Friday, January 31, 2014

From Pen to Publisher . . . Part 1

Rebekah M. asked me to create a post on the journey a book takes from the first word to the hard copy I hold in my hand. Rebekah self-publishes her books; mine are published by a Christian publisher in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) industry. A previous post describes the advantages and disadvantages between publishing yourself and trying to find a "royalty" (they pay you) house. You can read that post HERE: At the end of the last part of this publishing journey series, I will post a link to Rebekah's post on the journey her books take to reach her hands. In some ways our journeys are similar; in some ways, not so much! Hang on . . . here we go . . .

OLD computer paper
I can't just dive into this post without inserting a few memories from my own writing. You young authors have it so much better than I. You have the computer! Here is a sample of some of my writing paper. Yes, that really is computer paper, of the most archaic kind. The computer itself took up the whole room. I scrounged the paper from the trash cans in the computer center at Penn State University, when my father went there for summer school. I was in the eighth grade. And what did I do with all these leaves and leaves of free paper? Write stories! So, that is the first step.

1. You write a story. Some folks make nice outlines and plan their story chapter by chapter. Not I! I am a seat-of-my-pants writer (well, I used to be. Deadlines have made an "outline" creator out of me, by necessity).

Andi's (Mis)Adventure being wounded! Page 2!
2. Once your story is written, you find somebody to read it, preferably not your mother, aunt, sister, or best friend. They are too nice. You find somebody to really dig in there and find inconsistencies (What? You mean I can't let my hero fall from a 100-story building and live?). This is a painful process. It hurts! I remember giving the very first manuscript I wanted officially published, with the incredibly stupid name of Andi's (Mis)Adventure, to a REAL author (who, by the way, happens to be one of the judges for our recent contest, Colleen Reece). Wow! Did she ever know how to splatter red ink all over that precious story. (Good news! This sad piece of work on the right eventually became Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home).  

Look at the red ink!
3. When you get the manuscript back, first you cry a little, then you buck up and REVISE the story! You don't have to do everything your reader suggests, but it doesn't hurt to at least consider it. NO manuscript is perfect the first time (or after the 12th time either. I wrote this one over 12 times, not including typos). Becoming an author is not for the faint of heart.
When you are so sick of the story that you almost decide to burn it and find a different hobby, you are READY! Ready for what, you may ask? Go to PART 2 and find out!

(This series has been adapted from my PowerPoint presentation "Kid Writer to Publisher Author," which I have presented at school visits and young author events around the state of Washington.)

Go to PART 2

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  1. Wow! Great post Mrs. M!!!

  2. Yes! Great post! I'll be sure to come back tomorrow! :)

  3. Ah, Seat-Of-The-Pants writer, one of the things you and I have in common. :) I can't even begin to imagine the 'horror' of getting all the red ink back on the manuscript you sent to your friend. I'm sure it felt awful, I know how I feel when people correct my stories. Humility does not come easy when the story is your pet. :) But eventually you learn. :)
    And of course after all that sniffing, revising, editing, and buckling up to get the task done, you go a read a book by Tom Clancy and yell, "Who published this book!" That author makes me so mad-he got away with some of the biggest atrocities I've EVER seen in a book! And he became one of the most famous action writers of all time. Not to say his stories weren't great, they were very gripping, but he got away with run-on sentences, character thoughts not being in italic and the whole galore. The ease of being famous-you get away with things. ;) Not so much with regular writers...

    Thank you for this post, it made me chuckle and realize we all have had our sniffles over the red corrections. :) Can't wait for tomorrow's post.

    -Calamity Rene

  4. I know just how you feel Mrs. M! When I wrote my first story I gave it to my tutor to read over and correct any mistakes she found. Well, I was think like just spelling. Ah NO! She found not only spelling airs but every mistake in my, punctuation, sentences structure, formatting, and everything! My whole story was nothing but green ink when I got it back. At first I wasn't sure what to think. She had so many arrows connecting dots, and scratch, scratch, scratch! Lol It's funning now but I sure didn't see it that way when I started. But thanks to her, I'm the writer I am today...

    1. Does green ink (rather than red) soften the editing BLOWS? :-)
      Probably not!

  5. Thanks! This really helps. I just self-published a book this month, and I was so upset to find so many mistakes in it I THOUGHT I had fixed. You're a great encouragement. :)

    1. Well, if you published it on a site like, you can always go back in and redo the file and upload the new one.

    2. I did it on, and yes, I can always go back to fix the mistakes! (Thankfully) It also helps that I have an older sister with a Bachelor's degree in English! (She's editing it for me, and its cheaper to use a family member. Also, she's not being nice on my grammar and punctuation just because I'm her sister! :)


Let Andi know what you think!