I sincerely hope not, but I think I might have been difficult through this whole publishing process, and several misunderstandings only added to this. Luckily, I was surrounded and helped by some wonderful people. First, there was the acquisitions manager/owner/head honcho. “This contract doesn’t say ‘novel’ it says ‘novella’. Will it be billed that way, therefore excluding me from a print book after the eBook?” No, idiot, it was a mistake. She was kind and good humored, and went through extra work to appease my throbbing insecurity. I appreciate it.
Then there was the author liaison. She was great and very understanding with my million questions right after my book was accepted. When do I start? What should I be doing now? Is there anything I should know? After a while, I’m sure it sounded to her like the cacophonous kawing sound of a flock of crazed ravens.
Second, (and the biggest hero here), was my editor. She and I do have a rapport, and I think she’s a clever, witty woman. One of the biggest misunderstandings was with her, and it led to us (me, mostly) being a little snippy with each other. Once we uncovered the misunderstanding (curse you, Mercury Retrograde!), things were fine. As a professional, she recognized that her unrelenting beating of me about the ear, nose, and throat with a certain aspect of the process was making me absolutely insane. I was a man on the edge.
She realized this and decided we should back off from it and come at it fresh. She couldn’t have been more correct. Not only did it help, but I was able to give her six examples when she needed only one, and together we decided on the best short blurb we could come up with. Her sense of humor was intact and charming throughout. I’m sure she wanted to choke me, though.
Third, the establishment pissed me off. I mentioned the pronoun rule in a previous entry. Again, I don’t know what’s okay to divulge, but this gave me severe angina. It seemed so arbitrary to me (and still does). If a pronoun is unclear, the editor should mark it and I should fix it. A blanket rule applying to all pronouns and all paragraphs seems unnecessarily limiting. People do not naturally read or write that way. I thought it would actually pull people out of the book. “Why the fuck is this idiot writer name dropping a billion times in this freakin’ paragraph? There are only two people in this scene!”
I said as much to my longsuffering editor. While she understood how I felt, and even said she felt the same way once upon a time, she very kindly (and with a lot of humor) told me it’s a publisher rule and I had to suck it up. I did, but with ill graces.
Once again, taking a step back, and the fact that I was paired with an amazing proofreader helped this. (My editor was more excited than I was. “Oooooo! You got the good proofreader!” And she was right.) The proofreader was almost like a second editor, not just fixing commas and run on sentences, but commenting. She also helped elevate the language. If a sentence was unclear, she helped me upgrade it, not downgrade it to make it less intelligent.
I was in contact with an author, J.L. Langley (recently seen on Huffington Post along with my publisher’s head honcho), who has been supportive and kind through this process. She told me more than once that I shouldn’t feel pressured into changes and that I should basically stay strong. I have told her since how helpful that advice was.
Even if I’m a wordy bastard, I churned out something I’m proud of. Pronoun changes and all, though I emerged from that fight bloody, strong, and still unconvinced of the necessity of these changes.
Third, the cover artist. This was total misunderstanding, and I hope he believed me. He sent me a cover with a comment that if I liked it we could move on to the next step. I assumed that “next step” meant “not done yet” and said it was a great start.
“Uh, asshole, that wasn’t a start. That was the goddamned cover.”
No, he didn’t say that, and he was nothing but patient and professional. I, however, was mortified at my own misunderstanding and the jerkface it made me seem like.
He was amazing and incredibly kind, despite my babbling insistence that I misunderstood. He said he felt that I wasn’t satisfied with the cover and asked for suggestions. I was floored. I didn’t think that was an option after I turned in my Cover Art Request form. I asked two friends and they helped slap me into reality. I gave some suggestions, he took them, and he gave me back the cover art I currently am in love with.
I hope it all seemed like a noob, fretful, insecure, green writer with a little strength (as that was the case), but even if I came off as the biggest, most high maintenance ass-face on the planet, everyone was professional, kind, and absolutely wonderful. I have learned a great deal, especially about this particular publisher, and for the future books in the series I will know what to do. And, when I decide to branch out, I will take with me a treasure trove of knowledge.
And I can’t thank everyone enough for putting up with me. Hopefully I wasn’t as bad as all that.