In February, 2017, I signed my first publishing contract. Next to my wedding and the births of my children, it was one of the most exciting milestones of my life. An absolute dream come true. Now, in just one month, I’ll have a published book! Over five years of hard work will come to fruition in a lovely novel with my name on the front cover. Eeek!
The past 11 months have been both rewarding and intimidating as I’ve navigated the waters of preparing a book for publication and creating a name and brand for myself. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1) Handing over control of a book baby is bittersweet.
I’m thrilled to have a publisher. I so appreciate the fact that an editor loved my story enough to want to publish it, and it’s amazing to have a team of wonderful people helping me get my manuscript polished and ready to be presented to the world. But handing over control of a beloved story and characters isn’t easy.
I’m no stranger to criticism and suggestions from critique partners, but getting feedback from my editor carried much more significance since she invested in my book and needed to be happy with the final product. Fortunately my edits contained very few substantial changes, but I must confess being a bit anxious every time I received a new set of comments! Even the cover design process was nerve-racking, wondering whether my publisher and I would have a similar vision. As you can see, my cover turned out gorgeous so I didn’t need to worry 🙂 Whew!
2) Having unpublished writers look up to me is kind of scary!
I attended a writing conference last summer, and it was both exciting and humbling to see the eager looks in new writers’ eyes when I mentioned I had a book coming out in 2018. They viewed me as a valuable contact, someone with knowledge and experience. These conversations helped me appreciate how far I’ve come in my writing journey and what a truly significant landmark it is to sign a publishing contract. But they also made me painfully aware that, while it’s an honor to be looked up to by fellow writers, it’s also a bit terrifying.
Yes, I’m about to publish a book, but I’m still figuring this all out myself! Aside from learning a bit about publishing law and the contract negotiation process, I’m the same writer and person that I was before. I didn’t get passed a thick handbook of how to successfully write and market a book, nor was I admitted to a secret insiders’ club. It’s still just me, trying to fumble my way through drafting and editing manuscripts and attempting to connect with potential readers.
3) Being a soon-to-be-published author is no defense against rejection.
After I received an offer from my publisher, I must admit it was nice to be out of the submission phase for a while. But a few months ago, I wrote a short story that I fell completely in love with. I polished it up with the help of my critique group, then submitted it to an anthology with a great deal of hope. After all, someone had liked my full-length manuscript enough to turn it into its own book! Plus, my writing is improving all the time. But six weeks later, the rejection came. I submitted to a different anthology, even more hopeful because the theme was a better fit with my story. The first round of acceptances came out, and I wasn’t on the list. Ouch. It was definitely a wake-up call, and a good reminder of what I should’ve already known: publishing a book isn’t the end point, it’s merely one of many steps along the writing journey. The good news about rejection? It keeps me humble, encourages me to continue learning, sends me back to my writing community for encouragement and support, and, most importantly, reminds me that this is a path I need to walk with God—I can’t do it alone.
Where are you at in your writing or personal journey? What unexpected lessons have you learned along the way?
Thanks for reading, and thank you so much for hosting me, Karin!
An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases on February 14, 2018, from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.
Readers’ Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1191276077665496/