The difference between an amateur and a professional writer

“…that was the moment I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.”

-Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

I must be a professional writer. I don’t feel like writing today. I don’t feel that what I’m writing is particularly good. I still like the story, but I’m not so thrilled with the way the writer puts words on the page.

I’m going to keep going anyway.

Patricia Anderson describes four stages of writing for publication:

  1. Writing for the joy of it
  2. Cultivating discipline and the will to revise
  3. Understanding—and accepting—market dictates and the business of publishing
  4. Writing as a job

Today, it is a job.

That’s okay. I’m going to keep going anyway.

 

Just the art facts, ma’am

I thought one of the benefits of selling a manuscript through a contest was that the manuscript had sold based on the story itself. I was patting myself on the back for not having to write the dreaded query letter.

Ha.

If you publish traditionally, you still have to explain the story to the people who are going to sell it. The people who design the cover need to know what themes are in the story. The distributors want to know what angles the story has that makes it stand out from all the other books that are coming out that month. The reviewers need to know why anyone should pick it up and read it in the first place. Your story, your word baby that you labored over with sweat and prayers, is special to you. Why should anyone else care? Well, it’s your job to tell them. Or, in this case, my job.

On the plus side, this is an opportunity for me to influence the process. For example, for the cover I was asked to write a brief description of three different scenes: the mood, the setting, how the characters were dressed and how I pictured them. I hear stories about other publishers, about authors who feel like they have no say in what the final product will look like. I think it reflects well on Harlequin that they ask for input.

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 5.00.36 PM

 

I love Pinterest. I don’t know what authors did before the Internet. I can just point and say “There. That’s what Matthew looks like. That’s Liza’s claim. There’s Elijah, looking adorable.”

I still hate writing blurbs. And synopses. And catchy catch phrases. These are skills that I need to work on. But I’m getting better!

 

Becoming real

Cinderella
Not the cover, alas. A picture of Cinderella.

Matthew and Liza’s story not only has a publication date, it has a title. It’s almost like it’s a real book or something crazy like that.

His Forgotten Fiancée, coming soon to a retailer near you.

By soon, I mean January. Which is going to give me time to finish editing Geoff and Lia’s story and hopefully write another story that I have simmering.

A title by any other name

Roulette wheel
Looking for a title for a story? I was asked to provide a list of different titles for my story about Matthew and Liza. Google kindly pointed me toward some romance novel title generators:

Western Romance Title Generator

Romance Title Generator

Or this one, which came up with the catchy title, “The Greek Tycoon’s One-Night Plan for Tax Purposes.” I think that one’s my favorite.

If you need more than a title, you might try this one, which has generators for titles, plots, character flaws, and a horde of other novel elements.

Snow crystals on carWhile random generators might help spark the creative process, what works best is to find a title that expresses what is unique about this particular story. Finding the right title is not like playing a roulette wheel, more like picking a snowflake out of a blizzard.

Writing World has a useful article on finding the right title for your novel.

Signs of progress

"my way" (3363960572)

My story about Matthew and Liza needed some revising, and then more revising. And then some tweaking. And then re-tweaking. This is not a bad thing. Trust me when I say it needed the work. I am grateful that I had a kind editor who could point out the things that needed to be tweaked and revised.

Now it has a publication date. It should be coming out in January. This gives the production staff the time they need to work their magic on it.

But first, they need me to do more work. I need to think up some exciting titles that will tell the reader at a glance how fabulous, dazzling, and covered-in-glitter-amazing my story is. Or at least titles that will give them a hint what the story is about and rouse their curiosity so they have to click the link to see what it’s about.