What does it take to be an Author?

Kandi Writing at Sol DucOn June 10 school was out! I was so excited. I was going to sit back, write, draw, and enjoy a lazy summer. Well, I didn’t take into consideration the effort needed for being an author. My eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds are looking at me and wondering if they really want to be authors now. They thought all it took to be one was to write. So, what is it that has my just graduated children shaking in their boots? Being an author is more than just writing. Writing is almost the easy part!

Back in March when I signed up with Booktrope and began the process of publishing my books, I was encouraged to have a website with a blog. That means that at least once a week I am suppose to write about something book related or at least my life related. Sometimes that gets a bit overwhelming. Coming up with ideas isn’t quiet so hard as finding the time to sit down and write! The next hurdle that I tackled was creating a Facebook author page. That was a little easier because I know how Facebook works. However, it can be time consuming because I get caught up in the lives of my friends and acquaintances and forget I am suppose to be writing blogs and other things. My book manager really had to twist my arm to get me to set up a twitter account. I had been resistant to the efforts for years. I didn’t see a need, but when Pam said I needed one, I decided to try it out. I was quite glad that I did. I have found some really amazing people on there and some wonderful authors. It is a fun way to get a good laugh and to cheer up my day. The last social media step was to create an Instagram account. I am not quite as enamored with it as I am with Twitter, but I am learning the ropes thanks to other Booktrope authors who are helping me out. Why do I need all of these social media outlets? Because people want to know what an author is up to. They want to interact with the writer and know he or she is a real person. So, every day, I am on at least one of these social media outlets trying to connect with readers and writers.

Social media isn’t the only thing an author does. Once the novel is written, then it must be edited. The editing process is different for each editor. Since I have two genres of books, I have two editors. The one takes my book, reads it and writes down all of her first impressions in a word document, then re-reads it and edits for grammar, clarity, word choice, and plot consistency. Then she sends it all back to me. I then read through the novel and accept or reject her changes and add notes to explain why I didn’t or to help clarify things. Then I send it back to her. She goes over it again and sends it back to me. This final round may take one to three passes depending on how much we differ in our opinions. My other editor sent me my manuscript in chunks with the grammar edits first. Then after reading through it that way, I then received a full manuscript with the word choice and plot consistency issues. I read back through the novel to accept or reject those changes. When it is to the editor and author’s standards, it will go to a proofreader.

However, while it is in the process of editing, the author not gets to consider cover design and blurb. What will portray the genre and the book in a single image to make the book stand out so that people want to pick it up and check it out? What words should go on the back cover to intrigue a reader to gather it to himself or herself and read it? We don’t want too many details given away and yet at the same time we want to say what the book is about. So, while editing goes on, the outside is decided on as well. Then begins the proofreading.

The proofreading process is less stressful than the editing process. In editing the author’s very words and ideas are brought into question. With a good editor, though, the author knows her best interests are at the heart of the changes. Proofreading is for format and those little things–spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word usage. Word usage is easy. It isn’t did you use the right words, but rather did you use the same word repeatedly in one section. The proofreader offers suggestions of how to change that. She or he will also work on typos. Throughout the whole proofreading process though I read through my novel at least one more time!

After proofreading, the novel is ready to be submitted for layout. To do this, the author must make sure that everything is exactly as she wants it in print. So, back to reading meticulously the novel. (Note this is at least the fourth reading after submission to the publishing company.) Once satisfied that all looks good, it is submitted to layout. Layout then puts it into a pdf file and sends it back to the author for a final proof. Again I read through my book to make sure there are no errors. I was fortunate with Dragon’s Future to not find many. I could adjust and change them without a cost to me.

Now that the book is in layout, we are down to the last month or so before it is released. That means that my job is done, right? Wrong! I am now very busy on-line making friends and letting people know about my book. I am doing Facebook parties, Twitter posts, and blogs. What is a Facebook party? That was my question back in April when I first heard about them. They are a way of getting people from all over together to learn and celebrate the release of a book or other event. A Facebook event page is created, and on the day and at the time set, the party begins. Usually there are different authors set up to take over a half-hour to an hour slot. During this time, they engage the audience who has logged onto the event page. There are giveaways, fun memes, photos to comment on, and ideas shared. The theme usually relates to the author’s book or books. There can even be question and answer time for the author. It is fun when there are lots of people involved and commenting on the different photos or threads. It was at one such event that I sold my first book!

I am also busy creating advertisements for my book. I didn’t know it three months ago, but books have trailers just like movies do. So, I am learning Photoshop CS6 and other multimedia applications to create trailers, and still images with reviews and endorsements for my book. I am also looking at what is called ‘swag’. My teenage children laugh every time they hear the word. It is a teenage word to mean something is cool, radical, awesome (choose your era of word). In the book realm it means promotional giveaways such as bookmarks, coffee mugs, pens, notebooks, t-shirts, magnets, stickers, lip balm, etc. The list is as big as your imagination! These are used on those Facebook parties and at signings as ways of bringing people in to purchase your book.

One final touch happens during all of this. The cover artist receives the information on how long the book is, the final blurb, any endorsements to add to the book, and then finalizes the cover. This is the last step layout needs to be able to print the book, whether that is a Kindle or a print version.

While all of that is happening, I am also counting down the days to the release! For me, my first release will be Monday, August 10, only three weeks away! That will be when I will have a Facebook release party and celebrate the birth of my novel! Then in September, I will have my first signing.

Are you exhausted yet? There is the energy of excitement and suspense of wondering what will it be like when it is finished, and the ups and downs of technology communications, or real life happenings that cause your team to change mid-way through. These keep you on your toes and everything fresh. So, yes, being and author is more than writing. It is being a person who is active in the birthing of a book.

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