Thursday, August 14, 2008

The story of Getting Published. Yawn.

How the hell did you ever get this book published? This question has been posed to me several times lately and I'm not quite sure how to interpret it. I'll choose not to interpret it as this book is sooo bad and who in their right mind would put it out....but rather what was the process of getting this little number onto bookstore shelves.

It's sad, but I actually probably started writing the first draft, with the help of a lot...lot of wine about 7 or 8 years ago. It was a story written in a cabin at Turtle Mountain loaned to me by the good folk at Stella's Cafe.

I joined the Manitoba Writers Guild (can't say enough good things about these guys) and got accepted to a mentorship and was assigned Sheldon Oberman as my mentor. He was succumbing to cancer during my mentorship but continued to see me. We had a conversation about the show Six Feet Under, which at the time i thought was bizarre. But that's just the kind of guy Obie was. Oh, and he also told me my stories should be a book.

So I wrote a book. It took a couple of years.

Next I hired an editor - Marjorie Anderson. She's an awesome editor and she makes great tea. This was courtesy of a Manitoba Arts Council grant. Apply for grants. I got rejected soooooo many times before I got one. They can only say NO NO NO for so long before they shell out one of those sympathy grants. Editing, by the way, took another year.

When I thought the book was ready for the world I sent it out to some agents and publishers. Then I collected rejection letters from pretty much anyone who read my book. They always said it was well written, funny, blah blah, blah, but not something that they could sell. Which apparently is the point of publishing books.

One can respond "Fuck you, I quit" or "Fuck you, this book will sell." I did neither. I stuffed my book in the back of a closet and started a new manuscript. It was only 6 years...whatever.

I signed up for a writing workshop at Sage Hill. There was pressure to write, so I brought my old manuscript along just in case I buckled under performance pressure. My teacher Steven Galloway kept offering to read it and I handed it to him on the second last day. Ha. Good luck with that. Steven was the first person to tell me that I could publish it and it would sell. I was, apparently, sending it to the wrong places. Steve's is the most sarcastic person I've it must have killed him to be kind.

I scoured the bookshelves and found an agent that represented this kind of book. There weren't many. I should mention somewhere in all of this I got hitched and knocked up. 3 weeks before I was to give birth, Samantha Haywood contacted me, said she'd take me on, if I did some revisions. three weeks I'd get my edits done, have a baby and get an agent. Except a couple of hours later my water broke. Fuck. No edits, unless you count editing milk out of my breasts or poo out of diapers.

Sam waited. Six weeks later, while my son slept I wrote, got the edits done, got the agent. Life was grand!

A few months later...we were submitting to publishers. All was well. Except for one thing. My niece needed a liver and I was a match, so she would be getting my wine-soaked liver. I signed with my publisher, literally within days of signing my liver away. When you sign with a publisher you are committing , at least in my case, to doing several more drafts, with deadlines. "So when you say I won't really be able to move and I'll be in sheer pain for several months, will I be able to work on my book." "No." "Even with the morphine drip?" Whatever, sign me up for everything.

The day before the surgery a deceased donor was found, transplant was successful - with a likely healthier liver. All was well...again and I was off to the races with my edits.

My publisher has taken these pages, once deemed unsaleable, and turned them into a lovely book available at a bookstore near you.


Darla McFarlane said...

Really, it's that *easy*?

Gwen said...

Have I ever mentioned how fabulous your book is? Oui? It's fabulouso!

Thanks for the soundtrack!