Guest Author Nikki Kelly’s Publishing Confessional
Expectations vs. Reality
What do you initially expect when you set out to write a novel? I guess you just hope to finish it, and if you do, that you will have something you yourself will enjoy reading!
When you meet that reality – the dream pool – the expectation of what you might be able to achieve kicks in. For me, I always wanted to see a novel I had written in a bookstore – that was the dream. Amazingly, that is about to become a reality!
What I did not consider
The one thing I did not consider about the whole process was the reviews, out in the traditional world. So far, (and touch wood!) the early reviews from readers have been pretty positive, but you will always get the not-so-happy reviews…
I guess, in my mind I never really considered the review side too much, or how it would actually affect me. So, when you do see a negative review, it hits home that not everyone will love what you do, and as much as you’d like to, you can’t possibly please everyone—which, as a people pleaser by nature, makes me blue inside!
My approach? I take a breath, and remember how very lucky I am! My attitude generally tends to be, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. And what makes the world an interesting place is that we’re all different! I try not to let the negative affect my state of mind, when there are so many positives! And I am extremely grateful for every single review, whether good or bad. That said, on the not so good days, you’ll usually find me in Baskin-Robbins…
Pros and Cons of being a Writer
Massive pro of being a writer: you get to spend your entire day devoted to writing your stories, chatting to readers online and engaging with these amazing communities, such as bloggers.
It’s simply magical!
Of course, unless you’re an international bestseller, you cannot expect to make tons of money from it. In fact, most writers live very humbly; many have jobs on the side to supplement their income. I gave up a day job to write full-time, and that comes with the drawback of not earning a constant monthly salary. But money has never been something that motivates me. I would rather eat beans on toast for the rest of my life – with a hot water bottle strapped around my waist to save cost on heating – and be doing what I love to do the very most in the world, than have more material possessions and be doing something I don’t love anywhere near as much all the livelong day!
When your short time in this world comes to an end, you can’t take things with you. I’d rather have spent my time on Earth doing something I love and feeling like I used my time well – and was happy –than have had those extra pairs of shoes in my closet!
DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
The only real con I find from being a full-time writer is how much time I spend locked away in what I call my ‘cave’. I am very much a people person, but when you’re working to a tight deadline and you’re engrossed in the worlds you are crafting, you don’t tend to get out much! I found this element the most difficult initially – so used to being surrounded by people, then suddenly being in just my own company – but I found ways to keep sane. I speak with friends, who facetime me on tea breaks, and I make sure I get out to walk the dogs several times a day and call my Mom and my friends to stay connected!
I do sometimes talk to myself and these are the days when I wonder if I am going crazy!
What it’s like working with an editor
I think this has to be one of the biggest pros for me. I was so very, very lucky to work with Liz Szabla, Editor in Chief of Feiwel and Friends, who not only totally understood all of the elements of the story, and loved the characters and the worlds, but knew just the right questions to ask – usually the ones I most wanted to hide from! Working with Liz really brought the manuscript on, and the novel is vastly improved for her careful and insightful input.
Liz is also super ‘emotionally intelligent’, in that she knows I am new to this publishing lark and so, when she edits chapters of my work, she leaves little comments, LOLs, smiley faces and suchlike! When you are wading through reams and reams of text, this approach is spot on for me. It’s strange that we have yet to meet face to face, but it’s a bit like she’s known me all my life! Somehow she knows how to get the very best out of me… I think we were destined to work together!
This is how I feel about working with Liz…
The thing that surprised me the most about the publishing process
How much really goes into bringing a novel to a bookshelf! I genuinely had no idea about the blogging community; the events, such as BEA; I had never heard of an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy); and then, of course, Lailah found her way to becoming a Fierce Reads title, which meant I was asked to attend the Fall tour! I did not expect any of this!! I thought we would edit the manuscript, and then it would be proofed and would magically find its way to shelves. I didn’t anticipate things like the creative process for the book cover design, photo shoots, and then cover reveals happening online. I had no clue that I would receive emails with internal design ideas for me to have a look at, inviting my opinion. Similarly I didn’t realize that ARCs found their way onto sites like NetGalley for early review purposes… I have learnt so very much about all the things that go into bringing a book to life. I guess the biggest surprise is that all of these wonderful people who work in the publishing house get behind your story and work so very tirelessly to bring it to bookshelves!