As many of you are already aware, I was a teacher for twelve years before I abandoned a solid career, a steady paycheck and reliable health benefits to chase my dreams of being a writer. When people hear this I can honestly say their reactions boil down to one of two:
1. WOW! You’re really living the dream! How brave and exciting!
Not gonna lie, I like these people. They feel like my private cheerleaders rooting me on and every time I release a new book they give me a huge smile and sometimes I even get a squee of excitement. If they ask questions about my new career it’s usually in the vein of, “Are your characters based on anyone in real life?” or “How long did it take to write your novel?” And my personal favorite, “I read your book, and I loved it. Will there be a sequel?”
These people are such a solid motivation for me. Hearing that they not only believe in what I do, but ENJOY what I do makes it all worthwhile.
Then there’s the other reaction…
2. WOW! So you like, don’t teach at all? So you don’t have a real job anymore? It must be nice to have nothing to do all day but make things up. So, wait– what do you do all day?
I can honestly say that these are the people who deflate my ballon. These people don’t offer me smiles or give me an excited squee. These people judge. They ask questions that are way too personal. (How much money do you make? is my least favorite, closely followed by, So you’re not with a real publisher?)
And no matter what answers I give them, they will never be satisfied with my response. I suppose it’s because I’m the freak that shattered society’s mold and ran away to join the circus.
Becoming an actor or dancer or writer is what other people become, not you.
Well… why not me?
I have been asked countless times, “So when are you going back to teaching?” Which I can honestly say, I have no desire to do. When I tell them that, they seem offended.
So to answer those questions… THIS is what I do all day:
BIRTHING MY BOOK BABY
By Kat Daemon
Just like a woman in different stages of pregnancy, different stages of the writing/publishing process dictates how I spend my days.
Stage 1: Writing.
This seems pretty obvious, but writing involves rewriting.
I sit down with an idea in mind and if my characters are talking to me that day, they usually dictate the scene. So a chapter I originally saw going one way could end up vastly different. When this happens, I have to make notes and make sure that whatever I have planned for future chapters is not altered by what I wrote in the present. I like to write with my laptop, but I keep a notebook next to me and some post-it notes to stick everywhere to remind me of scenes that will need tweaking when I get there. After my scene/chapter/pages are written, I read them and rewrite them until my eyes are fried and my wrist feels like it’s going to burst. There’s an odd satisfaction in that kind of pain. When the entire manuscript is finished I’ll do the same thing but on a grander scale for the whole book.
Write, revise, tweak, repeat.
Stage 2: Betas have been fed, now what?
So the manuscript is done. Yay! Not exactly. Now’s when I hand my baby off to a few beta readers who provide me with what I’m thirsty for– honest opinions.
Depending on the length of the manuscript and how busy they are this can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
So you get to relax now, right? Nope.. not yet…
Stage 3: Cover Design
This is when I really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being an Indie author. Every author dreams about seeing their book on a shelf, and we all fantasize about what that cover will look like. When I first signed with Entranced Publishing one of the coolest things I got to do was fill out my “vision” of the cover. Then I submitted the form and waited almost seven months until I was allowed to even get a peek at the cover. During that time I had full blown anxiety attacks over that darn cover. My book was about the devil. In my story he’s portrayed as beautiful, charming and impeccably stylish. But my fear was red horns, a tail and some skanky boobilicious girl draped to his leg. The final result was rather simple. Two images cut and paste together with red font that proclaimed my title. While it was not even close to the horror I had envisioned, it also wasn’t even close to the description I had submitted. That’s when I realized, despite the form, I had no say. The cover didn’t belong to me, it belonged to them. (That’s when I took my first REAL step towards being an Indie author and contacted an insanely talented artist to talk about my cover and print options.)
One of the tragedies of Self-Publishing is cheesy covers. I would hope my readers can say that my covers don’t fall under that category. I have worked with two professional cover artists since I’ve gone Indie and although their styles differ, their work is no less amazing. To me, the cover has to capture the essence of the book. By looking at it you should know, is this a love story, horror, memoir?
Working with S.P. McConnell on my Darkness Saga has been an epic adventure. He was determined to provide me with a unique and original illustrated cover that summed up the heart of my story in one moving image. I’d say, mission accomplished:
When I needed a break from the darkness and my delicious demons, I dove into uncharted waters and wrote my first New Adult Contemporary Romance. I wanted fun, and flirty. I had a strong idea of what my characters looked like and how they interacted with each there. So I approached Sotia Latzu with the project. The result? Perfection.
Sotia is also working on another secret project for me, but you’ll have to wait to see that beauty– and it is a BEAUTY!
Stage 4: Marketing.
I wish the moment I hit publish my name was so well known that people flocked to their laptops to order my book on release day. Sadly, I’m not there yet. I have a handful of loyal readers, but in order to get my book into the hands of complete strangers, I gotta work it.
This means, paperwork. Filling out forms, researching bloggers, and venues to promote my book. You would think having done it once I could just rally up the same contacts. Nope. Every book is a different story and therefore attracts a different group of people. The marketing has to be tailored to a target audience. I’m still working on this part, some days you hit. Others, you miss.
Stage 5: Edits & Revisions.
Well the book is back from the betas. My editor has returned it with her comments & corrections. Now the fun part begins. I have to weigh everyone’s advice on how to make my book better. Plot holes, character development, killing my darlings… it all happens here. Some books are cleaner than others. Killing Darkness took me six years to write and two months to edit. Death by Social Suicide took me three weeks to write and one week to edit. I wrote, edited and published Reborn & Revenge in about five weeks. I have been working on the finale, Redemption, for over three months.
No two books ever travel the same path.
Stage 6: Formatting and Final Proof.
The book has been written, read, edited, and revised. It has been professionally formatted and the mailman drops it on my door step. That’s right– I’m holding my book baby for the first time! I inspect the cover, sniff the pages and photograph it like a proud mama. So now what?
I read it, silly!
This is the last chance I’ll have to catch any errors and while I’ve probably already read this book one hundred times by now, it needs to be read one hundred and one.
So the book is read. It’s deemed worthy and now it is set up for publication. The channels of distribution are chosen, the final polished manuscript and cover are uploaded and the price is set. There’s only one thing left to do: hit publish.
Stage 7: Happy Book Birthday!
It’s book release day! The novel is available at midnight, it’s showing up in the correct channels of distribution, people are buying it– which means, it now has a rank. Hey, remember all that marketing we did earlier? It’s paying off! The rank is getting better and more books are being sold. Sometimes the rank is REALLY pretty and the book baby starts ranking in categories. The better the rank, the more people see it. The more people see it, the better the chances of the book making more sales. Think it’s a fun, relaxing day? It’s exciting, no doubt about that, but it comes with a lot of stress and anxiety.
Stage 8: Reviews.
The publication of the book is only the beginning. The readers response is what matters now, and without reviews –real reviews, not my great-aunt Tessie pinching my cheeks and saying, good job– the book will fail. So now different forms have to be filled out, and different bloggers have to be sought out. I need honest opinions, so I need readers who are not biased to read and review my book. This is a never-ending process and every time I see a new review posted, I get a bit queasy before I read it.
So now you have it. The great mystery of what I do now that I’m no longer teaching has been revealed. So that romantic image of Shakespeare scribbling away with his quill is sadly, NOT what I do all day.
But now that you know how I pass my hours, want to know something else?
I love what I do.