Well first off, Happy New Year (two and a half months later!) Sorry I haven’t updated this blog lately, but I’ve been so focused getting my book finished and ready for publication by Summer 2023, it’s about all I can concentrate on.
So much has happened since I last wrote…
In Fall 2022, I hired three publishing professionals to review my book: an agent, an editor and a favorite author of mine. All offer editorial services, and I wanted to see how each felt about my work, if they identified the same plot/character issues, and what their thoughts were on my rather unique approach (creating a multi-POV rom-com). They all returned feedback within days of each other. All three found similar issues: too many characters, not enough nexus between them and some characters who needed more depth. I took it all in, asked probing questions to make sure I understood their feedback, and diligently went to work. I didn’t take their criticism in a negative way but saw it as an incredible opportunity to learn from industry professionals. I didn’t get defensive, even in cases I may have slightly disagreed with their points of view. Instead, I trusted them as the professionals they are, I soaked up their knowledge, and I reworked my book in all ways suggested to make it the best it can be.
In January, I decided to have another go at a second developmental/line edit with the editor who provided such useful feedback. She has fifteen years’ experience editing romance novels for major publishing houses, and she was exactly what I needed. Unfortunately, she was booked until April/May, which was a slight curveball as I’d wanted to get this published in early summer. No worries, though, as I decided it was best to wait and go with someone I truly trusted than try to rush the process with someone else. She saw what I was striving for and had provided excellent ideas to help me achieve it. She was worth the wait. I realized a few months wasn’t going to make much of a difference in my publishing journey, when sacrificing quality would. .
It was late December at that point, and I worked hard to finish my final re-draft so it would be ready to go, in the event she got an earlier opening. I knew I had a lot to still learn about the publishing business, so I needed to start focusing on all that.
Welp. I had no idea just how much “business” was involved in self-publishing a book.
I soon came to learn writing the book is the easy part. The hard part comes after you type “The End”. This is true whether you’re hoping for a traditional publishing deal or a self-publishing route. Either way, you have a lot of work to do. You must line yourself up legally with all you need, determine your book’s meta data and get it loaded into a gazillion platforms, and do alllll the things to ensure your book baby is discoverable—not just by booksellers, but by would-be readers. Since I can only speak to the self-publishing route at this time, let me break this down:
Legally, you must determine if you’re publishing under your own name or a pen name. The legal part comes in when you have to register yourself and your book in all the many venues in order to sell it, as well as determine how you will be paid. If you use your legal name, that’s fine, but if you choose a pen name or create a publishing imprint (as I did), there are lots of legal issues you must address. In my state, I had to register my fictitious name, then publish it in both a newspaper and legal journal. There was no one great resource for this, so I had to reach out to several people to get it right. I’m a lawyer, and yet it wasn’t all clear to me, so there’s that.
Then you must register your book. You need an International Standard Book Number, and there’s a series of steps you must take to make that happen. If you want your book discoverable by libraries, you must register it with the Library of Congress. Then there’s the issue of registering your book in all the many venues you may wish to sell through. I’m glossing over much of the process but suffice to say it’s a lot.
Then, after you do all the registration, you need to determine which company you’ll use to print and distribute your book. You’ll need to design a cover (or hire someone to do it) and figure out font, layout and structure for the inside.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to people, but when it comes to books, it’s what we all do. It’s important to get it right, to find a way to fit genre expectations while also standing out. I’m pretty adept at Canva so I tried to design my own cover, but it never looked right to me. I didn’t want to fall into the trap some self-publishers can find themselves in when trying to cut financial corners and putting out something with lower quality because they don’t want to spend the money. I was blessed to find an amazing cover designer through Reedsy (*genuflects*). Today, after weeks of design rounds, we have a winner.
If you want your book featured in independent bookstores, you’ll need to do all the legwork to get it on their shelves. That means educating yourself about how book distribution works, what platforms exist, what it means to offer a discount and make your book returnable and so much more. It also means pounding the pavement, introducing yourself and trying to find a way to convince booksellers to give your book space on a shelf. Their space may be limited, so they have to balance their reader needs with what they’re able to procure and shelve. It may be tough for a self-publisher to convince a seller to take a chance on them.
Then, there’s the matter of getting your book into the hands of your intended audience, which brings us to marketing. It’s not enough to write the book, do the legal stuff, register it everywhere, figure out design and layout, get it printed and onto bookstore shelves or online shops. Now you’ve got to sell the darn thing, which means building a platform through an author website, newsletter, and social media. And for anyone who thought TikTok was just for dancing teens, think again – it is now the hottest market for book reviews and recommendations. A whole new world to learn about, for some of us.
If you want to do a sequel, you better get it out fast because people aren’t going to wait. I’m planning two sequels to this first book of mine, so in between climbing up my steep learning curve and navigating this new (for me) territory, I’m also trying to further develop interesting characters and write brilliant plots for their next stories.
So that’s why you haven’t heard from me in 2023 so far!
But things are starting to come together, and I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to have good news to report soon, after my editor does her final rounds. Please keep in touch and follow my journey and I’ll continue to update you.
With any luck, I expect this book (fingers crossed) to hit the shelves June 2023.
Until then, thanks for reading!
It’s the month of giving thanks! Actually, it’s a good practice to do it every day if you can. Someone once said when you change your expectations to gratitude, it changes everything. It truly works.
Here are the three things I’m thankful for this month:
The professionals who’ve helped me learn how to become a writer. This includes all the many agents, editors, speakers, authors, instructors and others who give of their time to provide free and/or paid educational materials to help average folk like myself learn how to write books. I am eternally grateful for the cooperative mentorship I’ve found in this field, the spirit shared between writers, the encouragement we give one another. I’ve learned so much from all of you, and you’ve all earned a placement in the Acknowledgement section of my writing life. I’m especially grateful to the professionals who currently have my book baby in their hands, who are spending their time reading through it when they could be doing other (vastly more enjoyable?) things. I’m really looking forward to your feedback, good and bad, and ready to accept all of it. Which brings me to my second thing:
Having a healthy mindset about my writing journey, wherever it shall take me (even if it’s to the bookstore to buy someone else’s novel :D). I started out this journey wanted to write a beach read that took place in the beach towns I knew and loved. I spent a couple years debating plots, characters, themes. I used pandemic time wisely, to boil it all down to a book I was excited to write. And write it, I did. Last September, I typed “The End” on my first draft and distributed it to my betas. I also bound a copy in a 3-ring binder and dragged it to the beach with me late one afternoon where I read my book from beginning to end. As the sun began to set behind me, I found myself sobbing when I got to “The End.” I realized, in that moment, I’d achieved my goal: write a beach read set in a place I love. And bonus: I got to read it on the beach where the story takes place.
We authors all have our special goals in mind for doing what we do: for some it’s to write a best-seller, for others it’s to create a memoir, and a myriad other reasons. For me, it was to be entertained by characters I love, in a place I love, as they all find love. Yes, it would be great if it becomes a best-seller, even if just “down the shore”. Netflix series or movie? Absolutely. But for now? I wrote a beach read I’d want to read, and I did so on my favorite beach. Never underestimate the power of a simple goal, it’s life-affirming and endless fodder for future gratitude.
Most of all, I’m thankful for my family and friends who have inspired me all along to be a writer. Not only a writer, but a humor writer. Telling me I’m funny, laughing at my one-liners, encouraging me to write—in all ways, great and small, you’ve been the inspiration behind what I do. I love every one of you for it. To my parents, who helped me write my first book at the age of five (bound in cardboard, on which I’d scribbled my cover art)—you inspired my first love of reading and encouraged me to turn it into my passion for writing. To my other family and many friends who’ve read my stuff over the years and laughed, whether it was my repurposed song lyrics, the many variations of “The Night Before Christmas” I’ve written, my faux product reviews, my Facebook rants and so much more, your laughter has filled my heart, inflated my spirit and ignited my hopes and dreams. I can’t also forget a couple teachers/professors who gratuitously appreciated my humorous essay responses to questions I *literally* had no answer for (thanks to not
studying enough showing up to class)
Finally, to my dear friends who’ve read this book and who continue to encourage me in positive ways, you truly are the wind beneath my wings. Mwah!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Hello and thanks for joining me on my publishing journey! I’m sharing my experience with readers to help inspire others who wish to write a book and don’t know where to start. Truth is, I’ve been wanting to be an author since the age of five but was too afraid to focus solely on a writing career out of fear I wouldn’t “make it”. It would be years before I’d learn that writing is more than being a New York Times bestseller or making a healthy living off writing (spoiler alert: few do!) Instead, writing is an excellent creative outlet in all its forms, whether it be journaling, poetry, drafting novels or scribbling love notes to affix to the bathroom mirror (even better if they’re for yourself!). Regardless of whether your audience is one or one million, writing is a great way to learn more about yourself and gain insight into who you are.
My career goal in high school was to be a writer for SNL. I majored in journalism but took a little detour when I received a ticket for driving the wrong way on a one-way street (lacking one important thing—a one-way sign). I decided to become an attorney to fight injustice. True story! In my desire to avoid paying a $52.50 ticket, I incurred a $90k law school loan (how’s that for a plot twist?) I took an extended hiatus in my creative writing journey, thanks to the volume of professional writing demanded by my law practice until I realized I needed a creative outlet. I suck at pottery and can’t paint my way out of a felony charge. Writing, it was!
I began my creative writing journey with a humor blog (Bla Bla Blog), wanting to be the next Erma Bombeck. It was fun, but I found that constantly coming up with humorous material was challenging, especially when some of my humor drifted to the dark/political/satirical side and may not be appreciated by the masses—especially now in our radically polarized country. I studied satirical writing through Second City, the place where many SNL actors and writers got their start, as well as screenwriting, which I love and hope to use someday (perhaps to turn my novels into a movie or series?) I also created a travel website called “The Shore Blog” to pay homage to my favorite vacation spot, the southern Jersey Cape. It was my way to stay connected to this beautiful region and support the small businesses that serve the shore community and its visitors.
Then, years ago, I took the dive into novel writing with a romcom/mystery combining love, humor and crime because #itsmylife. I haven’t yet finished it, mostly because something was pulling me in a different direction, but it continues to percolate in the back of my mind as something I want to complete one day. Turns out another novel was scratching to get out. Maybe it was my love of all things beach-related, or simply being an insufferable romantic, but soon “The Way to Cape May”, anticipated to be my first published novel, became my passion. I drew inspiration for this book from the Jersey-famous song, “On the Way to Cape May”, a little ditty sung by Maurice “Bud” Nugent to his family in 1960 as they drove along the southern Jersey coast. It’s about a couple who meet in Ocean City and fall in love on their way to Cape May and is such a popular sing-along, it’s played in nearly every shore bar along the southern Jersey Cape. I originally envisioned my book being a collection of short stories, each of which would take place in one of the eight towns that make up coastal Cape May County, but a collection of individual stories didn’t seem all that exciting. I asked myself “what if?” … I created an ensemble cast of interrelated characters, all heading to a wedding in Cape May? I’m a huge fan of the movie, “Love Actually” and the TV series, “This is Us”, both featuring phenomenal ensemble casts. I wondered how my story would play out if I intertwined the characters’ lives. Before long, the idea of couple heading to Cape May, with the people they know and love, began to take shape. It wasn’t hard to imagine—Cape May is a popular year-round destination for many betrothed. I envisioned a couple who, like the song, met in Ocean City and headed to Cape May for their wedding, encountering obstacles along the way (as many of us know, the path to marriage is never smooth!) My short story heroes became the friends and family members of the wedding couple, with their own self-inflicted obstacles on their journey to Cape May and their unique versions of happily ever after.
Another inspiration for writing The Way to Cape May was my ever-loving quest to find a romcom beach read that takes place on the beaches I know and love. I’ve spent many summers scouring independent bookstores along the coast for such a story, but all I found were books set north of Nantucket or south of the Carolinas. Which is great—both are beautiful areas—but enough of the sweet Southern thang romances, already! How about one that features a real-life city girl with Philly grit? Here, we don’t sip tea with extended pinkies, we chug wooder. We get our coffee from Wawa and our prom dresses from Ross. We dive into cheesesteaks slathered in Cheese Wiz and don’t think twice about whether we’re gonna fit into our Eagles jerseys on Sunday ‘cause it’s “nunnayabiznis”. You can expect to see 11 million of us Philly peeps flocking “down the shore” each summer. As such, this region deserves its own story in a way that says, finally: THIS is us.
In short, The Way to Cape May is my love letter to Philly and South Jersey. (Can you blame me?)
Currently, I’m in the developmental editing stage of my publishing journey for The Way to Cape May. I’m eagerly anticipating feedback, both good and bad. I’m weird in the sense I’d rather hear what doesn’t work with my book than what does, because I want to make it the best it can be. I’ll keep you posted on what I hear back but, for now, thank you so much for joining me on this journey!