“It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock ‘n Roll”
(But, first, Debra’s going to jump in here and mention that with over 50 published books under her belt, Nancy has seen the highways and byways of publishing over the years! And she’s here to light a fire under us. She doesn’t pull punches, and I suspect that facing reality and investing in the journey is why Nancy has 50 published books. You know?)
You’ve got to pay your dues.
Writers are all too familiar with that phrase. Of course, it could mean heading for Pay Pal to pony up our membership fee for all those groups and clubs and organizations that fill our creative wells. But there’s another kind of dues, the kind that implies obligation, guilt, resentment and frustration. If life is a highway, the route to success is a tricky toll road. And exact change is sometimes necessary!
We start out in our writing career with our pockets full of dreams, ready to be fleeced of our innocence. The first thing to ravel is the concept that writing the best possible book is all it takes. “Genius, of course, will be instantly recognized and rewarded.” Well, sometimes it can work that way, but more than likely that fast lane to fame and fortune is reached from a two track filled with ruts and wrong turns. And maybe Yoda-like shepherd to herd us in the right direction with words of wisdom.
First toll: blood, sweat and possibly years. We learn our craft. There are no short cuts, no blue light specials, no osmosis that will transform a casual scribbler into an author. It takes practice and knowledge as well as instinctive skill. It. Is. Hard. Work. Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard. Nothing glamorous about it. We take classes in grammar, in GMC. Enter contests. This is where we trim that fluffy softness we’ve been spinning dreams with and wind it into a tight weather-resistant berber that can stand up to heavy foot traffic. Study, listen and learn. The school of hard knocks doesn’t end until we have something worth selling.
Next booth: Entering the Marketplace. We drop in our fears and our expectations before pulling through. We’re in the real writing world now. We’ve got a product to peddle…just like the five to ten thousand other writers who’ll be competing for that one space in the publishers lot. Parallel parking takes skill and timing. We knock over cones, go over the lines, miss the mark by a mile. But we keep working on it. Submit. Revise. Submit again. (Better their desk than ours.) We watch for opportunities: wear tight shoes and pantyhose for a chance to talk to an editor or agent at those hot and crowded mixers. We take that step out of our comfort zone and MEET the people who can help us get to our destination. (Don’t tailgate. That’s just rude.) Chat in the hotel bar, pass out cards, get introductions. We think of it as speed dating until we find the perfect match of editor/agent/author. And remember, no contact is a wasted contact. You never know when that assistant you tossed around titles with at one house will be the senior editor buying your book at another. Believe me, that was a worthwhile lesson learned (to the tune of six books!)
Watch out for detours. Don’t get distracted by all the things that keep us from doing the one thing we need to do, which is write the book. “Yes, I should. Yes, I can. Yes, I will.” We join twenty loops, speak at every venue we can find from the Cub Scouts to Senior Centers, volunteer to judge contests, alphabetize our reference books, critique for anyone who asks, bake cookies for home room, take junior to judo, offer to mentor, post on blogs because we need to give back. Whoa. Pull over. We’re going nowhere fast except in circles. Paying dues does not mean owing everyone every minute of our time. Learn to dole out time and money carefully lest it be all gone before we reach our goal.
Chose a lane and stick with it. “Why does the other lane seem to move faster? Why does that author get comped advertising, a best seller, a movie deal when I’ve worked so much harder? How come Ms. First Book Wonder neatly passes my semi-full of mid-list books on her way to a six-figure contract? Why wasn’t I nominated? I write so much better than…“ Deposit pride and ego and move on. On the weigh station of life, nothing’s fair. Suck it up or take the bus. We’re only responsible for our own path. We can’t hitch a ride on someone else’s. Don’t jump from your lane to the next unless you’re sure it will get you there faster. Sometimes it’s more expedient to stick with what you know than to hop onto every passing trend. But then again, sometime riding with the top down is its own reward.
Whatever you do, go boldly. If you want to rock ‘n roll, drive with the windows down and the music blasting on that less traveled road, enjoy every mile of the trip.
Currently, I’m rock ‘n rolling at Pocket Books with a new dark paranormal shape shifter series. I’m hugely excited about this exciting road I’ve chosen. The series is unique in that it follows the same hero and heroine through the first four books. He’s a shape-shifter searching for his past and she’s a dedicated cop hiding from demons of her own in a steamy New Orleans backdrop where a criminal empire filled with treacherous alliances, a clan of ferocious shape-shifters looking for their prophesied leader, and an inescapable fate conspire to pull them apart. I call it Romeo & Juliet meets Beauty and the Beast in the Big Easy. (See how much I learned at your workshop, Deb!) Hang on tight. It’s a road trip that will blow your hair back.
The first book, MASKED BY MOONLIGHT is on the shelves now. “Intriguing characters and zippy action,” says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. “Gideon masters the tension required to keep her complex and engaging story moving.” CHASED BY MOONLIGHT and CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT follow in June and July.
Nancy Gideon is the author of over 50 romances ranging from historicals to paranormals and contemporary suspense. She works full time as a legal assistant and never leaves her car port without Map Quest.
To learn more about Nancy’s career road trip and her series, visit: http://www.nancygideon.com/.
For a taste of MASKED BY MOONLIGHT, check out her book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyawnTxvAuo&feature=player_embedded
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
And don’t forget to bring the exact change!
What dues have you paid to get where you wanted to go? Was it worth it? Comments don’t have to relate to writing. A winner for an autographed copy of MASKED BY MOONLIGHT will be drawn at random.