Writer Reality Check

The smell of ink on paper. The bright and exotic lure of the covers. The weight of a book in my hand. From the day I started writing I wanted my stories to be in print.

I’ve pursued traditional publication with single minded purpose since that day. Friends and family would often see how much I was struggling with the querying process and the subsequent rejections and tell me I should self-publish—that’s what everyone is doing now, haven’t you heard? Others would give me business cards for small digital publishers—this is my cousin’s friend’s brother’s press, surely you’ll have luck there. I was tempted along the way to submit to larger e-presses as well, and that could have been a good option for me. But, in the back of my mind was always my dream to be in print and I wasn’t willing to let that dream go. There are many different directions we can go with our writing these days. Oh, the options! I’ve been fortunate enough to have my dream of print come true. But, my dream may not be your dream.

What do you want from your career? Where do you want to be in 5 years? What type of publication will work with your life?

With all the publishing options out there, I think these are important questions to ask. So, I’m writing this with the hope that it will become part of a series on the blog either through interviews or personal experience to give insight into life after publication.

I knew when I began this journey that it would be a lot of work to have books in print…and I was right. *grins* It’s a lot of work to have any books anywhere! With where I wanted to go, I knew I would have to write 2 books per year and meet deadlines…blah, blah, blah. I’m sure you’ve heard that too. But what does that mean for my daily life? What would it mean for yours? Let me break down the past year that’s led up to my upcoming first book release.

In the beginning of the year I was writing along as I always do. I’m not a writer who can produce 5k per day. Some can, but those people are not me. Anyway, I finished book 2 and turned in book 1 and 2 at the same time. I was on top of things. I started plotting book 3 and I even fit in a week off to celebrate my son’s birthday at Disney. I like to call this the delusional section of the 3 book deal. This is the period of time when you think you have extra time before your deadline, but you don’t. Repeat after me: There is no extra time before deadline. Now, keep reading.

I had just started writing book 3 when I got edits back on book 1. And when I say edits, I don’t mean line edits or a tweaking of a scene. I mean, I rewrote nearly half of the book. By the end, I was literally shaking and a month of my deadline was gone. I picked back up with book 3 and worked on it for maybe 2 weeks when I got edits back on book 2. Halfway into those edits, I got line edits on book 1. Another month of my deadline was gone. This was about the point in time when I went to RWA. It was awesome! And when I came home I had a book to finish, line edits on book 2 to do…and a house to move to across town, because life doesn’t stop simply because you write.

I wrote 2k or more everyday with no days off in order to make my deadline on book 3. It wasn’t pretty. One week before my deadline, I was asked for author pics ASAP. [Insert laughter here.] I ran to the mall, grabbed something not hideous, googled a photographer and got my hair done within 4 hours, because that’s all the time I had.

Finally I finished book 3! I took time off to unpack boxes at my new house and spend time with family. It was awesome! I proofread book 1 and relaxed for the first time in a year. A few weeks ago, I got edits back on book 3. I worked on this through Thanksgiving. I took a break to cook and then locked myself back in my office. Sorry, family. I was almost finished with the edits when I got the request for proofread of book 2. I turned in the proofread on Friday and today I’m working on 2nd round edits on book 3 and posting this blog.

My work seems to come in waves. I’m pushed beyond my limit and then left to rest for a while. But on the whole, it’s a full time job. I’m a stay-at-home mom to a kindergartener and I struggle to hold it together. I have to chaperone a field trip this Friday and I have no idea how I’m going to do that unless I go without sleep a few nights this week. But, it’s my dream and for me it’s worth every second. After all, I want to hold a book in my hand. I want to reach readers who grab paperbacks while at the grocery store. I want to be traditionally published. I can’t speak for the work load or what is expected of you in other types of publishing since that’s not my experience, but I hope my story is helpful.

By posting this I hope I don’t scare you away from traditional publishing. That certainly is not my intent and I’m beyond excited to have 3 books coming out soon. But, educated decisions are a good thing. I hope some of the other Bad Girlz will jump in with their experiences on this subject as well. Which path did you choose and does it fit your lifestyle? If you haven’t chosen a path yet, what guides your decision? Let’s chat about it.

~ E. Michels

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