Note: This post first appeared on Hannah Conway's blog as part of the anniversary celebration for Breathing on Her Own.
Publishing that first novel is akin to raising your firstborn child. You do your best, make a few mistakes, and learn along the way. Now that Breathing on Her Own is a three-year-old, I’m prepared to offer other fledgling parents of books my sage advice. I'm including links to three short handbooks you will find helpful in setting your course to birth your own "Bookchild."
Lesson 1 Birthing a “Bookchild” Requires Preparation
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First time parents want to do this whole baby thing right. Moms exercise and eat healthy. Dads dutifully paint the nursery. The couple reads everything they can about raising children and they spend long hours discussing the child’s name.
In the same way, writers seeking to be authors need to exercise their writing muscle in order to draft that sweet manuscript. They must purposefully study the craft of writing and nuances of publishing. Writers need to identify their strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to improve as a writer. Choosing the title will emerge as the story unfolds. When I embarked on crafting that first novel, I created a business plan for my writing. I budgeted my time to study writing and publishing and engaged daily in writing exercises.
Lesson 2 Nobody’s “Bookchild” is Perfect
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Lesson 3 Not Everyone on the Playground Will Choose Your “Bookchild”
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Once I decided to become an author I attended a writing conference. I hadn’t finished the first draft of Breathing on Her Own but was very close to the end. I pitched the book to agents and acquisition editors for publishing houses. I practiced what is called an elevator pitch. The first two agents interrupted me about halfway through my pitch. The next one and a couple of the publishers offered a kind word but a firm no. My last appointment was with Eddie Jones of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He listened. He read the chapters I sent him. Two months later I had a contract. Not everyone will choose your book, but it only takes one.
Are you an aspiring author? I would love to hear from you. How are you spending these months of preparation to birth your own “bookchild?”