Monday, May 24, 2010


Overwhelmed. That's how I felt when I read the "to do" list from Second Wind Publishers -- a good, well-organized list of things I needed to provide them with to make the book, well, a book. Now generally, I'm a list maker of the first magnitude. I make lists for a day's tasks, the typical grocery list, a list of places I want to visit when I can, a list of story ideas I want to explore, a list of goals for life...the list goes on.

To work my way down the list from the publisher showing how many pieces and parts I need to gather and submit, I focused not at the top (a typo-free, error-free, pitch-perfect manuscript) but with an item that falls in the middle of the list: the image for the front cover of the book. Focus may not be the best word. Obsessed might be a better choice.

If a book is judged by its cover, then what could my image say about my work? I wanted something appropriate to the setting, the feel, the style of my tale. I found a magnificently moody black and white photograph by a professional photographer that fits so well with my story. I wrote the photographer to inquire of its price for this purpose.

Suffice it to say, I also have a back-up plan. Last week, I dug through old photographs (I consider myself handy with a camera) and found the one that could work. I wonder if this is actually more appropriate given its location and the setting for my novel (coastal North Carolina). It seems to me that a potential reader would feel warmed to "recognize" the imagery on the cover. My target audience (coast lovers, readers of North Carolina writers, and history buffs) may be narrow, but its deep. Very deep. They may not feel the same seeing the professional's mystical shot I'm considering.

Should beauty win out over propriety?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Start at the beginning

Yesterday, an aspiring writer (aren't we all?) asked me about my query letter that got the attention of the kind folks at Second Wind Publishing. It wasn't really the beginning of my attempts to get my manuscript out into the light of day, which included more than a few dozen "no thank you" form letters from agents and publishing houses. Trial and error in approaching them and a bit of researching over many years led me to query Second Wind -- a small publisher who seeks to publish works not discovered by other publishers (hence, giving a work a second chance or a second wind).

I chose the "dive into the story first, then tell about my writing credentials later" approach. I suspect there are publishers, editors, and agents out there who are as crazy busy as the rest of us, so I tried to grab what little attention I might get with a strong one-sentence hook. (And I followed directions regarding submission requirements.)

Writing credentials are helpful if they relate to the story you're pushing, but a passion for the story is even more important, I believe. My "little" story is one that I believed in sharing. Sure, I've written over 500 feature articles in magazines and the like, but perhaps the notion that I enjoy history, coastal settings, and anything related to boats may have come into play. Are you passionate about your story? You better be -- you'll be selling it once it is published!

(My little story, by the way, is a historical maritime fiction. I'll tell you more about it as it gets through the publishing process and we get to know each other, okay?)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hard to keep a secret

Though I've just received the "Welcome, New Author" packet from the publisher, and I know it's a long road ahead from this point to where I actually open the first copy of my first novel, I'm elated. Don't know if it will help, but I thought this blogging business might help me keep my head on straight about the publishing process (you should see the checklist of every step between now and when I crack the book open!) as well as teach me about  blogging. Seems "everyone's" doing it, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I may digress in topic from time to time. I'm a writer, after all; but for the most part, I'll try to stay on this topic in case a reader finds him or herself with a story to tell and wonders about the process of moving from manuscript completion to seeing THE book on the bookstore shelves for everyone else to see. Quite exciting to think about, yes?