|C. Kevin Thompson|
After my incident with the unscrupulous agent (Part 1 of my story) and my aversion to Christian writers conferences and fledgling, self-publishing houses (Part 2 of my story), I realized I still had to keep writing (Part 3 of my story). I also decided to give one of those “Christian Writers Conferences” a try (Part 4), and that turned out not so bad (Part 5).
You get an idea. Feel the urge to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). You forge a story out of the block of marble that is your imagination, and voilà, you have a novel, short story, or whatever.
You methodically trod the steps given to you at those writers conferences, and Wham!
You land a contract!
With a traditional publisher!!!!
Now, you’re on Cloud Eleven because Cloud Nine is too low. However, there should be warning labels on contracts for first-time authors much like what appears on cigarette cartons:
WARNING: When taking Contract, patient may become unrealistically euphoric. Patient may not be able to live with normal people due to excessive giddiness. Please consult your doctor before taking Contract. Some patients who took Contract experienced many days of angst waiting for Contract to deliver on its promise. XYZ Publishing Company is not responsible for hair loss, increased cholesterol levels, blood pressure spikes, wrinkles, sleepless nights, sudden changes in dietary needs, changes in relationship statuses, deterioration in marital bliss, eyesight strain due to monitoritis, back pain due to extended internet surfing of analytics, bouts with mild depression, bouts with despair at various depths, and feelings of general malaise associated with the use of literary narcotics. Some patients have even experienced death while using Contract. Please use responsibly.
Had that warning been written on my contract, it may have saved me some hair.
Now, before I make this whole ordeal sound like a real downer, understand something. In multiple venues and from myriad angles, I was already forewarned. In books on writing, I had read chapters on how the industry works; especially on turnaround times from contract to publication. One year and up to two can be the norm. Less than a year is doable, but more unlikely the larger the publishing house is. I had also heard similar instruction at writer’s conferences.
It’s a favorite question among newbie authors who have never driven down the road to publication before. “Are we there yet?” I know. I was one of the badgers, I’m afraid. I tried not to be pesky. I really did.
Obviously, just sitting and waiting, not hearing back for months on end is not the way to go, either. Publishers will even admit that a courtesy contact (preferably via email) asking for an update is not looked upon as detrimental. Sometimes, things happen and communication gets garbled.
I remember sending my completed manuscript the first time. I waited about two months for a response. After two months, I felt it was sufficient time to “inquire” as to the status of my submission. The Christian Writers Conference people told me, by industry standards, it was well-within my right and privilege to do so. I was expecting to hear something like, “Yours is next in the queue. We should have an answer within the week.”Instead, the reply was, “We never received it.”
I was, uh, horrified! Two months of my writing life…lost in cyberspace. And I’m not getting any younger. I checked.
So, I resubmitted the manuscript and checked back with a “read receipt” email of sorts. Once I had confirmation the submission was not sitting at the Siberian Cyberspace Depot again, I moved on with writing.
It was approximately three months before I heard back with a glowing review and offer of a contract. So, this is how it went:
Time table from Conference meal (see Part 5) to glowing review and contract offer: 6 months.
Time table from contract offer to signing of contract: almost 1 month.
Time table from Contract to Release Date: 15 months.
Total time table: 22 months.
See how handy a warning label would have been?
In those last few months, things picked up. Interior proofs, book cover designs, and back cover copy proofs all had to be edited for final approval. I was told to “get ready.” This was the flurry. Soon, there would be a squall.
But after the first flurry, there was a lull. No. Actually? It was “crickets.”
I would later learn something profound. Publishers and editors are real people, too. Real people have lives. Real people get sick. Real people have family members who need care. The list goes on, as you well know. It was one of these “real people” moments that postponed the squall. Like meteorologists trying to supply us with an accurate 10-day forecast, so too, the publisher/editor cannot always predict the weather of life.
Once “life” stepped aside, the process began again until the final product sat on my kitchen table, in a box, revealing to me that dreams do come true after all. Even on Contract.
Moral of the story: Don’t fret. Just keep writing. My prayer has always been for God to use my work for His glory and honor. That prayer has never changed, although I had to go back to it often to steer myself back onto the pavement of righteousness and keep myself from careening off the guardrail or sailing over the cliff of self-absorption. We wish there was a step-by-step guide handed out by the publisher so we could always look to it and see the “You are here” arrow. However, there is no such guide because real people have lives, the industry changes overnight, and what sold two years ago (vampires, anyone?) morphs into the newest bobble in the window (dystopian, anyone?).
Little did I know my family would have a medical setback during those 22 months. Had the book come out during that period, I would probably have no hair by now, but God knew.
So, don’t fret. Write. Write some more. Check periodically, if needed, with your editor, agent, whoever. Then, write some more. Because you know, once the book is out, and if it does well enough, the next question to arise will be, “Do you have another submission ready to look at?”
That’s when it’s time for another dose of Contract.
A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.
Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.
But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.
C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.
A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge—A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.
Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com
Kevin’s Educational Blog: www.thehelpfuleducator.blogspot.com
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