’s Day of 2010 (I thought that would be appropriate for a romance novel!) I’d wanted to write a book ever since I was a little girl. Even though I had made up my mind to do it, the thought was still very intimidating. I decided I’d have a daily writing goal.

I bought a little dry erase board and put it in the kitchen. Every night before I went to bed, I’d write down my word count goal for the next day. I think seeing that goal the next morning every time I walked in and out of the kitchen, made it harder for me to fudge. Most days I’d write no less than 300 words. Not very much, but it added up little by little. On the weekends I wrote significantly more when I had the time (my husband and I have two little ones, so some weekends were easier than others). All in all, it took me a little under six months to write a 300 page novel. If I can do it, anyone can!

LL: What was your first thought when you read through the first draft?

KN: Relief! I was pretty worried the whole story would stink. That it wouldn’t flow, or make sense. It’s hard to get an overall picture of your book when you’re writing in little increments, so when I read through it the first time, I was happy all the puzzles pieces fit.

LL: Can you share your revision process?

KN: The revisions are actually my favourite part. It’s when the book really starts to shine and that’s a great feeling. I think I probably revise backwards, though. I’ve heard that it’s best to read through the first time and look at big things, like plot, character development, etc. Then work your way towards more specific things with each consecutive read through. Chopping adverbs, unnecessary dialogue tags, etc.

But it’s hard for me to see the big picture when I’m obsessing about awkward sentence structure. So I let my little mental editor do her thing, then when the writing is more polished, I can concentrate on the story. I went through A Death That Lingers six full times, and felt like I could have gone through several more. But for me, I had to choose a stopping point or I was going to drive myself bananas trying to make it perfect.

That’s one thing I’ve learned. What’s “perfect” for me one day, won’t look perfect the next. Eventually, you just have to have faith in the manuscript and send it out.

LL: What was the journey to publication like? How did you handle rejection?

KN: Wow. I’m having a surreal moment here. The journey to publication… Sometimes I have to remind myself that I actually sold my book! I’m still pinching myself. It was a long, hard road. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. Writing is something I’ve always loved and felt passionate about. Writing a book was a natural extension of that.

But that doesn’t mean every day was easy or enjoyable. Some nights I would cry myself to sleep (something my very loving and supportive family can attest to). Some days were exhilarating, others were exhausting. It was an emotional roller coaster.

Rejection is hard for everyone. I’m a naturally sensitive person, so in the beginning those rejection slips would devastate me. Put me into an emotional tailspin for days at a time.

Over time though, you realize that what they say is true. Writing is a subjective business. Not everyone is going to love your work. But that doesn’t mean your work isn’t good. It just means you have to try that much harder to get it in front of someone who does like it. Rejection isn’t fun, but it’s a part of writing. Look at it this way, the more rejection slips, the thicker the skin, the tougher the writer! And a tough writer can do anything.

LL: What did you learn about publication after getting that “yes” from Beachwalk Press?

KN: That’s a great question! The answer is I’m still in the process of learning all the magical ins and outs of this business. I feel like a babe in the woods. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful editor who I know will be a great teacher as well. I’m still learning about contracts, royalties, marketing, edits. The list is endless. But I read a lot about the business and that helps. I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America and its on-line chapter, RWAOL. I’ve met fantastic contacts there, some of whom have turned into great friends and critique partners. What I learn from them is indescribable.

LL: What are you working on now?

KN: I just finished my second book, a romantic suspense, about six weeks ago. I’m in the process of polishing it up. I’m also launching a romance blog with my critique partners on October 17th. That should be a lot of fun.

LL: Any advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers, who are close to or in the process of shopping their first novels around?

KN: Don’t give up! The day I sold my book was one of the happiest of my life. But it didn’t happen quickly. Work through those rejection slips and keep sending your book out. Send it out to multiple publishers and or agents. And while you’re waiting, start your next novel. Join a writing group, make friends of other writers. They’ll understand first hand what it’s like to be sending your book out. They’ll be able to teach you so much and provide a shoulder to cry on when you need it. And they’ll joyfully help you celebrate when you get “the call”!