Harlequin includes a Dear Reader letter with its books, a letter from the author specifically for that book’s readers.
It’s a nice touch, I think. At the end of a story, you get to hear from the person who wrote it. Makes you feel as if you’ve shared the experience with them.
The Dear Reader letter is always interesting to read, as it often provides insight into the author’s inspiration for wanting to write that particular story. – SYTYCW.
For some reason, I’d forgotten to take the Dear Reader letter into account. Even though I’ve read them in all the Harlequin Love Inspired books that I have, it hadn’t clicked that I would need to provide one. Dear Reader letters are written by real writers.
My subconscious is stubborn. It doesn’t believe I’m a real writer.
Me: But — but– they sent me a contract, they sent me an advance, they gave the book a publication date. What more proof do you need?
Subconscious: I don’t believe it. You’re not a real writer.
I don’t know what it’s going to take to convince my subconscious that this really is going to happen. A book that I wrote is going to be published.
I’ve put together a Dear Reader letter for His Forgotten Fiancée. One more stop on the road to publication. I don’t think my subconscious is going to believe until I hold an actual book in my hands. Maybe not even then. I have a very stubborn subconscious.
Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone’s disbelief.
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.
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.
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!
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.
While 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.
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.