Thursday, 27 October 2011

Playing the Waiting Game

If I were to have a favourite prayer it would be, ' Oh Lord, give me patience — and give it me now'.

The cause of my current impatience is that I'm within an inch of being published at last.  Hurrah! My goal has always been to earn a living from my stories but if I'd known at the start how long I would have to wait to realise that goal, I might never have started in the first place. It has taken me four years to write Chamaeleon:The Secret Spy. Four long years of learning how to write, then writing, revising, re-writing, writing and editing. When at last I'd finished stripping it, jointing it and pulling it apart at the seams, there was a fair measure of relief mixed in with the elation. Finally, I had a completed story. I basked in the glow of being 'a writer' for several days before making the fatal error of telling people that Chamaeleon was done.

"When is it being published?"
"Have you got an agent yet?"
"When can I buy the book?"


With mounting horror, I realised I wasn't finished at all, was I?  I still had the long haul of finding an agent and a publisher in front of me. I still had to wait before I saw my baby in print. I devoured the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook looking for suitable agents. I read every website I could find about getting published. I learned everything I could about synopses, query letters and manuscript formats. I made lists and spreadsheets.

And for three months while I was doing this, I didn't write a single thing. The tales in my head were clamouring to be told but I ignored them. Not a word of them made it onto paper or screen, I was too busy scaring myself to death learning all the hoops I had to jump through just to find an agent — never mind the friendly publisher who would put me in Waterstone's. The chances of me ever becoming published were getting smaller by the day. By the end of those three months I felt so thoroughly depressed I decided to give it all up and find a job somewhere. If I couldn't stack my stories on bookshelves I might as well stack a similar thing in  a supermarket, right?

Wrong! Enter David Gaughran.

Call it serendipity, but I was lucky enough to discover David's excellent blog about self–publishing, three says later. This was it. I was going to publish Chamaeleon as an e-book. The wait was over.

Or not, as the case may be.

David's posts and his book Let's Get Digital told me I now needed an editor, a cover designer and a formatter.

If I'd had money at this point — instead of struggling along on a pittance — the next part of the long journey to be published, might have been quicker. As it was, after I'd paid my editor, had the file back and incorporated his suggestions and amendments, I had to wait while I saved enough money to pay the cover designer. Both the MS and the cover are now with the formatter. The whole process — editor, cover artist, formatter — will have taken a little over two months from start to finish. Whew!

Which isn't long to wait, really. Unless you're the impatient sort. Like me.

It will have taken nearly five years before Chamaelon:The Secret Spy is published. But soon, very soon, the waiting game will be over.