Mel Massey, author of Earth’s Magick, (published by Solstice Publishing just this week!) had a difficult journey from idea to published manuscript, and she suffered from many of the same fears and failures we all do.
Mel was kind enough to accept my invitation to write “Wicked Words”, a guest article for A Writer’s Journey, and what a wonderful story and lesson she’s shared with us. Enough of me…I’ll let Mel tell her story in her own words.
I write about witches and magick. My debut novel, Earth’s Magick just released this week. ::squeeee:: This has been a long and painful road, let me tell you. But it was worth every single moment of the pain in order to watch my book come alive. Even better than that, readers are connecting with my characters, writing reviews, or sending me messages. It’s what we all dream of as we write. What was my journey like? Painful. Lonely. Full of doubt. Fear. Rejection. Elation. Joy.
In the beginning, there were times during the writing phase I questioned everything. Do I suck at this? Is this story lame? Should I put more sex in it? Less truth? So many questions bounced around in my mind where, some days, I couldn’t write at all. I’d stare at my screen and fiddled on Twitter and Facebook instead of putting words onto paper. But then the right song would play, in my ear buds would go, and I was off clickty clacking my way through my story. I finished it up, edited it the best I could, and sent it off to a few friends to read. I was insanely nervous. However, I think it was also one of the most important times for the book. You see, we’re an anxious lot, we writers. I would have cleaned it up and started submitting right away except…my friends were taking forever! I was a mess!
When I finally got the manuscript back, there were notes everywhere. I went through the painstaking process of reading their notes. Some of it hurt! Those were painful truths during that time – I had a problem with passive voice. Oh yikes…’that’ and ‘had’ were peppered in my book. Three of the biggest complaints from editors and discerning readers – I did! After I pulled up my big-girl pants, I went through the MS and starting fixing things. As I did, I found new and better ways of saying what I originally wanted to say. The result? The words flowed in a more natural rhythm. My intent was clearer and it was an overall easier read. The lesson I learned? Don’t shy away from the editing that your book needs. Step away from your book for a bit before doing it. You’ll thank me later if you do.
Then, I was faced with the submission vs. self-publishing dilemma. These days there are a gazillion different avenues a writer can stroll down to bring their book to life. Which one was for me? I was so afraid of making a mistake. After a few days of fretting, I decided to look at the submission process like a dating game. Yep…I was gonna get dolled up and see what happened. Oh…my…Gods….that was a horrible time. I submitted my query letter over and over again to agents first. A few lukewarm possibilities fizzled out and a load of rejections came in. That was enough to make me consider quitting. Don’t quit here. Don’t give into that temptation. Change your dating scene. 😉 I made the decision to forego the idea of an agent. Everyone has strong feelings about this subject. I say, do what feels right to you. Only you can decide if that’s what you need to do. I decided to go look at publishers next. THAT was an experience. First, I had to look at each publisher’s submission guidelines and make sure I followed them to the ‘T’. It was a lot of time but totally worth it. I received two offers!
I took the one that I felt would best serve my needs. We’re a perfect fit. Once my book was safely in the hands of the editors, I was able to kick back and relax…err…no. I had to jump into the marketing game. Wow. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Author’s Database, Blogs, reviews requests, cover reveals, countdown to release….I bought a lot of beer when I made my to-do list.
My meager words of wisdom for this part is; Don’t be a jerk. Simple as that. Be willing to help other authors who need a spot on a blog, or a mention on Twitter. They will do the same for you. If you never partner up with other writers early on, you run the risk of alienating yourself. You don’t want that. At all. Second, be a human being. With all of the social media avenues, it’s very tempting to jump on them, SPAM the crap outta it with links, and then go back to writing. Don’t do that. Post thoughts, pictures, conversations, or contests. People want to hear from you! Answer them back if they send you a tweet. Like their comments on Facebook. Show them you’re really there. Be accessible.
Beyond any of this, I can’t give you anything else you haven’t already read or heard from others. Don’t give in when it gets hard. Don’t be a jerk. Find writer friends. Pretty simple really. Everything else changes for everyone and I can’t tell you how it’ll go. So buckle up and enjoy the ride. There’re people cheering you on. Myself included.
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Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening and Necromancer Falling.
Nat was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He's spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun.
Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do.
He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenager, mischievous beagle, and goofy boxador.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I especially love the line about putting on your big girl pants before reading constructive criticism from editors and using what you learned to improve your story. And Congratulations!
Thank you, Julia! 🙂 I have to remind myself to put my ‘Big-girl Pants’ on often. lol – Mel
Good advice here. Enjoyed reading Getaway and currently losing myself in Earth’s Magick! For more on Mel check out my interview with her here: http://lovingasoldier.com/the-magick-i-found-at-the-end-of-my-block/
Thank you for sharing your experiences. They so much match what I went through. My main take-away from my experience was that I had no idea how much work one little novel would take, and I’m talking about after the writing was done.
Thanks for sharing your experiences! And thanks for the advice.
Thanks Mel. I recognise the early stages of what you’ve described. I’m still reeling from the agent-go-round and was surprised how quickly I found you when I started approaching publishers direct. I’m gonna go and search the wardrobe for my big-boy pants.
Hi, Mel. Thank you for this information. I’m thinking about submitting my manuscript to Solstice. Are you still happy working with them and receiving your royalties?
I replied to you below. Good luck and please feel free to contact me with any questions you have. 🙂
Thank you everyone for your kind words. 🙂
Rebecca – I’m very happy with Solstice. It’s a fun and author-centered company. Although small (which limits the marketing powerhouse behind me) they are fantastic to work with 9and yes I receive royalties with no issue.). I’m an active participant in the whole process. With the second book in the Earth’s Magick series currently with my editor, I’m satisfied I made the right choice for myself. I recommend doing your research, speaking to authors who’ve signed with them, and going with your gut instinct. There isn’t a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ thing here. There is only what works best for you. Good luck and let me know how it goes for you! ~smooches~
Thanks for your reply, Mel. I just submitted. 🙂
Great article! All true! Amazing what we can learn when we listen to ourselves and the people around us.