Sunday, September 16, 2007

What’s It Feel Like to Face Impending Publication?

What have I been doing since visiting the Christian Retail Show in Atlanta in July? I’ve edited my novel Desert Medicine for what seems the zillionth time: a few more edits to adjust the structure, edits based on the fact finder’s concerns, and edits to correct grammar and style. I’m very grateful to Kregel Publications for such devotion to detail, most recently under the guidance of Editor Miranda Gardner.

People ask me, What does if feel like to be a published author? Well, it was really exciting a year ago when I heard that a publisher might be interested in buying Desert Medicine (after six years of trying to sell the book!), and then shortly afterwards I was finally able to sign with a literary agent. But now that I’ve been working with the publisher to prepare the manuscript for publication, it feels like any other job. This disappoints people if I tell them this, and it’s not entirely true. Of course there are some days when post-acceptance life feels incredible. I felt gratified to the point of tears when I saw the most recent layout, which includes 16 of my own black and white photos. The graphic artist did such a great job (thanks, Nick Richardson), placing them in an oval, feathered frame that makes them look antique. I love seeing my manuscript looking like a “real” book. My manuscript is no longer an orphan; she’s now a well-groomed, clean-faced child with a bow in her hair, looking loved and appreciated. She’s grown into the type of child you’re proud to take out in public.

Now, it’s time to arrange for author appearances. I read recently that author Jodi Picoult approaches book readings and signings NOT as a time for self-aggrandizement, but rather as an opportunity to give back to her readers. What a wonderful and generous way of viewing this stage of book publishing. I hope to adopt her attitude for myself.

I’m practicing this be-of-service attitude by teaching a college class at Concordia University in Irvine where it’s my job to pass on whatever knowledge about writing I’ve gained over the past 20 years. I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience, as I remember so clearly how hungry I was earlier in my career to receive encouragement and guidance from an older writer.

So, yes, the life of a “published author” is full and interesting!

Photo: Neighborhood girls after a slumber party in August 2007.