So today I start my new work life where my work day starts at 10 PM and ends at 6 AM. Am I nervous? Yup. Do I look forward to having to learn a whole new set of rules, especially when I've spent the last five years in a job where I worked pretty much alone and without many rules? Yup. But by the end of the week it'll be pretty okay, I think.
Anyway, over the weekend I had a tremendous attack of paranoia, and I realized this is something I haven't addressed here. My very good friend and critique partner, Linda, has spent the last couple months working on formatting her first novel, A Lonely Sky, for e-publishing. She's very brave and she's doing it on her own, and progressing nicely.
Meanwhile, I hadn't heard from the company formatting my novel, Lies in Chance, and it's supposed to be out in less than a week.
I think all writers have this feeling once they've sold their novel, their baby, if you will, to an agent, and editor, or sent it out into the world of e-publishing. What if these strangers, these agents, editors, formatters, are just luring you into a contract so that they can get their hands on your brilliant novel? What if, in a couple of months, your novel is gone, but there's one on the best seller list that looks a lot like the one your a/e/f is sitting on?
First of all, breathe easy my friends. Much has been written on how to spot the less than legit a/e/f. The biggest catch is you must NEVER pay an agent or an editor up front for anything. If they ask you for money before they can do anything, run. I think the same should go for formatters. Amy, the woman at 52 Novels, sent me an email detailing their fees before we went one step into the manuscript. And, I will not receive a bill for those fees until after I get a final proof.
Not sure you want to pay a stranger to format your novel? Not ready to send your baby off to someone else? Formatting it yourself is possible, and, according to Linda, fairly basic, if very tedious. The one caveat I would set down is that if you are formatting, editing, writing everything all on your own, get a beta reader, someone you trust, someone who has a good working knowledge of the language you're using, just to read word by word and watch for missing words and whatnot. One of the downfalls of this new era of e-publishing is that the final product is not as clean as readers would like in some cases.
But when it comes to that moment of submission, that moment when your fully edited, completely done (and is a novel ever truly done?) novel, have no fear! If you've done your research and your A/E/F is legit, it's going to be okay. There's no need for paranoia.
Easier said than done, I know. It's like sending your child off to school for the first time. You've spent a lot of time being the only person imparting knowledge to that child...and now teachers, coaches, and other kids are going to get a chance to corrupt that child.
Well, those of you who are parents know you have to let your kid get out in the world...and the same goes for that unpublished manuscript. So take a deep breath, and let it go. Squelch the paranoia!
No, go forth and write!