Evolution of a Book

The idea for Wild Women, Wild Voices came out of the Wild Women writing workshops I’ve done for many years, dating back to the mid-90s, but it wasn’t until August, 2013 when one morning I suddenly found myself writing a mini-proposal to my editor at New World Library. A little less than a month later I had a signed contract with a pub date of Summer 2014. Fortunately for me, the pub date got bumped to February 2015, then, even more fortunately, to its current release date of NOW!

box o' booksIn between the signing of the contract and the arrival of the books in bookstores and at my doorstep — some 18 months later, a gestation period more akin to an elephant than a human being — are many, many steps. First the idea, which was already in place, but an idea isn’t the same thing as a book. So you build the skeleton (structuring all those bare bones into some kind of coherent form), and do the research. You scratch out the terrible and lengthy first, raw drafts, followed by more research, followed by the second, third, fourth, etc. etc. drafts, and finally, months later, the final draft goes to your editor.

WWWV page proofsThen begins the next cycle: her edits and your rewrites from her edits; the long email exchanges and occasional panicky (on my part; she never panics) phone calls; next the more final final draft and the book goes to the copy editor. Another cycle: the copy editor’s edits, the revises from her edits, the proofreader’s edits, then the revises from her edits, the page proofs (this is where you get to see how the book really looks and where you grin so big your cheeks hurt), then a few corrections and the printer check arrives (this is how the book really really looks), just these last few tiny details, and then, for the longest time: Silence. You hold your breath. The book has gone to the printer.

All along during the back and forths before the book goes to the printer, you’re getting permissions where they’re needed, you’re double-checking references, you’re asking writers you admire if they’d be so kind and generous to “blurb” your book. They are! You’re all giddy and a little shy at what they write. You file away printouts of the first, messy drafts and say a prayer of gratitude for your editor who you’ve come to believe has special, magical powers that mere writers can never hope to possess. (Enduring gratitude to Georgia Hughes)

Judy ReevesYou get a new author photo taken. Your son, a talented photographer, takes several. He’s a patient man. In the end, it’s the very first one he snapped that you choose. You ask if he can, um, touch up a few places. He just smiles.

Also during the back and forth, you get to see the first draft of cover images. It may take a few tries to finally get the cover image everyone agrees on, but it’s worth it. You’re crazy about the cover. (Thank you, Tracy Cunningham). This is also when you find out your book will have an Index. Your first Index!

The in-between is also the time you to see the interior design of the book. Beautiful! Tona Pearce Myers has done it again. And again, you thank whatever benevolent spirit or lucky stars or whom- or whatever is responsible for you getting to have this long and rewarding relationship with New World Library, a publishing company that has brought so many beautiful and important books to the world.

The in-between time is also when you begin dialogues with the marketing staff and once again, you realize how fortunate you are to work with such pros. This is also when you start to get a little anxious and you remember that writing the book is just the half of it. Now you’re required to become a marketing pro yourself. And much as you like to give talks and make presentations and how easily you can go on and on about other writers’ work, making a Big Noise about your own work is a bit intimidating. You remember what your mother said: “Don’t brag on yourself, it’s not attractive.” So there’s that dragon to beat down. Plus you know you don’t know an iota of what you should know about social media.

To be continued …

An Interview with Fiction Writer Bonnie ZoBell

Every writer needs writer friends who know and understand what it’s like to live the life we’ve chosen, or that has chosen us, and who can share the thrills and chills and ups and downs and magic and mundane right along with us. Bonnie ZoBell is such a friend of mine. I’m crazy about her writing. I hope you are too. And if you don’t know Bonnie or her fiction, let me introduce her via these few interview questions.

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One of those days …

Saturday. One of those days I can’t settle down. I’m up and down like a yo-yo, (she said, employing possibly the most trite cliche of the day, and aren’t “trite” and “cliche” redundant?) And now I’m editing as I write. No wonder nothing is getting done today. Except a few loads of laundry which is always my go-to when I’m restless at the keyboard or on the page.

WildWomen_cvr_fAnd then there is the bowlful of Chex Mix snacks I devoured while researching custom-made blank books on the Internet. (I want to create a special blank book for use with my new book, Wild Women, Wild Voices; one that readers/writers can use to keep their Journey Notes as they work through the Explorations in the book. Oh! I hope they love it.) I also tweeted, asking journal writers and writing practitioners which they prefer: lined or unlined; wire-bound or perfect bound for their blank books. (Which do you prefer?)

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