Publishing is not… (This is a pep talk, I promise)

Publishing is an ever growing, ever evolving world. While traditional publishing is still a powerful force in the industry, many writers are taking matters into their own hands and releasing novels themselves. No matter how writers take steps in fulfilling their dreams, there are still a few things that haven’t changed.

Instead of spending your precious time explaining why I pursued publishing the stories of the characters in my head, I will illustrate five points that show what publishing is not. I hope they will help you decide if diving into an ever changing industry is the right choice for you. I promise; this is a pep talk.

First, publishing is not for incomplete novels.

Publishing is all about completion. If you do not have a complete novel then what is there to publish? You must write. And to do this you must banish all the reasons in your head that prevent you from sitting down in front of your laptop. “I’m too busy.” “Work is crazy.” “Life happens.” I’m not saying you need to come up with a novel in a day.

One sentence. One paragraph. One page. One chapter. These are doable lengths on a daily basis that will, when put together, eventually lead to a completed novel. And a great sense of accomplishment. Time is not the issue. Motivation is. Determination is. Because when there something you really want to do nothing short of the end of the world can stop you.

Second, publishing is not for those afraid of rejection.

Let’s face it, rejection sucks. It’s probably one of the worst things you will encounter as a writer. Believe it or not, writing and finishing your novel is actually the easiest part. If seeing your novel published is your dream, then be prepared for rejection. Quite a lot of it. Don’t compare yourself to writers who seemed to magically gain fame and fortune because at some point they were rejected too.

If writing and being published is really something you see yourself doing then you will eventually hold a print/ecopy of your work in your hands. Stick to the goals you have set for yourself, no matter the kind of opposition you face along the way. Don’t be afraid to take detours. As long as you know your destination, you will get to where you’ll need to be regardless of the road you took to get there.

Third, publishing is not for the impatient.

No matter the path you choose, whether it’s traditional publishing or self-publishing, these things still take time. Traditional publishing takes about a year to two from submission, acceptance, editing, and the finished product. Sometimes even longer. Self-publishing is faster, but if you don’t take the time to find an editor who will help you polish your work, someone to format your manuscript so it follows standard digital and print platforms, and a cover artist, you will end up releasing an inferior product that might turn off readers. Once you lose reader trust it’s difficult to gain back.

Taking the traditional road means you won’t have to obsess over type-setting, page dimensions, purchasing ISBNs, and cover art. That is all provided by your publisher. All you need to do is focus on the most important part: the writing. So patience is key.

If you’re more inclined to take charge, you still need patience to make sure your novel is indeed ready for the real world. You want to make your baby look as presentable as possible, right? The last thing you want is a one star review all because of typos or bad formatting.

Just remember, things might get overwhelming along the way, but everything is doable. Just be patient and take things a step at a time. Less mistakes means more chances of success and readers following you onto your next book.

Fourth, publishing is not for quitters.

There will be moments when you will ask yourself, “Is this worth it?” There will even be moments when all you want to do is stop and walk away. Your darkest hour as a writer will be the truest test of your determination to get published. The urge to quit is powerful, even within the most successful of us.

Sometimes a character is being stubborn. Or a story isn’t working. Or reviewers hated your last book. On and on the reasons to quit will come. Sadly, there is no hard and fast rule that I can give you to keep you on the path you have begun.

If you’ve ever played a sport, this is where your coach will tell you to play through the pain. This is when you have to suck it up and keep going. Quitting is like that stitch on your side that you must learn to breathe through until it goes away. Quitting what separates the success stories from the horror stories. And believe me, there are a lot of them out there. You are the only one with the will to continue. If writing and getting published is really what you want then there’s no such thing as quitting in your vocabulary.

Lastly, publishing is not for those chasing trends.

One of the most important things to remember as a writer is originality. But, you may ask, “What is original in this world?” It’s definitely not chasing a trend. Remember, the reason why there is a trend is because someone was original enough to start it in the first place and everyone just copied what was already there.

Do you want to copy someone or do you want to carve your own niche in this world? As a writer you have your own ideas. These ideas are original to you. Sure, you want to write a boy meets girl story. What’s original about that? It’s the scenes you will put your characters in that will bring originality to your work. The conflict. The twists. Your creativity. All experiences are different. Falling in love is different to every person. Write what you know, not what someone tells you is popular at the moment.

Because here is the secret of a trend: it’s no longer relevant the moment it is discovered. So chasing it is like a cat running in circles after a red dot. She will never catch the dot. You write because you have a story in your head that you are dying to tell. Stick with that mindset and chasing trends won’t be an issue at all.

As a published author, I have experienced each and every point I have discussed in this post. I’ve had to convince myself to keep writing countless times. There were moments when reading another rejection letter made me want to pull my hair out. I’ve had to physically stop myself from writing an email asking what would happen next. I wanted to quit so many times it’s not even funny. And I’ve been a trend chaser too.

Every time I ran into a wall what kept me going was the thought that I love what I am doing. That I cannot see myself doing anything else. Being a writer is a calling. You can’t just say I want to write. You have to actually do it. Just like wanting to be a doctor. You have to actually study.

If after reading this post that passion for the written word is still burning bright inside of you then I can personally guarantee that you will get published. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. But all the steps it took to get there will be worth it once you have the finished product in your hands and you begin receiving emails from readers letting you know how much they enjoyed reading your work.

So this happened.

So this just happened! #NoLoveAllowed @swoonreads *dies*

A photo posted by Kate Eangelista (@kateva11) on

World Building

            This phrase is never more important than to the Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-fi writer and here’s the reason why: For these genres you build a world from scratch. This is probably the most you will ever play God during the writing process.
            Don’t get me wrong, contemporary writers also build worlds, but they take from what we already know—the world we live in. We must be authentic to reality when we’re writing contemporary. Deviations will definitely put you into a whole different genre. No flying cars in contemporary. No supernatural creatures—i.e. vampires, werewolves, etc. Ghosts are debatable because the concept depends on what you believe. But, for this post, let’s stick with the idea that in contemporary we already have a world to work with, we build upon it or improve it to suit our story.
            For our purposes we’ll concentrate on paranormal world building. Why? Because it’s what the class calls for, but also because we all know fantasy and sci-fi are leopards with stripes. You’re building a world from scratch. Like, seriously, from scratch.
            With paranormal you don’t necessarily have to build a world out of nothing, but there are certain elements of the world you’re building that you must keep in mind. This is where you begin to recall all the paranormal novels you’ve read that blew you away. I will be using examples as we go along. If you haven’t read any of the books I mention, I say check them out after reading this.  
            Now, let’s assume you’re writing a paranormal novel (romance or otherwise) that is contemporary because that’s the easiest to start with. You may ask, what about historical paranormal? That’s fine. You just need to remember that you really need to research the era you’re writing in. Is it Victorian? Is it Ancient Greece/Rome? Is it World War II? In short, unless you’re already well-versed with historical, let’s keep our timeframe in the present. This rule also applies for futuristic, bordering on sci-fi. Again, this is world building from the ground up.
            So, we’re sticking with a contemporary paranormal novel. Baby steps, people.
Tip: to keep from dating your novel, try not to over-reference pop culture. Example, Candy Crush, like Angry Birds, is a popular game, but it won’t always be. In fact, at the writing of this post, people would have moved on to something new. Mentioning the game in your story will definitely date it. A way around this, if you have a character who likes playing these games, is to generalize. Mention the smart phone games but don’t specify. A loophole is to make up your own game, but only if it will serve to develop your character. If it doesn’t, I suggest delete because it will bog down your story with unnecessary details. Save the word count for the information that does count.
            Okay, I’ve digress. Let’s get back on topic.
            First, know your setting.
            Is your novel set in a small town like in Twilight? Is your novel set in the city like in the Guild Hunters series by Nalini Singh? What kind of city is it? What kind of small town? Or is it a small village?
            Twilight uses Forks effectively because the town is under a constant cover of clouds, it rains often since it is located in Washington State, and there’s a lot of woodland surrounding the area. Stephenie Meyer did her research. Do yours as well, unless you’re going for a generic setting. Meaning, generic small town or generic urban setting. The pitfall when you take this route is the world might not ring true to your readers. So, you must know your setting. Add personal touches that only your characters know about the setting. Remember, if your characters believe in what they are describing, most likely your readers will too.
            Second, and this is the most important part, know your supernatural creature.
If you’re writing about vampires, what makes yours stand out from all the other vampires that populate Fiction Land? We all know Edward sparkles. But my favorite vampires have to be the Daimons from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters series. They don’t go for blood. They go for human souls. Another favorite of mine comes from Nalini Singh. Her vampires are created by Archangels. Totally unexpected and cool. In other words, set your supernatural creature apart.
This is where reading a lot helps. If you know what is already out there it is most likely that you won’t copy what has already been done. Or at the very least improve upon it and add your special twist. To do that, you must know them.
Even before you start writing your story, create a word file that describes your creatures. What are they? What makes them special? What are their origins? Are they immortal? Are they made? Are they born? What can kill them? How do they kill? What is their primary form of sustenance?
            Take note that all this information you will put together about your supernatural creature may never make it into the book, but knowing these beings inside and out will definitely add a level of authenticity and believability to your work. Because how can you write about something you know nothing about? Even if it’s fiction.
            Third, know your restrictions.
What I mean by this is: in your story are your creatures out in the open or living a secret life? This may seem like an easy question to answer, but in reality it’s not. If they are out in the open, how is the world treating these creatures? Are they still outcasts? Has the world accepted them into the fold? If so, how and why?
In Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series her supernatural creatures start out living in secret. As the series progresses the werewolves come out into the open and begin negotiating with humans for the right to be a part of society. The Fae also come out but insist on being apart from society by living in special compounds. Vampires remain a secret, but I believe as the story moves forward they’ll reveal themselves too. 
If you’re creatures live a secret life, why must they keep their existence a secret? Are they trying to live a “normal life” and trying to blend in? Why? Or are they living their supernatural lives but are still keeping a low profile? Again, why?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help build your plot. Add conflict to the story. I’m sure you’ve read paranormal novels were the creatures just don’t work or the concept has promise but fails to deliver. Most of the time it’s because the world building wasn’t solid enough. A writer says: I will write about vampires. Sure, seems easy enough. But we all know that Anne Rice has done it. Stephenie Meyer has done it. Countless other authors have done it. Same goes for werewolves, fairies, mermaids, you name it. What will set yours apart?
Start with the world building.

If you know your world, even if you’re writing a simple girl-meets-supernatural story, you’ll be successful at it because readers will want to step into the pages of the story you have built. 

For the Love of Editing

Release Date: April 19, 2016
In college I got it in my head that everything I wrote was absolute. Meaning my stories didn’t need any editing beyond the grammar. That in my mind the story was intentionally written that way and no one had the right to tell me how to change or fix it. Today, I chalk up this mental state to the hubris of youth.

            More than a decade later, I can proudly write this blog post you are reading and state that I love editing. Actually, you may even refer to me as an editing junkie. Dare I say I might even enjoy it more than the writing process at this point? I hear the audible gasps around the world. Before you hyperventilate into a paperback, which I have been known to do, bear with me and read on.

            Writing is exhilarating. The feeling of creating something out of nothing is as close as we can get to flying without our arms turning into wings. When I’m deep into a project, when my characters are speaking to me nonstop, I’m in the thralls of the creative and it’s unbeatable. And that feeling of relief once you type the two words every write longs to see, “The End,” is unbeatable.

            But there’s a giddiness that comes with editing that I would like to share with all of you. For me, editorial letters are like love letters from your editor filled to bursting with ideas on how to improve your work. That is certainly how I felt when Holly and I began our editing journey for No Love Allowed. She is the best. It’s actually an honor to rise to the occasion for her.

            Editing a story is actually the true test of a writer. It forces you to explore avenues into your work that you might not have seen or were too afraid to take in the creative stage. For the case of Didi’s and Caleb’s story, the examples given to me were nothing short of brilliant. You know your editor is awesome when what is being asked is specific. Generalizations are the hardest to manifest into paper, so when you’re given an editorial letter with ways to polish your storyline, why not jump at the chance? They certainly make your job as writer so much easier.

            Each editorial process is different. At least for me it is. With each new editor I work with I learn something new about myself as a writer that I take with me into future projects. What Holly showed me is I have the tendency to bury the story. It always puts a smile on my face when I see a comment bubble from her saying, “Let’s get to the good stuff.” This is usually followed by copious amounts of deleted paragraphs. *laughs*

            I had so much fun editing No Love Allowed that it will show in the final product. The generous part of me wants all the writers in the world to find an editor as awesome as Holly. The selfish part wants to keep her all to myself like “my precious” from Lord of the Rings.

            What I know for sure is learn to love editing. Because when you receive that editorial letter in your inbox realize that you are going to be a published author. That your book will be read by countless people. That it will all be worth it once the finished product is finally in your hands. 

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