Nov 282013
 

I know. You’re deluged by the posts and Tweets and Facebook status updates that are all about Thanksgiving.

But for the first time since life officially fell apart on Thanksgiving 2009, I’m sitting here on Thanksgiving day 2013 and I’m able to see that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a freight train. It’s the sun, and man, it feels good.

I’ve got a flourishing business. The best editing clients ever, who push me to be a better editor as they push themselves to be better writers. But they also help me shape my vision for what West of Mars can (ought?) to be, and by seeking my help and advice, they enable me to take those scary steps that make it all happen.

I’ve got two fantastic attorneys and I’m always glad to share them with anyone in need. One turned a vague dream of one day owning a business into something real. Something with the letters LLC after its name.

My business mentor has been a boon and a balm. She pushes me when I need it and holds my hand and promises me it’ll all be okay when I freak out. So far, she’s been dead-on right. Next time you ask me what I do for a living and I reply, “I play with words. Your words, to be exact,” you can thank her.

All of this has come together for me just since August, when I poked my head out of the tunnel and found the world on the other side isn’t so scary after all. And it’s only the start. An exhilarating, whirlwind of a start.

Did you know I have a non-fiction department? Here’s one I bet you didn’t know about… the non-fiction department now has an intern, too.

And there’s more. A new While Writing service and the existing Back Cover Copy (or query letter) service, both which are available only to my current clients. More subcontractors, so that I can help my clients with all their needs. More relationships with other author service providers. And more to come.

For those of you who’ve been here for a long time and have watched the transformation, thanks for being along this crazy journey. I know you haven’t understood about 95% of it, but thanks for sticking by me as it’s evolved. Five years ago, I’d have laughed if you’d told me I’d be here now.

But as I look back, I know life is so much richer, sweeter, and rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

Never fear what lies ahead, I’ve learned. Sometimes, you’re standing in the worst. And then you wake up and realize the worst is behind you.

I may never stop fearing the worst will come back for another attempt at swallowing me whole. But I survived the last time. I’ll survive it again.

After all, if this fails, there’s always real estate.

Nov 212012
 

Actually, behind the scenes around here, things have been a ruckus.

It seems that there’s a million debut authors out there, and each of them want their book proofed so they can have a pre-Christmas release.

I’m only one woman, folks! I hope some of these authors will find their way back to me and we can work together in the future. Turning work away isn’t my idea of a smart move — even though it’s one I’m grateful to have to do. In just over a year, you guys have helped me build this little editing business into something viable.

Now, here’s where I go all controversial on you. I don’t get the rush for debut authors to put out pre-Christmas releases.

In talking to many of my author clients and author friends, everyone agrees: if they give books as gifts, they’re not giving unknown titles and authors. Think about it… your reputation is on the line when you give a book as a gift, after all. Readers want to share what you’ve already loved, not something that you picked up ’cause you needed to give a gift. In other words: books should be gifts as personal as the most heartfelt noodle necklace from a two-year-old. Those kids put love into every last piece of pasta…

Adding to the mix are the comments that the kids who get new e-readers or tablets mess up the search algorhythms, making most books hard to find. Authors who have noticed a sales dip in January — everyone agrees that February and March are when sales pick up again.

In short, it’s hard for ANYone to get noticed this time of year. So why not wait, schedule dates in late December or early January, and aim for that February or March release? Why not take it as a cooling-off period, start something new, start researching reviewers and publicity options? Go ahead, start networking. “Well, I’m waiting for my amazing editor to get through her other projects and work on mine. So while we wait, let’s talk about you or books we’ve both read, or, hey, got any ideas for a great dinner recipe?”

But, then, I believe that waiting for a good editor, being smart enough to let someone else help you shape your baby, is worth bragging about. I believe it gives you clout and a measure of professionalism. Mostly, though, it shows that you so care much about your book and your potential success that you’re willing to go the extra mile to make sure your reader has the best experience possible. It shows that you want to be a gift next year at Christmas, a book someone liked enough to do more than recommend: they liked it enough to GIFT it.

Authors, take your time with your books. Instead of trying to time the market, remember you’re in this for the long haul. The prize your eye should be on is sales. Lots of sales, over a long period of time. Your prize ought to be readers who are so loyal to you that come next Christmas, it’s your book they are putting under that tree.

I’ve got dates open at the end of December and all of January (and beyond). Care about your book. If you don’t have me edit it, have someone else. Someone good. (Because, really, what’s the point of using someone bad? All you’re doing is throwing money away — twice, as you’ll need to have someone good fix all the bad! You’re not made of money. Choose your editor wisely)

Happy Thanksgiving, folks. This year, I’m giving thanks for all my awesome authors and the strength of West of Mars Editing.