Guess You’re Never Too Old to Learn!

I really HATE when I discover that I harbor stereotypes, even when I purposely try not to. I’ve just had stereotypes shattered left and right recently. And it all had to do with something I’ve done almost my entire life – certainly from when I was old enough to read, anyway. Did you ever wonder just how the idea for a book gets from one person’s mind onto the shelves of your local library? (Or if you’re younger than me, on your Kindle?) I never did! For sixty-three years, the thought never crossed my mind!
I had stereotyped authors as Jessica Fletcher-type creatures. Jessica Fletcher was the older author character portrayed by actress Angela Lansbury in “Murder She Wrote.” All Jessica Fletcher did was type up her story on an old manual typewriter and become rich and famous. And that stereotype was enforced when I heard that author J. K. Rowling scribbled her ideas about Harry Potter while she was riding on a train. Now she’s one of the richest women in Great Britain. I just assumed someone would take an idea, put it on paper in story form, send it to a publisher, and either get a check or a rejection letter.
I’m now confessing how ignorant I was – and still am! I have written a book, and I can’t believe the time, effort, and number of other people that it takes to (hopefully) get it published. For most of my life, I’ve been a bookworm. When family and friends encouraged me to write a book about my adventures dating at my age, I thought, “Sure. Why not?”
Stereotype number two was that writing required only some time and a computer. I remembered composing masterful theses (my personal description, not the instructor’s) in college, and doing it usually within twenty-four hours of the due date. So I sat down at my computer, and …..BLANK. I finally dec ided to just start writing as though I was talking. That didn’t work, either. I talk faster than I can type. If I could have put together all the different beginning sentences I ended up typing and then discarded, I would have had a whole chapter. Almost a year went by, but I finally completed my story. Once I was done with my book, I asked some friends of mine who are professors at a college what to do. They encouraged me to submit my manuscript to BQB/WriteLife Publishing.
Stereotype number three dissolved quickly. A manuscript doesn’t get accepted for publication AS IS. Publishers employ editors. Editors are not the stereotypical old guy with an armband, a green visor, and a pencil stuck behind his ear and aren’t confined to a newspaper or magazine. Editors are categorized, believe it or not. There are “acquisition editors” (they acquire the book for the publishing company); “developmental editors” make sure the story doesn’t stall. The “copy or content editor” is like your grammar teacher – he or she makes sure punctuation, spelling and grammar is correct. And the “content editor” reads through the characterization, voice and setting of the manuscript.
The merits of a great book might never know the light of day unless MARKETING is involved. In this age of electronic communication, authors-to-be are encouraged to have accounts for their book on Facebook, Twitter, a personal web site, Pinterest, and blogging, and marketing can reach so many more people than ever before.
Along with these new tools comes experts for everything a new author needs to be right up front on the latest methods of e-writing. I call them “angels.” I have learned that a domain is NOT a kingdom, but rather the Internet descriptor that you need to purchase your own website. I never understood what those Super Bowl commercials were about that featured sexy girls in short, tight clothes but I figured it was something men who watch football would know. Now I am enlightened. GoDaddy.com is the world’s largest domain registrar. I am an official client of theirs. I will never be featured on one of their commercials, but I am happy at how easy it was to buy my very own website! A wonderful expert who is also an author designed my website, and I have faithfully printed off his instructions on how to update it. I am beginning to feel like a real writer.
And then there’s the book cover. All I had to do was voice a rough concept of what I thought I’d like for a cover. Across the Atlantic Ocean, a graphic artist in Portugal put together some ideas and sent them to me. Through emails, we came up with a cover that I love, and that I hope my story will do justice. Wow! It was really easy, not anything at all like I had imagined.
Today I find myself in the midst of the publishing event. Book pre-orders are being talked about, even before a final edit has been done. I’m amazed, humbled and awestruck at the behind-the-scenes activities that must happen in order for a reader to actually pick up a book. If Phase One was writing a book, then I’m in Phase Two, and counting down until actual publication. Guess this ol’ gal has some more things to learn – and I’m eager to find out what they are!

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