My Publisher Made Me A Better Writer by Tami Lund
Signing with a publisher has made me a better writer. There, I said it. Typed out the words. Posted it on this blog. It is out there in cyberspace, and I am forever beholden.
But it’s the truth, so I’m okay with it.
I have read plenty of articles and blogs about working with a publisher versus self-publishing, and most have a similar theme. Choosing to go with a publisher to make your books available to the world means you lose control. I suppose this is true in some areas, such as marketing — which I’m okay with because that’s why I chose to continue to seek a publishing partner, even after reading all those articles telling me to do it my own way. I am not a marketing expert, nor do I have the time to devote nor the reach to get my book in front of enough people that I will make enough sales to justify spending the time and effort to write another book, and another and…
When you sign a contract with a publisher, you also give up control over the cover. Based on the information my two publishers provided, I can tell this is a point of contingency between them and authors. Both publishers made it very clear that while they were asking for my input, the ultimate decision lies with them.
I’m okay with that, too. I am not an artist (not that kind, anyway), and publishers employ artists whose job it is to create book covers that sell. That’s the key component. Publishers want to sell your book just as much as you do. If your book doesn’t sell, they don’t make money, and let’s be honest, they signed you because they believe what you have written is going to increase their profits.
Yes, I went into this process with a preconceived notion of what my book covers would look like. Don’t we all? But I also understood the dynamics of my relationship with my publishers. And to tell you the truth, I think they both did a fantastic job with the respective covers. Naked Truth is almost exactly as I envisioned it would be, and I love the subtle shimmer and sparkle on the cover of Into the Light, which ties into the main magical beings featured in the book.
The title is another area where you sort of have control, but the publisher has the right to veto. Into the Light was accepted without issue, the other, originally titled Dancing for my Love, had to be changed. I agonized over a new title for days. I finally went to my personal Facebook page and asked my friends for ideas. I presented my top two favorites to that same group of friends and asked them for a vote. Hey, these people not only believe in me, but they’re readers too. I figure if they like the title, it’ll probably sell. Naked Truth was an overwhelming top choice, and I offered that one to my publisher. They loved it. So while I did not have total control over the title, I had enough to feel comfortable, and to be honest, the new title fits the book content better than the original anyway.
Last and most important is the editing process itself. This is the area, I assume, many writers feel they truly have to give up control, and ultimately decide self-publishing is the way to go. Yes, it is a daunting task, if you have never before had one of your books edited by a professional. All that redlining, all those comments and highlights. After scanning the first couple dozen pages of edits, I started hyperventilating, afraid I was going to have to cut so much that my novel would turn into a novella. I emailed my editor in a panic.
She responded and told me not to worry, she was confident I would find places in other areas of the book to add different words back to the story. She was right.
Every single one of the edits was a good decision. They made sense. Redundancy; using someone’s name too many times in one paragraph; repeating the same angst instead of finding a new reason why the hero and heroine should stay apart for another forty or fifty pages. Questioning certain aspects of the storyline that caused me to go back and explain things more thoroughly. Or, in some cases, cut those sections entirely. It all made sense.
And guess what? I went back and used all that same advice to work through the final edits of my most recent self-published release, Summertime at The Resort. Not only that, but as I write the second book in the Lightbearer Series, I am also keeping those edits and suggestions in mind. Maybe there will be less redlines during editing of this book. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll learn something new with this one too.
I believe I am a good writer, and I have great stories to tell, but I am not perfect. Everyone can improve their craft, and my publishers will continue to help take mine to the next level.
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More about Tami Lund:
Tami Lund likes to live, love and laugh, and does her best to ensure the characters in her books do the same. After they’ve overcome a few seemingly insurmountable obstacles, of course. Find Tami at www.tamilund.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @TamiLundAuthor. She’s also on various other social media, like Tumblr, Google+, Linked In and who knows what else. Just search “Tami Lund.” She’s probably there.