Tell us something about your novel.
Lily Steps Out is a middle-age coming-of-age about a woman who is sick of making beds and cooking meals and decides to “step out” of the comfortable life she knows and goes out and gets a job.
Is the novel autobiographical?
There is that one nugget of truth in the novel, in that before I became an author I was a wife and mother. But unlike Lily, who waits till she’s fifty five to make that life-altering change, I stepped out of that role when I was in my mid-thirties. I became an interior designer which led to me teaching interior design. I then went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing.
Did you new career and education alter your life?
It made me realize I was smarter than I thought I was, and that I could do a lot more than I thought I could within the framework of my marriage.
How long did it take you to write Lily Steps Out?
The writing took five years. Five years of writing and rewriting, and bringing my chapters to my writer’s group. I think a writers’ group is essential for any writer. As writers, we fall in love with our sentences; they’re our darlings and we can’t see them objectively. We need others to do that for us. Writing the book was the easy part.
What was the hard part?
The hard part was getting it published. That took seven years and I learned a lot along the way.
Would you tell us bout your journey so our readers can learn from your experience?
There’s a process to getting published, just like there’s a
process attached to every task you take on. You bake a cake, you plant a garden, there’s a step-by-step procedure you need to follow if you want a successful outcome. So whether you’re trying to get an agent to represent you, seek out publishers who accept non-agented fiction, or self publish, if you start out with a solid foundation, you’ll be a step ahead of those who hand in incomplete or sloppy work.
What do you suggest as a starting point to getting published?
The starting point for me was to get my novel into the best possible shape I could. That meant that after all the contributions from my writers’ group and all the changes I implemented along the way, I went through the novel yet again. I tightened the prose and eliminated every bit of dialogue and scene that didn’t reveal a characters personality or move the story forward. Then I hired a professional editor to proof-read and fine-tune the whole business.
After all that work on your own, you still thought you needed a professional editor?
A professional editor can see what a writer can’t. They’ve got their antennae out for awkward sentence structure, slipups in grammar, and in general they can make a book better. But they’re not perfect. An editor, no matter how careful, can miss a typo here and there, so be sure to read your manuscript over before sending it on to an agent.
Tell us about your experience with agents.
In 2000, before I had internet access, I bought the Writers Market of Agents and Publishers and went through it from A to Z, quering any and all agents who represented commercial or women’s fiction. The process took months. Some agents sent back form rejections, others didn’t respond at all. Then one day, I received in the mail, a glowing letter from an agent who’d asked to see the entire manuscript. She loved the book, loved the characters and wanted to take me on as a client. Bidding wars and movie deals danced in my head. But there were no bidding wars. No movie deals. No publisher wanted my book.
What about publishers who accepted non-agented submissions?
I tried them also, but nothing came of that.
Is that when you began to consider self publishing?
I’d hired a graphic designer for the cover and had even researched publishers. I was all set to send in my novel, when one day I put my hand in the pocket of a coat and out came a slip of paper in my handwriting with Penumbra Publishing written on it. “What’s this?” I said. This it turned out, was my prayed for traditional publisher, who found my novel “engaging, with unique characters that gave the tale a certain refreshing charm.”
The rest, as they say is history. Lily’s history, and the twelve years from start to finish, when I began the book to the day it was accepted. Finally, finally, my book was going to be published.
So you were on your way.
But on my way to where? Who was going to know about my book? Who was going to buy it? Penumbra is a small independent publisher; the advertising and marketing of my novel would fall to me. Somehow I’d have to let people know that my book was there—in amongst the millions of other books available in soft and hard cover, on line and in book stores. Somehow I’d have to draw attention to my book.
On the advice of a friend and fellow writer who’d been there and done that, I got on the Social Network and put up a Facebook page and my own website. If a writer wants to be taken seriously today, she or he must have a website, a place an interested reader can find out about them and their book.
I visited blogger sites to see if my personal story would interest them.
There are many ways to promote a book—author talks at libraries, an article in your local paper—the thing is to search out these possibilities, and keep at it. If someone says “I’ll get back to you,” give it a few weeks, and get back to them.
to get frustrated; all writers want their work to be accepted. And those darn
rejections can really get you down. But don’t let them keep you from writing
and going after what you want.
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Buy Lily Steps Out on Amazon
In : Author Interviews
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