– BY HILARY MURRAY
For those not familiar with my journey, I recently had my debut novel published (recently, as in ten days ago!). The build-up to the big day was a major learning curve for someone new to the publishing world. I had naively thought that writing the book was the hardest part. Not so.
My education began not with the arrival of my publishing contract, but a month or so after that, when we began the editing process.
It was a time I have no doubt my publisher would prefer to forget. There was so much I didn’t know about the process, especially the technical stuff, such as the difference between editing and formatting.
My editor was kind enough to revise and correct my work with a ‘light hand’. I, on the other hand, thought that editing was an opportunity to play further. So I added chunks of text with gay abandon, switched paragraphs around, substituted words and phrases, and even deleted bits that on review seemed superfluous. To me at least.
Not only that, I did it all on a clean Word version, in highlights!
Within hours I received an email that, while politely worded, clearly spelt out the poor woman’s frustration. It seemed I had completed a ‘re-write’ of the manuscript, something I should have advised as my intention. My publishing date was put back a month to allow for the extra work I had caused.
In the meantime it was suggested I work on a few ideas for the cover. I have no doubt it was to keep me occupied, and away from fiddling with the manuscript. Not that I emailed Catherine every day, but these were exciting times, and we were in this together, weren’t we?
I attacked my new project with tremendous enthusiasm. So much so that I created a series of mock-ups. Not just for this book, but for the two others that would follow.
I could tell she was impressed with my creative skills, even though none of it remains in the finished product. There was a little haggling over the images that would form the basis of the cover, and while I won that round – I think – she won on the font and placement of the title, and overall style.
Believing my input complete, I sat back with the now obligatory glass of champagne. I had already decided to get into the habit, so that it wouldn’t be too difficult when all those lovely royalties start flooding in!
But unfortunately there was more to do.
My editor asked if I could write a couple of paragraphs of edgy text for the back cover. It needed to entice, to arouse interest and lure my reader to buy. If it were too much for me, she would do it.
I am nothing if not possessive over my ‘baby’, so I sat down to mull over what was needed. Calling on my sales and marketing background I belted it out the blurb with only a couple of adjustments.
Wow! And even more ‘wow’ was that my editor loved it immediately.
We were good to go. Almost.
We now needed a blog. And a Facebook page.
I’m not good with all this social media stuff. Wrong generation. I don’t even text. But knowing it’s expected now, I bit the bullet. As you do.
The book was to go out to a number of reviewers prior to the publishing date. I was nervous. So far the only people who thought my work had merit were Catherine and I. Of course in reality there were others. My husband for one. But he didn’t really count. Not only had he not read the manuscript, he would tell me my shopping list had literary credence if it would make me happy. True love is a fine and wonderful thing, unless you’re after an unbiased critique.
A week or so later, the first review was back. The reviewer emailed my editor to say she had read the book in two sittings. Not something she often did. More to the point she had awarded it five stars! Soon we had the second review. And another five stars.
If I was anxious before, now I was now a mix of sheer exhilaration and abject terror. I felt naked, exposed. I dreaded, and still do, the one star review that rips my work to shreds. Of course I’ll get over it, but not until I have wallowed in an emotional pit of self-despair first. Pass another glass of champagne, please.
Even though it was still a few weeks away from the publishing date I was checking Google on a daily basis, looking for any mention of the book. It arrived on Amazon.com, and I was thrilled to see how ‘real’ the book had become. Then it was on Barnes and Noble’s website. Over time more results appeared. Most of them merely mentioning the title, along with what appeared to be hundreds of others works being published in October. But it was still a ‘result’, and I at least was counting.
And through all this I was busy writing the second book in the series, the prequel.
Publishing day arrived, and with it a congratulatory email from my editor. Definitely time for more champagne. I do hope my liver will cope with my being an author.
And now the waiting begins to see if anyone will buy my book. Oh it’s painful! The delicious anticipation as I mentally spend the tens of thousands I’ll earn in the next few months. A holiday. French Polynesia is top of the list. Then there’s the luxury spa experience in Northern Queensland. That could be considered a necessity, as I will of course need to prepare for the onslaught of publicity the book generates.
I must check Google again. It’s been at least fifteen minutes since the last time. Hmmm. Nothing new. Maybe I shouldn’t be too hasty in giving up my day job. The one that pays the bills, and allows me the self-indulgence of daydreaming over my keyboard.
As I said, in the beginning, writing is not the hard part of the journey at all. The hard part is what comes later. The long, nervous wait to find out how successful a writer you really are.
About the Author
Writing as Galia Ryan, Hilary Murray’s novel Choices is available from www.amazon.com. Secrets is book two in the Luxuria Trilogy. Hilary was mentored by the award-winning Writers College tutor, Ginny Swart.
Photo credit: Ed Yourdon