It takes a village—no, I can’t use that worn-out expression. Instead, I’m going to change it to this: It takes a town, or a small city…to publish a book.
Tomorrow my book, Kissing Shakespeare, will be published by Random House/Delacorte Press. My amazing agent, Steven Chudney, found a home for it in November of 2010. Once the editorial process began, I couldn’t have asked for smoother sailing. My editor, Francoise Bui, and I seemed to be on the same wavelength throughout. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Writers talk about what a solitary process writing is, and of course, most of the time, that’s true. For me, and probably for many others, though, the process is a little different. While I’m writing, I bounce ideas off my husband, who not only listens, but always makes thoughtful suggestions. Granted, sometimes they’re really off the wall (sorry, honey), but other times, they’re gems. Ideas that seem to be exactly what the story needs. If you don’t have a spouse or partner, or creative friend or family member who can serve in that capacity, I suggest you find one! It has to be a person who takes you seriously, listens carefully, and has the ability to think outside the box (another over-used expression, but it fits the purpose). And simply talking to someone about where you’re stuck can free you and help you to suddenly see the light.
When I finished the actual writing of Kissing Shakespeare, my critique group read it. We had a meeting during which everybody offered theircomments on how to strengthen the manuscript. I’m not exaggerating when I say I see their influence on nearly every page of the book. Scary, but sometimes while I’m writing, I actually think I hear their voices! To be clear, my critique group is The Wild Writers (also known as the Wild Folk) who inhabit this web site, and I know that every one of them is celebrating with me.
I never dreamed so many people would have a hand in producing the finished product. Not only Steven, my agent, but also Francoise and her assistant, and all the behind-the-scenes folks at Delacorte. Book designers and copy editors. The marketing team. My publicist, Lauren Donovan. Those in charge of the actual printing of the book. And no doubt myriad others I don’t even know about.
I remember the year I attended my first SCBWI Fall Conference (Rocky Mountain Chapter). It was hard for me, because I’m basically a pretty shy person. I don’t know how many people I actually met and talked to, but I consider that conference the catalyst for learning how to write. From then on, I attended countless meetings, workshops, classes, and other conferences, sponsored by many organizations, such as Pikes Peak Writers and the Highlights Foundation. If you haven’t taken advantage of these kinds of opportunities, start now! (Many writing conferences offer scholarships, if money is a problem.) Writers have so much to learn. We’re continuously fine-tuning our craft. That may sound trite, but it happens to be true!
Whether writers are taking the traditional publishing route, or the indie one, they need the wisdom, guidance, and thinking of those who are working toward the same goal. And the skills of folks who can take a manuscript and turn it into a printed book, an e-book, or both.
So, in the end, writing is not as solitary as we think.