I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes I wonder if the long stretch of summer will ever be over. I find August to be a time of anticipation for the thermometer to drop below 100 degrees (okay – 115 in the Middle East), school to begin, and my birthday to arrive. Writers often experience the same type of restless anticipation between The Call and the first round of revisions for the sold manuscript. As part of her ongoing Debut Author Series, Laurie London is here today to chat about how to handle those dog days in between. Here’s Laurie!
What happens between when you get The Call from your editor and when you get The Revisions? Keep in mind that timelines can differ between publishers—it depends on their in-house process and schedules.
My agent warned me it can take awhile to get the actual contract—as in months. I kept thinking, what if they change their minds? What if marketing says their new forecasts show vampires are soooo last year? Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long.
Soon after I signed the contract, I received the first part of my advance payment in the mail. With shaking hands, I opened that envelope and stared at the check for awhile. Oh man, this was real and not just a dream. Someone was really going to publish a book that I wrote and they were paying me. After all, nothing says “real” like cold, hard cash.
My first deadline was the proposal for book two. Using habits I developed before I sold, I continued writing every day. Like running or feeding my horses or not having chocolate for breakfast, my day doesn’t feel right until I’ve made my page count. I turned in the proposal, received the thumbs up from my editor, and finished the book. (Funny how a long process looks so simple when put into one sentence like that.)
Also during this time, I established my author persona online. Prior to this, I didn’t have much of an online presence as a writer, although I was familiar and comfortable with social media. I’d already purchased a URL but decided to lay low as an unpublished writer.
This goes against a lot of advice you hear out there. So why did I choose not blog or put up a website before I sold?
For one thing, I didn’t want to say or do something stupid or unprofessional while I learned how to conduct myself online. Once something’s on the interwebs, it’s there for good. I decided I’d rather have no presence, rather than a lame one.
Secondly, I’m not a speedy writer and have only a finite amount of creative energy tucked into my brain each day. I didn’t want to squander it away by blogging, tricking myself into thinking I was writing when I wasn’t.
And finally, because I sold fairly quickly, I didn’t have a lot of writerly experience to share with others.
Instead, I focused on the craft of writing, networked with writers on forums and loops, learned what I could about the publishing business, and watched how others handled themselves online. I tinkered with a website but kept it on my computer only. Basically, I educated myself. I just didn’t pull the trigger until after I sold.
Soon after receiving input from my agent and editor about my author name (I changed the spelling, so I bought a new URL), I had a website up, Facebook and Twitter accounts, a blog, and a Gmail account. Because I was familiar with all of it, this wasn’t a big deal.
Don’t let me discourage you from doing what you feel is right for your situation. I follow a lot of unpublished writer websites that are fantastic—I’m glad they’re out there. I can only tell you about my experience and the reasons why I did what I did.
But the next time you hear someone say you HAVE to have a website or blog in order to sell to a traditional New York publisher, please remember that I didn’t.
Next up—book covers. The art department had me to fill out information regarding themes, major setting details, character descriptions, etc. It was like analyzing my story for a lit class, but in this case, I knew what the author was thinking. J
My editor, agent and I discussed our ideas for covers, including my likes and dislikes. I went to the bookstore, making note of those that jumped out at me as a reader of paranormal romance, and I asked my book club friends what they thought. (They’re very opinionated.) I emailed the jpegs to my editor with the reasons why I liked each one.
What happened next stunned me. I received a link to a model’s portfolio—the one they planned to use for BONDED BY BLOOD. They were actually going to hire real people to model for my cover! I just figured they’d Photoshop stock photos. (And because I know you’ll ask, yes, the guy is verra hot! I’d want him for my boyfriend if I wasn’t married.)
Prior to the photo shoot, they sent mock-ups of the covers so I could see what they were planning. I loved the concepts. They were sexy, dark, and daring.
Then, a few weeks ago, I saw the ACTUAL COVERS! If I hadn’t been on the phone with my editor at the time, I seriously would’ve hyperventilated when I clicked open the documents.
Turns out they’re everything I’d hoped they’d be with a few cool surprises—I can’t wait to share them. The pictures, the layout, the colors, the back cover copy, the fonts…oh, and my name.
What a total rush to see my name on the cover of a book! It’s a dream come true. I can hardly imagine what it’ll be like to see it in person.
RU Crew, I know Laurie wanted to share her cover with us, but can’t quite yet. Maybe in her October column! Do you have questions about Laurie’s approach to her online presence or the cover art process? As always, she’ll be popping in to chat.
Be sure to come by tomorrow when I’ll be chatting with Harlequin Blaze author Tawny Weber’s latest hero. Alex is the perfect blend of smarts and sexy!
A graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in Business Administration and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie London now writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children.
Her debut novel, BONDED BY BLOOD, A Sweetblood Novel, is tentatively scheduled for publication February 2011 by HQN. EMBRACED BY BLOOD, the second book in the series, is coming July 2011.
Her writing has won and been a finalist in several prestigious contests including the Beacon, the Emerald City Opener, the Marlene, and the Orange Rose.
She’s a member of GSRWA, RWA, RWAOnline, SCBWI, and two book clubs – one of which she helps coordinate live online author chats with readers from around the world.
When not writing, she can be found running, reading, or riding and showing her horse. Someday she hopes to qualify for the Quarter Horse World Show – that is, if her horse doesn’t get hurt again.
- Laurie London, Debut Author of Bonded by Blood
- A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: On the Road with Revisions
- A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: Sold! But first…
- A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: End of the Journey – Promotion
- A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: Agent Hunting